Friday, July 18, 2014

boundary training

it's not about right, not about's about power.

All the boundary training pastors have to go through could probably be summed up with this great Buffy quote. It doesn't matter much whether "it was consensual" or "I was right" or whatever...anytime there is a power differential (and when there is an authority figure involved--whether pastor, professor, boss, doctor, etc--there is always a power differential) then it doesn't matter what we perceive to be "right" or "wrong" because the situation is really about power.

Many pastors like to pretend that we don't really have the power, that this idea is a holdover from the days when pastors were respected authority figures in the culture--days that are long gone.

And of course, boundary training rarely takes into account the reality that female pastors (professors/doctors/bosses) often do not have the power in situations with male parishioners. Or the reality that young pastors rarely have the power that older clergy do.

But even so: it's still about power. And with power comes responsibility.

It is always--ALWAYS--the responsibility of the person with the power to set the boundary.

Extrapolating to other situations--for instance those of racial or gender or sexual privilege--it is always the responsibility of the person with the power to show restraint and to seek wholeness and peace for all people.

And extrapolating to international relations, it is always the responsibility of the nation with the power to show restraint and to seek peace. "But they started it" isn't a valid excuse for fighting between children, or for abuse in a relationship, or for clergy misconduct. It shouldn't be an excuse for war either.

Maybe we should send Israel, and the US, to boundary training.