5 Moral Fences
July 1, 1999
Fact: Some kids like to play "near the edge," and some kids don't. I always did! Whether the "edge" was rock jumping into a cool mountain lake or "bumper jumping" moving cars to slide along an icy winter street, the potential of peril invigorated me.
But "when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1 Cor. 13:11). I was a pastor and in seminary when the moral failures of the late '80's hit the news. In addition to the big names, I heard a shocking number of similar tragedies from my own circle of pastor/friends.
One Sunday night in 1987 I remember crying all the way to church. I was terrified. I asked over and over, "How does this happen? Could this happen to me? How can I protect myself, my family, and my ministry from the devastation a moral failure would cause? How can I keep myself pure when men better than me are falling like flies?"
As I prayed it through, I figured that those who fell morally must have disregarded the warning signs. They didn't go from Spirit-led to stepping off the cliff in one day. They must have crashed some social barriers before their slippage became sexual.
Where is that line? I wondered, And how can I make sure I never cross it? I knew I had to make my decisions early and my standards public so that others would know when I was "playing near the edge." I was determined that, by God's grace, I would not take the plunge. So I set some boundaries of behavior.
I remembered an incident back in Bible college when the college president would not give my (young, beautiful) fiancee a ride to our church almost two hours away when he came to speak. At first that seemed odd; now I was beginning to understand why.
I began to form my list of moral fences:
1. I will not, under any circumstances, ride alone ...