We just finished the third of four parts in a series on sex and relationships with my students. This sermon was about boundaries. I started by telling about my dog. When he was a puppy we tried keeping him in the house and letting him out to go potty. This worked well for the first couple of weeks but then he wanted to go explore. He found many ways out of the fence so we had to train him to stay in the yard. He was young and never wandered far until one day he came in limping. He had escaped from the yard and, according to a neighbor, went with some boys with sticks over the hill where no one could see. His leg was broken and needed to be set by the vet. It is still painful for him. We tried chaining him when he was outside and eventually tried resorting to a radio fence. This worked for a while. The first time he was shocked he was terrified. He never wanted to cross the line even with me taking him into his territory. He would stay far from the boundary, but then he would push the edges get zapped and then get scared. Eventually, though, he started running through. We raised the level and it stopped him. Then the process happened again and again until it was no longer effective.
Then we did something crazy. I started taking him out on the leash and walking him through places he was supposed to go and then walked him out without the leash and called to him. He loves and respects me. He stopped worrying about his boundaries and focused more on me. Now I can let him loose and he doesn’t run off. He comes when I call and enjoys his new freedom.
I related this to our moral fences. That we have specific boundaries we need to stay in our we get hurt. Many times we try everything to keep ourselves or others inside the moral fences but God wants us to love and honor Him. He wants us to cherish Him and focus on what He is calling us too.
I focused on several issues about moral boundaries, what happens when the cross them, and then gave some interesting questions we often don’t ask. Am I ready to date? How many students actually ask if they are ready for that? I also introduced an idea about how the Bible deals with the question of what can we do before marriage. It doesn’t spend a lot of time really spelling this out, but it does basically break relationships into two categories. Within marriage and outside of marriage. If I’m with a woman I’m not married to what would be appropriate for us to do together? Work together in a group setting? Sure. Spend time alone over dinner after a work project. Not so good. Shake her hand or give a short side hug? Go right ahead. Lingering hugs, kissing, making out … yeah, that’s starting to get obvious. What about a couple that isn’t married then? The Bible doesn’t really show a difference before marriage. The same “you aren’t married” rules apply.
Some of the students were being pretty rowdy tonight and things took a lot longer to get through. One young man was being a constant distraction. Even at the end when almost everyone else was paying attention he was laughing and making various shapes with his hand towards people around the room. I asked him to settle down many times, but it got to the point after he was ignoring some of my leaders who asked him to stop that I asked him to step out.
I don’t feel bad that I asked him to step out. He was being a distraction at a time when I could tell several people were really keying in. I do feel bad about the way I did it. One of my leaders has tried assuring me that I did fine, and I know I can be really critical of myself. I felt like a jerk telling him to step out. After the fact I wish I had put the mic down and went to talk to him about leaving instead of telling him via the mic in front of everyone like that.
Youth pastors, have you ever had to ask a student to step out? How did you handle it? Others, how would you handle this?