Faith

Should Christian Schools Require Employees to Adhere to Strict Standards in Their Personal Lives?

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After being fired from her job at Trinity Christian School, Andrea Sokolowski filed a complaint with Connecticut’s human rights commission alleging she had been discriminated against. According to her complaint, Trinity Christian School violated the Connecticut Fair Employment Act since the school fired the unmarried Sokolowski for getting pregnant.

The case is still being worked out in the courts, but the usual suspects are lining up to defend Sokolowski.

Writing for Religion News Service, Mark Silk asks, “Christianity teaches that we’re all sinners. Does being unmarried and pregnant prevent a childcare worker from inculcating Christian faith and practices?”

Implied in Silk’s questions is the subtle belief that grace, at least a certain definition of grace, doesn’t allow for the kind of judgment handed down by Trinity Christian School. After all, according to this line of thinking, who among us hasn’t sinned, and that includes the administrators of Christian schools who demand a rigid obedience to sexual standards. Silk’s subtext places him firmly in the camp rooting for Sokolowski to win her suit. For further evidence, notice that in his article’s concluding paragraph, Silk writes:

A decent society that wants to both protect citizens from discrimination and respect religious freedom needs to balance the two imperatives carefully. The impulse to reject one or the other out of hand has to be resisted. Thumbs down on motions to dismiss.

In case it’s not obvious, by “thumbs down on motions to dismiss” Silk means that he’s opposed to the courts dismissing Sokolowski’s suit. Like many others, Silk believes that employees of decidedly Christian institutions should not be required to adhere to Christian ethics.

For starters, that’s plainly nonsense. As I wrote in this article, “If I managed to secure employment at Planned Parenthood only to have it discovered that I am anti-abortion I would summarily be dismissed.”

Going out on a limb, I’m confident that Mark Silk would not defend an anti-abortion Christian who was fired from Planned Parenthood. I mean, as adamantly anti-abortion as I am, I wouldn’t defend an anti-abortion Christian who was fired from Planned Parenthood. At best, I’d roll my eyes and quip, “What did you think was going to happen?”

Of course, from a progressive “Christians” point of view, Planned Parenthood and other leftists sacred cows are one thing; conservative Christian schools are another altogether. Fine. With that in mind, allow me to approach Sokolowski’s case from a theological perspective.

In short, true repentance recognizes that actions have consequences. Eternally, Christians recognize with a heart filled with thankfulness that the consequences for our sins have been borne on the cross by Jesus. However, the Bible never abolishes earthly consequences for sin. Grace does not mean overlooking sin. And Trinity Christian School is correct: sex outside of the boundaries of marriage (between one man and one woman) is a violation of God’s law.

Andrea Sokolowski violated that Biblical ethic — not to mention that she violated the code of conduct she signed upon employment — so the school was not only within its biblical rights but also within their biblical mandate to sever the relationship with Sokolowski. If the fired teacher was remorseful, she’d recognize that and would accept her “punishment” with humility, praying for the grace to conquer sin.

For the record, if the administration of Trinity Christian School had concluded that Sokolowski was remorseful and desirous of restoration, I would not have a problem with the school continuing her employment. Sokolowski’s lawsuit, however, demonstrates that she doesn’t believe that her actions are deserving of any consequence. She’s revealing that she doesn’t agree with the school’s Christian ethics. Because of that, there is little reason for Trinity Christian School to continue to employ her.