Here’s another sign that society has lost its ability to think rationally: Heritage Christian School of Findlay, Ohio is getting pummeled in the press and in comments sections on YouTube and news sites for disciplining a student who broke the school’s rules by attending his girlfriend’s public high school prom. Meanwhile, Tyler Frost (the kid who broke the rule) has become an overnight sensation. He’ll be appearing on CBS’ The Early Show tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, and he has similar invitations from Inside Edition and ABC’s PrimeTime. He’s gone from an anonymous Christian school senior to a martyr and anti-establishment cult hero in a matter of days—all by breaking the rules he willingly agreed to, then publicizing it for his own benefit. That’s nuts. Yet, it’s front page news, regionally and nationally:
- Local News Cast (here and here)
- Local Newspaper
- YouTube Video (including surprisingly harsh comments)
- Fox News
Why do I agree with Heritage Christian School, the media’s most recent conservative values “whipping boy”?
First, because they’re right. As a public school kid, I chose to attend my senior prom way back in 1990. The mood, the music, the dancing, the dress, and even the “right of passage” nostalgia attached to proms all contribute to making them a dangerous event for hormone-charged teenagers. At my prom (which, amazingly, was almost 20 years ago), there was a basic understanding: the guy paid for the tickets, the meal, the tux, and perhaps the limo, but he would be paid back in the end (wink, wink). Everybody knows that prom is as much about the extra-curriculars that follow it as about the event itself. For people to act as though a school or church or family which tries to protect a teenager from such obvious temptations is unreasonable or unkind is misguided. Although the concept makes people giggle, the Scripture clearly and repeatedly calls Christians to live lives differently from those who don’t know Christ, including avoiding and resisting temptation to immorality (Eph 5:3-8; Rom 13:13-14). Christians are called by Scripture to be holy in real life circumstances (1 Pet 1:15-16). Per Tyler’s own admission (and per the experience of anyone who’s ever been to a prom), the temptations at high school proms are a reality, and they’re not at all conducive to a life of holiness. That’s not legalism; it’s common sense. I’m not suggesting that everyone who attends a prom is diving into immorality, but for a Christian to put himself in such a situation is unwise. And for a school or parent to protect teens by putting proms off-limits is wise.
Second, because they’re standing on principle. All they’re doing is enforcing a rule which they’ve had in place for years. Tyler knew about the rule and knew he was breaking it, yet he’s shocked that the school is actually taking the rule or his blowing it off seriously enough to suspend him and prohibit him from marching in its graduation:
“I kind of expected he say something [sic] to me about him not approving of it,” Tyler said. “But I didn’t think it would be anything this serious.”
Let’s review the situation, sans the “poor kid vs. legalistic oppression” spin of the press:
- The Christian school has long-standing rules in place regarding student conduct.
- The student knows this (he’s attended the school for 13 years).
- The student and his parents agreed to abide by the rules (he signed a statement to that effect at the beginning of the school year).
- The school is enforcing the rule. And whereas they could expel him, they’re showing mercy.
That’s it. Pretty cut and dry. The fact that it’s deemed worthy of national news says more about our “you-gotta-fight-for-your-right-to-party” society than it does about the school. We have it exactly backwards: Tyler is made a hero for reneging on his word, and the school is made into the picture of mean-spirited zealotry for keeping its word. Again, it’s nuts.
A few concluding thoughts:
Wouldn’t it be great if parents (a) encouraged children to keep their word, (b) supported authority rather than undermining it, and (c) stopped being naïve about the influences of a decadent culture?
And wouldn’t it be great if news agencies (a) focused on real news, (b) didn’t twist stories of defiance and disobedience into stories of courage and heroism, (c) had the common sense to acknowledge that the kid agreed to abide by the rules, and therefore the school has every right—and even responsibility—to carry them out?
Now, is Christianity all about rules against dancing and the like? Absolutely not. It’s about a relationship with the crucified and risen Christ that provides sinful people with forgiveness for sins, deliverance from sins, hope rather than despair, and a present and eternal relationship with God, despite the fact that we deserve only His judgment. (More information here.)
Can Christian schools or parents make young people moral through rules? Not at all. Only the grace of God expressed through the gospel of Jesus Christ can do that. Nevertheless, saving grace does indeed require, motivate, and enable making godly choices (Titus 2:11-13), and responsible rules are often necessary to protect young people under our care in the meantime.
Bottom line: Even if you don’t agree with the rule or the principles behind it, you have to appreciate the fact that Tyler and his parents agreed to it and should therefore be willing to accept the consequences without whining about it on the airwaves. Tyler’s not a marty or a hero. After all, it doesn’t take courage to break your word. It takes courage to keep it, even when you’re being misrepresented and mocked for doing so. Kudos to Heritage Christian School.