Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Brad Williams: Professor of Ethics

Because the local Junior College was probably desperate for a teacher, I find myself teaching an ethics class as an adjunct professor. It is mostly a situational ethics class, concentrating on how to be ethical in society. Since this classroom setting is not the local church, I am stuck in the awkward position of being unable to preach. Which, by the way, is harder than you might think.

For example, we have dealt with the issue of honesty. Would you tell on someone if you knew that they were having an affair? Would you use answers to the SAT/ACT test if you could acquire them beforehand? If you found out that a thirty year old married man was involved in a relationship with a fifteen year old girl, would you contact the police? The wife? The parents?

Even more basically, we have to ask why we "feel" that cheating is wrong. Who says it is wrong? Why is it wrong? Why is it that we cannot agree on the proper course of action? Why will some say, adamantly, that we should go to the authorities while other strongly urge folks to mind their own business? Should the majority be able to impose it's will on the minority? Sometimes? Always? How do we know when to impose our own will on others?

My purpose as a teacher in this setting is to teach the students how to think logically through difficult moral dilemmas. At the same time, I often purposefully upset the worldview of students so that they may try to discover what, if anything, is at the bottom of their personal ethical code. This unsettling process is like stirring muddy waters. What often appeared clear at the beginning seems terribly muddled by the end of the day.

Currently, I feel that my job at this instituition is to stir the waters, to upset the apple cart. My grief comes in that the fact that I believe, without the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no getting those apples back into the cart. The joy of kicking of the apple cart is significantly lessened if one is not allowed to give a great deal of help in clean-up. Sometimes, it simply feels mean to leave a student in the morass of ethical dilemma.

All this to say, I find my current positions potential for joy limited by my inability to pronounce: THUS SAITH THE LORD! I have to be tactful, and I have to believe that if the Lord would open the door for me to go about upsetting apple carts, then He means to use the mess I make for His glory and for the good of those who love Him. May the Lord clean up the mess I make, as always!

1 comment:

One Salient Oversight said...

I think you need to point out to the students that you are a Christian and that many of your beliefs do stem from that. That wouldn't necessarily be a violation of the constraints and allows students afterwards to ask more questions about it.