Thursday, December 25, 2008

Standards and Abilities

Two responses to the question, "Should we hold everyone to the same standard, or should we change the standard for those who have less ability?"

(First posted in MennoDiscuss)

Hopenafuture writes:
When you have a standard and someone is not naturally gifted in that area, it IS going to require that he work harder to reach that level. On the other hand, there are some things (such as dunking a basketball) that are [i]part of a larger goal[/i], and that a shorter guy might [i]play a different role[/i] than being a dunker. Perhaps his 3-point shots are his strength. Or defense, or moving the ball down the court. As part of a team, he can contribute to the scoring without being a "lean mean dunking machine" like a taller teammate might be. but the goal is still to win games.

In school, there is a level of perfection (A+ or 100% and there is an acceptable level of ability (C, or often 70-75%) If a student reaches the acceptable level, and is performing to the best of his or her ability, there is no need to hold them to the level of perfection. To do so is unfair and unkind.

So in that respect, one could say that I feel different standards are necessary. But in the long run, the basic goal is that each student passes his classes and learns to read, cipher, or write. So in another sense, the standard is the same for all.

Steve writes:
So then, perhaps the problem with education-- and much of the church-- is not that the standards are the same for everyone, but that some standards shouldn't apply to everyone.

In education, there are different ways of learning, and different skills that we are all good at. Some may be good at some things, while others good at other things. But if we only see someone as being educationally successful if they get 'A's or 'B's in everything, then perhaps our standards are faulty. Perhaps someone can consistantly get a 'D' in all math subjects, but an 'A' in all English subjects-- then they are still successful in many things, but not math. They have met the English standard, but not the math standard.

And in the church, we have a lot of standards. We want to see people pure and loving, because that is what Scripture says we all ought to be. But we add in many other standards as to whether someone is a "good Christian" or not. Do they attend service? And when they are there, do they disrupt the service? Do they only use language we deem as appropriate? Are they socially connected to other Christians? Do they wear (or not wear) the appropriate kind of headgear? And on and on and on... These are the kinds of things that Jesus calls "traditions of men" and they aren't appropriate standards in considering whether a person is a "good Christian" or not. We should stick to Jesus' standards, not our own, or else we put blocks in people's way to the gospel.

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