I admire my protégé’s transparency, despite it being well-guarded: “I’ll give you an honest answer to any question you have.” It took me a while to recognize the secrecy that allowed, and a little longer to find both the courage and opportunity to say so: “You seem very certain that no one will know what to ask.” And then I asked. And I got answers, openly and honestly.
Others, whose positions I am supposed to respect, admire, and aspire to, have also answered my questions, but only by claiming that their integrity prevents them from answering truthfully.
Administrators of my alma mater (now one of my several employers) have repeatedly declined to pursue Jesus’ prescription for resolving conflict and reconciling relationships (Matthew 18:15-18) on the grounds that Simpson University is “a business providing educational services,” and cannot, therefore, pursue these Biblical processes (even though they are written into their various handbooks for faculty, students, etc.). Balancing scriptural authority against the requirements of California’s state employment laws is a debatable practice, but a challenge commonly faced by Christian non-profits.
Then in February, responding to complaints that they violated the requirements of California’s state employment laws, the same administration has claimed that they are exempt from those standards. As a Christian University, they claim, they apply Biblical processes that should not be held to the same standards as other businesses providing educational services. This position, too, could be debated.
What is not debatable, however, is that two mutually exclusive claims cannot be held as simultaneously true. Simpson University’s administration either does or does not hold to scriptural authority, and it either is or is not accountable to California state employment laws. But they cannot claim they are “none of the above” on the grounds that they are “all of the above.”
So, I admire the transparency of a single mother working to overcome generations of poverty, exploitation, and addiction, and a lifetime of abuse in her family of origin, then a string of foster homes, and more recently by men who found her susceptible to their demands. At the same time, I find reprehensible the duplicity of respected family men holding terminal degrees, receiving six-figure salaries, and presuming upon ninety-two years of heritage to assuage their fears of the transparency that integrity requires.
|Simpson in Seattle, in San Francisco, in Redding|
What brought all this to mind? A call from a local reporter. To verify her upcoming series of stories on Simpson University, she asked, “Is there anything I’ve misquoted? Is there anything you want to change about what you’ve said?” She had quoted me accurately, but there will likely be consequences to what I have said. And yet, as difficult as it was to hear her repeat them, not only do I still believe them to be true, I have already said them to those administrators who surely would have corrected me if they could.
The transparency required of integrity means that I have to say what is true, but also that what is true needs to be said.