I was on the Honor Council for 2 terms (once as an intern and once as a GI). I look back now and am extremely saddened when I think about the people I hurt with my harsh punishments. During my first term on the Honor Council, we were all very strict. We did not deliberate much. To us, everything was black and white, cut and dry. Violate a rule and you were pretty much gone. There was really no mercy from anyone on the council. I heard David Hasz say something once along the lines of, “People who knowingly violate the rules do not deserve mercy.” I definitely soaked up that attitude and dispensed punishment accordingly.
My second term was a little different. It was almost a totally new group of people and one of them actually wanted to deliberate and actually give the intern the benefit of the doubt (gasp!). I think most of us saw this as a waste of time and wondered why this person couldn’t get it together and agree with the rest of us?? We generally ended up going with the harsh punishment we originally wanted, anyway.
Then something happened. After a week or two of intense cases (right after the holiday break) our very own chairman was brought before the Honor Council for what was actually the most egregious violation we had ever seen. Many tears were shed during that meeting and he was dismissed. (The whole internship was shocked – just goes to show you really can’t judge people correctly!) Then, it wasn’t long before a couple of other Honor Council members were brought before the council and they ended up being placed on probation.
After I graduated from the HA and moved on, I realized that many of us on the council who had been the most “hard ass” were actually just as deeply flawed as anyone who had appeared before us. About a third of the council (maybe more, my memory is a little fuzzy) was either dismissed or put on probation. And the individual I remember as being the most strict actually got his girlfriend pregnant (another alumnus) after being out of the HA for less than a year….
In retrospect, the whole Honor Council thing is just a bad idea. I get that having your peers hear your “case” could be a good thing, but most of the time it really just served to make many of us on the Honor Council feel superior, and probably made the interns before us feel like failures. It puts up walls instead of building bridges. Did being elected to the Honor Council twice play to my pride? Sure. I’m not saying I wasn’t at fault here – I most certainly was. But the system set me up for it, that’s for sure.
From beginning to end, the Honor Council is involved in judging people’s hearts. The intern body selects those they deem to be “most honorable.” Generally, they are really only judging on outward characteristics like charisma, likeability, and outward shows of passion for God. I think you can see from what I’ve already written that none of us on the council were any better than anyone else.
Then, determing the hearts of the interns that came before us – that is tricky business. Those people were really vulnerable and we generally tore them to shreds. I can only speak for myself, but I know that I ALWAYS assumed the worst about the interns. Looking back, I can say we dismissed people for the STUPIDEST stuff. And that goes for probation as well. But at the time, it all seemed so right.
Lastly, I would like to apologize to everyone that came before my Honor Council. Sadly, I hardly remember any names so I can’t contact you. But I regret that you felt rejection because of my actions and I can only pray that you have found peace, acceptance and love in the arms of God despite what we did to you. And I hope you can forgive me for causing you so much pain.