Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


Today we were given this case study to read in the last 15 minutes of class. We were supposed to read it and then discuss what we’d do in this scenario… if you want a taste of ethics class at the graduate seminary level 🙂 , you can read on:

Keith Loewen is nearing the end of his seminary education- just weeks away. It has been a long haul, but God has been faithful and the end appears in sight. Norma, his wife, has been incredibly suppportive through the years, and has not complained about their tight finances and the debt load they’ve acquired. This final year Keith quit the software company he had been working for, and has been working various weekend odd-jobs so that he can go to seminary full-time and finish everything up in a final push to the finish line. One down-side of this strategy is that they have no medical insurance. Their eight-year old daughter Natasha is overdue for some expensive corrective surgery on her legs. It breaks their hearts to see her in such discomfort.

Keith has already interviewed for an associate pastor position at a well-established church in an adjacent state, and has been offered a surprisingly well-paying full-time job, with medical benefits, as soon as he graduates from seminary. “There are a lot of needy people in crisis in this congregation, Keith,” the chairman of the church board had confided. “They’ve already come to love you and Norma, and can’t wait for you to come.” Completing the Master of Divinity was the only unfulfilled requirement of the position. As soon as Keith gets it, they’ll move and, of course, schedule Natasha’s surgery.

Keith’s last required course had a take-home exam that had to be handed in electronically before Monday morning at 9am. The professor, who has a reputation for being a real stickler, warned the class all term that there would be no grace for late exams. Either get it in on time or take an “F”.

With everything going on in their hectic lives, Keith forgot about the deadline. He remembered around noon on Monday while he was stuck in traffic. It was a horrible moment. He called the professor immediately to see if there were any exceptions. But the professor simply reiterated his policy. Keith’s only hope was to report that he had sent the exam in on time, but somehow it hadn’t gone through on the internet. The professor said he would simply need a witness (someone like Norma, for example) who would support her husband’s account of what actually happened.

Keith and Norma were on the couch in their small apartment, discussing their options, and pondering the catastrophic consequences if he failed to graduate. “Maybe this is the time for a little white lie,” Keith speculated with his head in his hands. Just then the phone rang, and little Natasha, who’d been listening to their conversation, ran to get it. “It’s for you, Mommy,” she called. Norma was at the end of her emotional energy. “Tell them I’ve stepped out,” she shouted back. She had bigger problems to deal with.

If you were Keith, what would you do? If you were Norma, what would you do? And what would be your advice to little Natasha? Give reasons for your answers that reflect engagement with categories and concepts discussed in this course.

Here’s my answers that I said to my discussion group table:

  1. SLAP KEITH: I’d get my buddies together and have a slap-a-thon with Keith until he gets a clue. What kind of dad watches his kid walk around in pain all day in the name of school? Get a job at Starbucks part time and get some freakin’ benefits. Or drop out of school and quit paying thousands of dollars for class and put it towards health insurance instead. What a dork.
  2. SMACK THE PROF: Forget lying to the professor. Let’s slash his tires. What kind of jerk can’t have compassion for a graduate student who has thousands and thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours invested in this guys salary and is one class away from a degree just so he can hold to his stupid rules. Give the dude another day and knock his grade on the test down a notch or whatever, but wake up and smell the coffee! The world doesn’t revolve around seminary.
  3. DRIVE A TRUCK THROUGH THE CHURCH: What is up with this congregation’s leaders? I’d drive my truck through the front door in protest as a wake up call to this idiocy. What kind of well established rich church watches the daughter of a future pastor on their team go through delays for surgery under the auspice that he is highly qualified to do the job, minus one small issue of a piece of paper the dude is one class from getting? Someone on this board needs a good fish smack to the face.
  4. WHERE DID THIS GUY FIND THIS WIFE? Did he buy her online? My wife would have left me at the corner and told me not to come home until I figured out how to get a job and help our daughter. It would have sounded something like, “If you love that stupid seminary so much, you can marry it. While you’re at it, why don’t you just go ahead and sleep there. I’m going to sell all your tools on craig’s list to pay for our daughter’s surgery. When you wake up and pull your head out of the hole you’ve got it buried in, maybe I’ll let you sleep in the backyard for a while.”

I think the issue was supposed to be about lying. Yep, I’m gonna fail this class.


  1. I think those would be some good ethical decisions – that case study is pretty unrealistic.

  2. I was thinking that wife thing for sure. What the heck! Give me a break.

  3. With the issues you brought up, you deserve an A!

  4. christina says:

    i love you brian.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. yay for brian, and his way of doing things. love you man.

  7. …now aren’t you glad you’ve spent all that money to go to a class and read a case study whose sole purpose was to reinforce what you could have learned in a Sunday School class?

    Yay Seminary!

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