Monday, July 28, 2014


The Bible is full of stories, and lessons that either implicitly or explicitly emphasize the importance of accountability in relationships. One of the things that gets lost in adolescence is just such an accountability. Finding one's way back to it, or making sure one never fully loses it, is a hard struggle. But it is a fruitful one.

When a parent has struggles with one of their children, whether it is just an unwillingness to follow rules or something more serious like a drug problem, I always tell them they'll know things have genuinely changed when the child comes back to them and thanks them for the limits they set on their behavior. A child may have to come back home for some reason as an adult. The parent then reasserts their rights to lay down rules. The child of the parent resists those rules and it creates endless tension. The turning point is when the child becomes thankful for the rules themselves.

I have been off of drugs for over a decade. But if someone I am in a relationship with came to me today and demanded a drug test, I'd submit to one and gladly. I WANT people to check up on me. I want to be held accountable to people. The truth is, though, that we live in a society where accountability is held as a low value. Loyalty trumps accountability in our world. In fact, it seems normal to us to be defensive if people try to monitor our behavior or if we are questioned or criticized.

This, to me, is perhaps the most important moral role God plays in my life. I feel accountability as a fundamental reality, woven into the very fabric of my being. I feel accountable for all that I do and am. At least I feel that way most of the time.

But, again, this seems alien to so many people today. We don't seek out accountable relationships and we don't expect much accountability in our leaders. Maybe it was always like this. I'm not trying to put on a kind of 'in the good old days' act. I don't know directly what life was like before. What I do know is that, today, I see many people doing all they can to create webs of relationships that do not have accountability. This, to me, is part of the reason marriage is eroding as an institution. It seems to me that part of the point of getting married is to create a relationship with someone who can look at you and say "nuh-uh, you ain't all that and a bag of better check yourself." In other words, it is a way of creating a process of accountability.

Accountability. It seems the only place they are teaching it any more is AA.

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