During my time in the National Guard, I had a peeve in the area of discipline. In the military, the non-commissioned officer (NCO) was responsible for “corrective training”; the commissioned officer for punishment. Drill sergeants for example were really good at finding creative ways to encourage soldiers. However in the Guard , frequently you would hear from the NCO’s mouth, “I am going to take your pay”.

Normally (and legally), an NCO cannot take someone’s pay. The only person(s) within a soldier’s chain of command with the authority take one’s pay is a commander of some sort. As an officer, and especially as commander, this always struck a nerve. While I understand that the lack of a Code of Military Justice limits a leader’s ability to ensure effective discipline, this demonstrates a lack of imagination on the part of the NCO.

The statement would relieve the NCO of responsibility and put the job of correction on his superior. If the soldier is late. “Take his pay.” If the soldier forgot to bring his helmet. “Take his pay.” If the soldier assaults someone. “Take his pay.”

I believe the punishment should fit the crime. And before we get to the hammer we should take a step to try to correct the action.

In the Church, I see the same thing. The rush to disfellowship is horrifying. Excommunicating young mothers, instead of nurturing them. What about the sperm donors, have we found them? It shows that we do not understand what it is. Disfellowship should not be the first step in discipline but the last. And only if the member chooses not to turn from sin. In my reading of EGW writings, I understand disfellowship as I mentioned above. Disfellowship is not discipline; it is Death.

I would recommend empowering the elders of the church as well in areas such as these. I truly believe the elders are underutilized and there is little accountability. But that’s another topic.

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