The fallout from the hazing incident surrounding the girl’s soccer team at Needham High School continues – about ten girls face school suspension and about 12 girls missed the team’s most recent match in the state playoffs. A team consisting mostly of junior varsity players lost 7-1, thus ending the team’s season.
The question that needs to be answered: who still thinks hazing in high school sports is a just innocent fun? As the stories of seniors blindfolding, taunting, and humiliating the other students emerges, the defenders of the suspended students declare: “This is really not all that bad. This is just being blown out of proportion.” These contentions, obviously, emerge from a secular mind that intuitively thinks the powerful are entitled to lord their authority over those who are weaker. “Is this not,” they surely think, “just how the world works?”
Indeed, the world does tacitly expect those with authority to brandish their potency in a self-serving capacity. In recognizing this reality, Jesus Christ serves as the ultimate counter example. Despite being full divine, Jesus responds as his disciples surreptitiously angled to be his most honored follower: “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20.25-28 NLT).
Jesus later backed this call to “serve others” with his own actions. On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus observed the Passover meal with his disciples. During the meal, he washed their feet. In this action, Jesus served those who followed him. He declared, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message” (John 13.15-16 NLT).
The story from girl’s soccer team at Needham High School reminds most people: there is something innately appalling when a person in power uses that authority to degrade others. Whether collaring someone like a canine is just innocent merriment or smashing a whipped cream pie into another person’s face is just youthful silliness, these actions offer stark contrasts to the intuitive recognition that the powerful should protect the weak. Who thinks it is just dandy when a hostile parent angrily chastises a clumsy toddler? Who thinks it is right for the company’s president to whimsically belittle the volunteer intern? Who thinks it is appropriate for a bulked-up youth to physically intimidate a frail-looking counterpart? People innately understand a key biblical principle: those with power should serve others.
Those who defend the hazing incident as “not that bad” have lost touch with this reality. The glorification of power in this world blinds everyone to some extent. For brief instances like this incident, the truth flashes with neon lights: hazing younger students is, with equivocation, wrong.