Ken Gallinger, Ethics Columnist at the Toronto Star, responded today about a church where 12-year-old boys are taken on weekend camping trips by the pastor and “a couple of other men”, as a “rite of passage”:
Gallinger’s answer is excellent and well-balanced. To it, I will just add the following thoughts.
Nothing in the Bible teaches that 12-year-old boys need to go on camping trips with “the pastor and a couple of other men”, especially if the parents are not invited to participate. Any church that preaches this as some mandatory – or strongly encouraged – “rite of passage” rightfully invites suspicion.
At the bare minimum, a responsible church would ensure that the male parent or guardian would also be invited to join in the trip. Gallinger’s advice to observe those who have previously went on these trips, and to speak with their parents, is definitely worth repeating.