When did the church decide to ignore the portions of Scripture about church discipline? When did we decide we knew better than God about what is healthy and right? What has happened to church leaders who say ENOUGH?
Paul was clear; followers of Jesus were NOT to associate with other followers of Jesus who were sexually immoral, greedy, swindlers, or idolaters.
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ESV (emphasis mine)
So how did we get from there to more than 50% of our modern Bible believing church attenders abusing pornography? (Pastors included.) Truly this is just a somewhat measurable yard stick, but my bigger concern is the abuse that is rampant in our churches and left undealt with. Modern church leadership seems to want the unhealthy, disobedient “Christians” to continue sitting in the pews each week. I don’t think it usually is for financial gain, and would like to think it is out of the goodness of their hearts that these leaders twist themselves, and their church membership, in knots trying to keep everyone in attendance; but in doing so, they are ignoring clear Biblical teaching. God instructs us to not do life side by side in the church with those who are living in full out rebellion to His way of life.
God wants the church to be a light for Him. We will never be perfect of course, but to embrace immorality while feigning worship of God is not an option scripturally. We are called to live God honoring lives.
I believe God designed the church to be a haven for those who worship Him as Savior. Our children should not be in harm’s way just so we can continue fellowshiping dangerous individuals. Spouses of dangerous people should not be continually placed in danger all in the name of not rocking the boat. That is not love, it’s enabling sin! When did we decide tolerating sin was righteous?? Unless abusers demonstrate active repentance and turn from their evil ways, they should be treated as outsiders, and not be associated with, or welcomed at our gatherings. Regardless of who they are. God is not a respecter of persons, and He shows favoritism to no one. If anything, God takes the side of the victim. He is the defender of the defenseless.
At the very least we are called to address unrepentant sin publicly, if it’s found in our church leaders. (I would argue that the Bible teaches it is not just church leadership that should be publicly dealt with, but at least leaders need to be held to a high standard.)
“Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.” 1 Timothy 5:19-21 ESV (emphasis mine)
I am thankful that I attended a church growing up where I was able to see this played out. Of course I wish the pastor had not committed adultery, but since he HAD chosen to do so, the church addressed it publicly, from the front of the congregation. It was hard. Very hard. But it was healthy, and it was Biblical. And every one of us in the church knew not to take living in sin with a grain of salt.
What would the church look like today if we addressed sexual immorality issues (pornography…..) publicly, at the very least holding our leaders Biblically accountable? Would it be hard? You bet. But we would produce far better fruit. And perhaps our leaders would rightly recognize and address immorality in their congregants if they weren’t personally harboring it in their own lives.
Be the church. Be set apart for Jesus.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 ESV
“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-8-19 ESV
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:9-12 ESV