The danger of taking things out of context.
All things being fair, I am going to explain why these people, in accordance with the Bible, are simply wrong. This is from my perspective and I will go through the story and add my little notes and then comment at the end. Forgive the color coding, but you are dealing with an ADHD blogger. It’s the only way I could “disect” the story. And note this is my humble opinion, and I’m open to other thoughts on the subject.
Woman Says Church Threatening To Make Sins Public
POSTED: Monday, December 15, 2008 – Source: Jacksonville News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A divorced Jacksonville woman said her former church has threatened to “go public with her sins” and tell the congregation about her sexual relationship with her new boyfriend.
Let’s look at Matthew 18:12
12″What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
How happy do you think Jesus would be about a church “persecuting the lamb that wandered off” rather than doing something to help her see the light and return restored?
Rebecca Hancock said harassment from Grace Community Church in Mandarin over her sex life caused her to leave, but she said that didn’t put an end to the problem. She said she received a letter from the church’s elders telling her the church plans to make her personal life very public. “I’m basically run out. I’m the church harlot,” Hancock said.
1 Corinthians 5:11
But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
1 Corinthians 7:2
But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
These scriptures, and there are many more, refer to what Christ taught about how Christians are supposed to behave sexually. God’s design is that sex should be part of marriage. If you are having sex, even with someone you love, you are sinning. Suck it up Rebecca, you are acting as a harlot and not a Christian when you engage in sex with a man who is not your husband. But, I believe your sin is between you and God.
The 49-year-old said she has been dating a man for a while and she said members of the congregation at Grace Community Church haven’t been happy about the relationship. “Because I have a boyfriend that I’m involved with … to not be married to that person is a sin,” Hancock said.
She said the issue caused her to leave the church. However, she said the church has not let go of her. The letter Hancock received from the church states that because she has refused to end her sexual relationship with her boyfriend, “you leave us with no other choice but to carry out the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ” … “In accordance with Matthew 18:17 we intend to ‘tell it to the church.'”
“On January 4, my sins will be told to the church, publicly, with my children sitting in the church and my friends,” Hancock said. The pastor of Grace Community Church, Dr. T. Scott Christmas, told Channel 4 he had no comment.
Pastors with whom Channel 4 spoke on Monday said announcing a sin to a congregation is not abnormal. They said it’s written in the Bible to punish sinners who continue to sin. The difference in Hancock’s case is that she has left the church, and the pastors said that’s is usually where punishment ends.
Despite the church’s letter stating its biblical backing, Hancock said she has backed out of the church and they should leave her alone because she is no longer a member. “I am a Christian, and that will never change. My relationship with Jesus has to do with me and Jesus, and he knows my heart,” Hancock said.
Yes Rebecca, he knows your heart, but you are engaging in sin. You can’t be “Christlike” (Please note, I’m not saying a Christ clone, I am saying Christlike, which is what a Christian should strive for) and break the fundamental rules of the God. To Rebecca’s credit, she left the church in question and this is where I have issue with what this Church is doing.
The book of Matthew does have three steps that the church talked about in taking action against a member who is in sin. Hancock said she is now attending a different church, and said she is planning to send a letter to Grace Community Church to make sure it’s understood that she no longer a member.
This is the passage in question:
A Brother Who Sins Against You
15″If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'[c] 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.18″I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be[d]bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.19″Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Please note that is says “if a brother sins against you”. This is important, because it is not saying “if a member of the church sins against God”. The entire passage is about public sin that hurts the body of Christ (members of the Church). If she was having sex with a man in the church who was married to someone else, that would be a public sin that would hurt the entire church once it was known. Or members that engage in gossip about one another would be committing a public sin. Those sort of sins are the petty bickering and immoral behaviors that can destroy a church. In this passage, Matthew is trying to give Christ’s instruction on how to defuse these situations so healing and forgiveness can take place or the offending sinner can be called out. When this woman left the church, she is no longer a member, but more importantly, the nature of her sin is between her and God. What she does in her own home is not a “sin against any person but herself”. By not following God’s plan and the laws he has given us through Christ, she drives a wedge between her and God.
The people in this church are taking this passage out of context to justify abusing a lost soul. If she remained in the church, was participating in active roles and refused to repent and turn away from her sin, they would have the right to call her out on it, but that is not the case. This is the kind of fundamentalism I have never cared for. Having been a Christian in a state of sin for many years myself, I know how long it takes sometimes, for a some people to “get it”. Running them out of the assembly is not the way to enlighten them and help them grow in faith. This kind of treatment of people, even if they are “weak brothers/sisters”, is not part of the love our Savior exemplified. We don’t become all knowing or mature in our faith within 24 hours of the commitment to the Lord, it takes time to grow in faith and mistakes sometimes have to be made to bring us where the Lord wants us. This is my personal opinion and I welcome any comment or thoughts on this. God Bless.