Friday, December 19, 2008

Church Discipline A Faux Pas?

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.
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.

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.'"

Hmm. A church that is attempting to obey scriptural mandates from their Lord is taking heat for it from a person who claims Him as "Lord" but is refusing to obey scriptural mandates concerning sexual sin? And this is in the news why?

You can read more here.

1 comment:

Aiden Tharsos said...

I would only point out that:

A) she is no longer a member of the church at the time the church has threatened to out her, so it seems that her dissolved membership should have lifted the church's obligation...which makes this seem a little spiteful;

B) there is no discussion in the article linked to regarding what evidence the church has about her personal relationship with her boyfriend (though in the article she does seem to admit it), which makes me wonder precisely how involved this church is in the personal lives of its members;

C) and my understanding of the scripture being used to justify this would require that we look at the preceeding verses. Matthew 18:17 does indicate that standing church members should be publically penalized for the outcome of a cross examination by multiple witnesses, with some intent to confirm allegations (though how this is done, and definitions of the rights of the accused are clearly less important in this passage than the investment of power for church authorities). However, Matthew 18:15 (the beginning of this line of statements) says: Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. It appears from the context of this and the intermediate verses (as is the case in every other translation I've referenced) that this set of verses is designed to resolve a wrong committed by one church member against another, not to be used to build an inquisition-style movement within a church body whose intent is to police one another's personal struggles and Christian walk. Now, we aren't provided with information in the linked article to go on, but I think it would have been included if this were a case where she had wronged a fellow church member, thus spawning an investigation into her sex life (e.g. the boyfried was a member of the congregation and someone else's boyfriend too, etc.). As it stands, I hardly think it is appropriate for one church member who may or may not know that another church member is having sex outside of marriage to prefer charges against another simply because it offends their sensibilities. One right that neither religion nor our Constitution provides us is the right not to be offended.