Thursday Thought — Who is to put the abuser out of the church?
1 Corinthians 5:11-13. 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.”
If the Church is to put abusers out, then WE as spouses and parents, are most certainly allowed — even commanded — to put them out of our homes, because WE are the Church, the body of believers. The Church is not a building, it is the people that fill the building. But instead we are admonished to sleep with the enemy by staying married and continuing to be a “biblical wife” to our abusers.
(The above gem can be found on the GEM page and was contributed by IAmMyBeloved’s, Fiftyandfree, and Barbara Roberts, from comments found here.)
Ps Sam Powell sermon: Things God Hates — 1 Corinthians 5
Ps Sam Powell sermon: The Purification of the Church — 1 Corinthians 5
- Posted in: Unjust church responses
- Tagged: church response to abuse, Corinthians, Thursday Thought
So true and so unrecognized by many in the body. They are to be put out of the church, but instead we are told to love them. Are we to love snakes as well? Should we sleep with a den of wolves?
Good question! Let me see. In the Garden of Eden, God was not happy when Eve and Adam loved and followed the snake’s enticements. In fact, God judged them by imposing a curse on them. He gave them consequences for their misbehavior.
Yes, he loved Adam and Eve too, and promised to send a savior who would lift the curse and redeem them from being chained to the consequences of their sins. This is the archetypal example of how God both hates and judges sinners and expresses love at the same time.
Christians today often act like followers of Christ can do the work that only God can do — the work that Christ has actually done already in being perfectly obedient to God’s Law during His life and taking on the penalty for all our sins in His death.
We are never perfectly obedient, but by faith and spiritual rebirth we are in Christ and He in us, HIs perfect obedience is accounted to us, and our sins are accounted to him and thus are fully paid for.
Yet the church would often have us believe that we can and should make an abuser (an entrenched, hardened, deceitful, self-centred evildoer) right with Christ by loving them into the kingdom. But that’s ignoring a whole heap of the evidence. Did Jesus love all the Pharisees and Caiaphas and all the members of the Sanhedrin into the kingdom? Did the apostles and disciples in the book of Acts love all the circumcision party (who Paul called ‘dogs’) into the kingdom? Did Paul end up loving Diotrephes and Alexander the Coppersmith into the kingdom?
Good Answer, Barb! And I thought the question was rhetorical. ; ) God has given you a wonderful gift! This blessed my heart. All we can do is live our lives for Christ and pray that others will see His light through us. When that light is under a bushel of abuse it grows dim. We can’t force/love others to believe or change their lives. Only they, with God’s help, can do that.
Brenda, I once tried to explain to a well-meaning friend sent to counsel me that if you had a tenacious dog biting at your ankle, you would want to kick it away. Her response? “Oh, but he’s not a dog!” An, that’s where the problem is. They see the abuser in the way that the abuser wants them to. A drunkard, a swindler? Heavens, no! You mustn’t say that about him. I mean, he’s a great guy!
His Child – God’s Word has some choice names for just such a person, doesn’t it!!
His child, This person had no idea what an analogy was first off. I have to wonder how she manages through the parables which Jesus spoke. Of course he is a great guy. Now let her live with him for just a little while and lets see what she thinks then. I suppose that is when a phrase like, “that is how you see it”, is appropriate.
I had the wonderful opportunity to have lunch with an older woman from my church yesterday who never married. She had opportunities but could see what her life would be like if she had accepted one of these proposals and didn’t like the outcome. She was a nurse and a wonderful ministry came to her through that occupation. She will be taking many young souls with her to Glory for her labors.
She could see everything I said about abuse and had seen much first hand while being a nurse. It was so refreshing to talk to someone who gets it. We told each other our life long stories over the next few hours. She was so supportive of my decision to divorce and said “Jesus did not intend for marriage to be what I had experienced”. She said we were both Overcomers. I felt that high praise coming from a woman of her caliber.
Dear Brenda, when you next see her please give her a hug from me. 🙂
Tomorrow morning, Barb, Lord willing.
It is interesting that in the Gospels, Jesus tells His disciples (of which we believers are today) that if they bring the Gospel to a place that rejects it, (i.e. abusive spouse) to shake the dust off their feet as a witness against that place – and MOVE ON. He does not tell them to keep bringing it over and over again or to stay in that town and just take the abuse being dished out and eventually the people will crumble and accept Him as Savior. But today, we are told to hang in there, many times for decades, take the abuse and continue to “win ’em to Christ!”. However, it seems that counsel goes directly opposite to what Christ said to do.
What is it, that makes us think that anything has changed, since Christ gave that command, or that we know better than what Jesus said to do? For some reason, we are told now to believe that if we hold onto the evil and embrace it and love it, that doing so will somehow win those wicked ones to Christ. It seems to me, that Jesus knew what He was talking about and our following man’s advice has only led to the weakening of the Church of Christ and the believers in it – not the strengthening of it. There was a reason why Jesus told us not to stay and argue for Salvation. In Mark 9:16, Jesus asks His disciples, what they were arguing (ESV) (or discussing NASB [or NASB1995]) with the Pharisees. As if He didn’t know. I believe His point was that it was weakening them to be arguing or discussing the things of God, with those (Pharisees) who did not believe. Just like staying in abuse weakens us.
It is God’s job to save people, not ours. I personally, would not continue to go to a neighbor’s home that I was trying to preach the Gospel to, if they abused me every time I went there, and God obviously does not call us to do that. So why do we do it in the one place where God meant for us to be safe and loved in life?
I always wondered about verses like this one, and that in Proverbs that say not to have friendship with angry men (Prov. 22:24). But most people in abusive marriages don’t find out they have married an abuser for several years into the marriage. Then what? Turn the other cheek? Pray and submit? That’s mostly what we hear. It’s nice to see someone bring verses like these to light. I just wish the church were more open to hearing this side of things.
Isaiah, The sad thing is that if the word “married” were not in the equation and you were being abused by another person, the advice would be completely different. You would be told to stay away from that person. Shake the dust from your feet. No one would say that you must continue any form of relationship with the individual whatsoever.
Very true, Brenda.
We received a comment that we are not going to publish as it came to us, because we suspect it comes from abuser. But I am pasting some of it here, and then rebutting the points that the commenter made. All italicised text below was written by the commenter.
I appreciate the pioneering work you all are doing in bringing domestic violence and abuse to light. I have benefited from your resources. Too many Christians have been silent, uneducated and unengaged on this subject for too long.
My suspicions go up instantly; the words are smoother than butter, so I’m alert for the possibility of the drawn sword. And . . . lo and behold . . . here it is:
However, I am concerned about the implications of this post.
You are suggesting that if someone is caught up in one of these lifestyles of sin (which is not an exhaustive list, but representative) that they are to be put out of their family households.
Yes, that is exactly what we are suggesting. You got that right.
This is a dangerous and erroneous application of this Scripture. This would mean that a parent with a Christian teen who is getting drunk regularly on the weekends MUST kick their child to the curb. It would also mean that a Christian husband whose Christian wife cares more about celebrity gossip than worshipping the Lord (idolatry), then that husband is COMMANDED to put her away. You see how absurd this can get.
The examples given are pushing the envelope to the extreme, to try to ridicule our position. But they do not really prove the point. If a teenage child is getting drunk regularly, Chrisitian parents will weigh their duty of care to their under-age child to provide them with a roof over their head and food and clothing, versus the precept of putting out the unbeliever. The OT says something about how parents should bring a rebellious son to judgement and the ultimate penalty is capital punishment (stoning), so putting a chronically rebellious teen out of the home is small bickies compared to that, is it not? But wise and sensible parents will make judgement calls about when putting a child out of the home is appropriate, and the age, sex and vulnerability of the child will have a bearing on the case.
Regarding the wife who prefers celeb gossip to Christianity, this is probably taking the mickey out of Paul’s teaching. Remember that idolatry in Paul’s day referred primarily to the worship of idols, graven or cast images in pagan temples. Temples of devils. Yes, the word ‘idolatry’ can mean something much broader than that, but clearly in this passage in 1 Cor 5 Paul is not talking about small recreational diversions into the bauble and glitter of this world. He is talking about someone who is entrenched in heinous and serious sin. If a wife or a husband puts their whole intent and focus on the bauble and glitter of this world, so that it’s not just an occasional preference when they need recreation or ‘down time’, then that may be another matter and perhaps worthy of dis-attaching from them, but such a person would probably show intentional overt or covert hostility to the Christian spouse (i.e., abuse).
Does the church have the command to withdraw Christian fellowship from an unrepentant brother or sister living in sin? Absolutely! This is a severely neglected commandment that many Christians must give an answer for. However, church discipline does NOT necessarily negate familial responsibilities. Even if the church has withdrawn Christian fellowship from my wife, that does not necessarily mean I must divorce her or put her away. I still have apostolic, binding commandments to fulfill my duties as a husband to her: e.g. “A husband should give to his wife her sexual rights, and likewise a wife to her husband.” (1 Cor 7:3 NET); “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (1 Pet 3:7 NIV11).
That is plain ridiculous. Christian ethics often requires that one biblical precept overrides another. Only fools, or abusers who like to twist scriptures to their own advantage, would say that every biblical precept applies with as much force in every single case. If that were the way things were in the realm of ethical wisdom, then God himself would be impotent: his Justice would totally extinguish his Mercy, and his Mercy would totally extinguish his Justice, and it would be a complete stalemate.
The sexual duties owed by each spouse to the other only pertain while the marriage exists. When the marriage is shattered and wrecked, when it is inverted into a diabolic masquerade of marriage where an abuser sucks the life out of a victim, then the innocent partner has no duty to give their body sexually to the abuser, and the abuser has no right to claim sexual rights from (or duties towards) the one he has so heinously abused. And to infer that 1 Peter 3:7 means a husband has the duty to live with his wife in an understanding manner so he cannot be put out of the home, is patently ridiculous. Abusive husband clearly demonstrate over a lengthy period of time that they are not willing to live in an understanding manner with their wives.
Well said, Barb!
Sounds like the start of a great post!
Get ’em Barb!
I agree with Ellie – the start of a great post – “When the marriage is shattered and wrecked, when it is inverted into a diabolic masquerade of marriage where an abuser sucks the life out of a victim, … Abusive husband clearly demonstrate over a lengthy period of time that they are not willing to live in an understanding manner with their wives.” It’s exhausting living within the ‘masquerade of marriage’ and very often the victim is accused of being the one who is not living in ‘an understanding manner’ with the abuser.
In response to that commenter: Umm…no one that I know of on this blog, has ever suggested kicking someone to the curb, for reading magazines or being interested in celebrities. This blog is about abuse. I have also never noted anyone here suggesting kicking a minor in their home, to the curb, for whatever reason. If a child is in a drunken lifestyle, (here on this blog that would be considered a coping mechanism for living with the abuser) then the parent owes it to the child, to get them help. First step: put the abuser out. Once the child becomes an adult, if they then continue to forge their drunken lifestyle and expect the parents to tolerate it or abide with it, they should be asked to leave. Sometimes love is tough.
The comparisons, are not even close to what is dealt with on ACFJ blog. We deal with abuse here, and it is always appropriate for a spouse to leave and/or divorce their abuser. I find it immensely interesting, that the Scripture concerning “sex” is used by you and also the Scripture about how husbands are to treat their wives, as this is the entire premise for why abusers are put out of their homes. Makes me wonder, sir, if the “c”hurch that booted your wife, is abusing her and you are just abiding with them while you abuse her also. Now there’s a question.
Barbara, great response!
To be fair, the writer could have been an abuser or a genuine truth-seeker who has not considered his views critically. Many years ago, I used to misapply scripture and interpret them to support patriarchal and no-divorce positions. If only someone had shown me the inconsistencies and explained them as thoroughly as you, Barbara, I might have changed my mind earlier. Hopefully anyone reading this post who genuinely wants to understand these issues will find your response helpful.
Whoever the commenter was is trying to cover his own tracks by making ridiculous remarks and attempting to undermine the work that is done here. I have never heard of a church withdrawing fellowship from someone who reads celeb magazines and if absurd. As for the teenage drinker, PARENT YOUR CHILD. Let them know that they are loved, get them counseling, maybe even perhaps get your house in order and bury the abuse in the house so deep in the ground that it never resurfaces. Having a united front of love, grace and showing your children God’s mercy and your child could do a 180 very quickly.