An Arrogant Church Enables the Wicked
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. (1 Co 4:18)
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good….(1 Co 5:1-6a)
We have often written on the topic of local churches enabling abusers, allowing them to remain in the church, even allowing them in many cases to be members in “good standing,” while — you all know the familiar scenario — the victim of the abuser is guilted, dismissed, or even ex-communicated. And we have often discussed why this happens. How can it be? I believe the Apostle Paul gives us the answer in the verses cited above, at least the answer in a good many cases — arrogance.
Look what Paul says to these Corinthians. He is shocked. They are permitting a grossly evil man to remain among them, no doubt counting him as a brother in Christ. This was no small sin. His fornication was of a startling nature, so much so that not even the pagan world would permit it. And you are arrogant. There it is. They should have mourned and been grieved that such a terrible sin was in their midst. But they didn’t. They boasted. I suppose they boasted about the grace of God and about how gracious they were in not being judgmental. Same old shtick we hear today so often.
Now, I want to tweak this Scripture just a bit. I think it’s ok with the Lord. Here goes:
It is actually reported that there is domestic abuse among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man is cruelly abusing his wife while he claims to follow Christ. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good…
You say that you want to “help” this wicked man? Then do what the Apostle says. Put him out of the church. Deliver this abuser over to Satan not only to protect the church from thinking this evil is permissible, but also so that Satan can have at him and maybe, just MAYBE, he will repent and his spirit be saved when Christ returns. THAT is God’s prescribed therapy for the abuser. Don’t keep him in the church. Don’t get him into some kind of therapy program to cure his anger. Don’t “love on him” until he is overwhelmed with warm fuzzies and repents. Put him out! Pronounce him cut off from Christ. Put him out into the world that he wants to be like and let Satan have at him.
All of this of course will require some serious humbling. That spirit of arrogance has to be confessed and rejected. Heads need to hang low and tears of repentance need to be shed, then action in keeping with that repentance must be taken. Put the man out.
What is wrong in our churches today? Why is this abuse hiding in the pulpits a virtual plague? And why won’t pastors and church leaders, for the most part — or church members — listen when we try to tell them what is going on among them? Why do so few pastors come to training seminars on domestic violence? Why? I am convinced Paul would tell us the answer in these words:
“And you are arrogant.”