Friday, December 19, 2008

"Florida Woman Says Former Church Plans to Make Her Sins Public"

I saw this article yesterday and was curious to see what you all thought about the situation. Essentially, this woman was a member of a church in Florida and was actively in an immoral relationship. She was confronted by one person, then a group of ladies, and now the Elders have sent her a letter calling her to repent or have her sin taken before the church (all in accordance with Mt. 18:15-17). Before I write about my opinions, what do you all think?

You can read the article for yourself here.


JR said...

Casey this raises a great question. I think it is important for people to know that their sins can be kept private, when sharing to someone in a leadership role in the church, allowing people to feel comfortable sharing. I’d compare this to some type of Doctor/Patient confidentiality. While I understand the versus from Matthew I do not personally believe it applies to a leader in the church.

"If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”

Against YOU is very important, to me in my beliefs, and I do know that many churches do not acknowledge this. That being stated I personally believe that if I sin directly against you (Casey) you have the right to follow the three steps, however if I open up to you (Casey) as a leader in the church about a sin I have performed then you should try to offer support and guidance. If I choose to leave your church because I disagree with your guidance then that should be my choice. I don’t believe that a church should force itself upon its members instead it should “then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector”(MT. 18:17). This is my personal belief.

I can however understand how a church would follow the steps in the article based on their beliefs. I also think it is very important that when you become a member in a church you fully understand and agree with their doctrines. It doesn’t sound like the church has gone against its core beliefs. I don’t agree with those beliefs, the sin performed, or the idea of sharing these actions in front of her children but I do believe that the church member is responsible for understanding the viewpoints of the church she joined. If I have a known iodine allergy and order and eat a lobster then die I believe it’s my fault and that there should be nothing changed to the way the restaurant functions.

Brad said...

I have no problem with the steps taken here so far. However, after someone has left the church, I don't think that the church should continue on with the steps described in Matthew. There is no reason I see to do this . . . once she has left after refusing to repent of sin, it is the church's job to pray for her repentance and for restoration of fellowship. Announcing sins of a former member who is struggling to balance love and doctrine will do more damage than good in the long run. If she has left the church and can do no damage to any of the flock there, then I say that the church should give her up for a time and pray.

James Lane said...

I have been in churches that have dealt with this exact problem. I think that a church has a responsibility, always, to leave a pathway home for a Christian living in open sin. I also believe that the church has a responsibility to deal with those, professing to be Christians, who are living in open sin, that could do damage to the flock.

When we have dealt with these situations in our congregation we have taken the steps in Matthew 18. When we have had to go before the church we told the congregation what was going on but then we chose to offer a pathway home for that person. If he or she did not repent, we chose to love that person as if he or she were lost. We continue to pray for the person, that he or she will come to the saving knowledge of Christ. We also continue to offer the same love and support we would show someone who is not a Christian.

The only missteps that this church in Florida might have taken was that this women's sin was made public to a number of people before it was brought before the congregation. I am reluctant to cast blame on this congregation because I do not believe that we can know everything that went on in this situation. I am also not sure if this news article is not a case of God's Word and the business of The Church being held up to secular Godless ridicule. I want to be careful not to pile on.


Casey Cease said...

This isn't my formal response, but in a way, she kinda beat them to the punch didn't she? As far as making her sins public. Instead of a couple thousand, now it's in front of a couple of million... Whoopsie-Daisies...


Gabriele said...

I don't agree with this particular church's steps at all. First, when someone confides something to a "mentor" that is confidential it should be kept confidential. Secondly, I also think that to follow the verse said, it clearly states “if your brother sins against YOU” and it doesn’t seem as though that is the case here, unless she was married to the “mentor” or something then there is no way that her sin is against anyone else. Thirdly, who is without sin? And what sin is worse than another? I sin everyday, as does everyone. Is her immoral relationship, or whatever you might want to call it, really that much worse than lying or coveting a neighbors possessions? I don’t think so. And lastly, “if any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7 in regards to the woman caught in the act of adultery. I feel as though to publicly ridicule her does not bring any more people to Christ, it actually turns them away because like I said earlier, who is without sin?

James Lane said...

I think that if you put a blanket "who is without sin" on this you oversimplify the issue. For instance if this women is teaching a sunday school that my daughter is in, using this logic the churches hands are tied in dealing with her because, it is true, we are equals in sin.

I believe that we have taken too much emphasis off of what is required of a Christian, to be a part of a body of believers. Now the world looks at the church as just another civic group. The fact is if we do not live lives separated from the sins of the world we will not reach the world around us. They look at our lives and see no difference.

In this women's case I don't think that she was concerned with confidentiality. The relationship was open. I think she was more worried about finding justification for her sin through the church. The sad thing is, there are several churches, that teach no doctrine, that she could could go to and live as if she is Christian member.

We must reach those who are lost and living in sin and welcome them into the church. But until they are surrendered to God's Will for their lives we can not hold them up as leadership or members of the church body.


Agnes Dei said...

Hmmm.This sort of thing is the exact reason why I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to becoming a Christian and why I still won't go to church. Individually, I love people. En masse, they tend to be assholes.