11 Sep

One of the ironies in all of this is the idea of family.

As a Jewish follower of Jesus, one of the most common questions I am asked is whether my family disowned me when I became a Christ-follower.  It is not uncommon in Judaism for parents to hold funerals for their children who convert.

My family and parents neither had a funeral nor disowned me.  In fact, while obviously my parents were never happy with my faith decision, I am close to them today and we have a close family.  In the midst of all that has happened these last 4 months, one of the few bright spots has been the compassion, support, and grace from my family — and a reminder of how important they are to me.

Simply put, I think my parents would say you can’t disown someone from the family because love is unconditional.  You can’t get kicked out of the family.

The irony, of course, is that the church was also my family.  And it was always church people who asked me about being disowned — the same people who now have disowned me and kicked me out of the family.

1 Comment

Posted by on September 11, 2009 in Uncategorized


One response to “Family

  1. Ben Dubow

    September 11, 2009 at 4:33 am

    <p>I understand your point John, though I think Matthew 18 offers the normative approach to church discipline. Even in the Corinthian case, the language implies (I didn’t check the greek) that the sin is both ongoing and not recognized as sin (by the person or community)– vs 1 seems to imply that it is ongoing. I also think verse 2a and 6a suggest a significant part of the problem is that the community itself was in denial over what was sin. Calling anything that is sin good is a serious problem! </p><p>A part from my issue, in the past I have argued that the only time complete removal from community is warranted is when someone is (a) unrepentant and (b) denies that what they did was sin.</p><p>Similarly, in Matthew 18, the issue is ultimately about non-repentant people. That seems to be the important distinction. And when someone is non-repentant, we are to treat them like pagans or tax-collectors (which begs the interesting question of how Jesus dealt with pagans and tax collectors as a model for us…)</p><p>More broadly, church discipline done well is a process and should include a process for reconciliation — even if the possibility is remote or distant. When a process is not in place, it really is a disowning of the person and the problem (imho).</p><p>I also think that if one is going to assume that what Paul is talking about is any sexual sin — repentant, unrepentant, current, past — then we need to follow that out. 1 Cor 5:11 says: "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."</p><p>That is Paul at his heaviest. This is clearly serious stuff. But again I think the context demands that we understand this as ongoing and unrepentant sin. Otherwise, if the church were to cast out all those who are sexually immoral, greedy, drunks, swindlers, slanderers, etc — there would be few if any people left in the church. (Trust me… as a pastor I hear lots of confessions!)</p><p>Again, the context of this passage is (1) an unrepentant sinner (actually, more someone who denies that it is sin) and (2) a community that boasts of it and is proud of the sin. In other words, the community itself is in denial of the sin. </p><p>In neither case is this applicable to my situation or the church. And again, that is why I think we need to see Matthew 18 as the norming passage on discipline.</p><p>That said, I am still open to a process with the church and have said consistently that I am ready to submit myself to the authority of the board in whatever process they determine is most helpful and Biblical. At this point, it seems (from my perspective) that the church has no interest in a process or reconciliation. But again, time is a powerful thing… so I do not lose hope.</p><p>HE is good indeed!</p><p>BD</p>



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