Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Seeking Advice about a Mom

posted by Scot McKnight

Q.jpgHere is a letter from a reader with some very specific questions: How do you respond when you discover your mother is now a lesbian? The traditionalist says such is contrary to God’s will, so the question emerges for this letter-writer on whether one should apply the disciplinary instructions of Paul to churches within one’s family. Assuming we can be civil here, and that means entering into the world of this letter writer and not just contending with him with our own viewpoint, I’m asking for a healthy and vigorous conversation today about his questions.


Hi Scot,

I am really having a hard time determining the appropriate response to my mother who is a professing Christian and is in a lesbian relationship.  When I started researching what the Bible says my response should be to her I immediately found the various articles on a well-known website endorsing “holy ostracism” based on 1 Cor 5, 2 Thess 3:14-15 and 1 Timothy 1:18-20 (also Matthew 18:15-17) [Texts after the jump.]  I am finding objections to this interpretation, including the argument that these passages are not for personal relationships but for church communities.

The problem is that my mother and her partner attend large churches and remain completely anonymous from the community.  It seems to me that the closest thing she has to a Christian community where she is known and loved and has the leverage to apply Paul’s teaching is our family.   Our family is actively seeking wisdom and guidance to how we respond and we are currently discussing the validity of “holy ostracism”.  We want to do the most loving thing and we want to follow in the way of Jesus.

I am very interested in hearing your perspective on this.  Do you think it is wrong to apply these passages to personal relationships?  If so, in what situations do we follow Paul’s instruction to disassociate with Christians who make peace with their sin?  I would LOVE to be convinced that “holy ostracism” is not to be applied to personal relationships because I don’t want to do this to my mother.


1 Corinthians 5

5:1 It is actually reported that sexual immorality exists among you, the kind of immorality that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with his father’s wife. 5:2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you? 5:3 For even though I am absent physically, I am present in spirit. And I have already judged the one who did this, just as though I were present. 5:4 When you gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5:5 turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

5:6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast affects the whole batch of dough? 5:7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough – you are, in fact, without yeast. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 5:8 So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

5:9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. 5:10 In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world. 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. 5:12 For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Are you not to judge those inside? 5:13 But God will judge those outside. Remove the evil person from among you.

2 Thessalonians 3

3:14 But if anyone does not obey our message through this letter, take note of him and do not associate closely with him, so that he may be ashamed. 3:15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.



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RJS

posted December 1, 2009 at 6:44 am


Interesting text and interesting list – “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.
We are willing to consider this approach for certain kinds of sexual behavior, but generally not for others. We will certainly not apply it harshly for greed, or for the verbally abusive.
If this passage means to practice holy ostracism for the letter writer, many of us will have to practice the same for much of our family on other issues.



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RJS

posted December 1, 2009 at 7:00 am


Bottom line for me: I think that such an approach (holy ostracism) in a church community should be considered when a person is engaging in an activity that is deeply divisive and damaging to humans. A woman chasing husband, an abusive spouse, a verbally or physically abusive person … the kind of situation where the haven of a Christian community becomes a farce.
In a situation such as portrayed in the letter, I wouldn’t practice it in the church and I would not even consider it within the confines of the family. It shouldn’t even be on the table as an option.



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mick

posted December 1, 2009 at 7:32 am


Very difficult situation. I appreciate your desire to know how God would call you to love your mom in her current situation.
Personally, I cannot say there is one path that is the right one. I would consider speaking with the leadership of the larger church she attends to see what their response would be and how you can be a part of the larger communities response to what’s going on with your mom. If you haven’t already, I’d speak with your own church leadership about how they feel you should respond.
I also think of verses you have probably poured over about seeing someone “caught in a sin” must “seek to restore them gently”, humbly,or, “those who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak…”, recognizing we also are sinners standing beneath the cross of Christ.
I think its difficult when you have layers of relationships, mom-daughter, friends, sister in Christ…
“What is Love calling me to do?” is a question I try and ask myself or others when in difficult situations. Love intercedes, bears with, hopes, speaks truth, waits, is patient, gentle, acts, etc. Sometimes we want a clear answer and yet the Spirit may have you wrestle prayerfully with this personally and as a family for longer than you want.
Sometimes we are called to walk the “tightrope” of loving them and relating to them genuinely as my friend, mom, brother, etc. yet still communicating our concern for a lifestyle that is not pleasing to God. Giving grace to love without condition while speaking truth as God leads and this without judgment. Things we need the Spirit to help us with for sure.
Others, far wiser than I will share thoughts today. I pray that the Lord will be with you and your family as you seek to follow Jesus in his response to her through you.



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Daniel Moch

posted December 1, 2009 at 8:22 am


It’s worth noting that we don’t know what (if anything) has already been done. If the mother has “come out” to her family and the family has yet to express their biblical concerns over the relationship, then to suddenly ostracize her could be confusing and, perhaps, disproportionate.
Matthew 18:15-17 might be useful in this context (though I have usually seen it applied to formal church discipline). The principle seems to be to start as lightly and non-combatively as possible (“Go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.”) and working up by degrees to what might be called ostracism.
I could see starting with personally expressing your concerns to your mother. Then having a discussion with her as a family. Then getting one or two church leaders involved in the conversation. And so on, however this particular church might handle discipline of this sort.
Hope this helps…



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Diane

posted December 1, 2009 at 8:22 am


I would like to know more about this mother, in broad outlines. Has she had a series of bad relationships with men? Did her marriage end badly? I understand that many women end up cohabiting with other women in lesbian relationships that are actually quite chaste because they have been physically or emotionally abused by men. These relationships are much more about emotional support that wanton lust. Because of the way we define everything in this society sexually, what 100 years ago might have been “two middle-aged ladies sharing the house on Maple St” has become, by default, a “lesbian” relationship. However, even if the mother is actively engaged in a lesbian relationship, well, so what? This is one area where we could take a page from the tradition of simply accepting “the ladies on Maple St” regardless and not worrying too much about their sexual status. Like RJS, I think there are many other things we could be ostracizing–and I would say to much better effect, such as greed.
How many women are pushed into paganism, Wiccanism or earth religions that celebrate “the goddess” because they feel they have been unfairly persecuted by the church?



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LD

posted December 1, 2009 at 8:35 am


Here’s a thought. Gently close your Bible and place it on the table. Then go and give your mother a hug and tell her that you’re really not sure what to make of all this quite yet but that you love her no matter what. Then go back and pick up your Bible again knowing that you’ve just acted like Jesus would.



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THS

posted December 1, 2009 at 8:41 am


This is a tough situation. First I disagree with the statement in comment 2 that says, that this kind of ostrasism is only applicable when the sin is “…deeply divisive and damaging to humans”. The issue of God’s Holy reputation being damaged before the world, and the issue of purity among us as a believing community are at stake as well.
When I see sinful behavior in a fellow Christian’s life I go to Matthew 18:15-17 which says,
15″If your brother sins against you,[a] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[b] 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
It seems to me from your letter that you have confronted your mom one-on-one about her homosexual behavior and she has not repented. Have you gone to her with another Christian to point out her fault? Could the person who goes with you be a Christian friend of hers? Could it be someone from her church?
Are the leaders of her church willing to recognize homosexual behavior as a sin? If they don’t then you have kind of reached the end of the line as far as confrontation goes.
If the leaders agree that this behavior is sin, then you will have to leave it with them to confront your mom.
The phrases that I need to study more is “do not even eat with such a person” This may indeed be only in the context of a community of believers, since the early church often had fellowship in this way.
My mom is deeply involved in the New Age movement and yet calls herself a Christian. We continue to pray for her and eat with her since she is out side of a believing community. We treat her as a pagan in that we don’t expect Christian attitudes, words or behavior from her. We love her the way she is.
I prayed for you today
blessing



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Carebear

posted December 1, 2009 at 8:49 am


Love and acceptance are key. I have never seen ostracism draw someone back. I have seen love and acceptance do so.



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THS

posted December 1, 2009 at 8:54 am


I agree with comment 4’s statement about a couple of women hanging out on Maple St. So the issue is behavior and an attitude of lust as we see in Romans:
Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
I know some incredible single missionary woman that have ministered together all their lives and they are now in their late 60’s. They have lived together all that time but lead lives of purity.
But if there is sin involved I don’t think we should say “..even if the mother is actively engaged in a lesbian relationship, well, so what?”
And it is difficult to know how many women would not be involved in “Wiccanism or earth religions that celebrate “the goddess”” if they had been lovingly and firmly confronted about their sin, rather than being “…unfairly persecuted by the church.”



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Derek

posted December 1, 2009 at 9:08 am


It seems like the only time in Scripture one family member bales on another family member is due to the abandoning party leaving because the other party has converted to Christianity. I don’t see a single example (granted I could be wrong) when family members “ostracize” from one another for moral issues. I think the family as you have said is a powerful place for calling each other to Christ-likeness but don’t think any moral issue (other than abuse, safety issues, being drawn into sin yourself etc.) is grounds for abandoning it. I think that Daniel is on track with encouraging an open conversation with your mother and starting there. Yet I think what you’re wrestling with is very much how to deal with what is seemingly your mom’s unrepentant attitude and her profession of faith in Christ which is something that is legitimate to wrestle with but remembering that salvation is by grace through faith.



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Scott Eaton

posted December 1, 2009 at 9:12 am


I suppose if you want nothing more to do with your mother you could “ostracize” her. But I doubt that is your desire.
My suggestion would be to start with Andrew Marin’s wonderful book “Love is an Orientation.” Most of us evangelical types have so little understanding of this issue or how to respond. Marin shows us how to be loving and gospel oriented (versus condemning) toward those in the GLBT community.
In my opinion you should read this book and go slow. There is no reason to be hasty. The royal law of love should be king here.



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Patrick O

posted December 1, 2009 at 9:21 am


“I think that such an approach (holy ostracism) in a church community should be considered when a person is engaging in an activity that is deeply divisive and damaging to humans. A woman chasing husband, an abusive spouse, a verbally or physically abusive person … the kind of situation where the haven of a Christian community becomes a farce.”
Totally agree. Christians have a wink and smile attitude to some of the most destructive behaviors. Ostracize the woman with the unacceptable sin (even if not public) while every one of us has encountered the absolute destructiveness of the church gossip–a person often very high in a church hierarchy, and so privy to information.
There’s almost a symbolic quality to church reactions to sin. If we speak strongly against the ‘big’ ones, we feel better about ignoring, or indulging, our own pet sins or those of the people in power.
At the same time, there is a moral issue. But, I can’t help think that ostracizing is less than effective. Ostracizing is good when a person doesn’t realize the extent to which a behavior violates the community moral code. It is also effective when a person then feels the burn of isolation. Neither of which are really true now. We all know what the conservative church thinks about such relationships, and isolating them from Christian community only pushes them farther into other communities, almost certainly ones that will wholeheartedly embrace this lifestyle.
I agree that the position of love is the best, disagreement sure, but with love and embrace rather than derision and rejection. And prayer. Only the Spirit can move in the way to really change hearts and lives. We can participate by showing love and counsel when asked, but we don’t want to interfere by putting a person on the defense against what the Spirit is whispering.
This is especially true if we do think that God is the only Lord of the conscience. We can certainly agree we are not the lord of their conscience and so can be immensely destructive if we go beyond our witness and play the judge.



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Dave in Dallas

posted December 1, 2009 at 9:27 am


The reader is probably going thru a range of emotions: sadness, shock, anger, etc. They may even be questioning if they will follow the same path as the mother.
In having older teen/adult kids, there are many times when even though you love them, you don’t agree with their choices. This might be a time to say “mom I don’t agree with your choices, but I love you, and always will”.
The reader needs to know that its ok to love their mom. The reader needs to pray for healing with their mom, and with themself as they go through this….



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Diane

posted December 1, 2009 at 9:27 am


THS,
Yes, I think I spoke too impatiently. This situation simply smacks to me of ignoring the log in one’s own eye … in other words, is everyone overreacting and threatening to send this woman in sorrow to the grave? I do think Romans is about condemning lust and self-centered, uncontrolled sexual appetites, which doesn’t seem to be what’s at stake here, though how do we know?



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Nance

posted December 1, 2009 at 9:27 am


In case anyone missed it, I wanted to reiterate LD#5’s words:
Here’s a thought. Gently close your Bible and place it on the table. Then go and give your mother a hug and tell her that you’re really not sure what to make of all this quite yet but that you love her no matter what. Then go back and pick up your Bible again knowing that you’ve just acted like Jesus would.
That’s the right answer. At least for the immediate future.
The letter writer mentions that he wants to follow the ‘Jesus way’… well that’s it. Jesus didn’t ostracize people–ever, that I can remember. Especially not on account of sexual sin.
That’s not to say that we can call this a sin that isn’t “deeply divisive and damaging to humans.” Of course it’s deeply divisive. Ask Rowan Williams. Of course it’s damaging to humans: *it’s a sin*.
So, like Jesus, we can’t simply let things go unacknowledged. Our Lord *did*, as so many are quick to point out, recognize sins and call people to repentance.
A gentle conversation needs to be initiated. One where you are constantly asking yourself how you are, with the next words, loving your mother. If you stop loving her for a second, you’re doing this wrong. But you need to express that you’re concerned and that you think what she’s doing is wrong. If sin really is ultimately harmful to people, as we believe, you can’t do any less.



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John W Frye

posted December 1, 2009 at 10:26 am


Some believe that Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 addressed issues regarding marriage not addressed by Jesus. What happens when the Gospel is believed by one spouse, but not the other. Is divorce allowable?
No biblical text directly addresses a professing Christian who also is lesbian (or gay) and who believes it is OK. We are into new territory and we need to be careful on the one hand of slamming this mother with condemning texts foreign to her experiences (from what we read in the letter), and, on the other hand, allowing a less-than-truth-telling “love” to erase the turbulent moral/relational issues attendant to her choices. The turbulence is evident in the letter.
If the son believes her mother’s Christian profession is rendered fraudulent by her lesbian life (“…she went out from for she was never of us…” kind of thinking), then he can relate to her all he wants. Christians are not forbidden from associating with non-Christians. If he believes she is a Christian and sinning, he can gently and lovingly tell her so. If she disagrees with him, he is free to agree to disagree with his mother. Under no circumstances is he asked to stop loving her and shunning her.
The burden of her relationship is on the local church where she and her partner attend. To the extent that they attend anonymously (which I don’t think the New Testament ever envisioned for church attendance), I see no divisive or disruptive results.
IMO, all these scenarios arising in the church around GLBT issues are pressing us all to see the fallacies of “proof-texting” people’s lives and, and at the same time, condoning sinful behavior. Here is where the Great Commandment, the Holy Spirit, and the discerning community intersect to plow new ground as Paul plowed new ground in 1 Corinthians 7. The way of “speaking the truth in love”, i.e., ad hoc wisdom. “But,” you say, “you did not give a direct answer.” I am in no position at this computer with just the letter before me and the array of comments above to even suggest a “direct” answer.
As RJS first pointed out, why is it that the evangelical church believes in God’s absolutely unconditional love for all sinners except for lesbians and gays? How much gluttony was condoned over the last week or so?



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Jim

posted December 1, 2009 at 10:40 am


If Jesus commands us to love our brother and sister in Christ, our neighbor as ourselves, and our enemy as God loves our enemy, when are we ever excused from loving?
If Jesus called Matthew to follow him and went even to the Gaderene demoniac and commended the faith of a centurion, how are we to love the lost, the pagan and tax collectors?
If love entails “ostracizing”, how can such ostracizing be done so that it serves redemptive purposes?



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Milton Pope

posted December 1, 2009 at 10:44 am


John Frye, #15, hit on something. When I don’t trust my attitude on an issue, I find it very helpful to substitute different issues in its place. How would I treat a gluttonous Christian? A gossip? (I might have two different answers there — I hate gossip more than gluttony!) It often brings me to a much better perspective.
–Milton



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ron

posted December 1, 2009 at 11:04 am


Have all liars, gossips, slanderers, thieves, adulterers, misers, drunkards, swindlers, self-indulgent been kicked out of this church yet?



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Phil

posted December 1, 2009 at 12:04 pm


Consider this in reverse. How would a parent deal with a professing child in what they consider a sinful relationship. You love them and don’t condone their choice. You let them know where you stand, but this isn’t OT, we don’t stone them. We talk. We pray. We love. You can’t end this relationship, but you can let someone know what you believe and you have a right to that.



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RJS

posted December 1, 2009 at 12:13 pm


There is an interesting article in the Nov/Dec issue of books and culture (see here) that relates to this issue. Were these people wrong to pray for a healed relationship with Mark’s parents? (You have to read the article to know what I’m talking about.)



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Jjoe

posted December 1, 2009 at 12:58 pm


I have a somewhat similar situation in that my 13 year old daughter’s best friend’s parents are divorced, with the mother living with her lesbian partner. My daughter spends the night there — and then goes to church with them on Sunday mornings.
I just can’t see forbidding my daughter to see her best friend because of the sins of that friend’s parents. And if she’s going to be exposed to gay people then it ought to be real people (who have a boring, bill-paying, middle-class lifestyle very close to mine) and not some TV characterization. But that’s also founded upon my belief that being gay is genetic and not something that’s contagious.
Very strange situation. Studies have shown that the least happy people, out of all the people who have things to be unhappy about, are parents of teenagers.



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beckyr

posted December 1, 2009 at 1:04 pm


Lesbians expect rejection, remain ready for it all the time. To confront your mom would drive a wedge between you two, she will have experienced the rejection she expected and only file it away as them who don’t understand, to put it nicely. I agree with the person who said to say to your mom “I’m wrestling with this, but know that I love you no matter what.” I was friends with a woman who was an active lesbian, friends for 20 yrs, I knew the verses about it being wrong yet whenever I asked God what I was to do, what came back was “love her.” She anticipated rejection from me, a christian, and what a discovery to find love, real love, I enjoyed the person she was. Expecting rejection from a christian, I hope she learned something about what entails a christian’s life as much as I learned whar entails a life of a lesbian person.



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LutheranChik

posted December 1, 2009 at 1:53 pm


“Lesbians expect rejection, remain ready for it all the time.”
That’s certainly an ironic statement, given this entire discussion.
Meanwhile…my partner and I are welcomed, valued members and lay leaders in our congregation. I can only hope the mom and her partner in this situation can find a similarly grace-filled spiritual home, and that the rest of the family can respect that, and her, and her partner.



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Dana Ames

posted December 1, 2009 at 2:12 pm


Both of my daughters are living with their boyfriends, only one with definite plans for marriage “in a couple of years”. One identifies as “spiritual but non-religious but leaning toward Buddhism”, the other as Wiccan. They know what their parents believe. I intend to love them, and their boyfriends, no matter what.
The scriptures quoted are not addressed to an individual in our time, and great care needs to be taken in interpreting them. We tend to narrow our focus to legalities and toss away relationships; that is bassackwards.
I’m with RJS, LD and beckyr. And with St Seraphim of Sarov:
“You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgment. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.”
Dear son/daughter, simply pray for God’s mercy for yourself and your mother and her partner. He will take care of all of you.
Dana



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Adam

posted December 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm


Being gay is neither a sin nor a crime. Support your mother in any way you can so that her relationship might be a monogamous, life-long one filled with joy and Christ-likeness.



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bbaltrus

posted December 1, 2009 at 3:28 pm


html>
Without a doubt the best place to go for real advice on how to Love your Mom on this subject is Andrew Marin’s Website and Book Love is an Orientation.

Not sure if Scot or anyone else is familiar with Andrew’s work, but he is very in tune with this type of question and the appropriate way for a Christian to respond in love.



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Adam

posted December 1, 2009 at 3:36 pm


Given Scot’s encouragement above to not contend from my own viewpoint and, rather, to enter the world of the writer, I apologize for my brief comment (#25), though that is how I feel one should respond to these situations.
I come out of a tradition that does not see GLBT relationships as appropriate and godly, so I can only imagine the tension this situation is causing the family in question.
I would agree with the writer, actually, that it is at least questionable as to whether or not these disciplinary passages can be applied within the context of a family. At the very least, that does not seem to be the intention of the author(s) in question.
The question then becomes: Would the implied reader consider these passages applicable to family contexts?
I think that, here, a problem arises with our using the text directly. It’s likely that the implied reader would go to his/her local congregation along with his/her parents. Thus, rather than needing to “discipline” his/her parent, the church could do so without the son/daughter being involved.
Given that our context is not an exact match, however, the hermeneutical difficulties are readily apparent! Perhaps a first step would be to see if the mother (and possibly her partner) would be willing to attend church with the writer. At least in that situation the conversation could be had in terms of church policies and practice rather than making it solely a family matter.



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Sam

posted December 1, 2009 at 6:42 pm


While I agree with the comments that at this time the most important thing is loving his mom, I don’t think many have addressed the original issue. We can’t just dismiss the concept of ostracism because we don’t like it or disagree, because it is a process Scripture tells us to use for certain situations. To suggest it’s not effective is irrelevant is wrong on a couple of counts. First, God’s Word tells us to do it and we can’t start picking which parts we like and believe and which we don’t . Second, believers and non-believers practice this on other issues, especially in addictions. That’s often what an intervention does…if you’re not willing to change your behavior, then our relationship has to change.
I think another important question in the discussion is this: If we really believe sin has consequences…and we see a family member (we believe is a Christian) who volitionally and without regret continues a pattern of sin, then what is our responsibility?
Nance commented on the “Jesus Way” and said that Jesus never “ostracized” people because of their sin. That is also true. What is also true is that we don’t see people staying in their sin once they’ve been with Jesus. Jesus was full of grace AND truth! He said both “Neither do I condemn you” AND “Go and leave your life of sin”. I think that is the question being raised… What is the best way to show grace yet to not compromise on the issue of truth? What is the best response when we believe a believer is going to continue in sin and is unrepentent?



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Darryl

posted December 2, 2009 at 12:25 pm


Funny how Jesus’ comments in Matthew 18 are taken to mean “three strikes, and you’re out” — he never said that. What he said was to treat such a one as a Gentile or a tax collector, and given the manner in which he treated such people, I can’t see how this passage can be used to justify ostracism. He partied with them. He acted like they mattered just as much as those who have it all together (who does?). Maybe we should do the same.
At the same time, yes, church discipline is indeed something the Bible talks about, but I don’t think it would ever work in this country. If I get kicked out of a church, I can just go find another one that suits my preferences. The marketplace of American Christianity is endless.
Love is always the way. Not a “fuzzy feeling, let’s avoid all conflict” type of love, but a sacrifical, other-centered kind of love.



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MatthewS

posted December 2, 2009 at 5:41 pm


My heart goes out to your family. In turning this situation over in my mind, here are some thoughts I have had. I hope they aren’t too direct, I offer them with the best intentions.
It’s not a matter of two choices: ostracize or ignore sin. It is possible to speak to someone kindly and reach out in genuine friendship and yet still speak honestly about what you believe. I see a quiet power in sitting down and showing someone what you believe Scripture says and from the heart telling someone that you have their best interest on your heart and you truly hope they respond in obedience to God. People sense the difference in us when we are trying to win an argument vs. when we truly want something good for them.
This is where I think we step back and let the Holy Spirit do his work and we befriend as much as possible, especially at a family level. Mom will not be terribly pleased to hear you feel this way. She won’t wake up each new day and forget what you believe. And if you have presented Scripture simply and honestly, I think it may lodge itself like a seed or like yeast in her thinking. Your mom is not the enemy and you aren’t charged with compelling her to do right.
The Corinthians passage was against a church that was falsely enamored with its freedom and was proud rather than ashamed of allowing sin – this clearly does not describe you. The Thessalonians passage seems to me to refer to the entire letter, the closest specific context being idleness. Nothing specific to sexual sin in those verses. Interestingly, the Thess passage says not to treat as an enemy but to admonish as a brother. In this case, perhaps entreat as a mother. I don’t see either passage suggesting that families cast members out. In fact, I think that creates a very large chasm for the person to cross should they ever choose to repent. Your mom has a different relationship to the person whose diapers she changed (sorry!) and elders of a church. The elders are charged with a job; if they fail to do it, it does not necessarily fall on you to do it for them. God will deal separately with you, your mom, and the church leaders.
2 Cor 5:20 says “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” I think your role is that of honest ambassador. Speak the truth from a sincere heart for reconciliation and her good. After that, be as much of a friend as she will allow. Give her intelligence enough credit to remember how you feel and what you believe and let her puzzle at the nature of your open arms to her in spite of your beliefs. Be an ambassador, not a cop.
Shunning family members is not the same thing as church discipline and I don’t see a good NT precedent for it. I think it will lead to ugliness and defensiveness, not repentence. Again, be an ambassador, not a cop.



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