Saturday, May 14, 2011

1 Corinthians 5 and Our Response to Sexual Immorality

The church has been compromising left and right on the issue of sexuality, or more specifically, sexual orientation. The reasons for this would be somewhat understandable (considering our wayward culture) were it not for the fact that God’s Word speaks to the issue very specifically.

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul reproves the Corinthians church for tolerating sexual sin in their midst (mentioning “a man [who] has his father’s wife” as an example). He condemns their arrogance and tells them, “Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” (vs. 2)

Contrast his response to the wishy-washy attitude of so many Christians today. I wonder what they would have told the Corinthian church? Judging from their typical response to sins like homosexuality in the church, I doubt they would have demanded that this man be “deliver[ed] to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

One acquaintance of mine (sister of a friend) made a comment a few months ago that surprised me. She said that she had worked with a Christian group or event that was headed up by homosexuals, and that one of her friends was a homosexual and, “a committed Christian.” I wanted to raise my hand - “Question!?”

How can someone be a committed Christian and yet live in such blatant disobedience to God’s commands?

They can’t. It’s one or the other, not both.

My friend was not so much supporting her friends homosexuality as she was expressing her frustration with how many Christians respond to such people. “We shouldn’t just shun them and pretend like they don’t exist...” (paraphrase). Agreed. Even Paul, in pronouncing judgement on a man who was caught up in a different kind of sexual sin, made it clear that the purpose of church discipline was “so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

We are not to ostracize homosexuals and simply write them off as “filthy sinners condemned for hell” (doesn’t that describe all of us in our unregenerate state?), but neither are we to embrace them until they have renounced their sin and turned to Christ. Paul clarifies that he is not talking about “sexually immoral people” as a class of humanity (see vs. 9), but specifically those “who bear the name of brother;” in other words, those who claim the name of Christ while at the same time engaging in sexually immoral activity (or greed, idolatry, reviling, drunkenness, and swindling - vs. 11). He tells us “not to even 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? (vs. 12)

While we must judge and oppose certain “cultural sins” in the broader context of our world, it is those inside the church over whom we are to exercise authority and judge in practical ways, the goal always being to restore them to faith and fellowship.

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