In one of the Letters to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote that an immoral person who refuses to repent should be expelled from the Church. Then he writes, “I do not mean for you not to associate with unbelievers; to do that, you would have to leave the world.” So, obviously, the idea is that there should not be persistent public sin in the Church, but, as Jesus did, we should relate to and love people, regardless of whether their sins are particularly heinous or disgusting in whatever way.
This is precisely what I do not see in the American Protestant Church. Others may have the same problem or very similar and closely related problems, but I’m going to focus on a manifestation of this plague which afflicts Protestantism.
One thing I’ve never understood is why divorce is so accepted within American Protestantism. Divorces are everywhere, and there is this mild regret, this understanding that this is really not the way that things should be, that, somehow, there should be less divorce. However, it is treated lightly. It seems to be the common position that it is perfectly acceptable to divorce one’s spouse for being unfaithful (and many will divorce for far less). This makes no sense to me. Jesus said that whoever divorces a woman is guilty of adultery, except in cases of lewd conduct. Many interpret this to mean that it is all right to divorce one’s spouse for being unfaithful. This is not at all clear from the text. For one thing, lewd conduct often means sleeping with people who are close relations. It is used in this way in the Books of the Law. Furthermore, the idea that Jesus is saying that it is okay to divorce one’s partner for unfaithfulness is not consistent with the understanding that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Jesus and His Bride. After all, we are unfaithful to Him, yet He does not leave us. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” What business, then, do we have leaving each other because the other person was unfaithful? Are we not commanded to love one another as He has loved us?
So, divorced and re-married couples are accepted in the Church, without regard to the fact that they are living in adultery. Meanwhile, Christians get very upset about homosexuals who do not call themselves Christians and the legalization of what is often called “gay marriage.”
What is the Church doing, allowing adulterers in the Church and complaining about homosexuals in the world? Is it not written that a little yeast leavens the whole dough, so we are to be pure for Christ? Homosexuals in the world are not disgracing the Name of Jesus. Homosexuals in the world are not a scandal to our Lord. They are acting like what they are – creatures in rebellion against their Maker. However, accepted adultery within the Church is disgracing the Name of Jesus. It is defiling.
This is a glaring example of hypocrisy. Professed Christians are acting in shameful ways, clearly violating the commands, rather, the character of God, living in public sin and bringing disgrace to the Name of the Lord. To pile shame upon shame, they try to insist that unbelievers, who do not call on the Name of the Lord, live in a way that they deem honorable and righteous. It is as though they clean the outside of bowl and platter while allowing the inside to be dirty. It really seems that there is some conspiracy afoot to try to make the Church and the world look as much alike as possible. Are Christians not meant to shine like the stars in a crooked and depraved world? Are we not called to live such blameless lives that though they slander us they are ashamed to do so? Are we not meant to walk as He walked, as His Spirit molds us into His likeness? Is this not to be our confidence on the day of judgment – that as He was, so are we in this world?
Why, then, while accepting blatant sin in our midst, do we protest against the sins of unbelievers? Jesus plainly said, “What God has joined, let no man divide,” regarding marriage, but never did He tell us that homosexuality is the sin of sins, nor, even if He had, would it be a reason to try to keep unbelievers from doing it. Rather, homosexuality, when mentioned in the New Testament, is mentioned alongside a whole list of sins, among which one can find such things as disobeying parents, being boastful, or lying.
For those who protest against the idea that divorce is acceptable only in cases in which the unbeliever refuses to live with the believer, as mentioned by Peter, or in which the man and woman is too closely related, but not acceptable because of unfaithfulness on the part of one’s spouse, please consider why it is that you think this way. Is it because you actually believe such divorce to be in conformity with the revealed character of God? Is it because your pride rebels against the thought of being married to someone who is unfaithful, even if you are not actually in that position now? Is it because you know people who have divorced, and you don’t want to believe what they did is wrong? Is it simply because you were taught so? Whatever it is, please prayerfully consider the points I have brought up, and seek the will of the Lord.
Copyright 2018 Raina Nightingale