I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler--not even to 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? God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you." - 1Corinthians 5: 9-13 (ESV)
The Christian blogosphere erupted in cries of outrage and persecution this week when an Oregon judge ruled that Aaron and Melissa Klein had to pay $135,000 in damages to a homosexual couple they refused to bake a wedding cake for due to their orientation. Headlines blared that the Kleins had been subject to a "gag" order and barred from publicly speaking their faith. Christians with poor biblical understanding from all over the country rushed to their side to declare the sky is falling, the sky is falling. I say poor because if you honestly think that if Jesus was here today he would be on the side of the Kleins then you really have missed the point of the Gospel. Jesus broke bread with sinners and tax collectors, not the Pharisees who beat their chest about their own sense of righteousness. He did not come for the well for it is only the sick that need a doctor. It is true that He told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more but the point of that story was not for Christians to act like the teachers of law. We are not stand around someone we deem a sinner with rocks in our hands.
Sometimes it is just fascinating to see that the early churches, such as the one at Corinth, had some of the same problems today's church in America faces. In our key verses we see Paul having to explain to the churchgoers at Corinth that they misunderstood him when he told them to not associate with sexually immoral people. Clearly, the Corinthians church members took this instruction to mean they should not associate with unbelievers who were steeped in sin. Just like today, the church is enamored with looking at the sins of the world but rarely do we look in the mirror. You can almost hear the exasperation in Paul when he makes the obvious point that in order to not associate with unbelievers steeped in sin we would essentially never be in contact with anyone in the world. That makes evangelism very difficult. No, Paul has to correct them in that he meant people who claim to be a brother or sister who is steeped in sin we should not associate with. Paul makes it very clear then that we are actually not to do what the Kleins did in Oregon. We are not to judge those in the world for their judgment is still coming and belongs to God. We are in fact to judge those inside of the church. In fact, it is in this very letter that Paul demands the removal of a brother who was sleeping with his father's wife from the Corinthian Church. In the second letter the man is restored but while he was willfully sinning within the body Paul instructed the Corinthians that they were looking in the wrong direction.
Such it is today in the church as well. A well know pastor falls from adultery or some other public sin and the cries from the pulpits are - don't judge! I know of local churches where they will not allow anyone to name the name of a false teacher despite the Bible being clear that we are! It was reported this week there is a new "sin free" version of Facebook, which has one feature of not allowing criticism of anyone in Christian leadership! How absurdly unbiblical! When did we become more concerned with the relative health of the wolves over the sheep? Yet despite these ungodly protections offered the grace and mercy ends at the doors of the church. Someone sins in the world and the church extends its accusing finger in their direction and screams sinner! Heaven forbid that sinner actually asks for something. Like expecting a baker to bake them a cake. Then it's time to go to war. Let me say up front that I feel bad for the Kleins. I have been accused of "not siding with my brothers." Nonsense. Holding their hands while they misrepresent Christ and destroy their lives is not supporting them. It is supporting an unchristian agenda. I feel bad for them because someone taught them very poorly. Someone taught them to be morally offended with the sins of the world. If Jesus Christ applied the same judgmental standards to us that the Kleins want to apply to their customers, none of us would be saved. None of us. Whoever taught them must have skipped over these verses:
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. - 1Corinthians 9: 22-23 (ESV)
If you think this case in Oregon has done anything positive for the cause of the Gospel then you simply do not understand the very basics of Christianity. Everything we do should be for the sake of the Gospel, not the sake of some moralistic code we have gleaned from a false teacher even though Jesus Himself has nailed it to the cross already. How do you think this debacle has affected the lost couple that came into a Christian owned business and got denied? Do you think they are closer to finding God today or further away? How do you think this has been perceived by the world at large? Has the Gospel been advanced or harmed? Please, before you go and wrap yourself up in the flag and pretend there was a more glorious time in this country when everyone was saved, those are all carnal arguments. If you think religious liberty is at stake in this country, that is a carnal argument. It has nothing to do with the cause of the Gospel. Make the argument by the way, just stop dragging Christ into your carnality.
How did we get here beloved? How did we get to the point where Christians feel justified in sticking their thumbs into the eyes of sinners and still think they are serving Christ? While it always starts with biblical illiteracy and spiritual apathy, the real culprit is in not understanding our roles. The Bible is extremely clear that not everyone is called to a teaching/preaching ministry and those that are will be held to a higher standard. It falls to us to proclaim the entire will of God including the parts about sin and repentance. The plan is built upon the fact that those people have studied to show themselves approved to God. As such, it would be my hope that when confronted with a sinner they would not refuse to serve them and tell them how much their sin personally offends them. That is what the Kleins did because they are not teachers/preachers and they themselves have clearly been taught wrong. Pay close attention to this exchange in Scripture:
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. - Mark 5: 18-20 (ESV)