If you haven’t read this article, you should
For those of you that don’t want to take the time to read it, it basically details an incident at the Mars Hill Church in Seattle, which neo-Calvinist pastor Mark Driscoll leads. The incident in question involves a church member who, it was discovered through his own confession, was engaging in pre-marital sex with his fiance and other sexual acts with another woman. Following this member’s confession, he was, to use the classical church vocabulary on this, excommunicated. What’s more, other church members were instructed to not engage in any contact or fellowship with this man as a part of his punishment.
There has been a lot of outcry on this matter, and rightfully so. Driscoll has always been on my radar because of his authoritarian, over-masculine, and, well, Calvinist beliefs and teachings. But while many agree with him theologically, this incident has put him under scrutiny from even many of his neo-Calvinist followers.
And I think this outrage is rightfully deserved. Our general instinct is that this crossed the line. I think the general public opinion here is that Christians ought to be able to love and entertain and fellowship with people in our churches who have made mistakes. This is why we are upset.
But here’s the thing: do we actually practice this ourselves?
I’ve seen and heard about a few church scandals in my day. Never once have I seen the pastor respond in these situations by telling the church members to ostracize the person.
But most times, the person has been ostracized by the church community. See, this is something we do on our own quite well.
Now, please hear me: I don’t mean to say that Driscoll’s actions were right. By no means. What I would like to point out, however, is that the outrage we express at Driscoll’s actions ought to be reflected in the way we treat these same kinds of people in our own churches without the pastor’s instructions.
I can’t help but think that this particular person would’ve experienced the exact same abandonment and public scorn in most of our churches. The only difference is that at Mars Hill, it was sponsored by the leadership officially.
Is it this way at your church? My hope is no, but my suspicion is yes. And we ought to be at least a little leery of taking the speck out of the other’s eye when we have a big nasty plank in our own. And we ought to pray that protect all of our eyes from a clearly unsafe lumber yard. (Over-extending the metaphor five!)
May we take our outrage on this issue seriously. May we be the kinds of people that when such an issue arises in our own churches, we remember how upset we were that the church was not able to be there for this man, and reach out to those in our congregations who have lost their way. And may we, only with God’s help, be the kinds of churches that show grace and love freely.