I came across an interesting post on Internet Monk a few weeks ago and want to share it with you. It has led to interesting discussions among my family members and caused me to question my own reactions to certain behaviors. The post is entitled “Will We Have To Leave?” and relates to cohabitation and other sinful lifestyles and how the church responds to them. Here’s a snippet:
Nothing really works in this situation. People are broken and looking for something to glue themselves together. Religious people are accumulating morality points and abandoning the Gospel. The possibilities of a community of Christians to show what it means to love people as Jesus did and in their own weakness get lost in drawing lines and pretending there is such a [thing] as justification by having never [cohabited].
The possibility of seeing someone repent of sin, come to Christ and move toward true gifts of forgiveness and marriage is apparently less appealing than the Pharisaic joys of letting sinners know they arenâ€™t welcome with us or the God we worship until they clean up their mess.
It’s confession time. I actually have avoided inviting people to church because they were cohabiting and I wasn’t sure how this fact would impact the people’s experience at my church. You can probably imagine the thoughts that were going through my head: “What will people say if they find out? Will they still be welcoming and be a good testimony?” The good news is that when I’m being honest with myself I do think that those in my church would do the right thing. Most of them, at least, would join me in welcoming any guest, regardless of the areas of sin in his or her life. That doesn’t mean that my church would be accepting of the behavior, but sensitive to the fact that while the behavior shouldn’t be approved of, the person should feel welcome. The behavior should change if/when the person forms a relationship with Christ. If, at that point, the behavior continues, then we have a problem that needs to be dealt with.
Time for self-examination: how do I really feel about this? Would I participate in gossip about this individual? If it weren’t my friend, would I feel comfortable with the situation? Would I be a good testimony? I would like to think so. I pray that I wouldn’t gossip, that I would feel comfortable enough to make the visitor comfortable, and that I would be a good testimony. I also pray that I wouldn’t be so accepting that I inadvertently show acceptance for the behavior.
How about you?