I don’t know about you but when I read something in the news particularity when it involves the culture wars my mind turns to what Scripture has to say about the issue. This is usually right after I get angry or disgusted at what I just read. Such was the case yesterday morning.
First the Scripture that came to mind and then the article that prompted the remembrance of the Scripture.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1 Corinthians 5:1-2 ESV)
As a whole the Corinthian epistles are not “go to” places to be encouraged, although much is encouraging. Rather, the epistles are intended to be a series of rebukes to a church much confused about who they are and what is acceptable and what is not in the church of Jesus Christ. To be called a Corinthian in Paul’s time was to assume a great deal of sexual deviance and Paul would not tolerate it within the church.
At times Paul is down right sarcastic as well as blunt when he addresses what needs to be addressed. If he were preaching today he’d be accused of being mean-spirited and unloving and would probably never get to be a mega-church to pastor. I doubt he’d care.
The presenting issue in the above passage is that a professing Corinthian Christian is having sex with his father’s wife. Paul says that even the pagans do not tolerate that kind of behavior. Furthermore, he bluntly tells the Corinthian Church(es) that they are arrogant, meaning that they think this sort of behavior is acceptable.
He says that their arrogance is unacceptable and then tells them that their proper response ought to be of mourning because one of their number is doing even what the pagans find distasteful and\or wrong. To sum up the rebuke Paul commands, not suggests, that the miscreant be kicked out of the congregation. Paul is a no-nonsense kind of apostle and pastor.
As already noted Paul would probably not be all that popular today in many evangelical churches and he certainly would not be popular in our whacked out PC culture.
The column tells the story reported in the New York Times where a person born female sought to become male “when he embarked on the transition from female to male at age 18 — changing his name, taking testosterone and eventually undergoing surgery to remove his breasts — he left his female reproductive organs intact. In his mid-20s, he decided it was time. He stopped taking testosterone and started trying to get pregnant.”
Eventually she, now a he, sort of, gave birth to a daughter with the help of a clinic. The first clinic he went to refused to help saying they did not have enough experience with transgendered folks to help. The man, once a woman, is now suing the first clinic for sexual discrimination. Of course, anything short of full endorsement and acceptance is now a reason to sue.
The rest of Ms. Charen’s column goes on to detail “what is wrong with this picture” meaning the elevation of pc sexual politics where anything goes as well as Ms. Charen claiming rightly in my opinion that this man’s daughter named Elise would be subject to child abuse given the messed up thinking of her “father” and the pc culture surrounding him with its support.
As I noted earlier my first thoughts were those of anger and disgust. I was angry for the daughter who will be brainwashed into accepting a new normal where even the things the pagans once found repulsive are now acceptable and even encouraged. My disgust is from watching a culture decline seemingly without any kind of conscience as it becomes increasingly deviant without restraint. To my disgust I’d also add mourning because I know of people I love and care for who would find the story of this man and daughter acceptable even as they’d describe it as sexual progress.
Ms. Charen did a great job of reporting the story and expressing her views that I share about the deviant decline of the culture. She said nothing about a church’s response to this kind of news. I would not expect her to which leads me to why 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 came to my mind.
Paul was never surprised that the Greco-Roman culture he ministered in was so messed up. It was why he could use the first two verses in 1 Corinthians 5 to shock and rebuke the Corinthians for accepting a man within their midst who was doing things that even the messed up culture disapproved of and even shamed.
Paul’s concern, and he was consistent about this, is that the church is supposed to be different from the culture and when it’s not it’s time to take serious action called church discipline.
This does not mean we should not be concerned about the culture. We should, there is much to mourn and much to pray about especially in regards to people who need the gospel for the gospel is what truly changes people.
Paul’s concern and our main concern ought to be for the integrity of the church in the midst of a Corinthian culture. In this way, the church is truly counter cultural and perhaps that sends the strongest message to the culture.
For more on the troubled Corinthian Church follow this link to Bible.org