Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Should the Church Discipline 6 months marital couple who deliver a baby?

What is the position of the church if a member gives birth 7 months after they got married? Nowadays “judgment is turned away backwards, and justice stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter”. In this scenario it could mean the sister and brother had sinned by having premarital sex before they wedded. Find out if the lady brought the pregnancy into the home. If she did and the man has accepted her then church has no question. In that case the woman would be disciplined alone. But if they had it together, she got pregnant and put to birth before their marriage then it would have been clear that they were living in sin. But since they got married before she put to birth, then the sin should be forgiven because they just righted their wrongs. It does not mean it is not a sin because they got married. No, it is! Nonetheless, since they did not stay in sin and the church is against fornication they should be given some light discipline to serve as an example to the Christians to know that such behaviors are unacceptable. They should be guided and counseled to restoration.
Remember the reason why the church and many strike on sexual sins more than any other sins is because whosever sins sexually sins against their own bodies (I Cor 6:18). In addition, it is more visible than let’s say lies telling; you will need to catch a person frequently telling lies. It does not put sexual sins on a higher pedestal. Now, pertaining to any other situation that warrants discipline, I will like you to consider the following below.
Let me state here that the reason why many marriages fall apart is because they began on cheating: having premarital sex or having sex without the permission and blessings of God. The onus is whether they should be disciplined or not. One would have thought about the disciplinary procedures of the church. I am conscious certain disciplines were and are unreasonable.
In a situation like this, many questions would be asked. Was it a one time affair, or was it that they were living in sin. If it was a one time affair then they are covered by their daily repentance. Jesus teaches that we should forgive a brother who wrongs you and repents 490 times a day (Mt 18:22; Lk 17:3-4). That was in case of personal sin. The sinner should show remorse (Lk 15:21; Mt 18:4 -poor tax collector). But, if this was a continuous thing then they should be disciplined. It is the second posture that preoccupies this lesson. But the question many ask today is “if God has forgiven them why should the church hold them accountable? Who amongst us doesn’t sin”? God judges with equity (Is 11:4) and He has set a time when he will judge the earth.
In the Old Testament (OT), before the advent of Jesus, God judged sinned first by himself while in other occasions he left if for the congregation. Five incidences come to mind: Molten Calf Incident (Ex 32:8-35), The Ground that swallowed sinners Incident (Num 16: 29-35), Fiery Serpent Incident (Num 21:5-9), Ai Incident (Jos 7:1-24) and the Baalpeor and Phinehas Thrust Incident (Num 25: 1-9). Judgment was more physical than spiritual because worship was physical.
Before the coming of Jesus sin was judged by God and by the community. If your sin found you out like the case of Achan, the punishment was different. During the time of Jesus, sin was judged merely by him. After his departure, sin was judged by God and the church. When Jesus came he managed sin differently. He advocated for equitable judgment rather than abolition of judgment (Ps 98:9). Jesus did not discipline sinners because those who were charging the sinners and trying to discipline sin were doing it with a “thou art a holier” attitude. That is the more reason Jesus used the approach he used with the woman caught in flagrant adultery (Jn 8:7). In sins where people could make restitution he permitted it (Lk 19:8).
Furthermore, he could take away their sins himself directly. He could forgive them without any mediation or sacrifice so when he left, people who say they are Christians were to emulate his example. Living in sin would not be a good example. Yet there seems to worry many why the reaction to Ananias and Saphirra is different from today. That was the beginning of the church. The church has gone through its mid stages and now coming closer to the end of its journey on earth. As such, the patience of God seems to increase with man as we approach the end times. Nevertheless, he will judge all evil committed on earth. Yet there poses a problem when people say do not judge.
If the Bible was against Christians judging (disciplining) each other then the Bible is very contradictory because in Matthew it says: “don’t judge” and in I Corinthians Paul tells them “judge those within”. How are we going to fulfill I Cor 5:12-13 if we don’t judge? “Judge” as used in Matthew 7:1 means to condemn or call to question with sanctions from the Greek /krino/. Both in Matthew and in I Corinthians, the word has the same meaning. Visiting the proceeding verses in Matthew 7:1, we extract the meaning. Jesus explains the context. Remember verse one is a topic sentence. Hence, the problem here is not the act of judging but the method of judging. Then in verse three, he illustrates with an analogy how judgment should be implemented.
During the time of Jesus, sin was judged merely by him. After his departure sin was judged by God and the church. But if God has forgiven the fallen Christian why should the church hold them responsible many ask. The church is not supposed to discipline someone simply because they fall in sin. The church disciplines Christians who live like pagans and heathens; in other words, Christians who live in perpetual sin. The type of lifestyle condemned amongst the Hebrews (Heb 10:26) and the Corinthians (Rom 6;1-16). For example: shacking up is living in perpetual sin; it is not falling in sin. Falling in sin is a demonstration of our fallen nature. If we have the nature of sin (flesh Gal 5:19-21) in us why should anyone be punished I pet 1:16.
While on earth Jesus had to solution for sin as head of the church and One who had power to deal with it. But when he left, the church is given guidelines on how to deal with sin. That is the guideline to follow.
Moreover, matters amongst Christians should be settled by Christians except if wisdom fails in the entire group (I Cor 6:1-8). The church has authority over the Christians (Mt 16:19; Jn 20:23). Consequently, the decision of the church over its Christians was supposed to be final. Hellas, today even Christians prefer the courts to settle their differences.

Disciplinary Ground Rules
There are ground rules and procedure to follow before any Christian is disciplined. Try to convert those who err from the truth (Jas 5:19-20). Rebuke people who are living in sin openly (1 Tim 5:20; Titus 1: 12-13; Gal 2:11-14). Those to be disciplined and excommunicated are those who reject calls to transform their lives (Mt 18:15-17). People could not be disciplined on basis of rumors (Deut 19:15). During discipline: excommunicate the defaulter but don’t make him/her an enemy (2 Thes 3:14-15). Avoid perpetual sinners (Rom 16:17). Then if they are too be restored the church should do that in meekness (Gal 6:1).
Until then, may we desire holiness as our Father is Holy.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

“No matter how a rat becomes the house pet, if it is sleeping beside the bag of groundnuts the owner may not have much sleep. ” (Hamilton Ayuk)."If a goat runs from the owner’s leash it will be tied by the council in a market square" Hamilton Ayuk).

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