1 Corinthians 5 – Sin in the Church

1 Corinthians 5:1-5 – In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul stressed that it is the Lord who judges, imploring them not to judge before the proper time. Yet here in verse 3 he says he has already passed judgment on the immoral brother. I suspect that he’s referring to two different kinds of judgment, one eternal and final which will only be done by God and not until the appointed time. The other, however, is entirely appropriate for church leadership, which is what he’s talking about here. In fact, he rebukes them for essentially not doing it yet. Leaders should judge what is proper behavior for those in the church. It’s certainly a sticky matter, fraught with peril and ripe for leadership to be criticized. It should be done with the utmost care and lots of input from others. But the situation Paul describes, immorality between a man and his stepmother, is a severe and clear cut case and should be dealt with swiftly. We are not talking about disputable matters.
I can’t help but draw a parallel between this passage and the current news of the Catholic church. These situations, assuming they are verified, are not disputable matters, they are grave and hideous sins involving some of the most vulnerable in the church. Yet, the church leadership did not act decisively on behalf of justice or righteousness, instead it seems they acted to protect the church first. I’m certainly not privy to details or facts of each and every case, however, from the news accounts a pattern of cover up and protection the church structure over the innocent victims or even God’s honor seems to be emerging. Rather than standing for His righteousness, they’ve stood to protect their own.
Paul instructed the Corinthians to publicly deliver the man in an adulterous relationship to Satan. The Catholic church ought to do the same to the men involved in these sinful relationships instead of quietly shuffling them off to another location.
1 Corinthians 5:7 – Why remove the evil men from among you? “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” If Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself for us, we ought to be purely devoted to him.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 – Paul clarifies that his judgment is not for everyone, only for those within the church, going as far as proclaiming that they (and by extension, we) should not associate with a man who claims Christ but blatantly persists in sin with no intention of repentance. I think the church today holds a much lower standards, we tolerate sin with the false platitude that everyone is a sinner. Certainly, that is true, however a man who knows his sin, is confronted by it and refuses to do anything about it has no place in the church. It is far easier to look the other way, or even not dig very deeply in each others lives so we don’t uncover anything we might have to deal with.
Being the church of Jesus is a messy business at times, but not dealing with the mess means not being His church after all.

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