How Far Is Too Far When Protecting Your Community?

This is a question I’ve wrestled with for a long time. When you desire to be inclusive and make people feel welcomed and show grace to all it becomes a very difficult question to ask when you are talking about discipline. I’m not talking about Mark Driscoll style discipline of impersonal letters and bureaucratic paperwork. I’m talking about when in small communities you have someone who refuses to live by the values of the community and brings strife, angst and unrest.

Do our communities even need to be protected? Who should decide when it’s protected and when it’s not? What do we do with those who continue to disrupt community life by their harmful lifestyle and refuse to repent? Many will point to 1 Corinthians 5

5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,[a][b] so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

I think this is all fine and dandy, but what is rarely mentioned is that Paul says “And you are proud!” Which all of sudden puts this into an awfully delicate situation. Does this community, who once looked at incest with pride, read this letter and then all of sudden flip on the guy and say “we are handing you over to Satan.” Has the entire community not already been handed over to Satan in the first place? How does a community that once took pride in their sin all of sudden hand someone over to Satan as if it was an entire system that perpetuated the sin in the first place?

I only bring up this situation because I am realizing just how difficult it is to ‘deal with sin’ within a community. Not only am I a sinner, but I am guilty of perpetuating community life that makes it easy to sin as well. I can’t just all of sudden decide that was the sin that broke the camels back and kick someone out. So then I think, maybe we need to start way further back and be much more strict up front. Maybe people who unrepentantly sin should never be allowed in the community in the first place? Ya that won’t work either.

Not really sure about the point of this whole bit but to just express how fragile our communities can be and how important it is to protect them while at the same time acknowledging that protecting them probably will work against the community in the first place.

2 Comments

  • I believe the only duty we have as individuals in a community is to love our neighbor. Who are we as humans to decide who’s lifestyle is right or wrong. If a persons behavior is not hurting anyone then leave them be and love them for loving themselves. When talking about insest we are looking at a behavior that can genetically affect the family after so yes that needs to be affected but through love and understanding. we need to stop focusing on the negative in our community and shine the light on the positive. Light beats darkness everytime.

  • Hi Crystal, while I agree with you that our duty is to love. What do you do when someone’s behaviour IS hurting others in the community but they aren’t convinced it is? IE, let’s say you have a women who is having sex with multiple members of the community? It’s complex, because it takes two people to have sex, but what if it’s the same women over and over again? Marriages are being broken, and relationships strained because of it. What is the proper response?

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