This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Are Some Sinners Just Too Bad To Be Allowed In Church?

Apparently, 8 out of 10 churchgoers believe that sex offenders belong in church, but 5 out of 10 say that sex offenders should not be allowed to serve in church.

i read that article and was actually encouraged.  i thought the number would be significantly lower.  i cannot tell you how many times i've heard people--Christians i mean--say things like, "once a cheater, always a cheater."  Or, "you can't trust him, he used to be an alcoholic."

i remember hearing a religious radio program some months ago where a Christian-convert wrote a letter to the host complaining that all the Christians (Christians, mind you) in his neighborhood banded together to get him legally kicked out of the neighborhood since he was a registered sex offender.

Listen, it's not like i don't see the "common sense" it makes to keep a sex offender under guard.  i'm not saying i think a sex-offender-turned-Christian ought to be allowed to babysit my son.  i'm not saying that i think this uneasiness is baseless or anything like that.  i share those sentiments.  But i do want to question what we typically do with those sentiments.

Let me just put it this way.  Suppose someone came to your congregation next Sunday.  This man was a notorious murderer.  You knew it.  Everyone in the community knew it.  And he had never been brought to justice for his crimes.  In fact, the local police constantly just looked the other way every time this man killed someone.  And now, he came to your congregation and asked to be a part of your church.

What do you think you should do?  Should the man be accepted?  Should he be turned away?  Would you invite him over for dinner?  What if he needed a place to stay?  Would you let him stay in your guest room?  Would you say hi to him?  Would you sit next to him during worship? 

Now suppose your congregation was looking for a full-time minister.  And suppose that man applied for the job.  What do you think the congregation should do?  Should the congregation refuse to hire him on account of his past?  Should the congregation give him the job?

If you think the man shouldn't be allowed to come to the church, or you think the man shouldn't be allowed to serve as a minister, then it seems to me you've just judged that Paul, the same Paul that wrote most of the books in your New Testament, should not have been a part of the church nor should he have been made an apostle.  But clearly Christ thought differently.

And what about the Corinthians?

Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters
nor adulterers nor male prostitutes
nor homosexual offenders nor thieves
nor the greedy nor drunkards
nor slanderers nor swindlers
will inherit the kingdom of God.
And that is what some of you were.
But you were washed, you were sanctified,
you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God.
(1Corinthians 6:9-11)

Corinth had a church full of criminals and and sexual deviants.  Did Paul say they weren't allowed to be in the church because of their past?  Paul says they had turned away from their past and become saints.  Now, does that mean none of them were allowed to serve in the church at Corinth because of their past?  If that was the rule, it seems they wouldn't have no leadership at all. 

So if the early church had embraced the idea that some sinners are just too bad to be allowed in church or to serve as leaders in it, where would i be right now?  Where would you be? 

1 comment:

Warren Baldwin said...

It's tough enough getting a church to accept "trailer court kids" who cuss in Bible class. Have some right now. I'm telling some of these 1st graders, "I expect to hear you preaching someday." I pray overtime it will sink into their hearts.

Good post.

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