Growing up is tough. Growing up trying to navigate with a moral compass can be even more difficult. But raising children in a religious community that does not necessarily adhere to the same code of ethics can create confusion in a child sufficient enough to make them forsake their faith.
People make mistakes. Lord knows that we have all made them. And if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But what about people in the church who simply choose a path of self-gratification that brings dishonor to the name of God?
It is one thing for a brother or sister to fall into sin, repent, and be reconciled. It happens everyday. But for brothers and sisters in the faith who choose habitually to not only walk in their sinfulness, but even justify, defend, and even begin to practice increasingly worse sins, there must be some biblical guidance! I have taught my family to apply 1 Corinthians 5:
“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”
There really is no need to interpret this passage. Paul command to not eat with an immoral brother or sister in the faith and to remove them from among our fellowship. I realize that excommunication is not a popular doctrine within the evangelical church. However it is practiced among Jews, Catholics, Anglicans, some liturgical churches, and even Amish. But in the majority of Christian churches, we just watch in horror, like spectators in a spiritual coliseum, as divorce, addictions, immorality, and moral decay continue to destroy families and ultimately the church.
Recently one of our spiritual leaders in the community indicated that people who try to be “goody, goodies” often judge and shun those who are in sin. But in the end, the one bound in sin often becomes more influential than the “goodies” who shunned them. I am not sure how that lines up with the passage above, but it certainly resonates in the church sanctuaries across the country. There is such a tremendous push to downplay “works” to the point that we completely exclude works. Yet, when it comes to preaching on tithing, ministers have no recourse but to turn to the old testament and either guilt parishioners into giving their money, or convince them that the Old Testament promises in the LAW will somehow be bestowed upon the giver, even though we are not under the LAW. To further complicate this issue, anyone who attends church regularly will typically find that Sunday mornings denounce the Law and works, while Sunday and Wednesday nights promote higher moral codes and ethics for believers. The two doctrines are conflicting and incompatible. Either God truly does not care at all about my behavior, disregarding my sinfulness for whatever reason, or He DOES care about my behavior and will somehow reward or punish me as a result.
Maybe the reason our young people leave the church has more to do with what we believe. After listening to recycled testimonies about former prostitutes, drug addicts, and alcoholics, my children have already figured out that if they don’t have a story about how horrible they were as teens, then they may not be effective to help others. Sadly, the message they receive from the pulpit almost solidifies that ideology. Let’s face it, if we just want to follow the New Testament, then we can now practice cannibalism, cross-dressing, eating dogs, cats, and horses, and even pedophilia, all of which are prohibited in the Old Testament, but not mentioned in the New. It is no wonder we can change our doctrine daily. Just believe whatever fits the circumstances of the day.
My dreams for my children are not really complex. I am not living vicariously through my children, trying to get them to accomplish the things I did not, except this: if I can help my children avoid a moral pitfall, I will! When my children make difficult decisions to honor God’s Word in their lives by following the commands of 1 Corinthians 5, I will lend my full support for my children to choose the path of righteousness.