Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. – Galatians 6:1 (KJV)
I was recently conversing with a pastor of a new church plant about how things were going with his new church. Note: this is an Independent Baptist church, a denomination historically known to be quite conservative, even “legalistic.” He told me things were going very well, that the church was growing, and he told me about a lesbian couple that had started attending the church.
Apparently, this couple had received some literature about the church, and they liked what they read. He said that now this “couple’s” children were attending Sunday school, and one of them said that he, the pastor, “is her grandpa,” that how that made him feel so good. I was mildly surprised to hear his enthusiasm about this lesbian couple coming to church and expected there was more to the story, something about his conversations with them, about their conversion and repentance, or something.
I asked if he had spoken to these women about what Scripture says about homosexuality. He answered that he had not. And then he quoted Galatians 6:1, the verse at the beginning of this blog post. I asked him which part of the verse he thought was true. He responded by emphasizing that the verse points out that we have to be spiritual ourselves, almost as a caveat to say that we really can’t go to anyone in this type of situation, because who really is truly spiritual or meek? Well, I interjected and said, “all of the verse is true, correct? Including the part about the fact that we must go and speak to them?”
He never really answered that, and instead, he told me about yet another situation in which a couple was living together but not married. The woman was coming to church, and he didn’t do anything except welcome her in, and eventually, her boyfriend cheated on her, took her money, and moved out.
Was that an answer to prayer, or was that the inevitable waiting to happen? If there was no true repentance on the woman’s part, did it really help that they no longer lived together? If the pastor wasn’t willing to speak to this woman or to the lesbian couple either, what role is he really playing with regards to their sin? Doesn’t he think that their sins are all that bad, that Jesus didn’t really mean the things he said about these kinds of sins (or any kind of sin, for that matter)?
If a pastor doesn’t warn his flock about the danger of living in sin, who will? The world certainly won’t, and if the pastor doesn’t, the congregation is even less likely to do so. And if members of the congregation are unwilling to go and restore one another, aren’t they also part and parcel to the problem? True, we must be spiritual and meek when dealing with these situations, but we need to do it, lest we are also partakers in their sins.
And exactly what is to stop us from gently and lovingly showing those who have errored what Scripture says about sin, and how to be free from the bondage of sin and the devil? What is the real reason we don’t communicate truth to others? Perhaps it is because we so much want to have “friends,” to build our “church,” or perhaps because we don’t truly love people. If we genuinely love someone, we will go to them and correct them, in the right spirit, because we love God and we love the people. Can we really say we love someone if we do nothing about the fact that they are in danger of God’s judgment?
I hope this will prompt you to go. To go in the right spirit, but to go and restore your brothers and sisters. Do it in a spirit of meekness and do watch out that you aren’t tempted to sin yourself, but do go (Galatians 6:1).
– Jeremiah Zeiset
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. – 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 (KJV)