Ethics: Resign Church Membership To Avoid Discipline

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What would you do Wednesday!

The scenario is that a fellow church member whom you are fairly close to is under church discipline. There will be two issues to decide on.

Your friend is a single lady. It was discovered that she is having an inappropriate relationship with her boyfriend who attends another church. The congregation voted to move forward with the disciplinary process. Your friend decided a week later that she will not repent and has decided to move to another local church.

You have pleaded with her not to ignore her sin and just leave. But your friend believes the church is being legalistic. She has said that the church is not loving people like Jesus nor are they being as understanding. Since she is leaving she does not believe the church has any authority over her.

Your friend has a letter requesting her membership be moved to the church her boyfriend attends. Your local church body has gathered to address this situation. There will be two issues that you must vote on as part of the congregation.

  • Send a letter of transfer to the new church OR send a letter explaining she is under church discipline?
  • Inform the pastor(s) of the boyfriend’s church of the inappropriate relationship?

What would you do?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark Bahr August 4, 2010 at 11:59 am

Seeing that she refuses to repent and is merely going to attempt the old church switch, the new church needs to be apprised. The church needs to respond to the proverbial letter request by letting the requesting church know that she is facing disciplinary measures (along with the reasons why). As a friend of the offender, I contact the pastor of new church but not before letting her know I am doing so as a measure offering a last chance to repent before the action is taken–as well as, by telling her know what action I’m going to take, letting her know that I care about her spiritual well-being.

2 Mark Bahr August 4, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I misread the second item. It’s not a personal response but a church response. I would push for notifying the pastor and personally let the offender know what was done (with the approval of the elders, of course).

3 Jason D. August 4, 2010 at 11:26 am

When we have people wanting to be member we check with their old church to ensure they are not under discipline. In this situation, we would definately send a letter explaining she is under church discipline and inform the pastor(s) of the boyfriend’s church of the inappropriate relationship.

Hopefully that church will do something about it… but she may be going there because, sadly, they won’t care 🙁

4 Mark August 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Jason and Mark, I like your answers. I do wonder how many churches would hold fast to their disciplinary actions and not simply let someone slide off to another local church.

5 Mark Bainter August 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Personally I think it’s sad that this isn’t categorized as a “dumb question”. Seems like the answers here are brain dead obvious biblically speaking. Of course you don’t give the letter, and of course you notify the new church.

Sadly, they probably won’t care, and that’s probably why they’re going there.

6 Mark August 4, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Mark, the answers should be obvious. When it comes to church discipline there are those who are uncomfortable. Remember, even the SBC resolution, which ties into discipline issues, on “Integrity in Church Membership” was not an easy one to pass.

7 Jason Smathers August 4, 2010 at 2:04 pm

You have an obligation to her, your church, and God to continue church discipline in this case. Yes, telling her perspective new pastor should be part of bringing her unrepentant sin to the church and there is no way you can recommend her for membership to another church.

8 Jason Smathers August 4, 2010 at 2:05 pm

However, I would plead with her and warn her of your intended actions in hopes of gaining your sister before taking any action.

9 Joseph Louthan August 10, 2010 at 7:32 pm

If we have gotten this far where we are considering treating her like “a Gentile and tax collector”, then…

– Inform the church of where she is considering moving to of why she is moving to that church

This is someone who is unsaved who wants to keep doing what they are doing (unrepentant sin) and enjoy the benefits of the fellowship of believers. Those two things do not go hand in hand.

What does this mean? Can she attend Sunday service? Of course. Can she be my friend? Absolutely. Is the gospel going to be continuously proclaim? You bet your sweet cheeks it will be.

There goes the bigger question: shouldn’t every church be proclaiming the gospel continuously, to the Jew and Gentile alike, the Believer and Unbeliever alike?

10 Mark August 10, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Of course, every church should be proclaiming the gospel. It seems that in situations like this every church may not agree on what to do.

11 Jeff September 30, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I don’t get it? Two people who love each other, are adults and consent. Who both want to attend church, yet you will kick them out? Seems to me that does more harm than good.

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