Summary: There is a hesitancy on the part of many church pastors and elders to hold their church members accountable for their actions. This neglect is hazardous. Church disciple is both biblical and necessary
The Call for Church Discipline
“... Allan Bloom argued in his 1987 best-seller, The Closing of the American Mind [Simon and Schuster], that tolerance, built on the assumption of moral relativism, not truth, has become the chief “virtue” in America. To judge any behavior or philosophy as evil is unthinkable. Bloom found that many of his students were hesitant to label even Hitler as evil! That prevailing cultural “virtue” of tolerance has infiltrated the evangelical church. Even if you’ve been in the church for years, chances are that you’ve never seen a church discipline a sinning member. We think that to judge any behavior as sin is to “throw the first stone.” It’s perceived as unloving. And so, churches either accept or overlook gross violations of biblical standards, sometimes even when pastors fall into serious sin.” - Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2017, All Rights Reserved.
There is a hesitancy on the part of many church pastors and elders to hold their church members accountable for their actions. They tend to treat churchgoers as “consumers” or “customers”. Few churches deal directly with personal sin. The consumer mentality brings with it the “customer is always right” attitude. Therefore, they are never questioned or insulted. (copied)
An unrepentant man is an active leader in a church while continuing his porn addiction; a wife in the ladies Bible study leaves her husband for another man; a deacon is abusive to his wife and children, a gossip continues belittling and slandering other church members, a church leader is addicted to alcohol, a young unmarried couple live together, two families in the church continue their age-old feud … and the lists goes on and on. Yet the church does little to deal with these issues. Nothing new though! Paul points out the neglect of dealing with sin in the church by addressing a particular situation in the Corinthian church.
Paraphrasing First Corinthians 5:1, we read, “It is actually widely reported that there is fornication (sexual immorality) among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the pagans, that one would sleep with his father’s wife.” Evidently, it was common knowledge in the church that there was a member of the church who was actively committing scandalous acts of sexual immorality with his stepmother without remorse or repentance. This was not a one-night stand but was a continuous situation. This type of sexual relationship was forbidden in the Old Testament Scriptures in Leviticus 18:6-9, and amazingly, it was also a gross violation of the laws of the pagan Corinthian community whose goddess was Aphrodite and whose very name, "Corinth", had became a synonym for immorality.
John MacArthur concerning this situation says, “Now, when the sin of the church shocks the world, we got a problem. And that’s precisely what had happened in Corinth. And it wasn’t as if they didn’t know what God’s standards were. Of course, they knew. They knew because the Apostle Paul had written to them a previous time. Verse 9, “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators...” (John MacArthur, “Immorality in the Grace to You, 1975)
God has called us to live holy lives. Listen to these verses from God’s Word. Ephesians 5:3, “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” First Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality”. First Peter 1:15, “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct Church”. And Colossians 3:5 tells us to put to death all forms of sin in our lives including sexual immorality, any form of impurity, lust, evil desire. greediness, coveting, and worshiping the things of this world.
The reaction and attitude of the Corinthian church to this man’s reprehensible, unrepentant obsession is shocking. Paul says in verse 2 “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.”
The Corinthians" attitude about this situation was as great a sin as the man’s sin itself. Rather than mourning over it and disciplining the offender they took pride in it. They may have viewed it as within the limits of Christian liberty believing that their liberty in Christ made morality unimportant. Paul never gives our liberty in Christ as an excuse for condoning or committing sin. In Galatians 5:13, he says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” But they were filled with pride. They prided themselves on their liberal thinking and broad-mindedness. They had the mistaken idea that rather than address sin as sin, condemnation and judgment on sexual perversion, the church ought to show understanding and sympathy for the pressures of life on the individual and say nothing about this evil action. John Piper commenting on the Corinthian church in a sermon on killing sin writes, “They reasoned: the body and food and drink and sex are going to be destroyed in the end. There will only be free spirits. So the body does not matter. You can eat and drink and have sex any way you like because the body is morally irrelevant. It's what you know and think that really counts (8:1–3)”. (www.desiringgod.org/messages/i-will-not-be-enslaved-by-anything) Paul vehemently opposed this view. He made it clear that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What was morally wrong in the Old Testament is morally wrong in the New Testament. And what is called sin in the Bible is still sin today.