Shunning

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Dr. Bob, Jun 15, 2004.

  1. Dr. Bob

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    Fellow (long time church member, bible college grad) has filed for divorce. Sad situation. Been coming on for a while, but still sad.

    Pastor of the church is counseling his parents and all others to "shun" him and treat him as an unbeliever since he will not reconcile and will not obey godly counsel.

    Wonder about your thoughts on such "shunning"?

    And how in the world does a PARENT shun their child even if a reprobate? Remember a story about a terrible son and a dad who watched for him to return . . .
     
  2. Bro Tony

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    Dr Bob,

    Terrible situation it calls for much prayer. Really there are so many unknowns as to why the divorce. I fear divorce has become the scarlet letter (unpardonable sin) in many of our churches. I am glad that God does not shun us for everything. I cannot imagine shunning my own child in something like this.

    That being said I would still try to speak God's truth in love in the life of the individual. If I shun him that would not be possible.

    These really are difficult times. May the Lord give us all wisdom to live in these dark days. May He give us grace toward one another that we would deal with each other in love. May He give us strength to follow His Word in all things.

    Bro Tony
     
  3. Jimmy C

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    Should the titile of this tread be shooting our wounded?

    This couple both need support groups that they meet with for prayer and bible study. They may not be able to salvage the marriage, but need to know that the Lord still loves each of them. Who knows, if brought back into right relationship with God they may find their way back to each other. There is a couple in my sunday school class that experienced just that, and now teach a divorce care class for our church.

    This son needs his parents, to have the pastor advise them to shun their son is unbelievable.
     
  4. Pastor Larry

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    It depends on what you mean by "shun." It also depends on whether family relationships take precedence over biblical commands.

    A man that is pursuing a divorce from his wife is disobeying God. Exactly how we go about addressing that is a serious issue that cannot be taken lightly. This is a situation that has developed over time and will likely take time to work it out. These are tough situations that sin has brought upon us. But they must be dealt with biblically.
     
  5. delly

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    Dr Bob, I felt this very thing when I got divorced, even though the cause was physical, verbal and mental abusive caused by alcoholism.
    I stayed with him 22 years out of fear, but really because I had no where to go and no one to help me. Back then, there were no women's crisis centers and my family wouldn't help because they were also scared of him. The Lord finally gave me the courage to walk out even though he was saying he would kill me and my family if I did. I was not in church at that time because he wouldn't let me go.
    Afterward I went to several churches before I found one that really welcomed me. In some churches it was like you could see the women pull their husbands closer when I walked by. I was 44 years old at the time. I was told that I should have stayed and helped him overcome his alcoholism and that I couldn't be a Christiam because I was breaking God's commandments. Everytime I left I did it with my head held high because I knew I was right and they were the hypocrites.
    There are good churches with kind, loving people who did not judge me simply because I had to get a divorce to save my life. People need to understand that there are situations where Christians must do what is considered to be wrong in order to come back into service to God. Without the Lord's help I probably would be dead now. I had fought and fought to get back in church and the only way I could do that was to get out of my marriage because there was no way to salvage it.
    I even had to move to another city and keep my home address secret in order to get on with my life. I am now in a wonderful church where everyone knows my story. They are so kind and loving to me. I can't think of being any other place.
    By the way, my ex drank himself to death five years after my son and I left. He died alone and wasn't found for five days afterward. It's a sad way to go.
     
  6. Greg Linscott

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    In interest of clarity, from what you know, Dr. Bob, do you think this man is making an ungodly decision?

    In principle, I am all for the idea of separation with intent of spurring on repentence and restoration. I do think that given the information provided, it seems to be slanted in such a way to make the pastor and church the bad guys while holding the man filing a divorce as noble and persecuted.

    If we do not "shun" or "put away" (to use biblical language), what is the alternative? To endorse the marriage's dissolution? I'm not sure. From my limited perspective, I can't see much room to condone the action. However, in a case like delly mentions, I would encourage our church to do our best to help and support her. In this case, a life is in danger, and a woman is not under bondage in such cases. But from what you have provided, there is nothing that indicates it is such a situation.
     
  7. Pastor J

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    Scripture is clear that God hates divorce. Even if you want to use the exception clause, God makes it clear that from the beginning it was not so. Therefore this individual is in rebellion to God's Word and 2 Cor. 6 clearly teaches us that we are to have no fellowship with even Christians who are in outright sin. In the parable of the two sons, the father waited and watched for the son to repent and come home. I have a brother-in-law who just got divorced and will not repent of the sin. We have informed him that we love him and want him to get right, but we cannot fellowship with him until then. God tells us that if we want to be His disciple, than God's Word must come before even family.
     
  8. exscentric

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    The only "shunning" I've heard of in recent days is in the Jehovah Witness, guess they get pretty serious about it.

    There is an early church document I seem to remember from back around the Didache period that related to the thought. Seems that they were pretty definite about it.

    Can snoop the archieves in the garage and see if I can find it if anyone is interested.
     
  9. Link

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    I believe the Bible teaches 'shunning' under certain circumstances, adn we have a lot of leaven in the loaf because we don't practice it. How many fornicators, adulterers, swindlers, etc. who call themselves brothers are welcome in our churches because people think they need to hear what the preacher says? We shouldn't be eating with a lot of these people or fellowshipping with them so the leaven of sin doesn't spread.

    as in regard the the divorce issue, if he's sleeping with his secretary, or something of that nature, maybe he should be shunned. paul said to the woman who leaves her husband, 'but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband.' Jesus said he that divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. If he's filing for divorce, and not sleeping with anyone, then I wouldn't think that is adultery. It probably should be examined on a case by case basis though.
     
  10. Deacon

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    Here is a key verse supporting a simple form of "shunning".
    Unfortunately church discipline is not uncommon in the church I attend; happens every year or two in it's most extreme form. [​IMG]

    We have found that the people needing discipline usually separate themselves from the membership once the sin is out in the open. Perhaps the embarrassment factor in action? If it lasts longer than a week or two they usually begin to develop new support structures and then continue happily(?) along in their sin.

    Rob
     
  11. Johnv

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    This is a toughie. Frankly, I don't see a reason to shun him. If we shunned every church member for every sin, then we wouldn't have any contact with everyone. But, in this case, there's a presumption that he's sinning. We on the board don't have all the information. For example, is his spouse possibly guilty of some form of marital desertion? Or, presuming that this fellow is the one contributing to or committing desertion, and his spouse forgives him, then should that be a nonissue?

    My cousing went through a divorce several years ago. Not many people knew why. It turned out that his spouse had a compulsive spending problem, and had deserted the marriage. He had threatened to leave if she didn't get help for her addictions, but after years, and ultimately, a bankruptcy, he had no choice but to be the one to file for divorce. On the outside, it looked like he was filing for no reason at all. But the reality was that she had deserted the marriage long before, and he was put in a position where he was becoming a party to her sin. I think it would have been wrong for people to make judgements about their divorce without knowing the whole story, just because my cousin chose not t air his dirty laundry. The person in this situation may be similar.
     
  12. Johnv

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    Delly, your spouse committed desertion (he may have been "physically" nearby, but he had clearly deserted the marital covenant). This is unfortunately common in alcoholic spouse situations. You had a biblical right to leave your spouse. Had you stayed, you would have been sending the message to him that you condone this type of behavior.
     
  13. go2church

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    All of a sudden we are Amish? What a ridiculous thought! If the man is "lost" how are we going to see come to a relationship with Jesus? Not by avoiding him! This "we love you but don't come around" business is nonsense.
     
  14. Dr. Bob

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  15. Pastor Larry

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    Perhaps a valid question, to turn it around, is to ask this: What is the purpose of a relationship with a person in this condition? Under what conditions can that purpose be fulfilled?
     
  16. Greg Linscott

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    The question is, then, what does "let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican" (Matt. 18:17) entail?

    I don't believe that his parents should treat him any differently than any other Christian parent would treat another unsaved child. I believe the church should treat him like they would any other unsaved person off the street. The man should lose the privileges and close fellowship that he enjoyed as a member of the local church. That doesn't mean that church members should cross the street to avoid walking on the same side as he is.

    More extreme measures might be necessary if his lifestyle has taken on a more decidedly destructive course; for example, Proverbs 22:24-25...
    ...or Proverbs 1:15-16
     
  17. Link

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    Something else to consider. Christ commanded that the one who not repent after being confronted by the person he sinned against, then by two or three, and then the whole church, be treated as a heathen man and a publican.

    Notice taht Christ said "if he will not hear the church.' The church must be involved. Even the world knows enough not to convict a man before he has had his day in court. We need to give the man a chance to state his case before disfellowshipping him.

    The Bible does not give a pastor alone authority to do this. Paul, an apostle, told the Corinthian church to deliever the man over to Satan, when they were gathered together with the power of the Lord Jesus.

    go2church,
    I'd suggest you read I Corinthians 5. Paul didn't want the believers to eat with this man or fellowship with him. If he were lost, then he would have heard the truth. Keeping some people around contaminates the church, and sin spreads. In the Bible, sin is so serious that Jesus said that if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you.
     
  18. MTA

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    The act of shunning a disciplined member is Scriptural. However, in the case of divorce and when there is ultimately no reconciliation, what is the remedy for the shunned member(s)? Is an apology sufficient? How do you bring the shunned member back into fellowship, or do you? Is the shunned member also excluded, as in the case of the incestuous man in 1 Cor. 5?

    Churches should always defend the institution of marriage as it is set forth in Scripture, but I think it is a stretch to imply that churches are responsible for preserving the integrity of their member’s marriages. There may be reason enough to assess discipline against one, or both members in a divorce action that ultimately results in shunning. However, I am not convinced that the act of divorce alone sufficiently fits a category that supports the action. Is the sin of divorce greater, or deserving of a more focused response by a church than any other sin a person might be guilty of?

    The Corinthian example was for a serious, public (and perhaps private offense, since there is no mention of the man’s father being deceased.) However, that is the only example we have of this extreme action of exclusion and shunning in a New Testament Church.

    I am interested in knowing whether any of you follow specific guidelines in your churches, outlining the particular offenses and resulting actions that can be taken by the church against offending members?
     
  19. amixedupmom

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    -Famous Lea Butt in-

    Personally in some situations it's needed. the LORD would not want someone to stay in a situation that would cause someone harm.

    For instance a man beats his wife, everyone in the church knows it, BUT it dosen't stop even with talking to him by church elders... It's time for this woman to get out...

    Most importantly .. It's between the LORD and this man. And, his wife. His divorce is no business of the Church. He is going to have to answer for that, the church isn't. They can try and help but, If nothing can be resolved. There is nothing else to do.

    It's beoming sad in our churches how people are getting so full of theHoly Spirit they begin to pick and judge over other Christians. You know we're ALL sinners and imperfect. And we all have our sins. Love the sinner hate the sin. And don't judge lest ye shall be, You do remember who said that right?

    Let's have a little tolerance and understanding for our brothers and sisters going though situations like this. The last thing they need in this trying time is to be treated with anything other than dignity and respect. This man prolly feels so alone. I will pray for him Dr. Bob.

    God Bless you all,

    -Lea buts out [​IMG] -
     
  20. Pastor Larry

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    I think the teaching of 1 Cor 12 contradicts this. Paul says there is no such thing as a person separated from the body. 1 Cor 5 says that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. We are on a dangerous, unbiblical route when we say it is no one else's business. The NT teaching on fellowship is enough to contradict that.

    I think those involved need to love this man and call him to stand up to his commitments to God and his wife. This Sunday, I am preaching on being the man that God intended us to be. Men who leave their wives are not what God intends them to be. He has not dignity and does not deserve respect. He is in the image of God, but he needs to live up to his commitments. If he feels alone, it is with good reason. One of the biblical reasons for public confrontation in 2 Thess 3 is so that the man will be put to shame. He should be embarrassed over his actions. In 1 Tim 5 we are told to do it so that others will fear. It is to be a measure that instills fear in teh hearts of others.

    My words are not a call to hatred. I have had to deal with these kinds of situations unfortunately, and sometimes they stay together and sometimes they don't. But we can't soft peddle it and pretend like this guy is doing something permissable. He is not. My heart goes out to Delly and those like her who are living with an abusive, sinful spouse. She has a valid reason to pursue a divorce is she chooses (and she did). She should be welcome with open arms. But we cannot treat divorce lightly.

    If this woman is in danger, she has a case to leave. But that doesn't sounds like the case here. The man is pursuing the divorce and Bob gave no indication that the wife was committing adultery or deserting the marriage. It sounds like this man is just tired of the marriage and wants out ... though perhaps there is more to it. I don't remember all the OP. But to say that his sin is not affecting the body of which he is a part cannot be sustained from Scripture.

    Love doesn't mean we condone. Love doesn't mean that there are no consequences of wrong choices. Love means truth, straightforwardness, and biblical commitment.
     

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