Dark Brightness

Bleak Theology: Hopeful Science

In defence of shunning.

I can imagine what the Churchians are saying about this. ‘You cannot talk about this. You cannot be judgmental. Besides, do you not have sins in your life? How dare you call yourself pure’
Actually my imagination is too kind. I’m likely to be called a sexist, a racist, a homophobe and (having been now classed as an udermensch) I can be damned. Just like Ms Birchall, when she offended the liberal pieties.

Freelance writer Julie Burchill, 53, described transgender people as “a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs” in a column for the Observer on Sunday (January 13), prompting widespread condemnation.

Former equalities minister Ms Featherstone, now at the Department for International Development, took to Twitter to vent her disgust at Ms Burchill’s view.

She wrote: “Julie Burchill rant against transgender community is absolutely disgusting – a bigoted vomit for which the Observer should sack her.”

Ms Burchill wrote the column in defence of columnist friend Suzanne Moore.

Moore was bombarded with abuse on Twitter after writing a magazine article in which she railed against the pressure for women to look like, as she put it, “Brazilian transsexuals”.

The Observer has since removed the column from their website under the weight of public criticism.

Well, so be it. In today’s reating, we are instructed to shun those who habitually practice evil.

Ephesians 5:1-14

1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. 4Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. 5Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be associated with them. 8For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light — 9for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. 10Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,“Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Paul (I can feel the haters talking about how dare I quote him) argues that we should have nothing to do wht those who do not walk in the light. That group includes the habitually immoral, the greedy, the gossips, those who are salacious and silly. We are supposed to correct each other, and shun those who do not do good.

I think the reason Paul recommends cutting these people off is that shunning is so powerful. We are social things. We generally avoid disapproval, particularly public disapproval. We do not want to be cast out. This human wisn to be part of the tribe is used by every cult to reinforce correct behaviour, and this is not ‘spiritual abuse but the correct thing. It is harsh, yes, but we all have habitual sins we struggle with. Every one of us, and most of them are on that list

(The overweight woman who damns her husband for looking at porn is equally guilty: she is greedy. And if she gossips, refuses to meet his sexual needs or follows foolish teaching that makes her see herself as more than she is, she is in the same boat. Both need to repent: there are more sins than sexual ones. Yes, looking after yourself is work, but you have to do it.

The tone of this blog is somewhat no nonsense, I realize, but I do have sympathy for women fighting the weight battle because I fight the weight battle and I’ve been fighting it for over a decade. Every day. I exercise more than any other person my age that I know. Every day, rain or shine, I go out into the weather and walk for at least and hour and fifteen minutes. Where I live this is not always pleasant. In fact, for 5 months of the year it’s either unpleasant or extremely unpleasant (as in freeze-your-ass-off cold and risk slipping on treacherous sidewalks at all times). Yet I do it – every day. Rain or shine, cold or hot, sick or healthy, I go out there and walk the good walk with my dogs, or my son or my husband. I walk because 11 years ago I realized that I was putting on weight faster than what I’d previously thought possible and was afraid of where it was going. I started walking 30 minutes a day which staved off further weight gain, but didn’t cause me to lose anything. Then it was 45 minutes, then an hour, and now most of the time it’s an hour and a half. I lost the weight.

Now, if our churches want to change things, they are going to have to be offensive. They are going to have to refuse people communion, or call out sins, or stop people from acting in certain ways. They are going to have to have a spine and use the methods of discipline. This is doable. In my local kirk there is a man who compulsively steals. This is known, and the advice is that he can attend kirk, but not home groups — so that the housewives do not need to count their spoons after every visit.

9 thoughts on "In defence of shunning."

  • will says:

    1 Corinthians 5:1-12

    is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a
    kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s
    2And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?
    though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have
    already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were
    4When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present,
    5hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful naturea may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

    6Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?
    rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you
    really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
    let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice
    and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and

    9I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—
    at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy
    and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this
    now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls
    himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a
    slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

    12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
    13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.

  • I think someof the ugliest moments in church history are for the sake of righteousness and for cleansing the people, so they just start murdering, as if that is more righteous than whatever sin they have chosen to condemn.

  • Righteousness should not come at the sake of mercy. The point of the law should always be to help people see their need for Christ, not to condemn them forever. Our hearts should be open to the sinners, but closed to the sin. We shouldn’t give them the law without giving them the hope of the gospel with it.

  • Sis says:

    http://youtu.be/7kpXqd8pGFw, sorry last one didn’t seem to work.

  • Ballista74 says:

    Thanks for the link!

    Much of what is going on within the church today is simply because people are either blind to such things or they aren’t willing to push on the issues. From my observations, it’s more the former than the latter today, especially since so many “Christians” are Scripturally illiterate and are just trading off what their pastors tell them and not verifying what they say against Scripture themselves.

  • chrisgale says:

    @ Sis: yeah, mercy is needed. Consider the criteria for divorce via abandonment in the Westminster Confession… you have to refuse and rebel when told by the church that you should return to your spouse.

    If that happens, and you leave the church, the spouse is free. Most of this needs to happen one ot one and in private… but when someone is openly flouting and trying to make a test case of it: let them. See. the. door.

    @ Ballista74. The reason I blog on the lectionary and quote so extensively is most people don’t read.

Comments are closed.