Monday, September 29, 2008
The first question to address is whether Mr. Boltz sees his lifestyle as sin or not. If he does, he should be admonished to turn from it, and back to God. If he does not, I would need to show him in God's Word where the homosexual lifestyle (and the divorce) are shown to be sinful. Then, admonish him as a believer to turn from it. I would continue in prayer for him, but this is not a situation where there is a lot to meet and discuss. It's right or wrong. That being said, woe to the churches in America that have allowed people to come and be members without teaching them God's righteousness. We compromise so much that we are no different from anyone else. A more detailed discussion follows:
If I were his pastor, I would be required to lovingly confront him in his sin. The first thing would have been that when he divorced his wife last year, I would have to have removed him from a leadership role within the church. It's not that divorced people cannot lead under any circumstances, but that someone who decides to fracture his marriage is choosing to step away from following God's Word. This individual is in effect saying 'I will live my life my way and God has no say in the matter.' We all struggle with pride, and all of us fight this daily. However, for someone who has taken a public leadership role to then follow with a public disregard for God's standards requires a step away from leadership. The further announcement, in this specific case, that Mr. Boltz has chosen to live a homosexual lifestyle completely removes him from leadership in the church. This is how his leadership roles would be handled. Now that he has publicly expressed his break with God and His standards, public repentance would be necessary to consider a restoration to lead.
As a private individual, Mr. Boltz's divorce is cause for the church to encourage he and his wife to reconcile. For a marriage between believers, restoration should always be the goal. Sometimes this will require strong efforts from the church to help the individuals to live in a right relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. No church should try to send an abused wife back into that dangerous situation, but also no church should allow a man within the church to be an abuser. There are men in the congregation, and they have a duty to confront this. Our unwillingness in churches to interfere in people's personal lives has stopped us from holding each other accountable to God's standards. For a man to abuse his wife, whether verbally or physically, is ungodly and if he claims to be a believer by being a church member, the church has a responsibility to challenge his actions. But I digress. The Boltz family needed the love and care of the church, and to be challenged and strengthened to hold their marriage together. If one party was unwilling to do this, then so be it. This is sin is forgiven by the Blood of Jesus just like any other.
However, to go on to publicly live a lifestyle contrary to God's Word is unacceptable. The church cannot accept it, no matter the sin. Just as was stated above about spousal abuse, so also with homosexuality, drunkenness or any other pattern of sin in the life of a believer. The church, led by the pastor, should confront the individual with the need to repent and publicly acknowledge the pattern of sin (the level of public acknowlegement should match or exceed the publicity of thier sin. In the specific Ray Boltz case, I would ask that he release a nationwide press release that he had turned from homosexuality and that he utilize his fame to spread that word. Had it only been between he and his wife in their divorce, it would only need to go that far.) If a church member continues to openly (by openly, I mean with people's general knowledge. Just because someone only commits adultery out-of-town, if it's known here, it must be addressed) refuse to follow God's commands, then the church must take the step of suspending that individual's church membership and exclude them from anything but church attendance. If no repentance is evidence after this time of suspension, then the church will have no choice but to permanently remove that individual from membership until they publicly repent. This is not a ban on attendance unless the person uses their presence at the church to cause division. Then the church leadership may ask the person not to return to meetings of the fellowship.
What about the Lord's Supper? Depending on your personal understanding of the Lord's Supper, you will have different feelings about this person joining with the church during that time. I, for one, would make it very clear that taking the Lord's Supper while living in blatant rebellion to God is not only insulting, but hazardous to your health. I would allow one opportunity for the person to sit among the congregation and not take part, but the next service of the Lord's Supper I would ask the individual privately not to take part. If a private conversation does not induce right behavior, then public confrontation would follow, asking the individual to leave from the pulpit.
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