There is a purge going on in the Church and it is one that we should acknowledge, embrace, and encourage. No issue has divided the church as clearly as the issue of homosexual acceptance and its manifestation in same-sex marriage. This purge has been mostly a one-way affair in that theologically liberal denominations such as the PCUSA (my former denomination) have been stacking the political structure so as to favor liberalization trends.
The PCUSA is not the only offender as it has been a popular trend among mainline denominations. This trend has caused people to leave for more traditional churches or for existing congregations to simply acknowledge the political realities of their denomination and affiliate with another denomination or start their own conservative branch. The PCUSA has lost 47% of its membership since 1967 and this article lists the decline and increase of other denominations. Being a minister in the Restoration Movement I’m always interested in the Christian Church, Church of Christ, and Disciples of Christ churches. The Disciples have been trending liberal for years and have suffered a 67% decline since 1965 (these figures are as of 2012).
As theological liberals have seized power their churches have been purged of conservatives as they flee the sinking ship of Politically Correct Theology. The liberal churches fail to recognize that their theology is built upon the shifting sands of public opinion and peer pressure. It is not founded upon historical, solid biblical truth. Thus, it has no staying power and no attractiveness to a world that seeks stability amidst the storms of life. PCT only offers acceptance to those who conform to the thought de jour. If the winds of PCT ever shift so that it becomes popular to to dis-affirm homosexuality then those churches are going to find themselves in turmoil again.
Apostasy. Heresy. Disfellowship. Excommunication. These are all dirty words for many in the church today. They inherently bear a concept of harsh judgment in them and our pop-culture tells us to “judge not” (which seems to be the only portion of the Bible that many of them both know and affirm). But since the beginning of the Church there have been lines of discipline that could not be crossed without repercussions. Sexual sins have been matters of discipline and even excommunication from the outset.
The Apostle Paul affirms that sexual sins will exclude a person from the Kingdom of Heaven (1 Cor. 6:9) and homosexual behavior is among those sins. He affirms that homosexual behavior is a fundamental rebellion against God; that it is a “sinful desire”; that it is a “degrading” of the human body; that it is a “shameful lust” and that the acts are “shameful acts” (Romans 1:18-32). In short, human beings who are in rebellion against God on the matter of homosexuality are under God’s wrath and condemnation (Romans 1:18). This is exactly where the liberal churches find themselves. They affirm what God condemns.
In the Corinthian church Paul had to confront “sexual immorality . . . of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate” (1 Cor. 5:1). This was a heterosexual sin. The perversity of it was that a man was sleeping with his father’s wife (that is, his step-mother). Was the church in Corinth outraged at this? No. They were proud. Paul tells them that they should have “gone into mourning” and put the man into a state of disfellowship. The hope would be that he would repent so “that his spirit may be saved on the Day of the Lord”.
Paul’s teaching on how to handle sexual immorality may not have been clearly understood by the Corinthian church as 1 Cor. 5:9-10 may indicate. So Paul clearly states what he expects when it comes to sexual immorality within the church: “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people” (1 Cor. 5:11, emphasis mine). In fact, Paul relies upon Scripture when he commands the church to “Expel the wicked person from among you” 1 Cor. 5:13 (cf. Deut. 13:5; 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21,24; 24:7).
Genesis sets forth God’s intentional creation of mankind as male and female with gender complementarity as the essential component. The union of husband and wife is for the purpose of reuniting the male with what was created from him so that the two can carry out the divine will of procreating, ruling, and subduing the earth. Jesus affirms this natural and customary form of marriage as well as limits it to only two participants in a lifelong and monogamous marriage.
Humanity crossed a line which had never been crossed before when it began wiping out male/female distinctions and deeming homosexuals as capable of being married. Not even the pagans had ever done such a thing in all of human history. But like the Corinthians, the liberal churches have crossed several lines that had never been crossed before in the church. They affirmed homosexuality; they approved of homosexual marriage; they ordained practicing homosexuals into their leadership.
The liberal churches have been cutting off the conservatives for a long time. It is now time for the conservatives to turn the tables and do the same and even more, in accordance with Scripture. The lines of demarcation within the church are clear but they need to be made more distinct. It is time for all the independent churches and denominations that support biblical marriage to do what the Apostle Paul would have us do: disfellowship anyone who claims to be a believer but affirms homosexual practice and/or same-sex marriage. Those of us on the right side of the issue need to call this what it is: heresy. Those who support it have become rebels against God and arguably apostates since “. . . they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). They have created a cult of sexual perversion and masquerade it as an acceptable form of Christianity.
It is only through boldness and a firm stance on Scripture that the Church can distinguish itself from the culture around it. Those people who refuse proper instruction and sound doctrine on this issue need to be cut off from their respective congregations until such a time as they repent. Churches and denominations that affirm homosexual practice need to be told “No. You are not Christian anymore.” Associations with such groups need to be severed.It is time to shun those who have created this cult of sexual perversion. Paul’s advice is harsh and it is intended to be harsh in order that it might shock the sinner into repentance. “Expel the wicked from among you.” Let the Church be purged of its heretics.