“One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 23:2).
It certainly was not the fault of the illegitimate offspring that he was so born. “The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son” (Ezekiel 18:20).
Why then this command? Let me suggest that the command was designed to put a stigma on illegitimacy, and thereby send a message to society that such is not God’s ideal for bringing children into the world.
What about today? I do realize that we are not under the specifics of the Old Covenant. However, there are valuable principles to be learned (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Jude 5). I am greatly concerned that today all stigma has been removed. Individuals and churches throw baby showers, even without repentance and confession of sin, welcoming the illegitimate into the world. Moreover, these showers sometimes go beyond helping with some basic necessities, and celebrate in the coming child. Families celebrate parenthood, and grandparenthood which comes this way. There is no longer any apparent shame over such.
This acceptance applies as well to those in other sins. One can live openly in sin, and still enjoy family gatherings, thanksgiving meals and the like without repentance and confession. In one case, I recall a group of church members eating a thanksgiving meal together. One lady invited her drug-addicted son, who had been supposedly withdrawn from by the church, to be a part of the meal and games which followed.
Paul said this, “I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or an drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person” (1 Corinthians 5:11). The wording “keep company” (sunanamignumi) means “to mix together with, co-mingle… to mingle one’s self with… to associate with, to have familiar intercourse with” (Perschbaucher). True, not all sins are to be handled in the same manner (see article – Different Type of Sin by B.H.). However, those who are informed but still engage in open, willful, sin and who refuse to repent are to be so treated. Such is to be done: (1) to make the sinner ashamed (2 Thessalonians 3:6); (2) To try to produce repentance and bring salvation (1 Corinthians 5:6); (3) to protect and send a message to others (1 Corinthians 5:6 cf. Deuteronomy 13:11; 17:13; 21:21). (4) to obey the inspired instructions (1 Corinthians 5:4-5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6).
Yes, it is difficult. Yes, it hurts us to do this. However, it also hurts not to do this. Let us not be guilty of legitimizing sin. There are three important questions to ask: (1) Are we willing to do what is right? (2) Are we willing to do what is right, right now? (3) Are we willing to let God’s word determine what is right?
We should help the one in sin to repent. We can hold the hand and walk down the aisle supportive of the one who is ready to confess sin. We can tell the one who has sin that the consequences of sin may be difficult, but we will stand by them and help them. We can do all of these things and more, but let us not legitimize sinful behavior by passively over looking such, doing this will not help.
Once repentance has occurred, we are told – “you ought… to forgive and comfort… lest perhaps a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow… I urge you reaffirm your love to him” (2 Corinthians 2:6-8). Let us remember that all have sinned.
Those in the church who have sinned and are unrepentant should be shamed. Those whose sins have caused them to leave fellowship should be sought out. I cannot be the one to condemn others for their sins, especially at a party not of my doing. If Jesus found no way to condemn the woman caught in adultery, how can we? Keeping friendships with those who have sinned was an essential feature of Jesus’ ministry. There are times for lecturing and times for loving. What often appears like acceptance is often an extension of non judgmentalism. God has extended grace and mercy to us, how else can we do this for others if not for those who have made themselves enemies of the cross. In all this, the time may come when one of us, someone of us will be able to speak up and so save the sinner from themselves.
Are all children a gift from God or just some of them? These are hard issues. Imagine shaming someone over their pregnancy when in fact they choose not to abort the new person. Imagine the sister or mother of some youth who has gotten herself pregnant. Humiliation and the hard life of raising such a child is maybe enough shame? How about aiming to befriend the fallen and the fatherless? Isn’t that what God did?
Thanks for reading. Thanks for your interest in spiritual matters, and your comments. My apology for not replying sooner. You deserve a reply to your thoughts.
Concerning Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, I refer you to my article “Don’t Judge.” I want people to deal with things in a Biblical manner (I believe that the subject of fellowship is greatly misunderstood today. I also believe that church discipline is nearly a forgotten commandment today.) The men who brought the woman to Jesus were not following the law. Jesus would have been wrong to condemn her under the circumstances. However, He did not ignore her sin. He instructed her “go and sin no more.”
Jesus did associate with the sinful. He never did such to condone their sinfulness. He did so to teach and convert. We should do the same. We should be among the people of society trying to reach them. However, the fact remains that the New Testament teaches us how to deal with church members who are in willful sin and refuse to repent. It is worth pondering just how frequently this matter comes up in the scriptures (Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Corinthians 2:1-11; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 1:18-20; 1 Timothy 6:3-5 KJV and NKJV; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Titus 3:10; 2 John 9-11). What do these passages mean? Clearly, it was not God’s will that we maintain normal social and ecclesiastical relationships with those in sin who refuse to repent.
Jesus also associated with those who had repented. However, such repentance was not regarded or allowed by the self righteous of the day. May we not be like the elder son.
However, I find no instance of Jesus having continued social interaction with those who refused to repent. I do read about Him telling the disciples to shake off the dust and not to cast their pearls before the swine.
It should be understood that I do not believe that all sins are to be handled in the same manner. I refer you to my article “Different Types of Sin.” There are: 1. Personal, private matters between brethren (Matthew 18:15-17); 2. General disorderliness, involving esp. new converts (1 Thessalonians 3:10; 4:11-12; 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,10,12); 3. Divisiveness, needless division and trouble making (Titus 3:10); 4. False teaching (Romans 16:17; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 John 9-11); 5. Open willful egregious sin (1 Corinthians 5). These sins are handled differently in the scriptures. Moreover, the church is to practice discipline toward its members, and not the world.
You and I both want the child of God to repent of sin. I do not think such will likely happen by continuing normal relations with those in open sin. Such allows the sinner to have his cake and eat it too. He can engage in sin and continue to maintain Christian fellowship. J. W. McGarvey once told Jesse Sewell ” Don’t let anyone persuade you that you can successfully combat error by fellowshipping it and going along with it. I have tried. I believe at the start that was the only way to do it. I’ve never held membership in a congregation that uses instrumental music. I have, however, accepted invitations to preach without distinction between churches that used it and churches that didn’t. I’ve gone along with their papers and magazines and things of that sort. During all these years I have taught the truth as the New Testament teaches it to every young preacher who has passed through the College of Bible. Yet, I do not know of more than six of those men who are preaching the truth today.”
You ask if all children are a gift from God. Yes. It is a gift from God that man can reproduce. However, that does not mean that God is pleased with how all were conceived. I am glad there was not the second sin of abortion. However, such does not mean that we should give the appearance of condoning the first. Should we celebrate divorce, because at least they did not kill each other?
What I am telling you is that from what I have witnessed, there is no longer shame for most sins. Living together without marriage is accepted. Children born out of wedlock are celebrated, as much as those born in wedlock. There is no shame. Divorce is celebrated. Homosexuality is accepted without shame. I have witnessed these things. Moreover, I have watched others follow the same course- because they have seen that such behavior was tolerated, accepted, and even applauded. Tolerance is helping many to hell.
Consider some words by Jimmy Jividen, “Perhaps the strongest test of brotherly love is the willingness to confront a brother who is involved in sin or error.” “One of the most unloving acts that one could do – is nothing – when he knows that a brother is being overcome by sin.” “It is a shallow and misguided love which prefers to let a brother go to hell rather than correct his wrong. Brotherly love cares enough to correct.” “There is too little moral or ethical difference between the church and the world.”
Let us busy ourselves in trying to save the lost. Let us not tolerate open sin, doing so dims the light of the Gospel.
Best regards, Bryan