I thought I'd go onto another topic, then a friend sent me a link to this blog, which discusses a recent church discipline action taken by Mark Driscoll's church, Mars Hill, right here in Seattle. Talk about spiritual manipulation and abuse!This is a another sad example of the price of biblical literalism, as a church uses Matthew 18 and a few other verses to "discipline" a member who fell into "sexual sin" (having non-sex contact with a single woman and having sex with his finance). They issued him a church discipline contract to sign that spells out his requirements for gaining restoration (including writing out his whole "detailed sexual sin and emotional attachment" life history! - and "all sins" during this time period!). Then when he refused to sign it, leadership sent instructions to the church to not even talk to this guy unless he was willing to abide by the hoops they set up (check out the level of control they stipulated in the letter to the church). So, he's basically booted out of the church with the whole congregation not only knowing his "sin," but commanded to shun him.
Where do I begin? This whole case makes me so angry. It's similar to what I encountered in PDI/SGM back in the 80s and 90s and share in my book on the chapters on church and bible abuse. First of all, even if one believes the Bible should be applied this way to spell our exactly how to discipline someone (which I don't), Mars Hill has gone way beyond the Bible! Where does it say draw up a contract in Matthew 18? Or get the guy to spill his guts by listing all his sins? Moreover, when Jesus said if a sinner doesn't listen to one or two or three others, then tell it to the church, he wasn't talking about broadcasting it to a mega church. The term is "gathering" and in a local setting it was always a small group. When Jesus said "treat him as a tax collector or pagan," since when does that mean don't talk to him unless he's ready to sign a contract and grovel to the demands of leadership? Last I checked, Jesus treated the Gentiles and tax collectors pretty well and told his disciples to do the same.
The amazing thing is, when you read the case, you'll see that by any reasonable standard the guy really did repent of his "sin." He just refused to sign the contract and good for him. But again, this case also reveals the incredible paranoia of the church over sex, a obsession that doesn't follow from a fair reading of the Bible as I explain in my chapter called The Sex God. You see, technically, having sex with your fiance, if love rules, is not a sin. I don't have time to go into it now but this is one of those fabricated offenses the church overreacts to. Look, read the case. This man wasn't spotless in what he did, but he's now paying the price for a church that adheres to a strict biblicism--and one that even goes beyond what the Bible teaches. This blantent spiritual abuse and manipulation and controlling behavior must be exposed.