Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

12/17/2008

Go Public with Sins?

Denise pointed out the following news item, Woman Says Church Threatening To Make Sins Public. The article tells of a church in Mandarin, Florida harassing a woman even after she has left the church:
A divorced Jacksonville woman said her former church has threatened to "go public with her sins" and tell the congregation about her sexual relationship with her new boyfriend.

Rebecca Hancock said harassment from Grace Community Church in Mandarin over her sex life caused her to leave, but she said that didn't put an end to the problem. She said she received a letter from the church's elders telling her the church plans to make her personal life very public.

"I'm basically run out. I'm the church harlot," Hancock said.

The 49-year-old said she has been dating a man for a while and she said members of the congregation at Grace Community Church haven't been happy about the relationship.

"Because I have a boyfriend that I'm involved with … to not be married to that person is a sin," Hancock said.

She said the issue caused her to leave the church. However, she said the church has not let go of her.

The letter Hancock received from the church states that because she has refused to end her sexual relationship with her boyfriend, "you leave us with no other choice but to carry out the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ" … "In accordance with Matthew 18:17 we intend to 'tell it to the church.'"

"On January 4, my sins will be told to the church, publicly, with my children sitting in the church and my friends," Hancock said.
The irony is that the church is named "Grace." Grace is God's free, unearned gift of love. Oh well.

In partial defense of the church, scripture does have higher expectations of the faithful than of the newcomer. We are to be transformed over time by God's presence in our lives. This ongoing work of sanctification (being made holy) is the work of a lifetime. Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in the very act of adultery, but he also told her to "go and sin no more."

So much for defending the church. This story sounds like opposite day in the Kingdom of God. When I was in elementary school, you could tell someone, "You are handsome, well dressed and the smartest person in school." Then follow it up with, "Haha. It's opposite day." They read the Gospel about the woman caught in adultery and then said, "Haha, it's opposite day. Let's stone a woman for her sins."

Kidding aside, Grace Community Church is clear about who they are. Their website lists one of the purposes of a church as, "The church exists to provide accountability to the purity of the church (Matthew 18)." Their holding this one member publically accountable is not some arbitrary decision, but is part of a core value this congregation maintains for itself.

I know that they will see my views as being conformed to the culture and not to God's will, but I think they got the letter of the law, but missed the spirit of it. Jesus said that you know a tree by its fruit. The fruit of this decision will be to encourage more highly judgmental people to seek out Grace Community Church as their kind of church, one that will be pure. But the Body of Christ is messier than that.

We are a mixed body in the Church made up of saints and sinners alike. And this is not just in the church, but within each of us. Each of us is within ourselves a mix of saint and sinner. Until my whole life is in conformity to God's will, am I in a position to condemn another person? And when my whole life is in conformity to God's will, would I still want to condemn another person?

I see that the church opted to publically judge this woman for her sins. I just don't understand where they found the person to cast the first stone. Jesus said he wouldn't do it. Neither will I. I trust you, gentle reader, would not do so either.

Some of those who seek out this congregation as their kind of church will find themselves on the pointy end of the finger, with the judgment of the congregation falling on them, because life works out that way. In fact, life usually works out so that it will be the pastor whose own sins will be made public one day. I hope not. I truly do. But this kinda thing has a way of happening so frequently as to almost be predictable.

One final note, the church did get its way. She made their judgment public as a way to condemn their actions against her. So they don't have to wait for January anymore. Jacksonville television news has already let everyone know about the boyfriend. It sorta takes the punch out of condemning her in church now that their plan of action has been broadcast by the media.

I still think that Jesus words apply here and we should judge not, lest we be judged in the same manner. That's my take. What do you think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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23 Comments:

  • At 12/17/2008 8:56 AM, Anonymous Matthew said…

    Hey Rev.

    I guess we should just chuck I Corinthians out of the Bible then, huh? After all, Paul cast that first stone against the guy who was shacking up with his step mother.

    Did you ever consider that they talked to her, as Matthew says to do, about her sin privately first, and she continued to sin some more. Then they went back to her with another, as the Bible and Jesus told them to do, and she chose to leave the congregation and continue to sin some more. So lastly they tell the congregation so that they may separate themselves from someone living a hedonistic lifestyle just as Paul reprimanded the church at Corinth to do! This woman is still calling herself a Christian, all the while reveling in her sin. She is the one who "outed" herself on the local Jacksonville affiliate. She is the one who told the WORLD that she was, indeed, having sex outside of marriage. And she said that was between her and Jesus. But the Bible says otherwise. I am shocked that you just ignore sin. What was it that Corinthians says about a little yeast? Would you allow a small rattlesnake in your house saying "after all, it is just a little snake"?

     
  • At 12/17/2008 1:13 PM, Anonymous Paco said…

    By your statements Mathew it apprears you would advocate stoning because Paul did and that you are without sin as Jesus was and in a position to judge others.

    I think the actions and teachings of Jesus should serve as a guide to our own actions rather than the actions of Paul, don't you? If you look hard enough in the Bible you can find a passage to justify just about any position you like.

    She revealed this story to the world I believe because she did not appreciate being extorted by her church consisting of people she considered to be her friends.

    If one had to be without sin in order to call themselves a Christian, there would be no Christians.

     
  • At 12/17/2008 1:40 PM, Anonymous Matthew said…

    As a matter of fact, I am without sin, Jesus took my sin upon the cross. I am no longer a sinner, but a new creation, a saint is how my God looks at me. I quit being a sinner when Jesus came to live within me.

    Interesting how you find the Bible not worth following. Jesus indeed would approve of what Paul did. Think about it for a minute. If the woman caught in the act was brought before Jesus, where was the guy? Jesus told her to go and sin no more, but do you think that if she kept on doing the horizontal mambo with guys that he would continue to say "Oh, that's OK, you are doing the best you can". Jesus said "if you love me, keep my commandments" and he said it was better to enter heaven with one arm, or one eye rather than fall into sin. Jesus said "change your ways" Ms. Hancock did not change her ways.

     
  • At 12/17/2008 2:38 PM, Anonymous Paco said…

    Your attitude toward people and willingness to judge and condem indicate otherwise.

    Jesus taught love, not things people like you advocate who call themselves Christians. It is a real shame people put so much emphasis on things written in the Bible rather than following the teachings of Christ. Men wrote the Bible, not God.

    I do not see any love and understanding in your words so we will part this discussion.

    Au Revoir

     
  • At 12/17/2008 2:47 PM, Anonymous Matthew said…

    Paco,

    Funny how you find it convenient for yourself to judge others and then condemn them for a judging spirit. I judge nothing, she has admitted that she is having sex outside of marriage. That is fact, not judgment. And the Bible makes it clear that it is sin.

    I think your issues are found most in yourself!! Have fun being a hypocrite. Or else, turn to Jesus and ask him to open your eyes to the sin which still so easily ensnares you.

     
  • At 12/17/2008 3:25 PM, Anonymous Paco said…

    I knew you could not resist an argument even though you are supposedly without sin and you have just proven my point.

    I have not judged you nor did I call you any names.

    I, also am not the hypocrite as I have merely pointed out what Jesus preached, not a word about my beliefs so how could I possibly be hypocritical.

    I am not a Christian and as the religion is populated by your ilk, I have no desire to be. I simply believe in right and wrong and believe what the woman does is her own business and none of the church's or anyone else's.

    The most irritating thing about Christians and all other religions is they want to tell everyone else how to live their lives and think anyone who does not believe as they do are wrong and sinners.

    So spare me your preaching. You are ill-equipped to advise anyone.

    So now do you strike back or turn the other cheek?

    I failed to respond that your previous inept comment about what about the guy and Jesus approving of what Paul did. Jesus did not approve of stoning nor condemning the woman or he would not have said let ye who is without sin cast the first stone but you have made it clear you do believe in stoning people to death because the bible states it's ok, right?

    In words not in the bible, "people who live in glass houses should not throw rocks". We all live in glass houses and the ones of us who do not delude ourselves know that.

    My issues are with incompetents and disrespect for truth and unlike you, I require no book to tell me how to live my life.

    I also could care less how anyone else lives their lives, especially behind closed doors, just as long as it does not threaten me or mine.

     
  • At 12/17/2008 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am shocked how you two respond to each other. Although I do understand why Paco eventually just let it out. Matthew- I do call myself a Christian and everything you write strikes me as you telling everyone that you are perfect and commit no sin. I agree that Jesus did die on the cross to take away our sins. But we are human and not Jesus so we do sin even though we have intentions not to. Do you gossip? Do you tell little white lies? Do you put Jesus and others before you? We all try to but fall short. That is being human. Jesus said -'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' That is what I live by and that is what I teach my family. I hear from your words that you are better than everyone. Are we not suppost to take the lowest seat and be asked to sit in the highest. You have just gone right up and taken the highest. I hope you will find love towards others some day. If we want to be forgiven we have to first forgive. Paco- I'm sorry you feel the way you do about Christians. Please don't think other are like Matthew. I agree that there are good people out there that do not call themselves Christians and that some that do call themselves Christians you have to wonder why they do. But we should all try and follow Jesus' teachings and spread God's word. And of course help others.
    I hope you both including the woman this all began with find peace,love and joy in this time of year we remember how God came to be with us.

     
  • At 12/17/2008 5:15 PM, Anonymous Paco said…

    Dear Anonymous,

    I do realize there are real Christians in the world and I am sure you are one of them as is the Pastor who left the original remarks expressing genuine Christian tenets.

    I envy you your faith and thank you for your comments.

    Vaya con Dios

     
  • At 12/17/2008 8:10 PM, Anonymous Kelly said…

    Paco,

    I completely understand what you are saying!!! But, not all Christians are judgmental and cruel. Some of us really do love people just the way they are. That's how I try to live my life in Christ.

    Matthew,

    Wow! I've never met a sinless Christian! Good for you!!! But, you make statements that are judgmental against judgmental statements that really aren't judgmental-- your statements are hypocritical to say the least. Also, I don't appreciate you calling my pastor "Hey Rev." He has earned the title of Reverend and Father.

    I would not look to you as an example of what Christianity represents. Nor,would I want to be like you or attempt to learn about what you think that you know!

    I want people to know Christ the way I know Him--Loving, Forgiving, Kind, Unconditional,Caring, Healing, Gentle...therefore, I would never want to expose somebody's sin, let alone judge them for it!

     
  • At 12/17/2008 8:36 PM, Blogger andrew travis pantazi said…

    I am a member of this said church. We followed an outline given to us through Matthew 18. First, she was addressed in private by one who informed her of scripture that tells us a sexual relationship outside of marriage is sinful. However, she ignored the person and continued in her sin, so the person who had first come to her then came with two witnesses to show her that she was living in sin. Finally, our church is now seeking the final act, which is telling her that because she is continuing to live a life of sin and not seeking to put to death the works of the flesh, then we must regard her as an unbeliever. I had been, at the request of her son, actively praying for the woman as she refused to accept that scripture speaks clearly on the issue of sexual morality. Our church does not claim to be perfect and without sin, our pastor openly confesses to his sinful life prior to salvation as well as to the sin in his life after salvation. Apart from Christ, we all are equal sinners. However, the mark of a Christian is that we hate our sin and we are striving, through fellowship, to kill our sin.

     
  • At 12/17/2008 9:01 PM, Anonymous Paco said…

    Regardless of what rights you think your church has due to any passage in the bible your church has violated that woman by extorting her to either end a relationship she is in or be publicly humiliated. Not only is that unconscionable, it is a crime in Florida. I cannot imagine how in this day and time you can use scripture written thousands of years ago to condemn her. This is not Spain during the 15th century when the inquisition was in full swing.

    Pastor Frank Logue summed it up well when he described what sort of individual would be a member of your church. In spite of what you think, you and your fellow church members had no right to malign or persecute that woman. I think the acts of your church are despicable.

    It will serve you right if she sues your church for all it's worth for defamation of character.

    You have no right to torment that woman you act as if she has no rights. This is the United States of America where we do have rights.

    Religious persecution has gone on long enough and good Christians as you can see in previous posts do not share your myopic views.

    Grace Community Church seems more of a cult than a church.

    The 2008 Florida Statutes

    Title XLVI
    CRIMES Chapter 836
    DEFAMATION; LIBEL; THREATENING LETTERS AND SIMILAR OFFENSES View Entire Chapter

    836.05 Threats; extortion.--Whoever, either verbally or by a written or printed communication, maliciously threatens to accuse another of any crime or offense, or by such communication maliciously threatens an injury to the person, property or reputation of another, or maliciously threatens to expose another to disgrace, or to expose any secret affecting another, or to impute any deformity or lack of chastity to another, with intent thereby to extort money or any pecuniary advantage whatsoever, or with intent to compel the person so threatened, or any other person, to do any act or refrain from doing any act against his or her will, shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

     
  • At 12/17/2008 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Andrew
    In our home we do not practice our religion the way you feel it should be done. We look at the bible as a guideline on how to live. If you tried to take the bible word for word, women would not be allowed to speak in church, no one would ever remarry after devorce, birth control would not be allowed, if you looked at a woman in a sexual manner you would be required to gouge out your eyes, I could go on. So if you followed word for word everthing you would have to take this woman out and stone her to death.
    I define a Christian much diffrently than you do and from the sound of it everyone in your congregation. It is truly sad to hear that a church acts in this manner. I'm not saying I support what this woman is doing. But I also don't believe what you all have done as a congregation is right. Leave it to Jesus to judge. That is what we are taught.

     
  • At 12/17/2008 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ya'll need a catapult to chunk the stones ya'll are throwing.

     
  • At 12/18/2008 8:57 AM, Anonymous Denise said…

    Man, I really know how to get things going, don't I? While I'm glad to see a dialogue going on, I hope we can somehow get back to a respectful exchange.

    Ill be the first to tell you I AM A SINNER. Sometimes I break several of the good Lords commandments in one day, and yet...I still fit in the door at king of peace. I have yet to make the holy water boil, and no one has asked me to hit the road so far. My head is not so big that I believe I am above sin, and that's how I still fit through the door. My heart IS so big that I have the strength to open those same doors to all sinners; especially this woman, and her boyfriend. Who are we to deny the Lords house, the Lords table to anyone? Who are we to deny the Lords love to anyone? My Father (Frank) taught me better.

     
  • At 12/18/2008 9:02 AM, Anonymous Valiance Weaver said…

    Hyporcrites, and sexual morality? Christians in different camps sharpening their spears, you cannot deny the work of God in this story. See that a woman sins are threatened to be revealed amongst the Church right, but instead she publicly announced it and also brought light to the situation within this Church. All things brought to the light. Second of all how could anybody regard another person as an unbeliever, who gives them the right to consider that? And being a hardnosed " I am a perfect Christian because...of MY GOD" Is being very detrimental and all I can say is " Are you serious?!" Its human weakness to exploit another human being, and to use their trespasses against them? That is ethically and moraly wrong, so the logic is " This woman sins, so we will fix it by running her name through the mud, in front of her children?" How would that help anybody, I am confused. Tell you what for you "perfected" Christians, this woman can worhip next to me on any given Sunday , and she can bring her boyfriend too, and please do get angry at me for feeling this way. "Because anger and being judgemental is the whole point of being a "Perfected Christian" right? Exploiting people, and doing it while shamelessly quoting scripture is the point to following Jesus, right? And instead of beating her over the head, and reminding her of how she is messing up. I will remind her that people care, and I will pray. So keep debating, the rest of us are going to take the message of this event and walk on. Peace

     
  • At 12/18/2008 4:43 PM, Anonymous Kristen said…

    I was just wondering if the ends justify the means? If this "heathen" woman marries this man with whom she has had relations outside the bounds of holy matrimony, do we then say that this was a marriage given first by God and followed then by what the community recognizes? Even the church community? If a couple is married by a lawyer or judge or even someone who got their certificate off of the internet rather than by a priest or reverend, are they not the same as this woman? Living in sin without the blessing of the church? At what point is an emotional / sexual relationship accepted? Are we saying that it is okay as long as there is a Christian ceremony sanctifying the relationship? I lived in sin with my husband for four years before we were officially married by a church. And yet if you ask either of us how long we have been together we would say fourteen years. Go ahead and start throwing.

    I believe that relationships are sanctified by God way before our community does, even our church community.

     
  • At 12/18/2008 5:00 PM, Anonymous denise said…

    Interesting point at the end there, Kristen! Is it possible that we are very smug about blessed unions, so smug about it that god will only bless a union at church or if clergy asks him to? Hmm.

     
  • At 12/18/2008 5:52 PM, Anonymous Matthew said…

    I am amazed at the lot of you who say you have yet to meet a Christian without sin, and in so doing call Jesus a liar!!!! If it was not possible for us, as believers, to live a life above sin, then why would Christ have commanded us to “... Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”? I never said that I have not sinned, I said that I was sinless. Jesus took my sins upon himself. My righteousness is not my own, it is Christ's. We have been tranformed, or at least are called to be transformed. We are no longer slaves to sin, but too many of us live a life of servanthood to sin rather than servanthood to Christ Jesus!!! You sin because you choose to sin. Don't give me that bull that you cannot control yourself. Christ freed you from sins bondage. Why then do you refer to yourselves as sinners saved by Grace? That is not something you found in the Bible, it is a lie being told you by Satan himself!!! Why look at your Bible. You will find yourself referred to as “saints” in Romans 1, in 1 Corinthians 6, in 1 Corinthians 14, in 2 Corinthians 1, in Ephesians 1, in Philippians 1, in Colossians 1, and Philemon 1. God calls you a saint and you want to be a sinner. Why? Why do you, like those wrote about in Galatians, want to fall back to a life a sin? Why do you choose to become once more a slave to sin. Yes, you may sin, but you have forgiveness from God available when you repent the sin and ask His forgiveness. How can He forgive you when you continually remind him that you sinned that one time, seven years ago. God looks at you and says “I don't remember it”. You are sinless in His eyes. Yet you continue to cry out that you are sinners. That is foolishness!!!! Must I remind you of what Paul wrote to Galatia, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Stop putting on the yoke of sin, that life is over. It is entirely possible for any one of you to be perfect, any time you choose to die to self and accept the gift of freedom that Christ Jesus gave you. You speak of gossip and stealing, what need of that do I have when I am a child of the King? Grow up!!!! Stop being a child, you are giving a blessing from God. You cannot be a child of God and be a sinner. God forgave your sins, you have none! Why is that such a hard concept for you? This is not a case of how far can I be from God and still be his, either you are His or you are not. It is not like someone drew a circle around God and said as long as you are on one side of the line, no matter how close to that line you go, then you are a Christian but if you are on the other side of the line then you are not. If you are a Christian, you are sinless. If you choose to live in sin, then you are not His.

     
  • At 12/18/2008 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I would encourage everyone to read the story published in the Florida Times Union, www.jacksonville.com. It has a few more pertinent details in it, namely that the woman did not leave the church.

    I find it fascinating that christian people will form a "judgement" of an entire group of believers based on one 90 second news report delivered by a local television station. I hope you all are consistant in your blind faith in the media. You are all jumping to so many conclusions without really knowing the motivations and hearts of the individuals involved.

    By the way, if you are going to quote John 8 you should do it in context. In John chapter 8 Christ Jesus was addressing the issue of mob justice being delivered by the pharisees. They wanted to stone her to death for an external sin while they were dead inside. Their act was not an act of love but an act of deception and hate. Christ Jesus knew the motives of their hearts and reacted appropriately. And lets not forget Christ Jesus did hold her accountable for her sin after those with logs in their eyes left.

    Also, whether you agree with Him or not, Christ Jesus did command the process of church discipline. It's even written in red in some Bibles.

     
  • At 12/18/2008 11:30 PM, Anonymous Paco said…

    Oh but she did leave the church.

    This story has gone national:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,469928,00.html

     
  • At 12/19/2008 12:28 AM, Anonymous Paco said…

    Dear Anonymous,

    I would encourage you to read the article in the Times Union as I am now questioning if you can in fact read because what did you think the following in that article meant other than she has left that church:

    Her boyfriend sent an e-mail asking for her removal from church membership

    I personally do not feel inclined to be disciplined or extorted by anyone nor do I wish to have anyone think for me.

    It seems most Christians would have the Bible do their thinking for them.

    Anyone who can believe the Earth is only six thousand years old is obviously accustomed to not thinking for themselves.

    You can only shove so much religious non-sense down the throat of anyone with a brain before they regurgitate.

     
  • At 12/19/2008 7:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anonymous,
    Seems like you take the bible word for word also. When you were referring the the stoning the woman to death. I do feel like this church is taking things a little too far. I'm not saying they are bad people. I'm sure they think what they are doing is right. But I do not. That is all I am trying to say. As Paco said before this is America and I can express what I feel. I am allowed my own opinion. They bible passages mean so many different things to so many people. No one knows for sure what every book is supposed to teach us. We just do our best to follow our hearts and listen to God's word. If it was so clear what the Word meant then why do we have all the denomonations and then which one is correct? That is just it we do not know and we will not until we come to live with the Father in heaven. Until then I do my best to follow the scripture the best I understand it and then leave the rest to God. Now I hope everyone can get past this and have a Merry Christmas. There is already enough hate in this world. Oh and I did do some research thank you. I checked out the church that this blog started out with. So maybe as Paco said you should do some reading also. I'm sorry if you are hurt by this but I am doing my best to be a Christian and sometimes it is hard when things like this come up and I feel so strongly about it. Again I hope you all have a blessed Christmas even the ones I don't agree with about his topic.

     
  • At 1/18/2009 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Like all prohibitions, the prohibition against loose sexual conduct has deep roots. It isn't merely to keep folks from scroggin thy neighbor. I believe, it is meant to protect the institution of family. And, in turn the family upholds the community.

    Today, sex is merely sex, we rarely even blush about it. But, in the not so distant past sex was, aside from a pleasurable expression of love, a way to bring children to a committed relationship. Loose sexual relationships are one of the biggest reasons for the ailing concept of Family. A woman who calls herself Christian should, above all others, know the power she holds. She controls Family through her behavior and as a Christian has accepted a certain prescribed mode of behavior to ensure the continuity of the family she brings forth through the grace of God.

    This debate is not about one woman and her desire to be free of the responsibility for her actions, but one about the very underpinnings of family. If family and community are dependent upon one another, then she needs to be publicly reprimanded as a statement to the fact that that behavior is not acceptable. How is it that anyone can not see that?

    Her personal sin is between her and God, her public sin is against family and community and she tacitly agreed to accept responsibility for her behavior when she joined that particular church.

    She and others like her threaten society. Just because everyone does it, does not make it right. It is all well and good to talk about the words in the bible or her personal rights, but the very act she is guilty of is NOT A PERSONAL ACT. It took two to accomplish and could potentially harm children who then may become a public concern. And, what of her example? I can't even guess at how many people she could have hurt.

    Why is it in this day and age, no one wants to hold anyone else responsible for their own behavior?? Her deeds are not up for debate, she is guilty. What good are rules if no one is willing to hold anyone accountable?? I am not without sin. However, that does not preclude me from making a judgment call. We ALL make judgments everyday about many things. Why be so picky about what you CHOOSE to be judgmental about it? Judgment is Not a bad word. It is what is supposed to hold society together.

     

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