Here, we thought this was going to be a fun and exciting discussion on sex, alas, it is not. Maybe by chapter 6 or 7, we’ll get there. In fact, in chapter 5, we’re dealing with sexual sin and gross situations first, then with our overall relationships to others second.
First, the gross situation: A man in the church is sleeping with his stepmother. No bueno. Paul tells them to quit sweeping it under the rug and get it out in the open instead. He says it’s better for the man, the stepmother, and the congregation as a whole to suffer devastation and embarrassment now, rather than damnation on judgment day. I’ve been in churches for decades of my life, and I can honestly say I’m not surprised at these types of behaviors. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of this one in particular, but it’s incredible (in the worst way) how much sin is still swept under the rug in churches. To be clear, I know I’m not a flawless human being. But I can say if you ask anyone around me, they’re probably going to say, “I know Omer isn’t perfect, but I don’t know if I could tell you what Omer’s sins are.”
I’ll tell you… most of my issues are internal struggles at this point. When God first got ahold of my life, profanity and disobedience were the first to go. They were gone almost immediately. Pornography and lust were gone a short-time later. For the past 12 years or so, it’s been mostly internal issues. Struggling with a bit of depression in spurts. Struggling with little bouts of greed / envy. Struggling with pride or selfishness at times. Being rude or short with people if I’m running on fumes, exhausted. Those are the things I deal with more than anything blatant, open for all to see. It doesn’t make it better. Sin is sin. I have to repent regularly of those things. It does, however, make it easier to deal with than a man sleeping with his stepmother, or a person stealing from someone, or a person abusing someone. Those things have much larger consequences because so many people are affected.
So the temptation, naturally, I think, is to 100% isolate from those people and situations. If you don’t know how to deal with them in a church, sweep them under the rug. And if you don’t feel comfortable with those in society at large, just avoid them. After all, Paul had told them not to make themselves at home with the sexually promiscuous. But, he also countered that by telling them they can’t just shut the world out and never interact with other people. They need the Good News just like we do.
Here’s the difference in what he is saying: if those issues are going on in the church amongst believers, they need to be dealt with by believers openly, honestly, and directly. If they’re going on outside the church in society at large, God will handle that.
And that’s where we’ll pick up in chapter 6…