Hatred, Murder, and Scripture
Hatred, Murder, and Scripture by Anonymous (a regular visitor at RR)
21"You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell." - Matthew 5:21-22 [NASB]Christ, in the sermon on the mount makes clear the thought that murder goes deeper than just the act itself. The Apostle John however makes it even more clear. John does not say that the sin of hatred is similar to the sin of murder, he says that the one who hates is a murderer.
15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. - 1 John 3:15 [NASB]
Given this premise, what should we as a congregation do for a brother or a sister who grew up in our congregation and one day confessed that they although they have never acted upon it, they have had a compelling, "uncontrollable" desire to murder half the congregation - a desire that began at puberty.
Would we regard this homicidal compulsion as "okay" as long as the individual didn't act upon it? Or would we regard the hatred, just as John regards it? Would we call it murder, and bid that soul repent of their murderous desire?
What if the individual was personally convinced that he or she had no control over his or her murderous desire, and therefore refused to even entertain the possibility of repentance? What if he or she was willing to abstain from killing people, agreeing that murder was sinful, but being at the same time unwilling to address murderous desire as a sin to be repented of? Would we accommodate that? Would we reason that as long as they were abstaining from murder, and as long as they continued to regard murder as sinful, they wouldn't have to repent of their murderous desire, because, hey - its just a feeling right, and you can't help your feelings, right?
What of the unmarried man who burns in his lust for the pretty young ladies. Do we say to this man, that as long as he doesn't rape anyone, or commit fornication he can lust all he wants. Is that what Paul taught? No, we tell this young man that lust is a sin, and he must repent of it. If he believes he cannot, his problem is not merely lust, but unbelief.
I expect that some churches couldn't care less. Show up on Sunday, tithe, come to prayer meeting, and try to live clean so you don't make us all look like hypocrites or worse. If you do something really bad, we will kick you out, but as long as you keep your sin private, no one is going to care, because they are so busy nursing their own private sins, that they wouldn't dare talk to you about yours, lest someone drag their own skeletons out of the closet.
But not every church is worldly, deceived, and powerless. Not every congregation in bondage and weak. Some are actually Spirit filled, and Spirit led, and some more than others. Some exchange the Spirit for cheap imitations, but that is another post altogether. What is germane to this post is that some churches actually expect Christ to save you from your sin, and not just save you in spite of it. They expect you to repent, and if tell yourself you cannot repent they lovingly teach you that scripture says you can - but they don't stop there - they go on to teach you that unless you are willing to repent, you cannot be allowed to fellowship with them. They regard their congregation as an unleavened lump, and your sin as unwelcome leaven, and rather than coddle you in your sin, they would deliver you to Satan until you learn to get real with God, and stop nursing your sin.
That kind of expectation will no doubt seem over the top to some, or even many, but it quite biblical.
Now we speak about these things, not because any of us would actually be clueless in such situations. I think most of us would clearly see that hatred or lust are things that must be repented of, and not coddled. We wouldn't instruct anyone to simply repress/suppress their sinful desires, for even the heathen do that. Christians have much better tools than repression for tearing down strongholds! Grace and repentance. If the brother who hates is a murderer, and the brother who lusts an adulterer - then the one who hates, or the one who lusts must repent of their wicked desires - just as a "real" murderer must repent of the same hate, and a "real" adulterer must repent of his lust.
I say again, we ask these things not because we are concerned with murder, hatred, lust or adultery - but we ask such things in order to see clearly how we are to deal with them. We first look at what ought to be cut and dry, then move onto the more nuanced, more clouded, more debated, and more difficult.
Let's consider then the homosexual Christian.
Do we accept a homosexual into our congregation who, while willing to abstain from expressing outwardly his or her homosexual desires, is never the less convinced that he or she is in bondage to such desire, and therefore doesn't have to repent of it?
What are your thoughts, and ... be reasonable.