1John 2,19: They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they no doubt would have continued with us: but they went out..."
On the one hand it seems that we as Christian church might have progressed, after more than two thousand years, beyond the present fault line-division regarding sexuality in the church.
But then again it's not like we church folks can just run in the direction of "modern" sexuality (Corinth was "modern" too) and forget about the holiness of the Holy Ghost. Nor can we just put on a happy face, do more cool youth stuff, dance around a "unity" totem, as if we didn't know any better.
1John 2,19 helps us out. It's interesting and right on point. It's about a faction of a local church that erroneously believed that Jesus wasn't God in the flesh (1John 4,2), but a phantom or an angel.
And if his flesh and blood is not important for our salvation and redemption, then sexual libertinism is ok.
It seems those who voluntarily left John's community were so convinced that they were right about their gnostic (ie Greek), higher, spiritual knowledge that it didn't much matter what they did with their bodies.
The discussion and wrangling in John's church was so heated that he pleads repeatedly for continued love among those remaining in it (1John 3,11). This is so perhaps because leaders in the community had long been correcting the exiting faction, and the folks still in the pews were sad to see anyone go, and perhaps because they were not all that up to speed as to the exact nature of the controversy. And this had left the leaders a little less than popular- and in need of the unifying love and support of the remaining church.
And just to be clear, and always aware of God's love and mercy towards all of us, no one has ever said that such matters of sexuality and the two track church would be, or will be, easy to work out.
For example, nowadays who is expected to voluntarily leave- those moving away from biblical sexuality? Or, those who defend it?
In the days of the Apostle John, it was clear that those moving away from biblical sexuality were the ones to leave.
Today, this might not be the case.
But if all people of faith remain open to a repentant faith, baptism in the Holy Ghost, and God's word, anyone can enjoy the fullness of salvation and fellowship anywhere.
It wasn't like John hated anybody- just the opposite- correction comes out of love. It was simply a matter of discernment that the folks in the choir were no longer singing with one Spirit.
If we Christians go even further back, into the Hebrew Scriptures, we see that from beginning to end God's leaders and God's people were all tempted by the foreign sex gods Baal and Astarte- wayward sexuality and pornography so to speak.
Not much has changed in four thousand years.
The case of King Solomon of Judah is also instructive and on point. The word tells us that he was very attached to his 700 wives (many of them foreign) who thereby turned his heart (which includes his spirit) after their gods (1King11,1-2).
So in 962 BC, by God's will, and through the word of the Prophet Ahijah, God divided the United Kingdom, by north (Israel) and south (Judah).
Judah which had governed the whole United Kingdom for almost a hundred years, as the most offending party, was given only one tribe in the new divided kingdom. This was a correction by God (1Kings11,39). It was meant to purify Judah, and keep alive the faith in all Israel to receive the eventual Davidic messiah on the throne in Judah.
And he, and he alone, would one day unite the kingdom again.
The point of this correction was not so Israel and Judah could judge and out-moralize each other.
It was that a pared down Judah could better keep God's presence alive and the faith of the whole people alive: "And unto his [Solomon's son Rhehoboam] son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light always before me in Jerusalem, the city I have chosen to put my NAME [ie presence]." (1Kings 11,36)
Perhaps we in the Christian church today are acting (pretending?) as if unity still prevails because assuming unity is easier than church correction and true apostolic teaching, and easier than public schisms within denominations, and easier than distributing the church wealth system of pensions and buildings and entitlements amidst the fall out of all the sex politics.
And perhaps much of our modern church "unity" is also based on the fact that, as every experienced pastor knows, as did the arrogant King Rhehoboam of Judah, that good corporate (INC.!) unity lends itself to a larger revenue base. No real surprise here.
Anyway, it seems that the stated or unstated schism over sexuality in the church has already happened, and that the "unity" horse is way out of the barn already, and thus it's going to be impossible to coax it back in.
Yet and still, it seems a new day in church history when compromise with the world is clearly more a scandal than is division within the "body." But if we have learned anything from four thousand years of salvation history, it's that faith that brings down the Holy Ghost is the only unity worth the Holy NAME of Jesus, regardless of what we men and women decree and theologize.
For now, in these present days, perhaps it's best to accept the present two track church and keep our eyes and spirits peeled on the immolated lamb, who is still burning in the midst of his churches.
His eternal flame.
His Holy Ghost Temple.
All purchased by Him, the fruit of His faith.
Made one, if at all, only by his Holy Spirit.
And surely in the end, He will impose his holiness (cf Revelation 15,4).
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...