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Punishment in Christianity

Discussion in 'Christian Philosophy & Ethics' started by Horst Wessel, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. Horst Wessel

    Horst Wessel New Member

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    One thing I will never understand is how so many Christians expect to maintain not only the moral foundation of Christianity but also overall membership by doing absolutely nothing to enforce Christian values. This is not a simple as a strict religious school, I'm talking about keeping adult Christians in check. Too many Christian denominations are too forgiving of sin to the point where somebody can do anything short of a felony and expect to always be forgiven. How can Christians expect to prevent degenerate behavior like fornication, alcoholism, drug consumption, adultery without harsh punishment? The medieval Christians knew about proper punishment, and although crucifixion is obviously out of the question due to the circumstances of Jesus there are other ways degeneracy can be discouraged.

    I am aware of John 8:7 but surely we honorable Christians cannot be expected to put up with repeated degeneracy, and although none of us are "without sin", most real Christians are for all intents and purposes without sin compared to the magnitude of these pseudo-Christians and their sin. I for one cannot go to Church every day knowing that degenerates who fornicate and drink alcohol are allowed in the house of God with the same respect as a real honorable Christian with self control. It's not like they're misguided, they know what they're doing and know they will never be punished. Hell, most of their denominations tell them that as long as they repent God will forgive anything short of rape and murder, and some say even that is forgivable. This is why Christianity is losing to Islam, because we have no way of enforcing fundamentals.
     
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  2. Phoebe Ann

    Phoebe Ann From Mormonism to Christ Supporter

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    Teaching and preaching should address those issues but most churches don't preach about anything that might offend someone. They don't even teach children and teens age appropriate lessons.

    God allows sinners to choose non-Christian religions. Christians are kept and taught by the Holy Spirit.
     
  3. Mathetes66

    Mathetes66 Member

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    It is not good to badmouth Christians if you are one. Most discipline comes from parents first of all. Second, if serious crimes are committed, such as rape, then these should be reported to the police. Third, church discipline is outlined in Matthew 18 & I Cor 5.
     
  4. Anthony2019

    Anthony2019 "Only Me!" Supporter

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    Jesus said "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

    I think that a lot of the examples you gave arise from a wide variety of social problems including addiction and mental health issues. With regard to being punished, I think that many people trapped in these problems know first-hand what punishment feels like: the loss of friends, families, jobs and even their health. The church is supposed to be mirroring the love of Christ, not rubbing salt into their wounds.

    I agree that church discipline needs to set boundaries over what kind of behaviour should be tolerated in church whilst still remembering that their mission does not involve keeping the holy in and shutting sinners out.
     
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  5. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    Matthew 18:15-17

    "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
     
  6. Jonathan Mathews

    Jonathan Mathews Active Member

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    The biblical form Church Discipline in Christianity was not beatings, whippings, etc. It was excommunication and "handing over to Satan". The Church fellowship was so rich that it was a great punishment to be cast out of the Church. And the Spiritual Authority was such that people could be handed over to Satan if they were in sin. The problem with today's Churches is that there is not the kind of deep, loving, rich fellowship that makes excommunication any big deal to people in sin. And because Holiness is lacking in those churches' leadership, there is no spiritual authority over Satan. It's probably the same reason people are falling into sin in the first place.
     
  7. Ttalkkugjil

    Ttalkkugjil Spiritual Director

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    That Jesus ignored their question concerned the scribes and Pharisees. They persisted in their questioning; they bordered on impudence.

    So Jesus said that the sinless one of them should cast the first stone upon the woman. Jesus didn't excuse the sinner. His words were a reproof for the Pharisees that were guilty of the Decalog's sins.
     
  8. mnphysicist

    mnphysicist Have Courage to Trust God!

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    Moralism is not the foundation of Christianity, Jesus is. The Creeds say absolutely nothing about morality for good reason... and yet for some in today's world I almost wonder if they'd rather see statements on sexual sin in a creed rather than what we believe about who God is and what He did.

    As far as Matthew 18 church discipline goes, we are in a vastly different culture than we were 2000 years ago. Back then, if one was cast out of a given church, one would loose friends, family, social, as well as financial safety nets. And while such was pretty manipulative, and likely had about zero to do with intrinsic motivation to effect real change, it likely did keep external behaviors in the church on a narrower path. In today's world, if one gets cast out of a church, most will shake their sandals, and go to the one down the street, or walk away from organized religion entirely either by individualistic JesusAndMe, or casting their faith aside... plus its somewhat rare to have lifelong familial, social, or financial connections within a given church.

    Beyond that, as a pastor friend used to say, Matthew 18 sounds good in theory, but short of the progression of witnesses, it isn't all that prescriptive in today's world. Consider the Willow Creek mess, all those women did the Matthew 18 thing... only to be ignored by the elders and leadership of the church for years. It took public scandal for justice to begin... not unlike what has happened with sexual abuse cases in the Catholic and as of late the southern Baptists, and over time, probably within all forms of Christian churches.

    Ultimately, it is a heart issue. My guess is many of victorians and temperance types, who despite having external behaviors brought about by external forces, likely still had the same darkness within based upon horror stories of that era. The same can be said with respect to the legalism of the early 20th century. Paul talks about the dangers of this in Romans 14:23.
     
  9. Sparagmos

    Sparagmos Well-Known Member

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    Jesus didn’t punish people for those things, and he seemed far more concerned with feeding the poor and welcoming the stranger. We do good for the reward, both here and in heaven, not because we fear punishment if we don’t.
     
  10. Gordon Wright

    Gordon Wright Newbie

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    Several commentators have gotten close to the elephant in the room, and so I'm emboldened to come out and say it:

    The Church as depicted in the New Testament no longer exists. Seriously. I've looked for it, for many years. It's not out there.

    When I have the time, I intend to do a blog post about restorationism and the Body of Christ. But here and now, let's just say that when Jesus said "ye are the light of the world, the salt of the earth" he may not have been referring to us at all. That salt has lost its savor.

    More church discipline won't fix anything. All the passages about that presumed there was something to be preserved thereby, a crucial credibility before the world. That was lost long ago. Punishment in churches nowadays cannot hope to fulfill its original function.

    You say you want to have standards? The Pharisees had standards. They could strain out gnats like nobody's business. But without the active guidance of the Holy Spirit, it's all just a waste of time.

    Now, individual self-discipline may count for something. Get your own house in order and you will have personal credibility as a witness. But a church? It doesn't work. It just doesn't. Discipline doesn't scale. Maybe it worked in the first century when the Apostles held everything together, but that was then. This is now.
     
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  11. A Realist

    A Realist Living in Reality

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    You can be "excommunicated" or kicked out of the church, and still be a member of The Church.
     
  12. Mathetes66

    Mathetes66 Member

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    It is indeed out there. You have been looking in the wrong places. In the western world, for the most part , I would agree with you because of the lack of accountability between local church fellowships to hold people accountable. People can simply move to somewhere else & continue to maintain or start their own new ministry without impunity or censure.

    I have been involved in NT style church fellowships & the discipline does work! People are held accountable. And discipline is tried across various church fellowships. I am in contact with a number of missionaries from many nations not part of the western world & accountability is maintained because one can't as easily travel & go far away.

    I can share many stories of how that accountability led to restoration or led to premature death in the lack of repentance.


    Biblical church discipline was taught by Jesus' Himself. He said it works. That is the basis of my belief. I am not sure what yours is.
    I will agree it is sad in many situations that become very public that the actual application of the Scriptures was not followed.

    As a result, in various situations the salt has lost its savor & the examples become a ridiculing mark of the unbelieving world. That is the worst.

    It does work & it starts with each one of us individually demanding that in our local church fellowships to be the standard that we hold. If not move on until you find that local body of believers who will be obedient to the Scriptures as Jesus taught them.
     
  13. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother?

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    The cultures you describe also had a system of social reinforcement intended to shame anybody who violated social norms (that is, Christian moral conduct).

    Unfortunately, we live in dreary times where nobody is ever shamed for anything unless they run afoul of political correctness.
     
  14. Gordon Wright

    Gordon Wright Newbie

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    The Pharisees had a system of accountability that, from their point of view, worked. Jesus looked at their system from a different point of view.

    It's easy to use legalism and controlling ways on some specific sins, but only if you utterly neglect other, worse sins. Sin is like whack-a-mole. Knock one sin down and another pops up. How do they deal? By refusing even to look at all the other sins that aren't on their list. That's how they maintain the illusion of righteousness. Discipline without the Holy Spirit is a sucker's game.

    I've been to "New Testament" churches in other countries. They have the same problems. And their leaders fail to face up to these problems. This is why I don't believe when leaders swear up and down that this is the real deal. That's what they all say. Maybe they believe their own press releases, but it's just not so.

    I knew a pastor talked like that for years, then it all fell apart. Did he admit he had been wrong? No. he just started over elsewhere, the exact same formula. Narcissists do not learn from disasters.
     
  15. sea5763

    sea5763 Active Member

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    I agree with what somebody else said earlier. The early church used excommunication or temporarily giving people over to satan until they repented and wouldn't let them back in until after repentance.


    1 Corinthians 5:1-5
    Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church

    1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

    3For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.a


    It continues on to say that you shouldn't associate with those that call themselves Christians but continue to live in unrepentant sin. It doesn't say you should punish them, it says you shouldn't associate with them.



    1 Corinthians 5:9-13
    9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the churchb whom you are to judge? 13God judgesc those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”



    Also, I think that when the Bible says that we are made perfect in weakness, I think this applies to the church too. Forcing people to be Christian and/or live by the tenets never works, it just taints the name of Christianity. It is when the Christian church is being persecuted that the members often have the greatest amount of personal strength and endurance and faith. The problem with a Christian theocracy is that unless it is ruled by Christ, which it will only be under the Millennial kingdom, it would be fundamentally be corrupt and just make Christianity look bad. I think while we should still encourage the law and government to give justice.




    2 Corinthians 12:9-10
    9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.




    Also, the Bible even encourages believers to avoid lawsuits against each other and to rather just accept being wronged. it's a very tall order and I'd say one of those things that is easier said than done, but the following passage talks about it.


    1 Corinthians 6:1-11

    Lawsuits Among Believers

    1If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

    7The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with mena 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


    Obviously we should still seek justice and mercy, but it is difficult sometimes to know when and in what cases to do so. Humans are inherently imperfect, and therefore so is our justice. I think that God calls us to carry our cross and follow Him, and I interpret that to mean that God wants us to be willing to live a life of suffering if it is necessary to follow Him, and indeed, it usually is.


    Luke 9:23
    Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

    23And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.


    John 15:18-20
    The World’s Hatred

    18“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.20Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019 at 1:06 PM
  16. Silverback

    Silverback Active Member

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    First, I think you should do some self reflection, and soul searching, I would not want you to trip over the log sticking out of your own eye while telling someone not to have that beer with his pizza.

    Secondly, the blood of Christ is sufficient to cover the sins of the whole world. For Christ sake, we have free forgiveness of sins, all sins, even your sins.

    Christ paid the sin debt, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.

    The only thing you have to do to be forgiven, is to be contrite, and ask for it, it's free, you don't have to be punnished, it's not dependent on works.

    As far as murderers, rapist, child molesters, and the rest, God is waiting with open arms for them to seek forgiveness.

    To be a Christian is to forgive the outrageous things people have done, because God has forgiven you for the outrageous things you have done.

    One other thing, the first will be last, and the last will be first. I truly believe we will be surprised who actually made it into heaven and who missed the boat. Don't forget, that Moses, and David were both guilty of murder, and Paul was complacent in the same.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2019 at 1:29 PM
  17. Silverback

    Silverback Active Member

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    If I may, church discipline was always done out of love, not punnishment, and it was always aimed at restoring the person to a state of forgiveness, and repentance. It was not for the purpose of showing someone how much better this person is than you.
    people need to remember that our righteousness is as filthy rags, and that people will sin repeatedly every day in there thoughts, words, desires, and deeds.

    That being said, we should not have a cavalier attitude towards sin, and we should always be trying to improve since we ultimately sin only against God, and our goal should be to love him, to honor him with our lives, and to worship him, and to be a good example for others.

    However, if only non sinners can go to heaven, then heaven will be an empty place.
     
  18. Gordon Wright

    Gordon Wright Newbie

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    How can you know for certain the motives of the punishers?

    Do the punishers even know their own motives? The heart is deceitful...

    Jeremiah 17

    Maybe even talking about motives is a waste of time, since only God knows the heart. I prefer to judge only on the basis of results. Consequentalisn.
     
  19. Silverback

    Silverback Active Member

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    so let's say "should be done out of love" for the wayward member, hopefully leading to forgiveness, repentance and restoration.
     
  20. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Ship of Fools Supporter

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    It's easy for Christians to become frustrated with the failings of others but it's not what Jesus taught us to do.
     
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