The old ways of church discipline were very different than what we find today! I worked for six months as a student leader in a large church, attended the most riotous leaders meeting I've experienced and was told a few days later by the experienced Pastor of that fellowship that he had expelled a married couple-both deacons-from the church! They were well known, much loved, but were spreading poison and he wasn't going to allow it! Similarly here, Paul is shocked that the actions of this young man in choosing to live in a sexual relationship with his step-mother had been praised by other members of the Corinthian church rather than condemned. They had taken the truth that they could experience full freedom in Christ way too far and we will read of other examples as we work through these two letters. It is important for us to remind ourselves that in those days and in that place, people took their pleasure wherever they chose. Every family had female and male slaves and there were temple prostitutes, life and sexuality was very different than it is in a post-Christian society such as ours. These were young converts and it was so difficult for them to unlearn the practices of generations, what everyone else in their society accepted as normal. However, what this young man had done would have shocked everyone and was prohibited by the Jewish Law- Leviticus 18 v 8. Paul declares that this man must be cast out of the church and allowed to see what the world was all about. It feels to me like Paul is saying that if the riches which Christ offers are far greater than anything the world has to offer than the young man would be back soon enough, repentant and looking to move forward in the Christian life. I feel greatly for the young adults in our church as they are growing into an adult world far different than the one I grew into. Being involved in a large Christian youth group enabled me to live a much more moral life than if I had been left on my own and there wasn't the issues of trial marriages-living together-or social media or the acceptability of drug taking. Living in obedience to God nowadays involves radical, counter-cultural living for the young adult. Where I was previously as church leader, we had a youth worker and he got married when he was 19 without living with his wife-to-be beforehand. Those who came to our toddler group-not Christians- were scandalised to hear that, just as in the days of my youth we would have been shocked to hear of someone living with their partner before marriage. Pray for our youth please!
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