Several folks have asked me what I think of this article about the place of sex offenders in the church, so I thought I would say a few words about it.
Let me say first what I appreciate about Jimmy Hinton’s article. First, I admire his courage. When he found out about his father’s offenses, he did the right thing. Second, I admire his insistence that the practical price of the dislocations in the church be borne by those who caused the dislocations in the first place — the offenders. When there have been grievous offenses, the church must not help the culprit gang up on the one who was wronged, in order to heal the wound lightly. Demands for superficial reconciliation would fall into that category. And third, I agree with him that molestation of children is common in the church, and that putting another coat of whitewash on the sepulcher doesn’t deal with the stench.
That said, I do think he has arbitrarily limited the boundaries of this kind of offense, and consequently, the hard line taken can’t really serve as a hard line, and won’t provide the kind of practical help that pastors and boards of elders need in this kind of mess. For example, he limits his discussion to pedophiles, and draws very precise lines for it:
In Scripture we find two kinds of idols. The first is an alternative to the living God from the get-go. When the children of Israel turned aside to Baal or Molech, they were sinning overtly and rebelliously. They were turning from the living God to false gods.
The other kind of idol starts our innocently. God gave His people something to remember Him by, and at first they remember Him rightly. An example of this would be the bronze serpent that Moses fashioned in the wilderness, so that anyone who had been bitten by a serpent could look on it in faith and live (Num. 21:8). Jesus said that this serpent was given as an Old Testament type, representing His crucifixion (John 3:14). It was a gift of God—and yet, Hezekiah was right to destroy it (2 Kings 18:4).
As we come to this Table, we are coming to the Table of the only true Victim. Only Jesus was entirely innocent, only Jesus had an absolute right to complain—which is why He didn’t.
We can certainly harm one another. We can certainly bite and devour, and betray one another. There are many tragic tales in this world, and there have been many tears. But whenever we are wronged by others, remember that we are sinners too, and we will always be tempted to “work it.” There are those of us who play at being the victim. There are those of us who were truly wronged, but who then inflate the wrong for the sake of our own pride. All responses that don’t involve turning to Jesus with it are responses that seek to turn the wrongs of others against us into “our precious.”
But the way out is not simply to “stop it.” The Eagles told us to “get over it,” but however good that counsel might be, it is not something we are capable of doing. The only way out of nursing our own victimhood is to turn to Jesus, the only true Victim, who will put it all right. He will do this by forgiving our sins, and by giving us forgiveness for those who have wronged us.
In the providence of God, this memorial service is occurring the day before Good Friday. And this, of course, is just a handful of days before our celebration of Easter, the day when our Lord Jesus conquered death on behalf of all His people.
He did not do this as an act of raw power, although the Bible does teach that the resurrection was a powerful act (Rom. 1:4). The Bible teaches that death is more than simply an unfortunate event—it is a scorpion that has a sting in its tail, and that sting is defined by the holy law of a holy God. “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56).
So the resurrection of Jesus was not simply a display of power; it was a display of grace and forgiveness. The resurrection was more than a powerful event—it was a cleansing event. The resurrection shows that God has successfully drawn the sting.
“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #149
“For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Corinthians 12:24–25).
So the body is naturally solicitous for the parts of the body that have less honor. There is a natural modesty we have, given by God, which causes us to compensate. The “comely parts” need no additional honor through clothing or jewelry, but other parts do. This giving of additional care to certain parts of the body is described as God “tempering the body together.”
You are all here in response to a wedding invitation . . . well, I trust that you are all here in response to a wedding invitation.
Now one of the striking things about wedding invitations, whether in the Bible or in our own experience, is that they are invariably received as good news. Times of peace in Scripture are described as times when people marry and are given in marriage, and invitations to such events are thought of as glad interruptions of general times of plenty and peace. But how this can be possible is quite interesting.
We are familiar with the word gospel, but this is our English rendering of a Greek word that literally means good news. This what the etymology of our English word is also—the word gospel comes from godspel. The god means good, and the spel refers to news or a story. So godspel refers to a good story.
One of the things we need to remember when it comes to church architecture is that a building is corporate clothing. A building is how the whole church dresses. The trick is how to dress up without playing dress ups.
This meal presents God’s answer to the problem of evil. It does this in at least two respects. The first thing God wants to do with evil is forgive it, cleanse it, wash it away. His eternal design, established before all worlds, was to populate the resurrection with untold millions of forgiven sinners. The apostle John saw a multitude that no one could number standing before the throne. And here on this Table we see the foundation of that forgiveness. If Christ had not died under the wrath of God, as a propitiation for our sins, we would all be utterly lost. And that is the meaning of the broken bread here. That is the meaning of the red wine in the cup. Christ died in the place of sinners.