A few weeks ago, a friend of mine called me in search of solace and concern. She knows that she is a very tender-hearted and sensitive person. So, without currently facing the possibility of it, the concept of being disfellowshipped as a form of church discipline had her on edge.
To reassure her, I went to scripture that I figured she was referencing. Even though I knew it off the top of my head, I wanted to read it straight from my bible so I could give her the correct context. When I had it in front of me, I realised it was my memory that needed correcting.
The difference “you” makes
1 Corinthians chapter 5 verses 1-2: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud!”
For some reason, I always thought the verse said that he was proud. I had conjectured a scenario in my head of a deeply depraved man who not only committed incest with his own (step) mother but was twisted and sick enough to brag about it. The reason Paul was scolding the church in Corinth was because they allowed this brazenly perverse man to go about in their midst, riding on a high horse in his utter delusion.
But now that I realised that Paul wrote said “you” (i.e., the church) are was proud, it makes a huge difference in the meaning of the verse.
Why on earth would a church be proud of that? It’s one thing to be tolerant, to grit your teeth and begrudgingly accept that perversion as someone’s modus operandi. It’s another thing to wilfully turn a blind eye. But to be proud is beyond comprehension.
Then this thought occurred to me: they were proud of the man, and not necessarily the act of sleeping with his father’s wife.
We have a bad habit of reducing people – complex, nuanced, multifaceted human beings - to a singular element or trait based on how we feel about them.
Adolf Hitler was a persuasive orator.
Ghandi supported the prejudiced caste system.
But if we’re honest, that’s not what comes to mind when we think of either of these men.
Likewise, this unnamed man at the church at Corinth could have been or done a range of other things in addition to sleeping with his father’s wife.
Maybe he was brilliant, charming, talented, or handsome.
Maybe he had tremendous wealth, a star-studded social circle, a highflying career, or multiple degrees.
There are plenty of other aspects of this man that could have made the Corinthians proud of him.
In its wisdom, the Bible never provides that information, which makes it even more relevant to us today.
If we are being honest with ourselves, we can and sometimes are guilty of the same thing as the Corinthians.
Ravi Zacharias had a powerful ministry that spanned decades. He authored insightful books, gave riveting presentations and personally engaged numerous world leaders. Christian apologists around the world were extremely proud of him. After he died, the sexually immoral and criminal atrocities he committed surfaced to our horror and shock … but not to that of at least a handful of people in Ravi Zacharias’ social circles.
Someone must have turned a blind eye to his sexual debauchery.
Somewhere along the way, he had friends, colleagues or admirers who were too enamored by his eloquence and wit to stop from before
Ravi Zacharias did not stand (or fall) alone.
In any given church or small group, people are guilty of prioritising others’ performance over their spiritual growth and maturity.
We don’t rebuke the arrogant businessman in our congregation because he generously funds all our missions trips.
We don’t tell the promiscuous youth leader to step down from ministry because he has recruited more teenagers to ministry than any other church in our city.
Compromising and overlooking others’ sins (sexual and otherwise) to highlight only their strengths is not only lopsided but an injustice to all involved.
To the holiness of the God whom we are called to imitate.
To the person who will continue to trivialise the devastation sin will wreak on their soul.
To new or younger believers who are deceived by the poor example being paraded in front of them as one to emulate.
To the entire body of Christ since weakness in one part is detrimental to the whole.
Justice is not blind
Justice never turns its eyes away for selfish gain. It is not blind to sin or partial to human preferences and biases.
Justice judges each person and their actions by the relative weight of their importance to that of God’s standards.
May God give us eyes to see things from His perspective.
Kacy Garvey is a Christian poet, speaker and activist. In 2011, she launched "Rahab", an outreach to prostitutes in Geneva, Switzerland. She is a USAID certified HIV Testing and Counselling Provider and has also successfully completed training in Trafficking in Persons conducted by the International Organisation on Migration (IOM). She performs original pieces of spoken word poetry to various audiences, and in 2014 and 2018, she launched “Undone” and “Water Jar”, the first and only Christian poetry albums published in Jamaica thus far. As a founding member of the Love March Movement (since 2012) and #MarriageMattersJA (since 2018), she is a regular presenter on the science, politics and biblical worldviews on sex and sexuality. In January 2021, Kacy launched Caribbean Christian Response, an online movement that reviews the news from a biblical worldview and gathers millennials across the region to pray together and seek God’s heart on these issues.