When it comes to any subject today, we either ground it ultimately on the creature or the Creator. That is, someone’s “world-view” finally influences the way what is true, beautiful, and good is determined. Today, the “same-sex marriage” is a case in point. Two contradictory views are affirmed with this idea. It boldly denies design on the one hand (i.e., marriage is what I the creature say it is a-la-moral relativism) but simultaneously invokes an immaterial “ought” of live and let live with those that disagree with said position. This is problematic so I’ll try to explain.
First, “same-sex marriage” affirms that there’s no ultimate design to marriage, thus we make of it what the creature says and by implication affirm naturalism/materialsim which holds that human beings are nothing more than a body, not a mind/soul. If humans are merely physical entities, than we have no meaning in life, since meaning is not physical, but immaterial.
Second, if one opposes the “same-sex marriage” position, they are labeled as haters, bigots, non-progressive idiots, etc. The situation now slides into the world of “ought” of right and wrong, the immaterial world from where meaning comes. Here in is the dilemma, on the one hand naturalism (i.e., physicalism) is affirmed which opposes any notion of mind, spirit, etcetera and simultaneously there’s the affirmation of an immaterial reality, which affirms humans are both mind and body (i.e., dualism, or substance dualism). Whenever a contradiction arises, as in this case, we know there’s a falsehood and the “buyer” should beware.
In this world of ideas precious human beings are entangled, this is the field where life is lived and rules have far reaching consequences. For example, naturalism affirms that there’s no God or gods, no design, and our existence is accidental and thus purposeless. It’s the worldview that supports Darwinian evolutionary thought and the perch on which atheism rests. If this is true why all the fuss over whether or not there’s any agreement over someone’s sexual orientation?
Again, there’s Monism which affirms among other things that everything is one, mind is core, distinctions are eradicated, and life is essentially illusory or “maya”. This is the worldview under which Buddhism and much of Hinduism exists. If this existence is illusory, then our experiences are essentially meaningless. If this is true why all the fuss over whether or not there’s any agreement over someone’s sexual orientation?
Then there’s monotheism and specifically Christian Trinitarian theism that affirms a designer “God” the creator, sustainer, and author of life who grounds the meaning of what is good, beautiful and true. This worldview affirms the physical and immaterial, it understands that we are body and soul, and it also affirms the world of “ought” of what is right and wrong, all of which are based on the Creator, not the creature. If this is true, then all the fuss over whether or not there’s any agreement over someone’s sexual orientation is warranted.
I say these things because from the biblical standpoint, love is grounded in the Creator, never the creature. Thus, the designer determines what real love is, not a culture that is seriously broken because of its arrogance.
In Paul’s day, he had to deal with a similar issue of making the creature the measure of all things and by default the Creator is pushed aside, slighted, minimized, scorned and belittled by the creature’s “arrogance” “pride”. This human trait sets itself up against God, becomes his judge, and shamelessly spits on the brow of He who gives us life. Consider what the apostle says:
“It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. 3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Like Israel, the Corinthian church had crossed a line of sexual immorality that even the pagans (i.e., Gentiles) in their day would not, that is, a son had sexual relations with his fathers’ wife. This could be a step-mother or actual, the text does not say. The moral compass here is shattered as God’s design of sexuality is ignored and shamefully the church did nothing.
The church failed to discipline the perpetrators and thus allowed the situation to continue. Paul says this is a lamentable occasion fueled by the Corinthians apathy caused by their pride. This is a recurring theme in the first letter where false knowledge actually produces death in the practitioners, not life. And this false knowledge (i.e., which is contra Christ, the gospel, and held to be true), is fueled by human pride.
Church discipline while painful to receive and weighty to administer is absolutely necessary for the health of the church, the individuals involved in the transgression, and mostly God’s honor and glory. Several thoughts to consider:
First, the text does not say whether or not the father is alive when this act occurred, but for Paul (i.e., God’s authoritative spokesman) it seems to not matter because he passed judgment on the action and ordered the man to be removed from the assembly. This stroke of discipline illustrates the urgency needed to act on behalf of the transgressor, for the sin reveals the grave rift that obtains between he and God.
Second, not only is the man to be removed from the local church, his body is to be “delivered over to Satan” for the destruction of his flesh (v.5), this is severe, yet the purpose has final salvation in view, not momentary grief. The “flesh” is what needs to be destroyed so that his spirit may be saved.
Does he mean by “flesh” his sinful nature as in other places in Paul’s writings, or his physical body, or perhaps both his body and sinful nature? It seems that it’s his body which is what Satan is to work on destroying so that he won’t be lost. Perhaps this may be akin to the pummeling Job received from Satan. The difference though is that Job was a humble upright and righteous man, whereas this man is immoral revealed by his arrogance and wickedness. What we today take so lightly and as a right of self-expression Paul’s attitude is that it will damn the perpetrator, sexual immorality is lethal to the soul.
Third, Paul says that he has “decided to deliver” this man to Satan, but how is that accomplished? Is this something only the apostle has the authority to do or for the church as well? Contextually, I would say the latter not the former. Could it be that ex-communicating someone from the church actually makes them vulnerable to Satanic attack and destruction? Sometimes it seems to be the case.
This hearkens back to Romans chapter 1 where God gave over rebellious mankind to their lusts and passions because they exchanged the truth of God’s glory as Creator for a lie and worshipped the creature instead. This state of affairs came from humanity’s futile speculations which darkened their hearts evidenced in this church goers adultery with his mother. It’s not according to God’s design, but a perversion of His good gifts.
Fourth, note that this discipline is to be done in Paul’s absence and in the power and name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a sobering solemn act, not one where song and rejoicing is expressed. It is Jesus who is brought to center attention since it’s His church which He has purchased with his blood and is continuously building.
We have here a model for church discipline done by the church, the Body of Christ Jesus, so that the Head of the Body (Christ Jesus) may be honored through His people’s holiness, rather than ravaged by its wickedness.
It’s not loving to commit adultery but arrogant because its contra God’s design and plan for human flourishing. What we believe is either grounded on what the Creator has revealed or what the creature says. Thus, if God has spoken, how then shall we live?