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'Don't Ask' Fellowship

In recent years there has been much discussion about a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy adopted by the military of our nation. It is an attempt to circumvent the official military regulation banning the practice of homosexuality.

It occurs to me that though I am not aware of any such mindset in the church regarding that particular sin, it does seem to be the approach many take regarding other "lifestyle" sins. This is especially evident in cases involving adultery that are the result of unscriptural divorce and remarriage.

Even some brethren who preach and teach vigorously against unscriptural remarriage appear willing to adopt a "Don't Ask" policy when someone in a questionable situation comes among them. Of course, I'm not suggesting that we greet every visitor or prospect with questions about their marriage, but because unscriptural marriage has become so commonplace we do need to address the matter before we accept them into our fellowship. Otherwise we will likely find ourselves in the same condition as the church in Corinth that the apostle Paul had to reprove (1 Cor. 5).

Societal attitudes toward moral issues have changed so much in recent years that it is not surprising that most sectarian churches, always yielding to the will of the majority, have pretty well abandoned any attempt to demand true repentance. I have to wonder if the motivating force behind the laxity on moral issues is the desire for more members, which translates into more money to support the elaborate facilities and highly paid personnel.

What have surprised me are the brazen attempts by some to continue in sinful relationships while seeking to be part of congregations of the Lord's church. There was a time when our "stand" on these issues was so well known that seldom would anyone even attempt to do so.

Just within the past five years, within the congregation where I work and worship, we have seen no less than four attempts by five erring brothers and sisters to continue in sin while worshiping with us. One was an admitted adulterer and the others were openly enjoying, outside of marriage, the benefits God intended for husbands and wives. Had we adopted a "Don't Ask" policy that "little leaven" might still be leavening "the whole lump" (1 Cor. 5:6)?

Believe me; I fully understand the temptation to avoid the issue. There is nothing I can think of much worse than having to confront people on this issue. It would be much more comfortable to look the other way, especially when the people involved are happy in their current families and are otherwise spiritually minded. When it becomes necessary to do so, I have to remind myself that my comfort is not what is most important.

"But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them." (Ephesians 5:3-7)

Nathan, one of God's prophets, might have been more comfortable with a "Don't Ask" policy when he was sent to King David to confront him with his sins (2 Sam. 12). John, the baptizer, wouldn't have lost his head had he employed that policy in the "sticky" situation involving King Herod's adulterous marriage (Mark 6:17-18).

The Lord, Himself, lost a potential follower when he "loved" a man enough to tell him to get rid of the one thing that stood in his way of eternal life (Mark 10:21).

Without doubt, we are in the midst of a cultural war. Even if our nation becomes more conservative politically, without a significant spiritual revolution, it is very unlikely that our society is going to become significantly more conservative on moral matters. That means that we are going to face increasing pressure to liberalize our views. When we don't, we will be labeled as "bigots" or some other epithet intended to vilify us.

There will even be some from "among us" who will try to convince us that we are being "judgmental" when we withdraw ourselves from, or refuse to extend fellowship to fornicators, adulterers and other unrepentant sinners.

We must not yield to the pressure (whether from without or within) to "conform to this world" (Rom. 12:2). Whether it be a moral issue or some other sin, we are not showing love for the sinner by ignoring the matter and allowing them to "enjoy the passing pleasures of sin" (Heb. 11:25) while maintaining fellowship with God's people.

— via Think on These Things, Volume 34, Number 2