DRUDGE is currently running this headline: Woman Says Church Threatening To Make Sins Public:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A divorced Jacksonville woman said her former church has threatened to “go public with her sins” and tell the congregation about her sexual relationship with her new boyfriend.
Rebecca Hancock said harassment from Grace Community Church in Mandarin over her sex life caused her to leave, but she said that didn’t put an end to the problem. She said she received a letter from the church’s elders telling her the church plans to make her personal life very public.
“I’m basically run out. I’m the church harlot,” Hancock said.
She said the issue caused her to leave the church. However, she said the church has not let go of her.
The letter Hancock received from the church states that because she has refused to end her sexual relationship with her boyfriend, “you leave us with no other choice but to carry out the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ” … “In accordance with Matthew 18:17 we intend to ‘tell it to the church.'”
“On January 4, my sins will be told to the church, publicly, with my children sitting in the church and my friends,” Hancock said.
Apparently the TV station wasn’t interested in finding out anything about the ironically-named Grace Community Church, but a quick run-through of their website indicates that they are a thoroughly Fundamentalist Protestant church — their doctrines include plenary (that is, literal word-for-word) Biblical inspiration and complete inerrancy of the Scriptures, a literal 6-day understanding of creation, and the pre-Tribulation Rapture. It would appear that Grace Community Church is led by a pastor who views mainline Christianity as iconoclastic, and who wishes to protect his people from moral corruption at any cost.
The TV station also failed to explain how they came across this story, or what they hope to accomplish by reporting it. And how ignorant is this statement:
Pastors with whom Channel 4 spoke on Monday said announcing a sin to a congregation is not abnormal. They said it’s written in the Bible to punish sinners who continue to sin.
Really? Which churches? Which pastors? Most of us should be able to agree that this kind of thing rarely — if ever — occurs in most churches, unless the congregant is involved in something that truly poses a grave danger either to themselves or others in the church. And which passages of Scripture back up their assertion? The Matthew 18 passage quoted in the church’s letter plainly describes how to handle an incident where “your brother sins against you.” The “church” is to be involved only if the one who committed the offense refuses to repent after being confronted privately. Obviously there is more to this story than we are led to believe by this report.
Rebecca Hancock is probably still dealing with an enormous amount of pain and uncertainty in her life. It is reasonable to argue that she is probably not a good candidate for a church leadership role, and that she is still in great need of prayer and counseling. But calling her out publicly and then shunning her? If Ms. Hancock’s story is true, then the leaders of her former church are dangerously arrogant and presumptuous.
Bill Jempty hasn’t given out a “Knucklehead of the Day Award” in a while, so I think I’ll close this post by naming both Jacksonville’s News 4 and Grace Community Church as big-time knuckleheads, for a sloppy understanding of Christianity and an incredibly sloppy job of investigative reporting.
Upon further reflection, the statement made by the TV station about punishing sinners seems to be more “ignorant” than “stupid.” I have amended the sentence accordingly.