Is this ever justified?

Letter threatening expulsion from church over sin. Click to enlarge.

This letter made an appearance on imgur and reddit. It makes no reference to what the sin might be, although the thread on reddit is titled “Woman received letter from her church when they found out about her divorce.” The original copy on imgur is now gone and the person that submitted it to reddit has deleted their account. Remorse, or pressure? Who knows.

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

13 thoughts on “Is this ever justified?”

      1. It does seem to be a harsh letter but it is in fact supported by scripture and they have followed the concept of covenant relationship.

        They have repeatedly stated in the letter that they want to discuss the matter to hear her side of things before doing anything but if she is unwilling that they will have to proceed according to their responsibilities.

        What the New Testament says is that if you confront someone in the congregation of a church (someone who is committed to the body of believers in a covenant relationship) about a sin and they heed your advice and change, their is no longer a problem. If they reject it then you go to them with more people but still privately (this is the stage described in the beginning of the letter) and if they still reject any counsel then the matter is to be brought to the congregation and leaders of the Church.

        If the person still refuses to come to terms with the wrongdoing and discuss progress, then they are to be removed from the membership HOWEVER…
        …the Bible goes on to say (in the words of Paul) that now this person is no longer a covenant brother/sister, they can be approached and witnessed to with the intention of bringing them back into the fellowship.

        The tone of the letter is stern, but not harsh. If someone in an office was doing something considered relatively harmless to some such as pinching a few staplers and pens from the stationary cupboard it would be grounds for dismissal as it is not only theft but if enough equipment goes missing it is also considered tax evasion. Under these circumstances people would not bat an eyelid at the firing a half-inching colleague.

        If the matter in question here was something like an affair leading to a divorce then her actions may lead other members of the congregation who would not normally consider infidelity to go astray and that is why procedures like this are taken seriously.

        So in answer to the question, yes, on occasion this is justified especially if all attempts for reconciliation have failed.

        LatentExistence, you know very well the community we both know has had a situation similar to this and the end result has been much the same. Repeated attempts were made to discuss things, letters were written (and they were ripped up in front of the writers and thrown in the bin) and so the people in question are now not part of the body (as much as I care about these people, they have rejected attempts to sort things out) but people are still able to meet with them and show them hospitality, as I have done.

        I hope this helps, someone, anyone understand a little better.

  1. The bullying sounds about right for the Church. I hope the woman sees it this way and that being chucked out of the church is desirable if they’re such Jurassic pricks.

    Sadly, she probably won’t. She’s probably lost her social circle. Bloody church.

  2. This letter is unnecessarily harsh, but at the same time it does sound from the letter that the church has made every attempt to contact her, discuss the situation and try to resolve it.

    It seems that’s the key thing they really need – dialogue. Without knowing more about the situation I couldn’t say.

  3. “Is this ever justified?” What, kicking someone out of a church? Yes. Whether it’s justified here we can’t know. But if (for example) two people in a church were having an affair, every attempt had been made to reconcile the situation yet they refused to stop, and insisted on coming to church together, then I think it’s better to kick them out than keep them in.

    It’s important to draw a very strong line between what leaders are ultimately forced to do in their roles as leaders (i.e. make decisions!), and what all Christians are supposed to do every day (or not do – i.e. do not judge).

    I’m not at all sure about the language of the letter. I think non-Christians might read it as extreme lunacy. I reckon either it was a church elder who was getting far too carried away, or else maybe they really cared for the person and, having tried everything else, were trying to shock them into facing up to their situation.

    Now, here’s an interesting question for you Steve: Are you going to re-post everything you find that you believe paints Christianity in a bad light? Because, really, I don’t think I can justify the acts of every person in the world who says they’re a Christian.


    1. I’m really not trying to post everything negative about Christianity. As you point out, there’s rather a lot of it. I can’t post it all, you can’t defend it all. Perhaps there is a point in that.

      I found this letter to be an example of one of the things that I find wrong with church. I thought church was about God and about peoples relationship with God. It turns out that church is about interfering in peoples lives, judging and punishing. The letter seems to boil down to “We’ve heard these ugly rumours about you. Instead of disregarding them until you choose to tell us, we will believe the gossip and punish you.”

      The recipient of the letter has just got divorced. She is probably not very happy about that. The last thing needed at that point is for an interfering church to hunt her down and demand an explanation. She needs support, not judgement. Instead, the church chooses to cast her out, and probably driver her completely away from God in the process.

      1. Let’s not forget that in the likelihood that the Elders of this church only one side of the story, so do you.

        1. Damn typos, no edit button.

          I meant in the likelihood that the elders only have one side of the story, so do you.
          Also does the mention of the word ‘Elders’ mean it was a Mormon congregation? Just thinking out loud, which I probably shouldn’t do.

      2. “I’m really not trying to post everything negative about Christianity. As you point out, there’s rather a lot of it. I can’t post it all, you can’t defend it all. Perhaps there is a point in that.”

        – yes – the point is there are about 1 billion Christians, and not all will get it right all the time. Which will generate more than enough incidents for people who want to discredit Christianity to spend their lives pointing to.

        What if we were talking about the local golf club? Does Tiger Woods behaviour off the green mean golf, as a game, is something no one should play?

        “I thought church was about God and about peoples relationship with God. It turns out that church is about interfering in peoples lives, judging and punishing.” – not in my experience.


  4. Spiritual blackmail is pretty vile really, but I get the feeling that people who send out this kind of letter really believe in it all, and therefore see it as like David said, a last attempt to save their member from Satan. Religion or cult? Very fine line sometimes.

    I note that like me you are in the UK.. the US variety of Christianity is very different, you see much more of this attitude over there.

  5. Hahaha, just couldn’t help but laugh out loud, apologies if I offend anyones sensitivities…Hilarious

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