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When is a church at its best?

This morning, at Hope Church of Tupelo, a gut-wrenching, truth-filled, grace-seeking, hope-bringing confession took place.

Our youth pastor stood, surrounded by our elders, pastors, friends and youth leaders, and with his wife at his side. He confessed a long-standing addiction to pornography. He acknowledged that he had lived a lie and been too proud, too ashamed and too fearful to seek help. He also confessed that he had betrayed the confidence of his wife, children and various groups within the church. Then, he asked forgiveness, and also asked to stay in the church.

After hearing his confession and telling him that we forgave him, the congregation rose to their feet and exploded in applause.

We will continue financial support for a season and provide professional counseling. A care and support team has been formed for both the husband and his wife.

When the church extends grace and speaks truth…

When elders hate the sin and embrace the sinner…

When a church forgives and holds a member accountable…

When sin is confessed with brokenness and sorrow…

When a resigning pastor desires to remain in the church he has served….

When the gospel is the heart of a church and guides the decisions…

It might just be the church at it’s best.

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8 Comments

  1. I’m glad I’ve seen that before, Sam. Not the sin…the Grace. Thanks, Ron

  2. That’s fantastic

  3. wow!

  4. I am not sure how this is “possibly the church at its best.”

    The number of people who will forever be negatively impacted because of this person’s actions is yet to be determined. How many wives are sitting home wondering when their husband is going to stand up and publically humilate them? How many children are looking at their father and wondering is my dad doing something that is going to make my mom cry for days, weeks, years? How many teenagers are hoping and praying that their father doesn’t publically destroy any hope of normalcy for them next week in church?

    Really – this is the church at it’s best??

  5. Playing church is something Pastor Sam doesn’t do well. The knee jerk reaction of burying the offense gives life to rumours, gossip, and division – most of which is the consequence of playing church.
    So, to answer Kays first concern, the number of people affected by this persons actions will now be much, much less than the number of people that would have been impacted had he not stood up and admitted his abomination.
    My prayers go out to his family and his church body.

  6. Mr. Lee – I am sure from your position you are absolutely correct. However, this will not stop those who engage in the sin of gossip it only fuels them. Now the gossipers will be talking about the wife, the children and the list continues. Every female he talked to that the gossipers want to talk about – tsk tsk they now are a target. They will be guilty of sins real and imagined because they talked with this guy.

    By the way, there is a stark contrast between “burying the offense” and putting it on display. I did not suggest burying. I question the reason and motives for putting it on display.

    The one who pays the most is almost never the offender. The disasterous outfall is long lived – and the shame of this person’s sin is not carried by him alone. Now his children and wife get to carry it for him. I don’t know how anyone can be proud of this entire fiasco. I find nothing worth celebrating in this entire thing.

    • a sinner saved by grace
    • Posted February 17, 2009 at 10:00 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Why a public confession, Kay?

    2 Timothy 5:17-21
    17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at[5] preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. 21 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.

    It’s not about doing what is easy. It’s about doing what God commands us to do.

  7. I would also like to point out to Kay that it’s the sin that causes the pain for everyone involved, not the public confession. If any gossip brings additional pain, again it is sin that is increasing their pain.

    Who will really be negatively impacted by this?
    – Those struggling with it themselves may now find new freedom to confess and experience the accountability they were too terrified to ask for.
    – Wives of husbands with sexual addiction may endure embarassment by a confession. Sin brings pain and shame. Confession is hard, but commanded by God. Wives who would prefer their husbands to keep quiet and continue in sin because they can’t handle the embarassment of confession have some sin issues to deal with themselves. I don’t want to gloss over the embarassment they may feel, but ultimately, why are they embarassed? Is that embarassment from the Lord or from wrong priorities?
    – What’s more important? “Normalcy” or holiness? Pornography causes an incredible amount of pain for families, but the remedy is not to pretend it’s not there. Fathers can be freed to stop hurting mothers. Teenagers may suffer through an incredibly difficult circumstance that ultimately builds their character. Again, the confession didn’t cause that. The sin of lust did. Teenagers may be warned by seeing the hurt pornography addiction causes and may feel free to confess their own sexual struggles. They can gain freedom and accountability in those areas before they grow up to have families of their own that they deeply hurt with this sin.

    Life is messy. Sin brings pain and death. Praise the Lord for his grace and mercy! When God’s people act like the church should act, those hurt by sexual addiction can experience healing.


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