I once attended a church (now it has a pastor that went to the Master’s Seminary, but not at the time I went), and a group of men gathered weekly on Friday mornings to focus on God in prayer and discussion of Scripture and the works of God in our lives. A man about 35 started coming, and he was younger than the rest of us. He openly confessed his sin of lust (pornography) and how he had lived with a lady whom he did not marry with whom he still had relations but he was not certain that he wanted to marry her. He had been baptized at the same church about 15 years earlier, but according to him he “fell away” (Hebrews 6:4-6 really scared him).
He could quote Scripture. He could sound zealous for the Lord. After meeting and listening to him, a few times, I told him that he must either marry the woman or tell her that he will no longer see her intimately, shortly after that he started bringing her to the lunches we would all share together. Not long after he started coming to the group, maybe 2 months, he got cited by the police for having his porn in his car by a stereo shop. I told him “let’s get a piece of plywood and put your gaming console under it and you drive on top of it to crush it” (the gaming console is how he viewed the porn). He would not do it because he said he would just buy another. After some months (not years), one of the older men in the group told the 35-ish year old that God could be using the 35-ish year old’s sin to keep him close to God. I stood up from the table, I declared the dangerousness of what had been said, and I left not to return to that meeting.
Sometime passed, and I remember the day the church leadership had the 35-ish year old pray over communion on a Sunday (at this church, congregants would pray over the communion). I thought something might be wrong with me because of how I was thinking about how he embraces his sin. I can not tell you the swirl of thoughts in my head. Oh, how I prayed to my Lord as I stood there. It felt like a storm. Later that day, my wife told me she had been going through the same thing.
But, is the guy any worse than the rest of us? He was vocal. He would meet a person at the meeting for the first time, and he would confess his sin nearly in the first sentence. Do you have some hidden sin that you are NOT vocal about? I remember wondering why the pastors did not take diciplinary action!
The story is true, it really happened. Eventually, the 35-ish year old married a different woman that he met on a dating site (I was told it was a Christian dating site – by the time he married years had passed).
Discipline might sound easy, the 35-ish year old’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, and he went to church with her the week that she was told the diagnosis by the doctors. The first week (Sunday) that he went to church he was invited to the Friday meeting, and he went the very next Friday week after all those years of absence. She did not recover from the cancer.