Uploaded by Thien Dang

term paper

Thien Dang
Faith and Mission of the church
Case study
My dear friend Jacob, it is to my understanding that you are conversing with
your sister-in-law who perceives that God has biologically determined her sexuality;
that it is acceptable to continue “walking in the light” whilst maintaining her
homosexuality. I write to you this letter to unveil and provide biblical Truth and
perspective on this matter. As this situation is one of sensitivity, I propose that you
request of your sister-in-law, Carey, to remove all presuppositions and pray with a
heart of humility and openness—I ask that you do the same as I provide you with a
wealth of information and scripture. This endeavor will be approached fourfold:
exegetically, systematically, hermeneutically, and pragmatically.
For this situation, it would behoove us to examine the scripture of 1
Corinthians chapter 5. However, we must acknowledge that the bible was written
for us, not to us; therefore, we must determine the context of 1 Corinthians through
means of exegesis. Corinth was a location destroyed by a Roman consul in 146 B.C.
It laid dormant for one hundred years, until rediscovered by Julius Caesar as a
Roman colony. “Why did he seek to establish a colony there?” one might ask.1
The formation of a colony was twofold: First, all the necessary ingredients for
economic boom were available—adequate water supply; the relationship to Rome;
being master of the two harbor for East-West commerce; and control of the
Isthmian games, which ranked just below the Olympian in importance. Second,
Corinth was repopulated by freedmen from Rome; and since their status was just
Gordon Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians
above that of a slave, and since Rome was overpopulated with such, it was a
convenient way for Rome to rid itself of potential trouble. There was great influx of
people from the West and East, consequently leading to a diverse array of laws,
culture and religion. Sexual sin was also prominent as Corinth was a seaport where
money flowed and women and men were readily available. The very wealth that
attracted artisans and tradesmen also allured philosophers of all kinds. One might
say that it was the ancient New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas of that era.2 Such a
concoction of diversity and influences led scholars to speculate that Corinth was
subject to Gnosticism: a dualistic view of matter and spirit, i.e., matter (flesh) is evil
and spirit is good.3 This led to some Corinthians application of no moral value to the
body’s lustful desires; whilst others, conversely, diverged dramatically and
attempted to purge the body from it’s desires, abstaining from marriage and sex
Thus, Paul writes to the Corinthians to address these problematic
philosophies—the former will be considered in analyzing 1 Cor 5. With no regard
for the morality of the physical, a man succumbed to his sexual desires and
committed adultery with his father’s wife. James Benedict assess that these Gnosticinfluenced Christians misunderstood the Christian doctrine as “a declaration of the
temporality and insignificance of matter which nullified all law pertaining to
material things, especially…laws concerning sexual conduct.”4 This corresponds
with the boasting and pride others exhibit at the man’s adulterous acts with his
F.F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Corinthians
4 James Benedict, “The Corinthian Problem of 1 Corinthians 5:1-8
father’s wife (2,6). In summation, Paul prescribes a solution to the problem: that
they “deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (5)…and purge the
evil (13).” Though the meaning may be ambiguous, we will adopt the perspectives
of Benedict, Gordon Fee, and James Burton Coffman and assume that this passage
implies the excommunication of the sexual immoral person for the salvation of the
church.5 When we address the context in a systematic theological lens, what does
the bible say about sexual immorality and expulsion of a sinful person within the
In relation to the former, and more specifically Carey’s case, we will examine
Romans 1:26. Paul indicates that God abhors the act of homosexuality. There is no
ambiguity in the meaning or definition of the word because Paul refrains from using
it; rather, he describes the act to which the unrighteousness was participating in:
they were exchanging “natural relations for those that are contrary to nature,” and
“men were consumed with passion for one another, committing shameless acts with
men” (26-27) He uses strong language by asserting that “God gave them up to a
debased mind” (28) and that those who practice such things, alongside those who
approve the practice “deserve to die” (32). Other biblical verses that reject
homosexuality are Lev 18:22; 1 Cor 6:9-10; 1 Tim 1:9-10. The premise for such
verses is that homosexuality is unnatural, immoral and without harmony to God’s
natural design. Keep in mind that it is the act of homosexuality that discontents
God, not the person himself/herself.
James Benedict, “The Corinthian Problem of 1 Corinthians 5:1-8”; James Coffman,
Coffman Commentaries on 1st Timothy; Gordon Fee, First Epistle to the Corinthians.
We must also consider whether or not homosexuality is biologically
determined. Jacob, I’ve concluded that homosexual desires cannot be biologically
determined, as James clearly states in James 1:13, “God does not tempt.” The
assertion that homosexuality must be embraced because God imposes such an
infliction, or desire, is contrary to what James 1:13 and Romans 1:26 affirms. We
must acknowledge that the act of homosexuality is a form of sexual sin that is
tantamount to the lust men often experience. It is simply a different type of sexual
sin. The supposition that homosexuality is genetically determined grants Satan the
ability to suppress one’s will and blind the truth. Conversely, if Carey accepts that it
is a sexual struggle, then she will attain the capability to see that Scripture
supersedes human assumptions and she is “enticed by [her] own desires” (James
1:14). Embracing Scripture will give her the strength to overcome and fight her
sexual desires; to combat the internal conflict within her—a battle that Paul too
experienced, as well as other men and women struggling with sexual temptation
(Romans 7:13-20).
Paul also necessitates the expulsion of evil to prevent further infection of the
church (1 Corin 5:5). Adam Clarke asserts that no individual is granted the power to
exercise this practice in today’s church; that the authority was restricted exclusively
to the apostles.6 However, I repudiate this claim because God uses similar language
in Deut 17:2-7, commanding Moses to put to death the evil that is in the midst of
their presence. Jesus also comports with this concept in Matt 18:17 when he
ascribes this authority to any individual in Christ and ultimately a church. The
Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible
concept here is that the excommunication of a sinner from the church will enable
him/her to acknowledge the sin and recognize the potential damage inflicted to
both the church and individual, ultimately leading to his/her repentance. This tactic
proved beneficial as Paul expresses his joy at a sinner (possibly the man mentioned
in 1 Cor 5) whose grief led to repentance (2 Cor 7:8-10).
Hermeneutically, it is certain that there are differences in 1 Cor 5 and Carey’s
case. One, the sexual context in chapter 5 addresses adultery, whereas Carey’s case
is associated with homosexuality. And two, 2 Cor 7 is indicative that the man
acknowledged his action was of sin, whereas Carey proclaims that it is intrinsic and
natural. However, they certainly share a commonality: sexual sin. Though the
epistle to the Corinthians was written centuries ago, it is undoubtedly applicable to
modern society. They both engaged in acts of sin; therefore, the bible demands a
repentant heart as a prerequisite to grace and salvation. According to the entirety of
the bible, homosexuality is unnatural and unpleasing to God; therefore, we must
maintain that the same rule should be revered and upheld.
How does this appear pragmatically? If Carey insists that despite what God
says; that homosexuality is biologically determined; that it seems impossible to
alleviate her desire for women, then I suggest that you attempt to convince her that
it is the act of homosexuality that is condemned, not her. Temptation—from
Satan—is inevitable; but if she acknowledges that her actions are of sin and repents,
relinquishing her life of darkness, so will God keep his promise and lavish her with
grace. It is the responsibility of the church to bear her burden and accompany her
amidst her endeavor to overcome temptation. I, alongside with many of my friends,
struggle with sexual temptation on a constant basis. Do I fail at times? Certainly. But
occasionally failing is antithetical to relishing in sexual immoral acts.
Considering the conventions of homosexuality and excommunication in the
Bible, it is evidential that Scripture provides blatant instructions for the church. In
the case that Carey refuses to acknowledge her sin and repent, it is clear that God
states the impossibility of continual fellowship with the church. It not only infects
the church with adverse theology, it calices Carey’s heart and prohibits her from
realizing the effect of sin. To ensure the salvation of the church and possibly
Carey’s, it essential to remove the cancerous tumor affecting the body. Scripture is
seemingly clear, and I must boldly, but loving proclaim that the refusal to change
results in excommunication.