Church Discipline for Marriage Restoration
Follow Scripture or Failure?
The question has been raised as to whether pastors are using church discipline or whether pastors just ignore this tool. Church discipline is intended to restore marriages plagued by adultery, pornography or other sin having catastrophic consequences on marriages. When it is used, marriages can be restored. When used, couples recognize church discipline as a deterrent to divorce and saves couples from letting their marriages deteriorate to the level of divorce. More »
Church Discipline: What is it?
One of the most excellent resources discovered in my research on the subject is Jay E. Adam’s book entitled “Handbook of Church Discipline: A Right and Privilege of Every Church Member.” Ibid.1 If you are looking for a very sound discussion about church discipline solidly grounded in the Word of God with the insight of an experienced pastor, this is the book for you. The subtitle of the book should be especially noted that it refers to church discipline as being a right and a privilege of every church member such that a pastor should not deprive members of the flock such valuable entitlements. More »
Other Relevant Scriptural References
As we are taught, let us first go to scripture. In Leviticus 19:2 God directed Moses to “Speak unto all the congregation” and “say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy”. Schofield, Leviticus 19:2. Chapter 17 of Deuteronomy clearly demonstrates that God’s sanctions permit discipline for severe disobedience, that severe disciplinary action should not be taken without two or more witnesses, and that in situations making it “too hard for judgment” under verse 8 there is a process available for judgment under verse 9. Schofield, Deuteronomy 17:8-9. More »
Why Isn’t Church Discipline Used?
In the course of research for this paper, the author contacted multiple churches simply to ascertain, among different denominations, whether church discipline was accepted in the author’s local geographic area1. The poll was not scientific but was as basic as one might do simply by making telephone calls to random churches in the area, trying to touch on at least one church from as many as available recognizable denominations. Of the thirteen calls made, eight churches provided neither a response nor a return call after two attempts. These included Episcopal, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Pentecostal and other churches. That is not to say that all churches within those denominations do not use church discipline but only that we received no response to our calls. However, we connected with five churches, and each used professed to use a form of church discipline. More »
The Purpose of Church Discipline
Before providing a response to the reasons churches typically do not use church discipline, other than mere disobedience, or how a church should lay the groundwork before implementing church discipline within a church, let us first address God’s purpose for church discipline. Obviously we need to start by looking at scripture to ascertain the process of discipline and the exploration of the steps taken in church discipline for reconciliation and restoration. More »
Why Church Discipline Should Be Used
Earlier in this paper we examined some of the reasons why church discipline is not used. These justifications are excuses for not being obedient to God and should be examined in more depth. If a particular denomination believes the Word of God to be inerrant, in other words, without any error and truly the inspired Word of God, there would seem to be no excuse or justification for not using church discipline particularly in the arena of adultery and other sexual immorality in a marriage. Of course, that may be the problem, that a particular denomination does not believe the Bible is truly the inspired Word of God. Some denominations may believe that our guide is not limited to the Bible itself. For example, the Catholic Church believes the Bible contains allegories and otherwise needs supplementation through church tradition. Church tradition permits ecumenical councils to resolve theological issues. Once resolved, the Catholic Church has codified its findings and principles in the Code of Canon Law intended to be additional principles discovered after the writing of the Holy Scriptures and which is generally called church tradition. More »
How To Institute Church Discipline At Your Church
If you do not have a plan for church discipline in effect at this time and want to initiate the process of implementing church discipline at your church, you can safely assume this cannot be done overnight. I will try to explain what I have gathered from the pastors of churches who have successfully led the implementation church discipline so that you have the benefit of a lamppost in this endeavor. More »