You’re Out of the Church!

October 27, 2010

Breaking news: an Australian church doesn’t like erections.

Okay, that isn’t quite the case, at least in some contexts.  The church would just prefer that men with Erectile Dysfunction remain that way than worship alongside the female star of an ED drug ad in their church.

Recently, a church in Australia gave a woman the boot who starred in an ad for an ED drug.  The woman has responded by acknowledging the ad was in poor taste and offensive, but she needed the money.  The church leaders have reported that they will welcome their dysfunctional member back with open hearts…just as soon as the ad is off the air. 

In a time when the conversation around churches is “acceptance,” and “tolerance,” the cherished age old practice of relentless ostracism and bloodthirsty witch hunts seems to be becoming less and less popular.

Did the Australian actress’ church have the right (or was it smart) to kick this woman out until the church leaders can walk this situation off, or should everyone be welcome in church at all times, no matter how embarrassing their behavior?

A Dysfunctional Family

The church looks like a really dysfunctional parent to me.

Many churches have come a long way from the days when pastors would spend a whole sermon blasting a tirade against divorce.  If some pastors tried to do that today, there’s a good chance that they’d be fired or walked out on. 

Today, many churches will put up with a lot within their ranks.  There’s so many of us who are divorced, we can’t even identify them.  It’s not like they wear a red letter on their clothes or anything.  We know that people are dysfunctional emotionally, physically, financially, relationally and sexually.  But as people who mind our own business, we figure it’s best to mind our own business.  If people want to stop sinning, they’ll do it themselves.  It’s like all the parents who don’t want to spank their kids because they’re afraid of hurting the little angel’s “self esteem.”

We just have bad memories of all the spankings the church has given in the past.  All the people called “heretic,” and all the people ostracized wrongfully.  It seems whenever the church decides a spanking is in order, it goes totally overboard.

If You Won’t Spank Your Kid, I Will

At the same time, a bunch of us are in a “culture war.”  Christmas is coming up, which means a bunch of Christians will be sniffing out some store to boycott for not saying “Merry Christmas.”  We’re continually offended and outraged at the behavior of people outside the church.  We’re so protective of our beliefs that we demand that people who aren’t even in our churches submit to our beliefs.

Have you ever seen a parent in public with a screaming, out of control child?  Have you seen that obviously “bad” parent go over to another parent and spank that person’s child who’s acting like a wild banshee?  No?  Of course you have, it’s called the chuch.  Didn’t you read the last paragraph?

I heard a story once of a man who smacked a noisy kid across the face in Walmart.  Granted, the kid was probably needed a light whalloping, but who is this guy?  He’s in jail now, that’s who he is.

And that’s really what the church looks like when we try to spank secular culture.  They aren’t our kids.  They are going to run wild and turn into miscreants.  I don’t think we can anything about that. 

Spankings Are Good

Why did your parents spank you or put you in time out or ground you?  Was your mother a heartless wench who only lived to ruin your life?  Maybe.  But if you’re like most of us, your parents spanked you because you were doing something stupid to hurt yourself, and the spanking would hurt a lot less in the long run than continuing to be stupid.

That’s what the church can’t seem to get right.  People grow up and they’re still dysfunctional, just like when they were kids.  Just because they get into church, it doesn’t mean they’re fixed.

And most people would rather live with a horrible problem in secret then have it come to light.  Most of us don’t have accountability partners to replace the role our parents had.  And we don’t see the church as a loving parent to run to when we mess up.  We know we’re just going to get yelled at and spanked.  Besides, most of us don’t want to stop being stupid to begin with.

And yet without spankings and groundings and yellings your loving parents bestowed on you, you might be on the street corner in your rusted out 1997 Dodge Neon which you have lived in for seven months, selling crack which you have cut liberally with ordinary flour, a shady business practice which does not please your customers, who are planning a most unpleasant end to your business.  Hey, you never know.

Some of you come from big-time fundie churches who doled out the spankings all the time.  On the other hand, I come from the more limp wristed whitebread churches whose official form of church discipline was beating sinners with wet noodles. 

So what’s the balance?  Does the church kick the woman out?  Or do they acknowledge that they are pro-life and pro-marriage, and justify the woman because she is helping husbands to make their wives happy and make more babies?  If Jesus welcomed prostitutes, would he welcome a woman who helps men get it up?  I mean if the church is going to start a precedent by kicking this woman out for giving guys erections, well…never mind.  Does the church have the right to judge it’s own people, or is it no one’s business?

34 responses to You’re Out of the Church!

  1. Well Matt, I’m not sure what this post is about– Church discipline? Parenting? Erections?

    It appears to me that the Lord God Almighty is all for erections. Look what He did for Abraham. Sarah laughed in glee. Yeah sure, founding a great nation was an end result, but that prospect was not what got Sarah and Abraham excited. The great nation bit was a by-product.

    And then there’s Moses, whose “eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated”. No wonder his face glowed in the dark; he was 120 years old at the time.

    Then there was the impotent man at the pool. Jesus fixed his problem–whatever it was.

    And the Lord invented the brains of the people who invented Viagra.

    At age 71, I’ll forgo any personal testimony except to say, “godliness with contentment is great gain”.

    Church! Who needs ’em?

  2. You can’t deal with this situation properly without a relationship. You make the relation of parents spanking their child but just because someone attends church services, doesn’t not make them part of the household. Until someone willingly submits to the authority of another, you cannot disciple them effectively.

    If the people in the church had a relationship with the woman, they need to talk to her and find out the details of the situation. Obviously, I don’t think it was a wise decision but is the message that the church wants to send is that we “kick out” (seriously?) someone that doesn’t conform to our standards? Sounds pretty pharisaical to me.

    “The church” isn’t a judge. People in relationships can judge each other’s actions. True relationship will not allow someone to walk in sin without bringing correction but you don’t cut off a relationship because someone sins. That is fear and anti-grace. If you are anti-grace you are anti-Christ.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  3. I think it’s stupid to kick someone out of a church because of that. Supporting a drug that helps a man get back to the way God made a man is not wrong. Drugs are not inherently wrong if used properly and if not plundered of the intended use. She simply was participating in the marketing of the drug’s use and there’s nowhere that it says she did otherwise.

    Spankings. You just had to open up a whole can of beans didn’t you? I think they’re needed. But at the same time, I think parents, especially Christians can go overboard because of the verse in Proverbs about sparing the rod, spoiling the child. My mother hit me a lot. Most of the time in anger and whenever she had a bad day. I don’t want to be like that and I admit I see that tendency in me.

    We used to spank my daughter. And she laughed. But the crazy thing is, you put her in time out and she hates it and cries and cries. So we don’t spank her anymore but send her to time out. Some people may disagree and say we need to spank, but isn’t that what discipline/correction is really all about? You have to hurt them some way in order for them to not do “X” again.

    I think as a parent, if you can honestly spank or discipline your child in a way where you think, “This hurts me more than it will hurt you my child, trust me,” then you are completely justified and right to discipline your child.

    I’d like to see a remix post of this when you have children Matt. Sounds cliche but I got a lot of insight into God’s character by having to discipline my daughter. Who knows, sending my son in time out may not work, so I’ll have to spank him.

    • The spanking can of worms!
      I gotta say, I am PRO-DISCIPLINE, but anti-spanking.
      Sooooooo many other forms of more effective discipline. I have two teenage boys, so I am not speaking out of my…lack of opportunity. I am also an elementary teacher, and a student of the Bible. If you do a word study on ‘rod of discipline’ I think you might find it is not about spanking. Otherwise, you’d all be using a rod on your kid’s back; not a hand on their backside.
      Oooooo, let’s see where this one goes!

  4. I think the problem with this particular situation is a misreading of scripture. I went to a church (it was more fundie than not)that required public confession for all sexual sin. Hearing people’s business like that was unpleasant, and I wonder why these poor people didn’t just leave. So yeah, that feeds my anti-discipline bias a bit.

    Many churches seem to think anything wrong of a sexual nature is grounds for kicking out, which isn’t what the passage used (1 Corinthians?) was saying. If an individual confronted this lady for a continual sin (and pointed out how the heck a commercial like that counts as sin) I could at least understand the reasoning. But you’d have to wax eloquent to explain how letting a commercial run is continuing in sin, and that’s way too much time wasted on a commercial that just wants to help dudes get it up.

  5. Well from a guy that has been asked to leave more churches than he attended – hey word gets out and I was met at the door once.

    As I see it, the church has 3 issues.

    -1 The idea of balance or tolerance is not Bible. It’s harder than that. It’s God, or it is not. Anyone can toss verses around. We must hear God, and do it.

    -2 Evangelicals focus a lot on sin, and certainly that is part of the Gospel. But there is a selfish and subtle arrogance that folks claim as grace, or freedom or liberty (which we should have in Jesus). The problem lies in dismissal of our own actions. If they cause others to sin, it’s sin. (1 Corinthians 8:13) What we do affects others.

    -3 I am with Tony, relationship is KEY. David failed because Jonathan had died. The goal of church relationship is not to find buddies to fish with. It is to find folks that we can confess ours sins to. The idea of community in Acts 2 where “they had everything in common”, is not just a financial arrangement.

    If this woman needed the money, the church should have written her a check.

    Yes, the church has the right to get involved provided the entire progression of relational and restorative means is used to get folks to see their sin. Leaving the altar, going with a brother etc.

    I can hardly understand the issue – sex in marriage is awesome. And if there is a pill that gets more of that done – well too bad for Law & Order advertisers! I suppose if it was targeting pre-teens it would be bothersome.

    Opinion based gospels are just failed philosophies.

  6. Paul makes it pretty clear that we ARE to judge those inside the church, and not unbelievers (who can naturally be expected to sin). Read 1 Corinthians 5.

    What do we do with church members who are unrepentant? We treat them as unbelievers (Matthew 18:17). And how do we treat unbelievers? We love them!

    In this particular case, it seems the church has nothing better to do than ostracize someone they find embarrassing. Of course, we haven’t seen the ad.

    And I totally agree with Tony. In my church of 10,000 attendees, who knows what anyone is doing? We can only judge someone in the context of relationship—which is sorely lacking in many churches.

    • I completely agree with this. Well said.

    • “Of course, we haven’t seen the ad.”

      If you follow Matt’s link to the story on the Herald Sun website there’s an embedded link to the actual ad, so you can judge for yourself.

      To me the ad is rather tasteless, a fact that the woman involved admits, but I don’t recall any Bible passages about poor taste being inherently sinful. There is no nudity or sex, and the story implies that it takes place within the context of marriage (or at least an “equivalent stable” relationship). To me the church’s reaction is way over the top and as another commenter pointed out, if the woman was in financial difficulties why could the church not exercise some practical love and care with an interest-free loan or gift?

    • Exactly, Leslie. That’s my point about trying to “spank” secular culture while ignoring the problems within our own walls. But even within the church, it comes down to a relationship. An absent parent doesn’t have the right to show up one day and start doling out punishments.

  7. I have disagreements with any of the comments Matt. In fact, I want to grab a few of them and highlight them but don’t have the time or space. the issue in this church is not tolerance. It is pre-conceptions and anti-grace (as has been pointed out). I see nothing wrong with this woman doing the commercial unless real nudity was shown. Then she may want to think twice. :) What about those followers of Christ who are in shows on TV where immorality is shown? When Eric Close was in Without A Trace and his character had an illicit relationship. Was he disciplined or reprimanded? When Miley…nah never mind. (that comes under dad’s discipline). The point is grace not tolerance or acceptance. God was not tolerant. he was active in loving. the church needs to do the same. (And to say they will accept her back after the commercial is off the air?) Give me a break! just my .02 worth.

  8. Sorry. Should say “no” disagreements. 😛

  9. I agree with those who say the church does have the responsibility to judge those within the church. But too often, the church only judges sexual sin, and lets all the others go. I can see why they do that – it’s impossible to treat all sin equally because pretty soon we would all be kicked out. I’m not sure where the balance is, or where you’d even start, but it’s something the church needs to work harder to figure out.

    As for this case, without seeing the commercial it’s hard to say if the church did the right thing or not. If the ad promoted sex outside of marriage, then I think the church was right. If the ad implied the couple was married, then the only issue seems to be taste, and I don’t think bad taste is grounds for church discipline.

  10. Without commenting on the rightness or wrongness of the church kicking her out, or spankings, or being too tolerant, or being graceless, or any of that–holy cow, has anyone actually watched the ad? I can’t say whether or not it’s “sin” but I can definitely see how they’d be embarassed by it. I don’t think you could show that in the US.

    • I can’t add anything to the discipline argument that hasn’t already been said. But I must add that I’m another who feels the commercial is asinine, tasteless and obviously panders to men’s insecurities. Sorry, fellas. I don’t know many women who get that excited over an erection regardless of what Brett Farve thinks.

  11. I’ll believe that the church has integrity in telling the woman in the ad to leave the day they ask the men in the church who take the medication to leave. Otherwise, it’s not about the product but about advertising the product which makes no sense at all. I agree that it is not a biblical requirement to be tasteful, because if it were there would be a lot more folks asked to leave on a weekly basis – have you seen us as a group? We’re not usually the taste leaders of a community.

  12. I can’t help wondering how the church in question is disciplining other sinnners whose infractions aren’t as obvious as a TV commercial.

  13. I’m very cautious about expelling people from church, maybe even at the expense of Biblical advice, simply because the church can get trigger happy at condemning about half its participants (“you smoke cigarettes?? get outta here!”).

    In doing so the church keeps around only the best legalists and develops its current reputation as being unsafe place for people who struggle – the exact opposite of what it should be.
    Charlie’s Church of Christ recently posted..The Letter of The Law Or Is Charlies Church of Christ Joining The Baptist Denomination

  14. I’ve thought about this idea before – the church freaking out over what unsaved people do, like they should automatically know better. But the spanking metaphor is SO good…the best I’ve heard. thanks so much for his!
    mo recently posted..147: Left Behind

  15. I just watched the ad and have the following comments–1. There is no sex involved at all. 2. There is no nudity involved. 3. It uses over-the-top humor (sorry, had to use that phrase) to promote a product. In general, I would prefer that commercial over seeing a former senator and presidential candidate give his endorsement for that same product, which came off rather creepy.

    Church leaders do have the right to discipline their members (not all their attenders) and especially any member in leadership position. However, they should take steps with fear and trembling because of James 2:13 and Luke 6:37-38. Was this woman sinning or leading others to sin or is it a grey area like “is it okay for married women to read Harlequin Romances?” If churches start kicking members out because of making a poor decision here or there most people would be ineligible to attend, especially the leaders and especially me.

    “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:16

  16. Ok, I watched the ad…and cracked up laughing. I really don’t get what there is to be offended about. Now I’m wondering if too many people are just way too uptight or if I’m the one who’s weird?

  17. peter james smith October 28, 2010 at 6:02 am

    matt the lady in the add judgement was poor but the church is a poor exaple of what you should or should not do for money as most peddle the word of god .freely you have been give freely you should give .so on the question of this ladies misake i think its probabley not as bad as that made by those that run the church she was banned from .amen come lord jesus

  18. STUPID video ad.
    STUPID reaction from the church.
    INTELLIGENT and insightful comments here.
    I personally believe that the leadership should be approached and reprimanded.
    Gosh, the verses are flowing through my head a million miles an hour:
    ALL have sinned and fallen short;
    There is no one righteous, NOT ONE;
    It is not the well who need a doctor, but the sick;
    Let whoever is without sin cast the first stone;
    These are paraphrased-ish, didn’t look them up. To my memory, the only time the Bible says to have no fellowship with someone is the in the New Testament; ‘a man is sleeping with his fathers wife…’? (eww!) Maybe it says it with the mass orgy in Romans too.
    Sounds like a ‘country club’ church, where outside appearance is more important than the heart.

  19. I’m pro-discipline. There’s a biblical process in which to follow before you go to the extreme of kicking someone out. I think this culture is too soft and I think they want Christ, but their sinful life, too. It’s like a person who doesn’t want to diet or excercise, but wishes to drop 30 lbs. Oh wait! That’s why we have an obese problem in our country.

    I think the woman had poor taste in starring in that commercial. I’m not sure I would kick her out though. Maybe stop volunteering or heading any ministries.
    Nikole Hahn recently posted..Crazy Worship

  20. The Apostle Paul wrote about expelling people out of fellowship until they repented of sin, and doing that only as a last resort. Not sure this ad constitutes sin, unless poor taste is a sin. Which to a Fundie just might be the case.
    Jason Cormier recently posted..Friday Funnny

  21. THIS one I had to comment on. This brings up item no #134, of “reasons Christians drive me nuts and I’m trying to be one and love my brothers and sisters.”

    Christians think sex is dirty, and are offended by things that have to do with sex.

    This is a MARRIED couple! The ad is hysterical!!!! I’m so glad I saw it because it was a good laugh for today.

    I think it’s hilarious!

    Sorry, I guess I’m not as HOLY as so many of the flock. Certainly couldn’t go to that church.

    Christians and sexual matters – what a topic. I could talk for hours. Totally schizophrenic!

    There, that says it in less words than I would have liked.
    Gabrielle Eden aka Marie recently posted..To fuel the fire of evangelism

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