If one who is not married becomes pregnant, should the church expel such a person from the body of Christ? Ralph D’costa Ghana
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It is humiliating. Always ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?" But discipline requires wisdom. Remember, all have sinned. Even the expeller has his or her own sins, but lucky enough that some are not visible. Men fornicate but it remains hidden, some women abort and go unnoticed. So, you do not need to expel; I do not see love there. You can discipline her by giving her a break from serving if she was a minister in a certain department. Do not kick her out but bring her back to repentance in love.
The one clear example in scripture of a church member being expelled, was a man who bragged about having an affair with his stepmother, and the church was filled with the buzz of gossip about it. Paul was shocked and dismayed at this conduct and ordered the church to exclude him from their fellowship until he had repented. Later Paul told the church to welcome him back because he was sorry for his sin. So, the main question to ask is, "Does this woman acknowledge that it was her sin of having sexual relations outside of marriage, which resulted in the pregnancy?" If she is repentant, then embrace her as one of your own. We are all sinners, some have sins that are obvious to others, some have secret sins that only God knows. But we all need grace from both God and each other. Think about the sin of divorce. The statistics show that over 60% of marriages end in divorce. The statistics also show that the divorce rate among church attenders is not much better than the secular society around us. So we have lots of folks in our churches who have clearly sinned by getting a divorce, but we have learned to accept and embrace those who have repented of their sin. We need to do the same with every visible sin in the church that is confessed and repented.
In my view, the handling of this issue would depend in large part on the attitude of the woman herself. (Jesus told the woman caught in adultery that He did not condemn her, but He also told her to go and sin no more (John 8:11).) Does she repent of her action, and is she seeking the church's help? Or is she flaunting her sin and its consequence, and insisting that her behavior is not in need of change? Does she plan to terminate the pregnancy, even if kept in the church? (Or is that even an option in Ghana?) Also, even if the woman is unrepentant, if she gives birth, there is still the welfare (both material and spiritual) of her child (who is innocent in the matter) to consider. (It would also appear that there should be legal, moral, and/or financial consequences or obligations for the father of the child, as well.) On balance, I would say that there is more to be gained in the situation by forgiving the woman if she is repentant and retaining her in the body of believers, rather than turning her away at what might be her (and her child's) time of greatest need. (However, I am also not prepared to comment on whatever bearing local worship practices or relevant laws in Ghana might have on the resolution of this question.)
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