Sunday, December 21, 2008

BIBLICAL RESTORATION discipline done God's way

part two

Church Discipline God’s Way:
it never results in a media frenzy,
but a solemn, guarded loving act of restoration

The Bar is Set at Christ--Not Us
We usually set the bar for measuring another’s life where we are not susceptible and where we have already arrived. We have codes at Christian Colleges that require students to honor a pledge usually of no dancing, no drinking, no smoking, no movies, no drugs, etc. And while I agree that we should be responsible citizens of heaven by conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the Lord, why is it that we don’t see on those same codes things such as: no pride; no lust; no greed; no gossiping; no self-righteousness; no bitterness, anger, or malice, etc. The reason is simple—if those things were on the codes even the administration would have to leave as well. Again, we all set the bar of righteous living where we are not susceptible and where we have already arrived.

But when we hold the plumbline of Christlikeness; the standard of Scripture, the bar of the Bible to measure any of our lives in the Lord; we must say with absolute meekness of heart with the Apostle Paul, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). One person may stand at the bottom of the Grand Canyon; another may climb to the heights top Mount Everest—-but neither one can touch the stars. “All have sinned and fall short…” Do we really believe that? Can we even admit that? Do we rightly accept that? Or do we think in our heart of hearts that we have arrived at our sanctification to such a degree that we are not as vulnerable to sin as others maybe? We all have PhD’s in rationalizing our own behavior, don’t we beloved? I don’t know about you, but I have graduated with honors in building cases against others while justifying my own failings. I have majored in "finding-the-speck-in-the-eye-of-others" while being completely blinded to the 2x4 protruding from my own. Have you as well? We all have blind spots-—some even around issues of sin. This is precisely why we need accountability with others in the local church, qualified pastors and elders to watch over our souls, and if need be, to be placed under the chastening hand of the Lord to bring us to repentance.

The Failure to Do What is Right
Question for you: If church discipline can help us guard our hearts, bring purity to the church, glorify God, show obedience to His Word, and exalt holiness, why don’t more churches practice it and believe in it? As previously written, there are primarily four significant reasons: 1. fear and the fear of man; 2. a low view and an accommodation of sin; 3. a failure to obey Scripture; and 4. a diminished view of the transcendence of God.

Many in the church today have never seen church discipline ever practiced or possibly if they have, have never seen it administered correctly. When done biblically two great benefits are given to the church: 1. A healthy recovery of the fear of the Lord; and, 2. The unparalleled joy of a sinning brother or sister who has repented of their sin, been restored to fellowship, and a right standing before the Lord again. Reverence and rejoicing... two 'ignored blessings' when church discipline is abrogated.

Administering Church Discipline is Never the Choice of One Individual
It involves the plurality of godly leadership and the entire body of Christ in the setting of the local church. The Lord Jesus gives us in Matthew 18 His first words of instruction for the church and it focuses on how to confront a sinning believer, seek their repentance, and what to do if they remain in their sin. Listen to these almost but forgotten and seldom practiced words from the Head and Chief Shepherd of the church:
"And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer. Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst" (Matthew 18:15-20).
Peter says, “love covers a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4:8). In other words, genuine love for one another in the church will protect the scope of who has knowledge about ones failings. Love doesn’t broadcast another’s sin issues—-it covers them. We live in a time where any public figure in the church is immediate prey for a feeding frenzy by the media if there is a moral failing in their life. Unfortunately, we all have developed itching ears for the juicy tidbits about the downfall of others. This “Geraldoesque” approach to dealing with someone’s unrepentance is completely forbidden in Scripture. The Lord, desiring to always extend grace to any of us caught in the clutches of sin, gives four key steps that unequivocally define church discipline. He leaves no doubt as to our duty as Christians, whether individually or corporately, in seeking the repentance, restoration and reconciliation of another believer blinded and overtaken in sin.

Please keep these wise words from my dear friend R.C. Sproul in your thinking while going through the following four steps as outlined in Matt. 18:15-20:
"the goal of all church discipline or biblical restoration, is to produce repentance while keeping public awareness of the sin to a minimum. At no point is the matter to be broadcast to the world at large."

*(These four steps of church discipline that we are studying below are not meant to be a literal all-encompassing four steps only. They are principles that are to  be followed in the process of biblical restoration; but by no means are meant to be seen as a completely exhaustive little check list that pastors punch through in a mechanical and linear manner. We must remember that we are dealing with people's lives here beloved; and the body of Christ deserves more than "another compartmentalized program" applied in stoic and academic ways when confronting and encouraging someone else in regards to their struggles between flesh and spirit. True Christian charity and genuine biblical Christianity demands much more us.)

“If your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother." This is the duty of every believer in Christ to another. If a professing believer in Christ is living in unrepentant sin, we have a solemn obligation to lovingly and humbly go to that person and “reprove” them. This means to show them the error of their ways biblically; call them to repentance; and walk with them until they are fully restored. Literally the Greek has the idea of 'bringing to light or exposing sin’. We are to shed the light of Scripture on the sin, expose it to the one who has transgressed and pray for their repentance. The Greek also carries the idea that we are to share this with them in a way that they cannot escape the reality of recognizing their sin for what it truly is.

This is to be done, the Lord has said, “in private.” You are not to call the prayer team and gossip about their sin; you are not to tell another close friend about it; you are not to trumpet in any fashion whatsoever their sin issue. Go to them "in private" and if they hear you and repent “you have won your brother.” What a blessing and joy. There is no need to go any further with any other disciplinary action. What a great privilege the Lord allows to involve us in this process of restoration. And think of the bond that develops between one another when there is that kind of care, love, humility, and gentleness given to someone in sin. That kind of confidentiality weaves together an intimate fellowship with another that is virtually unbreakable.

If they fail to repent after repeated attempts to encourage them to turn from their sin and turn back to God, then the Lord expands the scope of who has knowledge of their sin in order to cause one to repent. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.” Church discipline is not for personal revenge; the "two or three witnesses" guards against that from happening. This is an O.T. truth that everything be confirmed by the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15).
The two or three witnesses are to give credulity that the sin has actually occurred and that the proper rebuke to the sinning believer has been given.
This is to guard against slanderous wrongful accusation against anyone whether it be directed to a church leader or individual from the congregation.

By the way, it deserves mentioning here this is not a one time warning or conversation with an individual. It is a continual pleading and urging of the wayward Christian to repentance. Think of how patient the Lord is with each of us in dealing with our sinful ways; we need to extend that same grace to another. Too many times I have heard of well-meaning pastors or church members that have reached out to one who is living in unrepentant sin having made one phone call to them or had one meeting with them or sent one letter to them, and because there was not immediate repentance displayed by the one they were confronting or that the one being confronted responded with anger, hurtful words, left the room in a huff, didn't reply at all, or just blew everybody off for a season, etc. -  a wrong and quick verdict of “guilty—there’s no hope for them” was concluded and unfortunately announced when wise patience should have ruled the day. 

It takes time, beloved, when confronting another in their sin, to show them the error of their ways from the Word of God, then allowing proper time for the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to their lives. Think of it, every time that we read a passage of Scripture that convicts us of our own sin, do we always immediately respond in repentance and obedience to its truth? Sometimes maybe. But if we are honest, rarely at first. The same grace that we allow ourselves in our own personal lives should be given to another in this process... don't you agree? There is no hurried, irrational time table on grace. 

Sometimes, as with David’s sin with Bathsheba, the confrontation and conviction over sin is immediate. Other times, it may be more gradual as with Hosea’s wife. We must not presume upon the grace of the Lord to impetuously move that process along if there is no evidence that the person is unteachable or their heart has been hardened. To assume that one is willfully acting in insubordination or out of a heart filled with selfish conceit would not only be imprudent, but foolish and arrogant in its pronouncement. We always don't know how the Lord is working in another persons life beloved. That is why we should leave adequate time in these steps to be spectators of His grace in how the Lord brings one back from the "far country." And remember, people can reject the leadership within any given church without rejecting the Lord or His Word especially if that leadership has acted not in accordance with Scripture or has acted without the charity and humility needed in approaching one who is struggling with sin and repentance. And the two should not be confused or treated as synonymous. 

If a brother remains unrepentant and “does not listen” to the two or three witnesses, then the painful, but necessary, third step must occur—“tell it to the church.” God in His grace initially limits the number of people who have knowledge of someone’s sin. As the circle of those now being brought in to give testimony and counsel to the situation concerning the unrepentant brother or sister expands, it should bring a further weight of encouragement to repent as well. Again, this is a loving act of kindness and not a condescended or pontificated holier than thou witch-hunt driven by pride, revenge, or personal retribution. We are all sinners and all in need of God's restorative grace. Amen?

The first reprimand was completely private; the second is now semi-private (two or three witnesses); the third step is a more public admonition—"tell it to the church." What does Jesus mean by this shocking admonition. Two things could be derived: 1. it is before the church body of a local congregation; or 2. it is before the leadership of that local church comprised of its pastors and elders and possibly some of the members of the congregation who have been faithfully involved in this process of restoration all along.

This never means that a press release is issued before the congregation as if it were some news bulletin being reported on CNN. The goal is restoration, not shame nor public ridicule. For those that hold to this being announced and dealt with before the local congregation of a particular church, then the most reasonable place of grace that this should be carried out is surrounding the giving of communion. It is the place of self-examination and introspection. It is the place where the church contemplates the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and confesses their sins privately. It is the place where grace is lifted high and forgiveness is remembered and embraced. This step should not be rushed into and done only after several weeks or months of pleading, praying and loving confrontation has been exhausted. If pastors have not taken the necessary time and steps at this juncture personally with all those involved, then this step would be premature to embark upon. If they have not invested themselves faithfully as under-shepherds of the Lord Jesus Christ to the those to whom they will give an account one day (Heb. 13:17), then they should refrain from this step. If they rush ahead without having cared for those in unrepentant sin, then they should also be questioned and challenged as to their biblical duty being fulfilled and their fittedness to be a pastor to those they are given a heavenly charge to shepherd.

If you hold that this step means tell it to the leadership of a local church for further counsel and accountability, then the same solemn guides should also follow. It should be done with great sobriety of heart and mind; never to get even because of personal hurt or self-absorbed agendas. It is for unity, purity and reconciliation.

Listen to Matthew Henry on this important distinction:
"Christ, having cautioned his disciples not to give offence, comes next to direct them what they must do in case of offences given them; which may be understood either of personal injuries, and then these directions are intended for the preserving of the peace of the church; or of public scandals, and then they are intended for the preserving of the purity and beauty of the church. Let us consider it both ways."

"If he shall neglect to hear them, and will not refer the matter to their arbitration, then
tell it to the church, to the ministers, elders, or other officers, or the most considerable persons in the congregation you belong to, make them the referees to accommodate the matter, and do not presently appeal to the magistrate, or fetch a writ for him." This is fully explained by the apostle (1 Corinthians 6:1-20), where he reproves those that went to law before the unjust, and not before the saints (Matthew 18:1), and would have the saints to judge those small matters (Matthew 18:2) that pertain to this life, Matthew 18:3. If you ask, "Who is the church that must be told?" the apostle directs there (Matthew 18:5), Is there not a wise man among you? Those of the church that are presumed to be most capable of determining such matters; and he speaks ironically, when he says (Matthew 18:4), "Set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church; those, if there be no better, those, rather than suffer an irreconcileable breach between two church members." This rule was then in a special manner requisite, when the civil government was in the hands of such as were not only aliens, but enemies."
In either scenario, here is where most churches stumble miserably in the process of biblical restoration. This happens partly due to political pressure from the congregation, a split in undiscerning leadership; the intimidation of a lawsuit; fear that the pastor himself might be voted out of his job, or that sin has been tolerated among the leadership or key laity for so long, that it would be hypocritical to invoke any discipline against another for fear of being exposed themselves. Whatever the reason, this is tough stuff and takes tremendous courage, charity, humility, and conviction of truth to move ahead.

As stated above “tell it to the church” could mean a more private meeting with an elder board, deacon committee, a gathering of a few pastors with the one undergoing discipline based upon local church preference and denominational convictions. Or it could mean the entirety of the local body gathered in that specific congregation. But what it clearly doesn't mean is that it turns into a community-wide or nation-wide media frenzy of unguarded half truths being broadcast to those who have no vested interest in that process. 

It means very plainly “tell it to the church—to ones local church or the leadership of that church—and no one but that church.” Did you hear that? Someone's sin or personal failing is not for public consumption; it is not for the blogosphere to banter about; and it is not to feed the itching ears of gossipers who can hardly wait to pass around the latest tidbit they have heard around town or at other churches about someone. It is only for the leadership or members of that particular local church alone. Why? Biblical "love covers a multitude of sins." Any process of church discipline that results in tabloid journalism or a media blitz is not biblical and both the one in need of repentance AND the local church leadership should be held accountable for their dissemination of information.

Listen, if we have tasted of God's grace in the forgiveness and repentance of our own sins, should we not then respond with humility and grace to others who are struggling as well? The unloving, unkind thing to do would be to talk about another person's sin issues to anyone else because we have been personally hurt or our hearts offended by an attitude or action of another. Those feelings must be guarded and bridled. Also, it is just as unloving to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to someone caught in a trespass and not care to walk with them through their situation.

Dr. John MacArthur states how Grace Community Church handles this third step:
“It has been the custom in our church, upon enacting this third step, to clearly indicate to the congregation that they are to pursue the person aggressively; and plead with him to repent before the fourth step becomes necessary. That crucial and potent procedure often draws the sinner to repentance and obedience.”
This passage affirms then that the proper place for church discipline (biblical restoration) is within the local church. It is not to be done in a psychologist’s office, at a biblical counseling center, by a committee of well-meaning neighbors, a Promise Keepers meeting, or a Women of the Word Bible Conference, or in the secular courts (prohibited by 1 Corinthians 6:1-8). Again, it is solely to occur within the local church under the scrutiny and loving care of qualified leadership and first hand involved laity.

This is the most crucial and saddening of all the steps. This is the putting out of the church the unrepentant brother or sister in Christ. “…and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.

Still the motive is love for the offender. It is not for revenge, but to protect the purity of the church and to reverence the Lord. A little leaven leavens the whole lump and you cannot negotiate with sin or falter in confronting it. To do so is to dishonor the Lord and His Word. This is very serious. It is the same thing as handing over another believer to Satan for the buffeting of their flesh; placing one outside the protection of the local church. It is giving someone over to the chastening hand of the Lord (see Hebrews 12:7-11; 1 Timothy 1:20; 1 Cor. 5:4-13). (Again, remember that the purpose of church discipline is not to throw people out of the church, but to see them restored, repentant, and reconciled to Christ. There is no place for smug self-righteousness or cold indifference when dealing with another caught in sin. Something of great value has occurred when an erring brother or sister in Christ has been restored to fellowship. This is cause for great rejoicing!)

We must careful even this point to not extend judgement where the Lord has not given that authority. Jesus is not saying, “Declare them to be non-believers” (Gentiles or tax-gatherers)for only the Lord knows the state of the heart before Him; but rather to treat them as such. The only sin that someone can ever be put out of the church for is unrepentance. No matter what kind of sin has been committed, if repented of—forgiveness should be extended. But when someone is hardened in sin, their conscience is seared and rejects the gracious pleadings of the church for repentance, they must be treated as a non-Christian and given over to the discipline of the Lord.

It Doesn't End Here
This step is not optional—it is not an elective in the school of holiness. It is a command and must be honored. Men of courage need to fulfill their biblical duty and honor the Lord no matter what the consequence to them personally. When believers continue to live a life of willful disobedience to the Lord and utterly reject the authority of God’s Word and the admonition of the church, they have “shipwrecked their faith” and fellowship should be cut off from them. “Do not even eat with such a man” Paul said (1 Cor. 5:11). All contact is not prohibited—all communion of faith.

When you see one that has been put out of the church, lovingly urge them to repent of their sin and come back to the Lord. Don’t just give them a hug, pass it off as a little glitch in this journey of life, hang out at the movies, shrug it off as no big thing, and tell them “well, we are all human; we all make mistakes." Beloved, that is a dangerous accomodationalism. Tolerance of sin is not a spiritual gift. The failure for a church to discipline those who sin forfeit the blessing and favor of God—no matter how big the yearly offerings are or the size of its membership. The Lord does not number us; He weighs us according to our spiritual integrity and holiness.

Listen to the words of Paul to the church at Thessalonica,
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame. And yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 13-15).
When a church has exhausted every effort biblically to bring a sinning believer in the Lord to repentance, then that believer must be given over to their sin and to its shame. They must be left alone (Cp, Hosea 4:17).

The purpose of putting one out of the church is not to punish, but to restore; not to excommunicate, but to call back to repentance. And this process is not to end even when they have been put out of the church until they repent or die. This is how important this process is to the Lord. How tragic when the biblical process is abated for personal gain, fear or political convenience.


Paul said...

Good job Steve. You cut it straight. I only have one question in regard to this statment:
"Any process of church discipline that results in a national media blitz is not biblical and both the one in need of repentance AND the local church leadership should be held accountable for their careless dissemination of information." How would you hold a local atonomous church accountable?

SJ Camp said...

Thank you for your kind encouraging words.

As to your question: I didn't mean to imply that outside individuals or agencies would hold any other church leadership accountable by some ecclessiastical committee.

But within that local church itself, accountabiity should be exercised and demanded of the pastors to the standard of Scripture by fellow church leaders and laity alike.

The only exception to this kind of local church autonomy would be a denomination's own oversight board that governs these kinds of leadership snafues.

Paul said...

Thanks Steve. Another question or 2,this is a very heavy topic worthy of indulgence:"But within that local church itself, accountabiity should be exercised and demanded of the pastors to the standard of Scripture by fellow church leaders and laity alike." Fellow leaders and laity strictly within that local congregation?,or would it be appropriate in some cases for others to at least voice the call of scripture[other christian leaders or laity acquainted with that congregation]? In other words, the congregation in question won't deal with it. Also, when have we "gained a brother?" When they say they repent?, or when they actually change their behavior? let me kinda maybe answer this myself as another possible question. The types of sins that scripture seems to indicate are worthy of church discipline would closely approximate the verbal commitment with an action. In other words, it's not the kind of sin where step one takes a 6 month obvservation to determin repentance. Besides, in the first step, their would only be one person judging that or a closed group of people who already decided the first step was necessary[no accountability]. Also Steve, a very important question; are the steps outlined in Matt 18 the discipline?, or steps to determine if discipline is necessary? In other words, is the discipline in the church?, or outside the church where it is truly the Lords discipline at that point?
I hope these are good questions.

Paul said...

I was doing some more thinking:
Is Matt 18 a local application only or universal also?["tell it to the church"] If a disciplined member of church A tries to join church B, church A would deem it their duty to inform church B that the rascal has been disciplined[assuming they found out somehow]. Nobody would argue that. In a matter of fact, most churches worth attending require a letter for membership. But isn't that a universal application? And if it is universal, doesn't that cut both ways? It seems like this might answer one of my above questions.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you for your questions and insights on this topic. I will take each one slowly and hopefully will shed some more light from the Word of God on this issue.

1. This is a local application that could have farther reaching results. You are correct in your assertions: if someone is church hopping because of unrepentant sin, then another church might have to know what went on in a previous church in order to rightly minister to that person. But at some point, the previous church let's them go and entrusts their care to another leadership. Biblical restoration is not a witch hunt...

2. In a similar fashion, it is under the leadership and laity of a local congregation in which biblical restoration takes place. However, pastors from other churches may be consulted or even asked upon to come and mediate issues within another local church especially if the sin issues are between two of the church leaders. OR, as you hinted, if they need the wisdom of others who have walked down that road before in order to honor the Lord and His Word in how to rightly walk through passages like Matt. 18 or Gal. 6. That is adhering to the biblical principle that there is "safety in many counselors."

3. Spurgeon used to say, "when someone's repentance is more notorious than their sin, then you know it is genuine."

Genuine repentance isn't simply saying the word repent. It is also followed by a life that over time bears godly fruit in actions as well. Both are necessary, though one is more immediate and the other visible over time.

Luke gives a great example of our duty to someone who repents in 17:3-4, "Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” There is the loving response to another.

We take them at their verbal confession and forgive immediately. AND we also pray that the fruits of repentance as well would be manifested in their lives - which takes more time. But when someone in their countenance and attitude displays a broken, sincere, sorrow over their sin (Psalm 51) then we must take them at their profession.

4. Last question of yours is excellent. Yes, the process of walking through the steps biblically is the discipline. BUT, we must always remember this is not a mechanical exercise. It is only the Lord that can bring about true conviction of sin and the chastening that produces godliness (cp, Heb. 12:5-12). That is why there must be significant patience and time given in most cases for grace to be seen and genuine restoration produced.

Hope this helps a bit more.

Thank you for your questions.

Paul said...

Yes, that helps. I agree that we have gained our brother upon verbal confession: "and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, **saying**, ‘I repent,’ you **must** forgive him.” Besides, "love believes all things." I also find your concern about the practice of patience in the process reflected in this verse as well [seven times in a day]. When I became a christian in 83, church discipline was not practiced much at all. I then saw it make a come-back[praise God]But now, abuse is becoming a big problem. I am now hearing about christians in formal counseling being brought up on discipline because the counselor does not think they are progressing fast enough or "really mean business with God." If they didn't mean business with God, they wouldn't have sought counsel. Bringing people up on discipline who have voluntarily sought out counsel is very iffy and to me, disturbing. There is also the question of so-called "redemptive church discipline." I have more to say about this and have other questions but am out of gas tonite. Will be back tomorrow @ about 3pm if i haven't worn you out yet.

SJ Camp said...

Unfortunately you are correct. In the name of church discipline there has been an abuse of the biblical model. Probably with good motives, but the end result has been some very damaged lives in the process.

It is a small distinction, but it is why I prefer to call this process biblical restoration. It is language from Gal. 6:1, "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness."

The language of discipline implies punishment as opposed to the biblical purpose of Matt. 18 and other passages is for repentance, reconciliation and restoration. I think some very well meaning churches and pastors have weighed the scales in favor of more discipline than restoration.

Thank you for this conversation of faith surrounding an important and critical function of the local church.

Grace and peace,
Col. 1:9-14

Paul said...

Please check out this post in regard to our discussion.
As a result of our discussion, some of this post needs correction. You may be able to point out additional error as well.
Unfortunatley, the models discussed are actually being practiced in churches, I have first hand knowledge of this. I would much appreciate your comments regarding the overview of biblical church discipline in this post for clarification purposes.
Thanks Steve

Micah said...

Thank you for this thorough discussion on discipline. I have been subject to church discipline for many years, until I reached the 4th stage, and was eventually cut off from the church, including my family. By the grace and mercy of God, I have repented of my sin 4 years later and have returned to the Lord.

I have so many questions about the restoration process, because I feel that my case was not handled biblically.

I am now attending a different church, have told the pastor about my discipline, and accepted me for membership. Yet, I still want to be right with my former church, who thinks I am still unrepentant.
What must I do?

Paul said...

I can help with that.
1.Unrepentant of what? Was it a sin that the Bible states as a Church discipline issue?
Let's start there.

Micah said...

I am married now...but back then, when I was still single, I was first disciplined for fornication (please take note that my boyfriend and I never did the thing -- it was more of the relationship leading us back to our former sexual bondage).

Paul said...

Are you presently married to a woman?