His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Excommunication – getting kicked out of the country club

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“The Vatican insisted that it is properly following Christian tradition by excluding females from the priesthood as it issued a new warning that women taking part in ordinations will be excommunicated.” I’ve quoted this statement before, from an article that appeared in my local newspaper (see “Ban on Women Priests“). Today I want to look at this idea of excommunication.

Does the Catholic Church consider their denomination exclusive? Break their roles and you’re out; is that it? Look, this is how I see it: the Grand Imperial Masters of the Catholic Club have little tolerance for those who break their rules. Break a rule, and you’re out of the country club.

But how I see it doesn’t matter, especially since I tend to be biased and sometimes un-graceful (I never said I was flawless, and please forgive me for any harsh sounding remarks). What matters is how does Jesus look at this issue of excommunication? What does He think about this practice of kicking people out who don’t follow the rules? What might He say to the Catholic Church?

“If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” (Matthew 12:7) I’m not saying those who break the rules are always innocent, but I believe Jesus is telling us to be merciful.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13) Yes, to me many modern day churches resemble Pharisees, in that it sometimes seems their “traditions” are more important than God’s laws and His direction for our lives.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17) How did Jesus treat tax collectors and sinners? And I wonder, does God consider it a sin if a woman becomes a priest?

Even Paul has something to say, “Take special note of those who do not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as enemies, but warn them as fellow believers.” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

And here is a message for anyone who finds themselves kicked out of the club:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.” (Luke 12:4)

Author: CJ Penn

First, my writing isn't about me. Don’t want the attention, don’t want to feed my ravenous ego (yep, I’m just a typical pride-plagued human). But I love writing - it gets me out of bed when it's way too dark, just so I can do some writing before heading off to work. I write because I’m passionate about God, Jesus, His Spirit, and His truth. And, I feel the Holy Spirit gets shortchanged in the world we call Christianity. The truth is sometimes lacking too.

6 thoughts on “Excommunication – getting kicked out of the country club

  1. Please let me add to your list of quotes, this passage from St Paul in I Cor. 14:

    32
    Indeed, the spirits of prophets are under the prophets’ control,
    33
    since he is not the God of disorder but of peace. As in all the churches of the holy ones, 10
    34
    women should keep silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says.
    35
    But if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. For it is improper for a woman to speak in the church.
    36
    Did the word of God go forth from you? Or has it come to you alone?
    37
    If anyone thinks that he is a prophet or a spiritual person, he should recognize that what I am writing to you is a commandment of the Lord.
    38
    If anyone does not acknowledge this, he is not acknowledged.

    And don’t forget the qualifications of bishops in I Tim. 3:1-7. He doesn’t mention women. Why? It is not their role. They have a role in nature, and a role in spirituality. God created man, then, woman. It doesn’t mean women aren’t smart enough or good enough to be these types of leaders, but it wasn’t what they were created by God to do.

    Within the first 1900 years of the Church/churches we didn’t debate about such a thing. Funny how it comes about now, when there is such confusion about mens/womens roles in society. It was only a matter of time before this type of misinterpreted teaching was presented against Christ’s Church. Yet that’s been going on since the beginning, hasn’t it.

    By the way, that was a nice twist on Matt. 18:15-17 but you also need to include verse 18. Jesus gives his authority to His Church to discipline the sinner, but always as a means to call the sinner back, through repentance.

    Blessings through the Holy Trinity,
    Tim

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  2. Hello Tim,

    Maybe you can point me to something I haven’t been able to find (though I have to admit, I haven’t look very much). When Paul refers to God’s commandment in verse 37, what specifically is he referring to? I suspect this may be an obvious one that I’ve just overlooked or forgotten.

    Thanks a lot,
    E.D.

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  3. Hi E.D.,

    Oh, I’m sure you could google the verse and get a billion different takes on it. Some to fit your interpretation, some to fit mine. So instead of that, which would be far easier to do, let’s examine it ourselves.

    Verse 37 says, “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet or a spiritual person, he should recognize that what I am writing to you is a commandment of the Lord.”

    In the immediate sense, we see that, it is what he is writing, that is the commandment of the Lord. In the context here, it’s instructions on the rules of order to the use of the spiritual gifts when the assembly is gathered.

    In the larger sense, it’s the Corinthian letter itself (since it has indeed been canonized). And since it is full of commands as to forske certain activities, well some are commands, some as he says are suggestions from himself.

    I hope that helps.

    God bless.

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  4. Tim,
    Thank you very much. That does help. My original take was that Paul was referring back to a commandment that I might find in the Old Testament somewhere. I really appreciate your comments.
    E.D.

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  5. I’m not Catholic, but a little correction: excommunication isn’t kicking someone out of the Church, or saying that they are damned, it means that that person can nolonger partake of (communicate is the offical word) the Body and Blood of Christ.

    We’re all unworthy to receive Holy Communion, but some people do things to put themselves in such a state that it would be an affront for them to do so. The Roman Catholic Church takes its exclusive male heirarchy from the fact that Jesus’ disciples (at least those mentioned in the Bible) were all male.

    That, coupled with the belief that that since Christ told Peter he was to be the corner of his Church, and the Bishop of Rome being the successor of Peter, they believe that they have sole authority.

    All that being said though, I still don’t think woman trying be ordained should be excommunicated, not on a permanent status at least.

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  6. Doulos,

    Thanks a lot for the clarification.

    Like

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