Question:

Here is the situation:

  • 4 years ago a member of our church got pregnant by her boyfriend and had a baby. She came forward and repented of her sins.
  • 3 years ago the same member got pregnant by a different boyfriend and had a baby. She again came forward and repented of her sins.
  • 2 years ago the same member church got pregnant by still another boyfriend and had a baby. She again came forward and repented of her sins.
  • She then married to yet another man. He broke some laws and is currently in jail. They separated but are still legally married. They never had a child.
  • Last year the same member got pregnant by another man and they are currently living together, but she is still legally married to the man who is in jail. She hasn't come forward yet.

In total, she has had four children with four different men. The eldership visited with her recently. Nobody in the church is happy with the situation. Members are gossiping. I know the Bible says we are to forgive our brother or sister 70 times 7. But in my opinion, after she came forward the first time and ask for forgiveness, I would of been okay with it because when you ask for forgiveness, you repent of your sins, and change. You don't repeat the same sin over and over. Also sexual sin is different since it is a sin committed within your body with another person. Sex is made for marriage with your spouse, not boyfriend.

So my question is what would you do?


Answer:

"Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4).

The sin is not that she is getting pregnant -- that is just a side consequence of her sins. She has been committing fornication and adultery for years and it sounds like no one has talked to her about changing her behavior. But for right now, let's assume that she truly did repent of her fornication. Her statements were accepted and she is forgiven as far as the church knows. The past should not be brought up again.

The current problem is that she has been living in adultery. I don't know how long this has been known, but the church needs to explain why it is wrong and firmly tell her that she needs kick the man out of her home and stop seeing other men and having sex with them. If she makes excuses and doesn't leave this man, then she should be withdrawn from by the congregation. "I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler -- not even to eat with such a one" (I Corinthians 5:9-11). Remember, the goal is to get a person out of sin so they can reach heaven.

By the way, "coming forward" is not found in the Bible. It is not what is meant by repentance. People are acting as if saying "I'm sorry" is repentance. "For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11).

We can't always tell if a person is honest when they say that they've changed their ways. Therefore, we have to always give them the benefit of the doubt. But we don't change the standard. Each time someone sins, it is met the same way -- not bringing up the past, but insisting that the person live in accordance with the will of God.

Thanks for all the good advice and good information.