1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1, King James Version)
During the Days of Unleavened Bread, I’ve been blogging about sin – spiritual leaven. I want to focus on this last day in on a particular sin – that of disunity. Hopefully, I can present it in a manner different than you may have considered it before. You are probably familiar with:
17Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 16:17, King James Version)
16These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19, King James Version)
That last one is particularly interesting because it talks about “discord among brethren“, that is, those related to the person.
I want you to consider, then, that family is important to God. Indeed, as we have often taught, God is a family. There is a Father and there is a Son. Sometimes, we refer to the Church as a mother-type. We call ourselves “Children of God”, do we not?
Sometimes, division is unavoidable, of course. Church splits happen because one or both sides cannot or will not reconcile with the other. The same happens with families. Divorce is way too commonplace in this society. Is divorce a sin?
3The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:3-6, King James Version)
Disunity in families is not viewed as good thing by God (cf. Mal 2:16). How much less disunity between parents and children?
12Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12, King James Version)
5But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. (Matthew 15:5-6, King James Version)
If disunity in a church is a sin, then how much more is causing disunity within a family? Is dividing up a family without real harm being present not a sin? Doesn’t dividing families cause harm? Is causing harm Godly?
There may be exceptions, of course, but they should not be taken lightly. They should be the weighing of what would cause the most harm in the situation. So, let’s make it clear: I’m not talking about physical or mental abuse. A smart man sees danger and avoids it, after all.
You know, perhaps that is why Paul taught that a believer is required to stay with an unbelieving mate (1Co 7:12-16). The unbelieving mate might just see the power of God and be saved, whereas divorcing the unbelieving mate would cause harm.
God told Isaiah to shout out Israel’s sins.
1Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
2Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. (Isaiah 58:1-2, King James Version)
You know, Israel was pretending to be righteous. They were pretending to be obedient to God. Yet, their sins were grievous in God’s sight. God gave some very specific instructions to them as a result.
6Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? (Isaiah 58:6-7, King James Version)
We are to take care of our own families! It is so serious that one of only 2 occasions in the Bible that the word “infidel” is used is in reference to taking care of our families:
8But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8, King James Version)
But, you all know this, right? You all hate divorce, right? You all realize that God values family, right?
Why then do some of you sin a grievous sin in front of God?
By shunning your father and mother, you dishonor them.
By shunning your sons and daughters, you are causing others to sin.
By shunning your sisters and brothers or any of your family, you are causing division in that family.
Does God make sense? Let us reason this out.
If we are instructed to stay with an unbelieving mate in the hopes they will come around, how much less should we extend the same courtesy to other close relatives?
Let’s be clear: Disfellowship, disfellowshipment, disfellowshipping, shun, shunning, marking, or whatever you want to call it applies to congregations, not families.
There are no commandments that allow you to divorce your mother or father.
There are no commandments that allow you to divorce your sons or daughters.
There are no commandments that allow you to divorce your sisters or brothers.
The question is: How long some will stubbornly cling to their sinful traditions rather than the will of God?
Maybe some leaders in United Church of God need to read this, after the shakeup I read about on Mike Bennett's blog today.