Keep an Open Mind

The church in Corinth had been experiencing another situation where a man had been sleeping with, presumably, his step-mother. Paul says that it was reported that he was sleeping with his father’s wife. He doesn’t say his own mother, so I’m assuming that means that his father had remarried and now this man was with this new woman, who would be his step-mother.

But what was even worse, Paul says that they are proud. The church is proud of who they are and what they are doing. They are continuing to accept this man in their church, despite of what he is unrepentantly doing, and are happy for it.

It is almost as if they are happy for the tolerance that they are exhibiting for this man. Proud of how open-minded they are. But in reality, they are headed straight for their own destruction.

Corinth was a provincial capital in the Greek empire. It is no longer Greek, per se, in the sense that the empire had now fallen and was overtaken by the Romans, but it was still considered to be Greek in its culture. And that culture was polytheistic, worshiping different Greek mythical gods that had been created by humans.

Unfortunately, because the Greek gods were created by humans, it was human decision also how they should be worshiped and one of the most significant ways that happened, besides animal sacrifice, was through sexual relationships with the temple prostitutes.

And having accepted that as normal, the men would also have mistresses and concubines in addition to their wives. And this was considered normal.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that this was a significant issue in the Corinthian church, or for that matter, in any church that was establishing itself in the midst of the Greek culture of that time. Those were the normal practices of the day, but man’s ways are not God’s ways, and God taught them and the church that there should be fidelity between the husband and his wife without other women being found in the midst of their relationship, either for worship or simple purposes of pleasure.

But the worst part in the whole situation is that the “open-mindedness” that the church was exhibiting was going to destroy it and Paul notes this by explaining that the yeast works its way through the entire batch of dough. Here is how he explains it:

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8

Paul is saying that they can’t keep doing what they are doing. The “old yeast”, as he says, is the sin of the world. We are sinful people, but where we see unrepentant sin within the church, we must call it out. And if that call does not respond with repentance, it must be removed. Otherwise, the sin will continue to grow and multiply to others and soon the church will collapse and simply meld into the rest of culture, becoming nothing more than a shell of an organization based on… nothing. Nothing that distinguishes it. Nothing that sets it apart. No identity. No purpose. And all because we were simply trying to keep an open mind.

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