Q&A Cohabitation and NewSpring Membership

Here is an email that I recieved several months ago about one of our membership policies at NewSpring. Enjoy!

Q: I was informed that you are the head person to talk to about membership issues. My fiancée and I wanted to attend the NewSpring membership class last night and have been thrilled about the idea of becoming members. I received a phone call from one of your staff members saying that they needed to talk with us before we attended the class. My fiancée and I will be getting married in about a year. We moved here last year and due to financial situations and seeing that we are all each other has down here, we cohabitate. Why am I being turned down for membership because I live with the man I am going to marry? My other “potentials” to contribute as a church member were never considered. By denying anyone who cohabitates membership, or is a homosexual for that matter, I feel that you are driving them away from your church and judging them.

I truly enjoy coming to New Spring and feel such a close connection with God while I am there. Please help me to understand this matter. Why can’t we be members just because we are at the same address?

A: Thank you for being open and honest with your questions and concerns about our membership process. I am so excited that you have been coming to New Spring and have felt the presence of God in our Church. More than anything, I want you both to know that we are glad you guys are here; we want you to continue to be a part of our church and for this to be a place that God speaks to you and grows you. Let me explain why we have this policy in place.

We strive, in everything we do, to be a biblical church. Our requirements for membership are: 1) the person must confess faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and God and an understanding that a relationship with him is the only way they can be saved. 2) That the person be baptized by immersion after salvation. 3) That the person agrees to support the church by serving and giving. 4) That the person is living a correct biblical lifestyle (not living in sin).

Whenever we find that a member of our church is living in sin, according to scripture, we practice church discipline. This is a process that God directs the church leaders to practice when necessary. The purpose of church discipline is not to judge the person, but to show them that what they are doing goes against how God would want them to live, and to restore, heal, and build up the person who has been in a sinful lifestyle. Church discipline is to be patterned after and based on the commands of Scripture (1 Cor. 4:6). We have numerous passages of scripture which both command and give us God’s directives on the how, why, when, and where of church discipline. (1 Cor. 5:1-13; Matt. 18:17-18; Titus 3:10; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 5:20; Gal. 6:1)

If we find that someone is living an unbiblical lifestyle while they are going through the membership process, we do not let them join the church until they repent and stop living in that lifestyle. The reason for this is because if they became a member, biblically we would be required to immediately practice church discipline on that person. This does not mean that we want that person to stop coming to our church or that God hates them, or that they are bad people. This simply means that there are some sin issues that the person needs to recognize, repent of, and then begin living according to how God directs us to live in his word.

You mentioned in your email that you felt that we should not deny membership to anyone who cohabitates or is a homosexual. We believe that scripture clearly teaches that any sexual relationship that is not within the guidelines that God establishes is sin. Scripture teaches that a sexual relationship should be between one man and one woman, in the bonds of marriage. Anything that is outside of this, scripture says is sin. (1 Cor 6:9; Romans 1:18-32)

EPH 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people

1TH 4:3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable,

I know that you may disagree with how we handle our membership process, but we feel that we must be obedient to God and to Scripture in how we lead our church and to handle these situations in the way that God has directed.

I have also attached a web site that talks about cohabitation. I feel that it would be a good resource to help you as you are thinking about everything we have discussed.

http://www.troubledwith.com/LoveandSex/LivingTogether.cfm

Please know that we very much want you to continue to come to NewSpring. I would still love to sit down with you in person and talk with you about this. I know that this is a sensitive subject, and if you would like to dialogue more about this I would love to do that. Please let me know if I can help you in any way.

In Christ,

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