Teachers of Immorality
Written by David Feddes
Unrepentant sexual sin leads to hell. This is taught in the Bible and in the Christian Reformed Church’s 2021 Human Sexuality Report:
Unrepentant sexual immorality destroys one’s place in the church and kingdom of God… it is incompatible with union with Christ… According to our confessions, the church may never approve or even tolerate any form of sexual immorality, including pornography, polyamory, premarital sex, extramarital sex, adultery, or homosexual sex. On the contrary, the church must warn its members that those who refuse to repent of these sins—as well as of idolatry, greed, and other such sins—will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11). It must discipline those who refuse to repent of such sins for the sake of their souls (1 Cor. 5-6).
Believers who struggle with strong desires and sometimes fail can be sure of God’s forgiveness if they keep repenting and relying on Jesus’ blood to cleanse them. But those who defend their sin and deny their need for forgiveness have no place in God’s kingdom or in his church.
The church must be gentle and patient with visitors who are exploring Christianity. The church must support believers who struggle and stumble. But the church must expel those who openly continue in sexual sin and refuse to repent. Such people must not be received as members nor welcomed at the Lord’s table, and they should certainly not hold leadership positions.
But what about church leaders who publicly defend and bless forms of sexual sin that they are not personally committing? What if they are celibate in singleness or faithful to a spouse of the opposite sex, but they teach that other expressions of sexuality are also pleasing to God? Such people are no more qualified to lead the church than those who are actually committing sexual immorality.
In fact, leading others into sin is even worse than sinning personally. Those who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1). Those who cause others to sin would be better off drowning (Matthew 18:6). “Woe to those who call evil good” (Isaiah 5:20). “They entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error” (2 Peter 2:18). “They pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 1:4). God tells leaders who bless sin, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings” (Malachi 2:2).
Teachers of immorality must not be leaders in Christian churches, agencies, or educational institutions. If a school or agency has such leaders, they must be removed. If a congregation has such leaders, biblically faithful Christians will not follow them but will remove them or find a different and better congregation to join. If a denomination has such leaders, they must be removed. If they remain in leadership despite efforts at reform, then biblically faithful congregations will leave that denomination.
J. I. Packer, author of Knowing God, participated in a leadership body of Canadian Anglicans. When this body voted to authorize the blessing of same-sex unions, Dr. Packer and some others got up and walked out. They declared themselves out of fellowship with the bishop and the synod. “Why did I walk out with the others?” wrote Dr. Packer. “Because this decision falsifies the gospel of Christ, abandons the authority of Scripture, jeopardizes the salvation of fellow human beings, and betrays the church in its God-appointed role as the bastion and bulwark of divine truth.”