Follow-Up About the Girl and the Pants and the Church Discipline

FOLLOW-UP ABOUT THE GIRL AND THE PANTS AND THE CHURCH DISCIPLINE

August 15, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the enf of the article) -

On August 14, I sent out a notice to the pastors on the FBIS mailing list asking the following question:

I have a problem that you can help me with. All I ask is that you write and let me know what you would say to the following situation. It might even sound humorous to you, but I can assure you that it is a serious matter. There is a teenage girl in a church. The church teaches that pants are not the most appropriate and modest attire for women. The girl is from a very poor family (six people living in one room), but she was the first member of her family to come to Christ about three years ago. She has been growing in the Lord and is faithful to church and prayer meetings. Recently she got a scholarship to a school that requires the female students to wear loose pants. Though someone from the church approached the school leaders and asked them to make an exception for her, they refused. Since the girl has decided to attend the school anyway, the church won’t allow her to teach Sunday School because she will no longer meet the standards for workers. But there is a prominent person in the church who is not content with this. He thinks she should be disciplined after the fashion of 1 Corinthians 5 and she should not be allowed to take the Lord’s Supper. What do you think?
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I have received a deluge of responses to this, and I am thankful for each one who took the time to write. Most of the responses expressed a great deal of Christian wisdom and compassion, and it has been a blessing to read them.

I want to make the following comments in order to clarify the situation a bit. In hindsight I realize that I didn’t give enough information.

First, the church in question is a missionary church in South Asia. The school the girl is planning to attend is a high school operated by Hindus. There are no Christian ones.

Second, though the girl is from a poor family, the issue in question has nothing to do with an inability to afford a certain kind of clothing. The church would be more than happy to purchase any clothes the church members might need, but that is not the issue.

Third, the church has no intention of disciplining the girl. By God’s grace, they are going to continue to love her and teach her and encourage her and be patient with her and hopefully see her grow up to be a strong Christian woman who will be a bright light in that dark place.

Fourth, the “prominent man” is not a church leader and is not representative of the rest of the church, though he has been trying to promote his opinion to some of the members. His thinking is legalistic and grossly lacking in the love of Christ, and we wanted to show him that the pastors with whom we are in fellowship will not agree with him on this issue. Generally speaking, my readers doubtless represent the stricter side of fundamentalism; yet we do not lack in compassion and godly wisdom. In spite of what our detractors presume, we are not mean-spirited Pharisees. The e-mail responses demonstrated this.

Fifth, a few of those who replied used this as a soapbox to take a swipe at standards in general and at dress standards in particular and at the issue of pants on women even more particularly, but that is to be expected. This is a very touchy issue, and some people persist in making their opinions known even when no one cares to hear!

FOLLOWING ARE SOME OF THE COMMENTS WE RECEIVED FROM READERS

“The prominent person in the church has no Scripture for such an action. Her difficulty is already extremely hard on her and he would make it even worse. This would be cruel treatment and something the Lord would not do. I recommend someone discipline the prominent member.” [Note from Bro. Cloud: I put this one first, because I like it the best. Amen.]

“I would allow the girl to teach as long as she only wore the pants required at school and dresses or skirts the rest of the time, and I would discipline the Pharisee that wants her disciplined for being a cruel, callused, graceless boor.”

“The grace of God does not break fellowship and throw a teenage girl out of a church for wearing loose fitting pants to a school that she can’t afford to go to but chose to because she got a scholarship. I believe in standards and I believe in convictions BUT I don’t believe in extremes that do this. Maybe this church member should go read 1 Corinthians 13 and examine how much he cares for others. Where would any of us be if it weren’t for God’s grace in our lives AFTER we accept Christ?”

“I would say, from what you told me, that the GIRL wants to do right and the CHURCH wants to do right. ... I would certainly not discipline her further. It sounds like she has a heart to do right and needs to be encouraged, not further discouraged.”

“The standards for workers and decision to remove a person from a place of ministry sounds right and just. But 1 Corinthians 5 is dealing with fornication. I’d have to educate that ‘prominent person.’ If that prominent person does not receive instruction but pushes the issue (Prov. 30:33) then he would be sowing discord and find grounds to have himself separated.”

“From what I understand from the information you listed, I think church discipline is a bit extreme in this matter. If the church standards are such that a teacher cannot wear pants at any time, then that is their standard. I have standards in our church for staff and workers, also, and I think it is prudent to do so. If she violates that standard then I guess they can go ahead and not let her teach. As far as not taking the Lord's table, I think that is too far. In this instance, it doesn’t sound as though this young lady is rebellious or stubborn. The church contacted the school, and they have their dress standards also. I also assume this may be the only opportunity this young lady has at the present time to go to school because of her family and financial situation. It seems clear that most, if not all of this, is not under her control. The only choices she seems to have is to follow the school’s standards of dress, or not to attend the school. Is that the choice the young lady must face? That seems to be the root of the matter to me. A time in serious prayer by the pastor seeking the Lord’s will is the best solution. Pastors have to make tough decisions, but once bathed in prayer and led by the Lord those decisions are better made. It is easy to sit on the sideline and coach this one; it isn’t in my church. But in summary, I believe church discipline is not proper in this case.”

“1 Corinthians 11: 24-34 teaches that a person is to examine themselves before partaking of the Lord’s Supper. This is a self examination. ... As a pastor of a church all we can do at this point is teach the proper way to observe the Lord’s Supper and that individual has to examine his/her self to see if they are partaking of it worthily. This has nothing to do with dress, but our reflection and remembrance of the suffering of Christ. With the information provided below, I see nothing that should keep this lady from teaching her Sunday school class as long as she is modestly dressed, spiritually minded, faithful, and prepared to teach. Neither do I see anything here that should warrant discipline from the church. I would encourage the prominent individual to study the mentioned scriptures and pray for understanding.”

“Obviously the Word of God is the final authority. Let’s talk consistency and favoritism. EVERY person should then be held to the same form of discipline. This is extremely hard to do. Since SIN is SIN and in God’s eyes one sin is not greater than another, this form of discipline could be administered evenly across the board. What if the tithing records were made public? Failing to tithe is sin. Could it be reason to forbid participation in the Lord’s Supper?”

“Nowhere in scripture we will find that our Lord will have us sin in order to conform to the world’s ‘rules.’ It is not our Lord’s will for us to attend ANY school that demands of us to follow unscriptural beliefs. Almighty God has a perfect plan for this young lady and for each and every one of us.”

“Seems to me that ‘standards for workers’ is a different thing than ‘standards for attendees.’ I would advise the girl to graciously submit to no longer being qualified to teach in the church AND to go ahead and attend the school. As she continues to grow in the Lord, she will develop her own convictions based upon her understanding of Scripture ... Concerning the prominent person in the church, is his name Diotrephes? Perhaps he should be disciplined because of his insensitivity to the growth rate of babes in the Lord. If the girl wants to be an attendee rather than a worker, that is her business. The prominent person in the church is the real problem--not the spiritually growing girl who appears to be walking in the light. If we offend or anger anyone, let’s offend and anger the prominent person--not the babe in Christ.”

“I can see why the church would not allow her to teach in Sunday School, since not wearing pants at all is the churches policy or standard. I do not, however, see the gross immorality as 1 Corinthians deals with. She should be disciplined no further by the church. It seems to me that this ‘prominent person’ in the church is taking it a bit too far, especially for a young person who needs to be nurtured. Also, I would consider her unsaved family. Great care should be observed. To go to such an extreme as to turn her out of the church or withdraw fellowship could have a drastic effect on them. Though I agree with the standard of the church or its pastor, wearing loose pants is not on the list of 1 Corinthians 5:11. As to not allowing her to partake of the Lord’s Supper, as I understand the Bible the only way anyone can eat or drink ‘worthily’ is to be saved by the grace of God. Washed in His precious blood. Who is worthy to partake of any of God’s blessings outside of salvation? None of us should be able to partake of the Lord's Supper, if sinless perfection is a prerequisite.”

“This situation is unfortunate, but there are a few Scriptural considerations here. First, and I think the over-riding concern for INDIVIDUAL members is that whatever course of action is followed the members’ response must be based on love for this girl and a desire to see her become more like Christ. We know that Christ said the mark of true disciples is their love for one another. Also, Christ give the 2 greatest commandments, both of which center on love. I believe it is important to maintain standards of righteousness, but failure to do so in a spirit of love fails the test of Scripture. Perhaps some pastoral instruction on the proper attitude towards restoring an errant brother might be in order for the ‘influential’ member (Gal. 6:1). Second, I agree with you on the issue of biblical modesty. Your description of the pants in question seems to indicate that they are ‘relatively’ modest for pants; though I will not dispute they are still pants and not the best choice. Unfortunately, the school will not bend and the decision from this child’s perspective is almost impossible. ... Our partners on the field have taken an instructive approach, dealing with the subject of modesty regularly and allowing time for the Holy Spirit to convict on these issues. They have seen a great deal of success, but as new believers enter the fellowship, they require the same instruction, so he has a number of women in his church plants who wear pants at any given time, each of whom require the same instruction. As for this particular situation, I agree that if she fails to follow the church’s standards for dress she may not hold a teaching position in the church, but I find the idea of church discipline to be overkill. It may be, in time, she will grow spiritually to the point that the decision becomes easier, but until that time, a bit of Christian charity, while not endorsing her decision, will go a long way to helping her grow spiritually.”

“As to the ‘prominent person’ in the church who is calling for church discipline, such an action could possibly destroy this girl’s faith, not only in the church, but in Christians as a whole. Aside from that, what kind of a testimony would it send to this girl’s family, whom, I’m sure, the church is endeavoring to win to the Lord? I believe that a bit of grace might be extended here. Thank God for His amazing grace which He gives to us each and every day! I Corinthians 13.”

“If the issue as you described it happened for us, the person would be removed from leadership because of failing to meet the Leadership Standards. However, putting the person under church discipline seems to be harsh. I would sit down with the person and explain that we cannot use them any more in a leadership capacity. I would also make sure to explain scripturally why we are taking that position. I would also seek to find out why she is choosing to attend a school that will take her out of a leadership position in the Lord’s house. ... At the moment, I would think she has done nothing worthy of church discipline. Although there seems to be a desire to go in a wrong direction spiritually, she needs to rethink the schooling situation and encouraged to do so. What does God really want for your life? To honor and glorify Him, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Sometimes schooling in a wrong place leads to many other problems. I would probably discuss church discipline with the prominent member scripturally and seek to help him understand why this is not a church discipline issue. I would let him know we will keep an eye on it and we will monitor the situation and take appropriate action as needed.”

“If the young girl came home and immediately changed into the ‘proper’ attire then her heart is right, If the school has asked for this dress code for some form of ‘moral’ issues and or it is freezing cold in the middle of winter and snow is 3 ft deep then the ‘church’ and this particular member is unfair and unyielding to her plight and no Christ like love, understanding is being shown to her.”

“I would not use church discipline. We allow people of all kinds of backgrounds and levels of their Christian growth to attend. Lost folks, baby believers, backslidden believers, struggling believers. If she insists on leadership then a line must be drawn. But I would not discipline because she or her family have not grown enough spiritually to match others convictions. While I do not know her or all details you must decide if it is real rebellion or a growth issue.”

“Church discipline is for very serious transgressions. While we do hold modesty up as very important in our churches and concerning our members and leadership, the girl was already disciplined by losing her teaching position. I hardly think the Lord would have you give her over to the devil for the destruction of the flesh over such an issue as this. I see no sexual explicit thing this girl has done to warrant such behaviour from this prominent man in the ministry. Seems to me that this man though wanting to make sure there is purity in the church is somewhat stretching this out to a big ordeal. I am not sure that we have authority to forbid her in such cases from the Lord’s Table. She does have individual soul liberty to make decisions that she feels are best for her life and if her testimony is strong than he should give her time to grow and not cut her off at the knees. Besides the Pastor is the one to make such choices in the ministry; he is the overseer and that man is out of bounds, I believe. She will not put a mark of embarrassment on the ministry if she does not represent them as a teacher. We have to be careful not to get Papal in such matters. This by no means excuses the fact that we believe she is wrong, but it is her choice to make. We are not puritans and should not attempt to ‘burn her at the stake.’”

“Said ‘prominent’ person is not exhibiting anything remotely close to the love and wisdom of Christ, but rather has the spirit of a Pharisee. The term Pharisee gets overused, but it is applicable here. I hate religious spirits. I hate ‘religion,’ i.e. that of the ‘prominent’ person, when said religion is without the Spirit.”

“I do not agree with the wearing of pants by women unless they are loose enough to not emphasize the body parts that men are attracted to. At the same time, I have never found the issue of pants wearing to be an issue to which the Scriptures speak in regard to her ability to teach Sunday School. It certainly does not fall into the category of a gross immorality such as 1 Corinthians 5 requires to be disciplined. ... [Churches] can hold to convictions about women not wearing pants (and I think they would be right), but they must show mercy, too.”

“The real thing that matters, on all sides, is to have the right spiritual attitude and walk in true fellowship with God. To put a godly girl out of fellowship because she (has to) wear(s) pants, is absurd. This is legalism to the max. How can one equate the evil of 1 Corinthians 5 with this girl’s situation!”

“As to the matter of the prominent person in the church thinking that the girl should be banned from partaking of the Lord’s Supper, that is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible does not teach that the church is to ‘police’ the Lord’s Supper. The Bible teaches that the preacher is to clearly preach the warnings about partaking of the Lord’s Supper unworthily, and then let God will do the ‘policing’ (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). ... Paul describes a very carnal scene in Corinth in regard to partaking of the Lord’s Supper (divisions, heresies, selfishness, drunkenness, etc.), but not once does he name a name in regard to the problem, and tell them to be banned from the Lord’s Supper. Church leaders are never told to ‘police’ the Lord’s Supper -- that is clearly left to the Lord to do. The preacher is to warn the whole congregation as to the seriousness of the matter, and then it is to be left between the person and God. This is where the fear of the Lord must be preached, and then leave the matter with God. ... The church in question has a case in regard to removing the young lady from teaching a Sunday School class, but the church has no business saying that the girl cannot partake of the Lord’s Supper.”

“As far as the individual that thinks she should be disciplined after the fashion of 1 Corinthians 5 and she should not be allowed to take the Lord’s Supper, I DO NOT agree with that.”

“My suggestion is that the man who wants to impose church discipline pay for her schooling at another institution which would NOT require the wearing of pants.”

“My question is on what scripture is this prominent person basing that this fits the matter of church discipline? As a matter of fact, I am curious as to how other churches that practice discipline determine the criteria for such action beyond immorality, doctrinal heresy, or other blatant disobedience. Where does it get into secondary issues or preferences? I do believe in discipline. I am solidly fundamental and conservative, KJB, etc. But this matter of this young lady concerns me that there is a violation of the spirit of God’s Word in this area. We must remember the whole purpose of discipline is not what we do to get rid of those we do not like or who are trouble makers, but the goal is reconciliation.”

“First of all I Corinthians 5 is talking about fornicators that were rampant in Corinth and had gotten into the church. I believe Jesus condemned Pharisaistic attitudes as I’m afraid this dear brother has. ‘[Jesus] unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.’ It seems the dear brother has no compassion for her. ... If I run everyone that does not do as I say out of the church I would have to quit preaching and close the doors. Oh, how many souls would be lost because one of Christ’s churches strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel. Leave her alone and pray for her, and thank God for another witness at a college.”

“This attitude is what has driven many good people away from the church and even from the Lord. May God help us to realize there are many other problems to face that a young lady being force to wear pants. I dare say the man casting the stones at this young lady has issues in his life that someone could judge him for also.”

“It sounds like someone is making things harder than it needs to be for this young lady. Unfortunately, this type of behavior by mature Christians is just what Satan loves to instigate in trying to discourage young believers in being dedicated to their faith.”

“We are faced with this more now than ever. We have adopted the avenue of when an individual comes into our church, not blasting them or being brutal (I have known churches to be this way.) (Instead we have tried to get them close to another godly lady who builds a confidence in the person’s heart and then we do three things. First, we instruct as to why ladies need to dress modestly at God’s house and not just at God’s house but everywhere. Second, we purchase clothes for them if they have not the means to do so. Concerning the member who is influential and disagrees, approach him about purchasing her clothes. We have no right to condemn something we ourselves are not trying to correct. Third, we exercise patience to allow God to change people’s hearts. How many times I have witnessed this happening in our church and they have become great Christians and great members of our congregation.”

“She should attend the school suitably attired. If they remove her from school, that is their prerogative. By bowing to school rules contrary to biblical rules she is making decisions on how she lives.”

“Can the church help this girl with money to attend a school that will not undermine the standards of the girl or the church? Sure it will be a sacrifice but this may be what the church ought to do. We have tried helping people at times who even had some resources so that we could show in a positive way that we were for them and wanted to help them make the right decision. It sounds like this is a good girl who wants to do right. We ought to do all we can to help her. I believe there are options available to help and church discipline, which we practice and believe in, is too stringent in this case from the details that I have been given.”

“If the church has made a decision about the matter, this other ‘prominent person’ ought to submit to the leadership and leave it in God’s hands. This ‘prominent person’ seems to be in the wrong. Hebrews 13:17 Humbly submitted.”

“I believe that church discipline in this situation is going a little too far. I am a strong believer in church discipline but I also believe we had better be careful in our administration of it. As for the Lord’s Supper that young lady needs to be made aware of the danger of partaking with known sin in her life, but I don’t believe that the church can stop her from partaking.”

“I believe 1 Corinthians 5 type of discipline is reserved for false doctrine, immorality, or disorderly behavior. In my opinion, although I do not believe a woman ought to wear pants, the wearing of pants does not fit into either of those categories. The dismissal from the SS teaching position (a matter of Christian service standards as set by the local church) is sufficient discipline.”

“Church discipline in this matter is way out of bounds.”

“I would have the following questions for the fellow causing the disturbance. Is he ready to declare the wearing of pants by a girl to be equivalent to any sin in the list of heinous crimes cataloged in 1 Corinthians 5:11? I would ask the gentleman to provide a complete list of his convictions that would cause the censure of I Corinthians 5. Movie-theater attendance, card-playing, hair shorter than shoulder length on a lady or touching a man’s ears or collar? How about computer solitaire? Use of Nyquil? While we all hold our own convictions and standards, and all draw the line somewhere on each of these, with some room for disagreement on exactly where that line is, the lines drawn in Scripture are plain and clear and obvious to anyone who is honest with the text. Does the gentleman believe that if every member of his church were to make a list of their convictions, that he would be squeaky clean with no violations? Which convictions would rise to the level of a shunning offense, and which would be a matter of Christian liberty? And who gets to decide that? We are wise to stick with what the Scripture plainly says when it comes to a matter of church action.”

“It seems to me that bringing this girl before the church for discipline is overkill at the highest level. This young lady has been in Christ for three years. Praise the Lord for her growth, but when churches start making issues like this akin with blasphemy, heresy, and immorality, I think they have gone way overboard. And BTW, neither my wife nor my daughters wear pants. Don’t misunderstand me. I believe the issue of modest apparel is an important one. Is this good church going to bring every lady in the church that wear pants before the congregation? It just seems mighty extreme to me.”

“I am only an old grandma, but here is my reply. This is unbelievable! ... Keeping her from taking the Lord’s Supper sends a terrible message to the rest of her family.”

“If the church has standards then it is justified to not allow the young lady to teach but to bring her before the church in discipline is really ridiculous. I would suspect (with my thirty years as pastor of the church I founded) that the man wanting to do so needs to look into his own self and allow the Holy Spirit to make the decision; besides, this is the pastor's decision, anyhow.”

“I would tell the ‘prominent member’ in the church to mind his own business. 1Th 4:11 ‘And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.’”

“I would be in full agreement that if the church has modest clothing as a requirement for Sunday School teachers, the young lady has disqualified herself to remain as a teacher. She, of course, should be told in the spirit of love, complete with an explanation. I would be in total disagreement with the man in the church who wants her disciplined for this issue. As I understand the scriptures, church discipline is reserved for certain types of issues which bring great reproach on the individual and the church, if allowed to continue. This is also spelled out in 1 Corinthians 5:11. It is this type of attitude that gives our Fundamental, Independent, Baptist Churches a bad name, a name for harshness. While I strongly agree that church discipline is necessary within the parameters of the Scripture, the type of issue dealt with here would only create a ‘witch hunt’ within the church. Of course, I do not know the man in question, I would dare say that he may also struggle in some areas of his life as well. In the lesser issues, not covered in 1 Cor 5:11, mercy and prayer is often the answer. I am so thankful for the mercy of God in my life, as I often fail Him and come short of His glory. Lu 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Jas 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. Wisdom and discernment come from Christian growth. This young lady has not been saved very long and needs to be commended for the growth she has experienced and encouraged to continue to grow in the Lord.”

“Since she does not meet the standard, fine; don’t let her teach, but church discipline over that? I think is going a bit too far. Is she being immodest or seductive? We do not have a practice of wearing pants in our home but does this mean she is living in sin? I am all for separation and standards but this seems to be making mountain out of a mole hill sort of speaking. Does she need to be delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh? Or according to verse 13 is she really a wicked person because she is wearing trousers? I think it is simply going beyond the bounds of Scripture.”

“I feel this teenager girl needs guidance, love and understanding, not persecution. Compassion for our brethren should be paramount!”

“Since when do the beliefs of a ‘prominent person’ usurp the authority of the church? I understand about ‘prominent people’ and puffed-up arrogance and their willingness to wield their influence over God’s flock, but a church is not governed by an oligarchy. ... If she has agreed to ‘standards for workers’ and now cannot fulfill those, then she should not teach in a Bible Class/Sunday School, but Church Discipline...over pants???”

“The verse about causing a little one to stumble comes to mind. I spent seven years away from the Lord because I was judged harshly by people like him, when all I wanted was to serve and please the Lord.”

“It is the best example I have heard of transitioning from the ridiculous to the sublime. It is the epitome of legalism!”

“How many of us have sin in our lives?  Let him who is without sin amongst us cast the first stone.”

“The prominent member of the church should be shown the door not the girl.”

“Since when are a pants on women issue the criteria for partaking in the LORD’S supper? No, I'm not in favor of men's clothing on (Christian) women, including pants. My wife and two girls don’t own any pants. However, all new believers must be taught from the Word of God (i.e. The LORD) that women should maintain themselves as women, and not to wear that which pertaineth to a man. The (new)
believer must be dealt with in much patience, to say the least. The LORD I believe has ‘no problem’ molding a teachable Christian who is going to lovingly obey the LORD in all areas of life.”

“I think the prominent person in the church should be disciplined and not allowed to take the Lord's Supper for his harsh spirit until he repents. And by the way I don't feel pants are modest.”

“I would also suggest that the prominent person in the church that is seeking to have the young lady excluded from the Lord's Supper restore her by paying her way to school or organizing a joint effort to pay her way through school so that she would not need the scholarship and therefore not be obligated to follow the rule that he finds so offensive.”

“That she has been barred from teaching Sunday School seems sufficient a measure. In such a case as this, the men need not think they would compromise their zeal by exercising sweet moderation. ‘Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand’ (Philippians 4:5). W.E. Vines defines the word translated moderation thus: ‘equitable, fair, moderate, forbearing, not insisting on the letter of the law’; it expresses that considerateness that looks ‘humanely and reasonably at the facts of a case.’ May the Lord give us wisdom (James 3:17).”

“It seems to me that if she is saved then she is saved and she is well and truly in the Lord's will. The next step is to decide if we adopt the Regulative or the Normative principle of worship. If we are of the Regulative side then we will do as the Bible alone teaches. If of the normative -- well you can do what you want. 1 Corinthians 5 refers to fornication and this is not what the girl is about so she should not be judged from that perspective unless the person desiring it is wishing to persecute her. You can't do anything about her work commitments but she should not wear them at church if the church has a dress code. Perhaps enforce the dress code and ask her not to take Sunday school until she wears a skirt or whatever. As a born again Christian she has a perfect right to partake of communion and should NOT be refused because of something like this. Be careful that your molehill does not become mountainous and put you all in the shade. Do any or the other women wear lipstick, heavy makeup, have bright shiny jewelry, wear up to date fashion? Maybe they should be spoken to as well...”

“Woe to the one who by bitter harshness destroys her faith.”

“This teenager needs love to help her on her Christ walk and to cement a brick into her calling.”

“In all seriousness, this member should be approached by the pastor to back off. The pastor has an obligation to tend to the weak in his flock (if she is even truly a weak Christian. She seems to be coming to church for all the RIGHT reasons. This is not an issue to remove the girl over. It doesn’t sound like an obtuse girl or a girl in rebellion. Also, it sounds like the prominent member could be a thorn in the pastor’s side. I will be praying for the pastor. ... I cannot believe that Paul intended 1 Cor. 5 to be interpreted and used in the case as you described it. She is a fornicator? ... Someone ought to follow the prominent man around like a hawk and scrutinize his every move. Scan his computer drive! The man beating this drum, as described is probably guilty of one of the sins listed in 1 Cor. 5. I would spend my time analyzing his life. Some people will never be happy unless they can execute judgment. How about, since it is a sensitive/serious issue, pray and allow the Lord to work in the girl’s heart about the whole thing? How about the prominent member exercise FAITH that God can fix whatever may ail the young girl. I realize all cannot be fixed in this manner, but I have pastored long enough to realize that some things the Lord is better at handling without some folks’ personal involvement. My final vote is to vote out the prominent member!”

“I'm all for the girls and women not wearing pants. My wife and our girls don’t wear pants at all, and our church knows our stand, but on the other hand I’m not going to stop them from coming. I will let God deal with them (I just preach the word). As far as the Lord’s Supper I think that is taking it too far. ...This is a big delicate concern. You don’t want to lose her, and at the same time we have to keep the standards high.”

“In my opinion this is a difficult case because we do want to maintain Biblical dress standards in a world that is always working against Biblical values. I think the church discipline already implemented in removing her from her S.S. class is as strong of an action as should be taken.  The opinion of the man who wants to keep her from the Lord’s Supper is, I think, unwise & uncharitable.  I think this church should stand with the girl as she attends school by lovingly caring to see her grow in grace.  A spiritual lady in the church should become a very close friend to her.  That would be very important. If there is no sign of rebellion in this girl, I would stand with her as she goes through her education experience.  If there is a rebellious spirit present, she may well be lost to the world and her new opportunities for an education. Obviously, standards that are based on the word of God are very important.   But love, grace, and mercy are also important to be exercised by those in authority when there is a genuine desire in a young believer to walk pleasing to God. May God help this church to be led by the Spirit in all aspects of God’s Word.”

“She’s caught in a battle between standards, those of the school and those of the church. Either way she decides to go, it makes things difficult for her. If they side with the ‘prominent person’ simply because of his status, they've blown it because of their failure to heed James 2:1-4. Brother Cloud says that man is prominent, but does not say he is spiritual. Even a marginal Christian could try to force such an issue. He does however say that the girl’s growing in the Lord and faithful to the services, including prayer meeting. It seems they're at risk of causing her to stagnate in her faith rather than continue growth. And being they say that her wearing pants is a part of the school dress code, and not her disregard of Christian church standards (it says nothing of her wearing pants to the services, or while teaching Sunday School), I believe they've caused more harm than good. That prominent member used 1 Corinthians 5 as his justification for seeing her disciplined. Yet in that chapter, Paul writes of sins of rebellion. Verse 13 tells us, ‘But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.’ I hardly see her as wicked. When the writer notes the school’s standards are ‘loose pants,’ it’s my belief he’s noting pants that may be baggy, not those that are form-fitting, taking away from her modesty. Nor am I led to believe that they’re low, showing anything they should not. Surely we must be of good testimony among those that are unsaved to have them see Christ in us. Likewise, also show that same testimony among the saved, lest we cause someone to stumble. But to force her to wear something not beyond the pale of decent clothing while not in a church setting seems at best dictatorial, not something that would be helpful to the young lady, nor to the other members of the church.”

“It is a classic example of ‘straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.’ The ‘prominent person’ sounds like Diotrephes of III John 9 & 10.”

“It seems to me that the brother who would enact further discipline is the kind who would bring the world’s accusatory of ‘self-righteous Christian’ upon all our heads.”

“There were prominent people in Christ's time called Pharisees whom Christ dealt harshly with because their heart was not right. Outwardly they looked the part but inwardly they were full of dead bones, Matt 23. Discipline done right with a heart of love seeks to draw back a person, not to destroy or run off from our membership or flock. In dealing with this problem, try to mimic Christ and how he worked with patience John 8: 3-11, not the attitude of Pharisees.”

“Sounds like Diothrepes to me. Church discipline is surely not for these infractions of dress. What does the Pharisee’s wife or daughters wear when not at church? ... Thanks for listening to my rant. I’ve been preaching for almost 40 years and these things surely gripe me.”

“I would almost say that the prominent person if not careful could be brought up for church discipline for causing discord among the brethren. I think perhaps the key problem is the ‘prominent person.’”

“If the man is the only dissenting voice in the assembly, this needs to be pointed out to him as well, along with Scripture that speaks of the danger of schismatic and divisive persons within the body. Maybe he is the one that needs to be disciplined. Finally, maybe someone can suggest that this ‘prominent’ man undertake to finance the destitute young lady’s secondary education in its entirety at another institution more to his preference.”

“With reference to the Lord’s supper, 1 Corinthians 11:28 reads, ‘But let a man examine HIMSELF, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.’ We are told by scripture to judge ourselves, and we can infer from this verse that we should not be a judge of others when it comes to the Lord’s supper. That prominent person has no liberty to judge or determine the girl’s eligibility or ineligibility to partake of the Lord’s supper. Let’s hypothetically turn the tables and, say, the Lord decides to publicly reveal every thought from the heart of that man on a large screen in his church. If that man were totally honest, I’m pretty sure he would judge and disqualify himself from taking part in the Lord’s supper, too. Matthew 7:3, ‘And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?’”

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