By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved
Revisiting an issue I’ve written about previously, there is a great analogy that gives a good picture of what is happening when abuse victims leave the church.
Everyone knows that a landlord can evict a tenant for a variety of reasons. If the tenant persists in non-payment of the rent, violates the terms of the rental contract, destroys the property or engages in illegal behavior on the premises the landlord is legally allowed to evict the tenant.
This landlord right and process of eviction is analogous to the church’s right and process to remove someone from fellowship for persistent, unrepentant egregious sin.
Another appropriate analogy here, is that there are limits to the reasons for which a landlord may evict a tenant, and there is a legal process that must be followed. In the same way, churches do not have a Biblical right to evict a member for just any reason – like speaking up against unbiblical practices, resisting ungodly authority, not giving enough or serving enough, etc. The Word has a specific list of things for which church discipline is appropriate.
There is also a Biblical process for accomplishing a church “eviction.” The pastor or elders cannot just call someone in the office and pressure them out of the church or kick them out. Matthew 18 outlines a very specific series of events which must be followed – without twisting the concept to serve the objectives of the human leadership.
However, there is another type of eviction in the world of landlords and tenants. It is called constructive eviction. When a landlord fails to maintain the property to the point that life, limb or health are endangered, a tenant may abandon the property without financial penalty or process of “giving notice.”
The church is constructively evicting abuse victims and other members who don’t “walk the line.” The church has made itself so toxic to these people that their spiritual, mental and emotional well-being are endangered by the church. Church leadership maintains innocent bewilderment about the reasons for the steady stream of people disappearing. But instead of assuming this absence can be attributed to “normal” attrition, the church needs to look closer and find out why there is a common theme to the reasons these people are leaving.
Chalking the disappearance of an entire block of Christianity up to attrition and back-sliding is foolish and short-sighted. The numbers will only get bigger and the voices of protest louder. Can the leadership of churches receive correction? Those who would be willing to learn would find their church life radically empowered – because the answers to the problem will change everything. And people are hungry for a church body that actually lives and practices a Biblical model of life in Christ.