Here’s a situation that could get very interesting in the near future.
Rebecca Hancock is a 49-year-old divorcee and former member of Grace Community Church in Jacksonville, FL. She and her boyfriend have been together for some time now and – as you might expect from consenting adults – the two have become sexually involved.
Apparently the nature of her relationship with her boyfriend became a real bone of contention with others in the church. She felt so harassed by the congregation over it that she recently left the church. She said that felt like she was being “run out” for being “the church harlot.”
But the story doesn’t end there.
Despite leaving the congregation and now attending another fellowship, the elders of Grace Community Church sent her a letter informing her that they have “no other choice” but to “tell it to the church.'” They intend to air her dirty laundry to the congregation on January 4th.
Granted, there are very few details available about the history of this conflict. We don’t know what the elders have done previous to this to try to address her behavior in accordance with the teaching of Scripture. And if she is defiant and unrepentant regarding the sexual nature of her relationship to her boyfriend, there is cause for correction and rebuke.
But I can’t help but feel like the church has over-reached its jurisdiction by threatening to publicly air the “sins” of a former member. It would seem to me that if there were a need for discipline her removal from the fellowship should have satisfied it – even if it was her decision to leave.
I also wonder … If the church does make good on their threat to air the dirty laundry of a former member, have they then paved the way for a very winnable harassment or libel case to be brought against them?