If you haven’t read the previous posts and the subsequent comments, this will probably make no sense. You’ve been warned! 🙂
I’m not sure if my Dad’s going to comment again or not, since it’s been several days now. And I haven’t come across any other members of the Church of Christ that want to comment either. So as an ex-member, I’ll try to stand in a little and give you an idea of where they’re coming from.
As has been mentioned already, much of the teaching on withdrawal comes from 1 Cor 5 and 2 Thess 3. There are some ancillary passages as well, but these two are the main ones. To be clear, a strict reading of these passages does teach the idea of withdrawing from members who have stepped beyond the way a Christian should live and behave. And as my Dad’s already pointed out, there are at least 3 reasons for doing this: 1) the Bible commands it, 2) it removes a “bad apple” from the congregation, and 3) it should show the erring member where he’s wrong so he can repent.
So I do want to be clear that I don’t think my Dad is completely off the mark. In his defense, most times I’ve seen withdrawal implemented, it’s been toward people who still considered themselves Christians to some degree or another. In other words, withdrawal actually had a chance of working in those situations.
However, the situation with me and my wife is different in that we stopped believing Christianity altogether, and the Bible simply doesn’t give instruction for those kinds of situations. And when it does talk about those who are non-believers, it says NOT to withdraw from them. So that’s the point that I hope he’ll address. Again, people (at least in my area of the world) don’t typically leave Christianity completely, so this is uncharted territory for my family — I’m not surprised that they thought withdrawal was the proper response. But I think a closer examination of the New Testament shows that it’s been misapplied, and I really hope they’ll consider that.
I’m not naive enough to think this would solve all our problems — being around one another would still be tense at times. After all, we no longer share what used to be the most important thing in our lives. But I do think we could get back to a good relationship that we’d all enjoy, even if it’s tempered by some bittersweet nostalgia.
Thanks again to all of you for your comments and your interest. I hope these posts haven’t gotten you down! My wife and I (and our kids) are truly in a great place right now. 🙂