Tough love. Who wants it!? Who doesn’t prefer cushy love, or chocolate and rose-petaled love, or even beatific vision love!
Western culture doesn’t seem to understand tough love. Love today means unconditional acceptance. If you love me with conditions, you don’t love me. You’re judgmental and intolerant.
God knows better. He knows we’re finite and fallen. Therefore, his love challenges us at the very points of our finitude and fallenness for our good, and that’s not comfortable.
Church discipline is just such an uncomfortable act of tough love, which is why 9Marks would like to spend two issues of the eJournal considering this important topic. In this issue, Wyman Richardson and Greg Wills help us to count the cost of practicing or not practicing church discipline. Ken Sande offers some legal counsel. And Kevin DeYoung, a pastor in mainline Protestant land, offers words of warning to evangelical land, a land where tough love increasingly has to shout to be heard.
In case you are new to the topic of church discipline, I offer a primer and review three good books on the subject. Also, check out Bobby Jamieson’s user’s guide to the intimidating but inimitable Polity volume.
When asked what she learned from 1 Corinthians 13, my three year old daughter said, “Love is patient, love is kind. Love is huggy and kissy.” Yes, she is a darling. But I must ask, shouldn’t we expect deeper sentiments from our church’s leaders?