I go to the United Church and it's a funny place. It's all about inclusiveness and political correctness in some bizarre combination. I go because it's progressive, not because of its sometimes-strange theology.
So the question is: what would it take to be excommunicated from the (a) United Church?
Of course, if you go to prison or something, you won't need to be excommunicated. So you'd need some way to be such an awful congregant without breaking any laws to prompt the elders or board of the church into actually excommunicating someone?
Mostly this is a question designed to generate hilarity just by exploring possible answers.
Interesting paradox: Are you saying that because the United Church is so inclusive and politically correct that they will not excommunicate a criminal, but forgive her and continue to welcome her to the Church (for show or a genuine practice of values?), yet will excommunicate someone who does something that is not terrible enough to be considered a crime, but bad enough for the Church to excommunicate them? We must find this tiny narrow strip of gray area and challenge it to see if we are right!!
I'm glad you asked; it's actually a bit different than that. I'm saying "is there any possible thing someone could do that would get them excommunicated from the United Church."
If someone did something criminal, they'd go to jail, so they wouldn't need to be excommunicated. Is there any situation where someone would be rightfully excommunicated from the United Church? Or would we just let it tear apart the congregation in question?
I think many in the congregation would fight against excommunication in the name of forgiveness. I feel that there are enough critically thinking people in the United Church to question what God would want done and to (reluctantly) reach the conclusion that excommunication would not be the answer.
I don't think a problem would rip apart a congregation though. No matter how politically correct United Churches strive to be (or appear) there are many, many people who are petty and will exclude rather than open the dialogue and challenge themselves.
Yeah! But if you're only every going to forgive people, you'll never be showing tough love to someone. If someone is being petty and excluding people, how long are you going to forgive them before you excommunicate them? Never?
The question is whether anyone would ever be rightfully excommunicated. Paul has instructions on making sure people are excommunicated from the early church before people can lead others into sin and I think it applies today... but would it ever happen? I view willingness to excommunicate as a sign of strength, to a degree.
I only ever hear breathless stories of how people were excommunicated for stupid reasons in the USA... but we never hear the side of the excommunicators or if they might have had a thoughtful, prayerful approach that tried to do right by both the excommunicated person and the whole church congregation.
And that leaves the question: what could someone do that would have them excommunicated from the United Church? Anything? Or would the church just roll over and be torn to pieces? ?