This week’s Torah Portion is Parashat Kedoshim (Holy ones) Leviticus 19:1-20:27.
In this week’s Torah portion, idolatry is a major issue. HaShem warns of the serious offense of offering a child to Molech, a pagan false god. One who is caught committing such a heinous sin is to receive the death penalty. Naturally, this punishment was administered by stoning. Who is called to administer this stoning? The answer is the people of his community. In Chapter 20 and verse 4, one reads about what will be the response if this community fails to carry out the death sentence.
In this instance, not only is the man punished, but so also is his family. In fact the verse states,
“And if the people of the land ignore with their eyes from that man, when he gives his offspring to Molech, not putting him to death, I will place My face against that man and against his family and I will cut him off and all who stray after him to commit harlotry after Molech from the midst of their people.” Leviticus 20:4-5
It is important to notice that when the community responded correctly, only the man was punished; but when the community ignored this sin, both his family and others who followed in this wickedness were also punished by HaShem. Why is this? The answer is that when a community ignores sin, then the individual will have an influence on those around him, first his family and then others; and in the end the spiritual condition of the community suffers significantly more.
Today, there is an epidemic within many believing communities. What is this epidemic? It is that sin is not dealt with like the serious matter that it is. It is not a coincidence that in this same section of chapter 20 (see verses 9-21) additional grievous sins are mentioned. When one commits a sin, it is truly sad. G-d is gracious, the blood of Messiah cleanses and there is of course forgiveness available for the believer. This is the power and the great blessing of the New Covenant ratified with Yeshua’s blood. Often the term “restoration” is used in dealing with the truly repentant sinner.
It is most significant that one understands the implications of the use of the term— restoration. Perhaps an additional word is necessary to help one properly comprehend the intent of the use of restoration. This word would be reconciliation. Let’s consider an example to assist us in reaching the proper conclusion.
If a spiritual leader should fall into a sin such as adultery, the community should take the following actions.
1. Bring this leader to repentance. It is only after he acknowledges his sin and seeks forgiveness from those whom he has offended, can the process of restoration begin.
2. The community needs to pray and act in all ways possible to help facilitate reconciliation between the leader and his wife, children and other family members.
3. The community itself needs to heal from this betrayal.
4. Here is the most frequent error that is made. Never, and I mean never, should the community attempt to restore this man to his former position of leadership. Many may hear this and feel that I am limiting the grace and power of G-d to bring about full restoration. I am not!
When the community has as its goal the restoration of their fallen leader, it places unfair pressure upon the wife and children to get on board with the restoration; and if it should take much longer for the wife to heal than it takes for the community to heal, then she is often viewed as unforgiving and lacking in her spirituality. This of course is a false perception concerning the wife.
Recently I read with deep sadness of a Christian pastor who failed morally, and only a few days had passed when members of this church were stating they looked forward to the pastor’s “restoration” and what G-d was going to teach him to share with them about this incident. Let me state something that may offend some, but when one commits adultery there should not be placed upon the offended spouse any assumption of reconciliation. According to the Law, the one who has committed adultery is to be stoned. Ladies and gentleman, Yeshua did not change the seriousness of this sin. Nor did He say the punishment is not warranted. Rather Yeshua said, “The one who is without sin cast the first stone.” I am certainly not without sins. I think every man can say in regard to this sin, “That if it were not for the grace of G-d, there goes I.”
The offended spouse may need significant time for healing. My concern is that the church is ready for things to go back to how they were way too quickly. (Personally I do not think that a man who has committed adultery should lead a congregation.) I realize many disagree with me, but let me be most clear in regard to my previous statement— never should one be returned to the same pulpit.
The family needs time to heal without any consideration of a so called “restoration”. This issue is so important and needs to be handled with love, compassion, and forgiveness. But please remember, the one who needs the greatest amount of prayer, grace, and love is the offended spouse. Failure to acknowledge this in both word and deed will actually hinder the family from truly experiencing a Godly reconciliation. The last thing, in fact, that the congregation should ever consider is returning the offender to the pulpit.