Brylcreem (pronounced “brill-cream”) was a men’s hair grooming product that was huge in the early and mid 20th century. The product produced a wet look (picture Elvis in the 1950’s) that was popular until the early 60’s when longer, shaggier, dry hair became popular. Brylcreem was basically a combination of water, mineral oil and beeswax. One of their product claims, in differentiating themselves from their competition, was that a man did not need to use much of the product to achieve the desired results. Their marketing jingle that played on television and radio went like this:
“Brylcreem, a little dab’ll do ya. Use more, but only if you dare. But watch out, the gals will all pursue ya. They’ll love to run their fingers through your hair.”
The apostle Paul tells us about “a little dab” doing much. In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul is teaching the young church in Corinth about a major issues they had failed to address, and needed to remedy. Paul’s concern was that the issue at hand would spread throughout the church in an almost irreversible manner. To make his point, he uses an analogy of leaven, or yeast, saying that a little bit of it will affect a whole lump of dough.
And what was the leaven that Paul was warning the Corinthian church about? Sexual immorality. But he was not warning about its presence in the culture around the church, he was specifically warning about its presence WITHIN the church. And the particular sexual immorality Paul had been made aware of was of a kind and nature that even the pagans did not tolerate, specifically, a man in the church was sexually immoral with his father’s wife. Even today, there is a disparaging profanity that describes this form of sexual immorality.
Sexual immorality is a term that, for me at least, encompasses a wide range of human sexual behavior. Thankfully, the one identified by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 is probably a more uncommon one. But my understanding of scripture suggests that ANY sexual contact that occurs outside the boundaries of a covenental marriage relationship between one man and one woman, would be properly classified as “sexually immoral.” And sexual activity includes vaginal, anal and oral, in spite of the attempted redefinition of the latter by William Jefferson Clinton. So, pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, friends with benefits, incest, bestiality, and homosexuality all fit under the umbrella of “sexual immorality.” And using that as the guide, I think it is fair to say that there is a presence of sexual immorality in our culture, and unfortunately, it is also present IN THE CHURCH!
The “leaven is already in the lump” in several of the major denominations of the Christian church in the United States. And there is at least the appearance that little if anything is being done to comply with Paul’s instructions on what do do about it. And what exactly are Paul’s instructions? To not associate with anyone in the church who is sexually immoral, and to PURGE the evil (person) from among you.” Harsh? Yeah, I suppose it is. But the health of the church, the body of Christ, depends on this sort of drastic action. (Now, lest anyone think we are to abandon the sinner, that is not the case. In Galatians 6, Paul teaches that those who are spiritual should seek to restore him/her.)
Yes, the leaven is in the lump. The ordination of Gene Robinson, an openly homosexual man, to the office of Bishop has rendered the Episcopal Church, apostate. The Presbyterian Church (USA) continues to wrestle with its own ordination standards year after year after year. Thankfully, they have maintained a scriptural view of the qualifications for ministry, but the fact that they have not purged from their fellowship those who seek ordination (which by definition means they are members) and who do not cling to the so-called “fidelity and chastity” standards for the office of teaching elder found in their Book of Order, suggests that they too are apostate. The United Methodist Church also continues to wrestle with matters of authority relative to the conduct of same-sex unions of its members, by its clergy. The fact that this continues to be a topic of conversation suggests that this church too is falling away through its failure to comply with Paul’s clear instructions on how to deal with the matter of sexual immorality.
Just further reason why I am at peace with my self-description as being “anti-denominational.”