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Expository Bans

6 September 2008

Last Sunday in my sermon on jealousy, I read a news account from an Australian newspaper about the depths to which jealousy can drive someone.  image

Aug 26- Jealous Man Beheaded Lover with Roo Knife

(Sydney) An Australian man who stuffed his partner’s body in a freezer after beheading her with a kangaroo knife was relieved she had not "jumped around like a [chicken]”, an inquest was told this week. Northern Territory Coroner Greg Cavanagh said the relationship had been tainted by drinking and Wayne Walker’s jealousy.

The pair started fighting on February 8 after Jacqueline Morrison skinny-dipped in a friend’s pool. Sometime the following night, Mr. Walker punched Ms. Morrison’s face, fracturing the left orbit of her eye.

"Their relationship which was characterized by "volatile verbal arguments" was adversely affected by high alcohol abuse by both parties and also extreme jealousy and possessiveness by Mr. Walker," he said.

I don’t know why I have always felt it is important that the church is the place to be brutally honest.  I have displeased many people because I will lay out the way (I believe) that life is.  My perspective has been that sin has consequences that are not pretty. And when we flirt with sin it takes us down a road where we cannot usually chose the outcome. 

But I, again, had an upset parent.  Someone who did not believe that his middle-school children should be exposed to such gore at church.   (I had also used three other examples of jealousy (Simon Cowell’s jealousy of Ryan Seacrest; a recent book claiming that Aristotle Onasis ordered Robert Kennedy assassinated because Bobby refused to let Jackie Kennedy marry Onasis.  Onasis’ jealousy, it is postulated, resulted in the death of FRK; and last, Clemson University football teams struggle against inter-team jealousy)

But this Australian example was the last.  This parent did not think that his children should be exposed to such reality.  I agreed with him that the illustration could have been toned down to make it less sensationalistic [especially his relief that she hadn’t "jumped around like a [chicken], but defended that the illustration itself was appropriate. 

This was brought to mind as I continued reading in Zach Eswine’s, Preaching to a Post Everything World.  "Expository bans" are

those aspects of reality that we tend to avoid or that are culturally forbidden to mention from the pulpit.  Sexuality, emotions, famines, joys, tsunamis, celebrations, dreams, promotions, murders, crime victims, cancer survivors and injustice are part of everyday life, but we avoid them. 

I had the privilege of reading the Bible for a dear friend’s wedding.  The passage I was assigned to read was Genesis 2:18-25, which begins, "Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone."  Verse 24 says, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."  What is interesting is that the church leadership requested that I stop at verse 24 and nor read verse 25, for proprietary reasons.  What does verse 25 say?  "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." It was felt that reading the verse about unashamed nakedness would not be appropriate.

Perhaps a pastoral concern beyond my knowledge led the leadership team to make this request.  My point is the request for a ban was made.  Sometimes preacher intentionally ban portions of reality from the pulpit.  At other times we are blind to the Contexts of Reality that we habitually leave unaddressed by our ministry of the Word.  Others are required to ban certain aspects of reality from their preaching due to congregational sensibilities.  One thing is certain about all of this.  Identify those areas of reality that a preacher does not talk about and you will discover those spheres of reality that people are daily trying to navigate without the light of God’s Word.  (emphasis mine)

I think that that last statement is really important.  Can you think of examples of expository bans that you have seen established?  What do you think of them?  Helpful?  Necessary? 

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