In the fifth chapter of St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, the great missionary apostle does something that is a little bit taboo these days: shaming. “You are inflated with pride,” he says, “should you not rather have been sorrowful?” And he adds “your boasting is not appropriate.” And who, in fact, is he shaming? Not any one individual in particular, but, in fact, the entire Corinthian church. An individual had committed a shameful act of sexual immorality, something that was an insult to the institution of marriage, but the Corinthians did not condemn him. Who knows why? Perhaps they were still growing in their understanding of Christian sexuality. Perhaps they were still under the influence of non-Christian habits.
St. Paul’s response is far from non-judgmental. “I, for my part,” he says, “although absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as if present, pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus.” He encourages the Corinthians to punish the offender, to deepen their understanding of Christian marriage, and not to rejoice in offenses against marriage but to be sorrowful. Perhaps he would encourage you to do the same thing today.