Catacomb Resident Blog

Grounds for Exclusion

21 May 2022

Under the Covenant, racism is not an issue.

The first churches were simply extended family households; they were clans. Given all the first believers were Jews, it wasn't too hard. Eventually Samaritans were included, and the ancient animosities were replaced with simple cultural distance -- which wasn't much. When Gentiles became welcomed into the Covenant of Christ, it took a while for Jewish believers to get it right. Yes, it was racism, a holdover from non-covenant religion taught by Pharisees.

However, there is nothing in the Bible that hinders you from being guarded against outsiders. A major element we learn from the Tower of Babel narrative is that God commands us to live in small tribal enclaves, developing our own cultural milieu based on the context, including the people involved. The idea is that each tribe will grow their own culture, and folks with a different culture are not family.

Today, you would expect that this requires an awful lot of work withdrawing from the secular culture around you. You would strive to engage less in public contact and pull it all inward to private. There are all kinds of factors involved, and your convictions are your guide. But the idea is that you would end up with your own interpretive covenant, a way of addressing your context to point back to the Covenant we all share.

This is necessary, because it becomes the grounds of justified exclusion. You cannot allow people to join the family who are going to tear it apart with their own cultural biases. They must fit into the existing cultural flavor. That's a part of how we gain shalom. Yes, peace with God means drawing boundaries that exclude others.

The ostensible point is not so you can call someone else a filthy pagan, but so you can make it clear why they aren't family. They may be an ally, but without a distinction, you are fumbling your shalom and missing a critical element of God's Law: We must disperse culturally, too. It's only natural that your culture would reflect your adaptation to the context. Things that work fine in one context will be a threat to life in another. The whole point of embracing Noah's Covenant as your ostensible law code is that it leaves lots of room for natural variations.

No earthly power, nor all of them together, has sufficient authority to override God's Law. No one can force your private family household to admit people who are a threat to your established community covenant. Diversity is not good; it's almost always a sin. Anyone coming in to join must adapt to what's already there. Once they prove their worth to the community shalom, then they have standing to suggest flexibility in some specifics.

The community senior elder has a lot to say about it. Elders are for life, barring their own voluntary choice to pass the baton. Your covenant elder is your covering. If you dispute with them too much or too vigorously, it's you who needs to leave. If you are so certain God desires a change they don't accept, you'll have to realize that God does not sponsor contention and conflict within a given covenant community.

If you are so certain your chief elder is mistaken, then move on to join another community, or form your own. There is no place for attempting to leverage external authorities to get your way. We all know how the world outside the Covenant works; leave that crap outside. Given our current context, it's highly likely that most of us will be pursuing Covenant faith in isolation from a covenant community, but you still must have a covenant.

And you end up excluding folks from any kind of close friendship only on the grounds that they do not embrace your covenant. It won't matter a whit what others imagine are the reasons for exclusion; you need only state the truth. After that, let them see and judge for themselves. If the Lord doesn't work in their hearts, it won't matter what they think about it.

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