Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy profession of the gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the church, if they should suffer his covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders. Westminster Confession of Faith, Article 30, Chapter 3.
Few would argue against the idea that the church in America sits under the wrath of God. It is not as bad as it could be. But it is worse than it was and getting worse day by day. Sins which would make our reformed fathers blush are now common place and justified, such as easy divorce. Theological ideas are usually pliable. Men and women sit it pews week after week with blood on their hands, porn in their pockets, and rebellion in their hearts. And pastors refuse to address it. They refuse to call them to repentance. Maybe they are big tithers. Maybe they are important people in the community. Or maybe the pastor is afraid of making the alpha-woman in the congregation mad. Whatever the reason, the church sits under the wrath of God because pastors and elders refuse to use the keys of the kingdom.
Long ago I did not understand the importance of excommunication. But as we look out on the powerless church in America and I read this section of the WCF I see its value. Excommunication is a sign that we care about God’s glory and God’s people. Our refusal to kick unrepentant men and women out of our churches is not a sign of our love for them. It is a sign of our hatred of God. He will not be mocked. Therefore His wrath is kindled. If churches want spiritual power in our communities then we might begin by kicking out those who blatantly disregard the commands of God. Until we do this, all our claims to love God, his Word, and his people are empty.