Internet Monk on Church discipline
He has good thoughts on Matthew 18...
So what we have here is a very grace and forgiveness filled chapter. It is not a chapter filled with the duty of elders to root out errors and go looking for reasons to accuse. It is not about seeking the purity of the church but about recalling that we all are lost sheep, little children with limited understanding and bankrupt sinners treated with amazing grace.He contends that the process is optional. I think this is in agreement with the concept of love covering a multitude of sins.
Now, things get interesting. If the brother refuses to acknowledge the sin, a second option appears that does involve the church community. I do not believe it is compulsory. I believe it is up to the individual to take the following two steps, but IF both are part of a church that has openly established a community standard of relationships based on this principle, then it should be no surprise when a second conversation occurs, this time involving two other brothers....Discipline is an act of love. Just as we consider parents who refuse to guide their children as unfit parents, what of a church that won't guide their brothers and sisters?
This makes it clear that the church has a stake in restoration and reconciliation prior to anything that excludes. Reconciliation is an aspect of the Gospel that is proclaimed and offered by Christians to the world and to one another.
Church discipline in I Corinthians seems to be about a failure of a church to understand grace. Grace loves so unconditionally that it will not abandon a person to his own rebellion and waywardness without a fight. If my son had drugs in his room, and I knew it and said, “That’s OK. It’s normal,” I would be failing to be loving and gracious, something God never fails to do. So Paul is angry that the church has presented God as one who cares so little about whether someone lives in the enjoyment of his grace that he approves of an incestuous relationship. This is a scandal of a higher order than a sexual scandal. It’s the scandal of cheap grace.