5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (ESV)
Now Paul begins to get to some concrete things that are causing problems in the congregation. There is sexual immorality. It needs to stop. This is any sort of sexual relationship outside of marriage.
God made marriage. He meant for men and women to come together and share their lives with one another, to become one flesh with one another. He didn’t mean for women to be raped, and passed from customer to customer on the street corner, or abused on film, by men who view themselves as nothing but dogs. He gave men and women the capacity for love and means for it to be shared in a sexual relationship between men and women. Outside of the commitment to love and care for one another, to support and cherish each other as gifts of God, outside of that sex is sexual immorality. But where there is that there is a marriage whether or not there is a certificate from a church or government. Most marriage ceremonies a pastor does today is the blessing of a marriage that has already occurred. Of course, that marriage can only happen between a man and a woman. What ever the state wants to call the relationship between two men or two women or what have you, it is not a marriage and it cannot and will not receive God’s blessing even if a Balaam has been hired for the ceremony.
In this case we have a man who has taken his father’s wife. Evidently they are living together as husband and wife. Not even the pagans would tolerate such a thing. It is an insult to the father. The kind of insult that Absalom meant to give to his father by entering his concubines, which was really the same thing as a wife. (Often, the only difference between a wife and concubine was the status she came into the marriage from, whether she had a dowry or not).
A person scratches his head. There aren’t many details given in the letter as to how the relationship happened. They don’t matter. There isn’t any argument that can be made for letting it remain. They may or may not have “loved” each other. They may have been doing it out of spite to the father, (it seems that had to play some role in the whole matter.) Paul says no. Turn the man over to Satan.
And that is weighty. Give the man over to Satan was Paul’s way of saying excommunicate the man. You either belong to Christ or you belong to Satan. If you are in the church you are Christ’s. If not you belong to Satan. I think we should use that terminology when we are debating excommunication procedures. Let it sink in as to what is really happening. I’m sickened to my stomach when I hear of this stuff happening over lack of church attendance, or a myriad of other things that weren’t acceptable for good a proper folks in the 1950s or whenever it was. It could be that the people have excommunicated themselves for a while and just haven’t come. But the whole point is repentance. The idea is to bring the man or woman to repentance. And that is not going to happen when it is people just not caring or being frustrated with a perceived lack of progress in another person’s life when they should be concentrating on theirs. Our Lord is slow to anger, and we should be too. We ought to really sit and think about whether or not we truly want repentance from this person and if what we are doing is going to bring it about or not. Christ died for them, even as he died for you.