Sunday, September 16, 2012Shunning is not just a word; it's an act!
Shunning is an act of social or mental rejection. We think of the Amish or the Mennonites when we think of this being done in a religious setting. But it can and does happen in many churches and in many secular worlds. The Amish call is "meidung", the German word for avoidance.
There are two Scriptures which may or may not be used in adopting such harsh psychological measures against another: l Corinthians 5:11-13 and Matthew 18:15-17. The Scripture in Matthew talks about going to your errant brother, and exhorting him to do differently and it adds: "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector."
This Scripture can and is widely debated as to whether that person should be forced to live as an outcast from then on. Most of us take the attitude that "There but for the grace of God go I." and we feel a stronger commitment to the one who has sinned. We don't shun them; we try to embrace the sinner and deal with the sin. And we hope that people will do the same when we make our awful mistakes.
But shunning controversies and experiences go on. In Cleveland, Ohio, a trial is going on right now for a group of Amish and its leader, Sam Mullet, Sr., who sought revenge against the bishops for overruling his authority and played this out by attacking the "faithful" and cutting their beards. Authorities have deemed it a "hate crime" and if convicted, the men who did this will face long prison terms.
I think they have termed it rightly. Shunning someone is an act of hate; no matter if the cirecumstances or dire or if they involve a social discrimination with no reference to religion. The act of shunning another is insidious.