Believe it or not, one of our most controversial songs has turned out to be Expel the Immoral Brother. This is surprising to me because the lyrics are taken straight from Scripture:
Do not associate with anyone
that claims to be a brother or sister
Yet carries on like a pagan 1 Corinthians 5:11
A kind even they wouldn’t tolerate 1 Corinthians 5:1
Expel the Immoral brother
Cast them out from among you 1 Corinthians 5:13
The greedy and the fornicator
the drunkard and the swindler
the idolator and reviler
Do not even eat with such a one
Who am I to judge those outside the church?
Is it not those inside you are to judge? 1 Corinthians 5:12
God judges those outside
Purge the evil person from among you 1 Corinthians 5:13
Deliver such a one unto Satan
For the destruction of the flesh
that his spirit may be saved
in the day of the Lord Jesus 1 Corinthians 5:5
This isn’t one or two verses taken out of context, either- I believe the entire chapter is well represented (here it is for reference).
We wrote this song to address a few issues in the Church:
Have you ever heard a Christian say “you’re not supposed to judge anyone” or “only God can judge me”? I’ve personally heard it many times, and according to the Bible, it’s flat out wrong. There is a time for Christians to judge those inside the Church. Yes, there’s a right and wrong way to go about it, and the Bible lays out who should do it (Galatians 6:1), why (1 Corinthians 5:5), what motives and attitude we should have (James 5:19-20, Galatians 6:1, 2 Thessalonians 3:15), the process (Matthew 18:15-20, Titus 3:10-11), and even a list of sinful conditions that qualify (1 Corinthians 5:11, Titus 3:10). Sadly I don’t think it’s possible to fit every nuance in a two and a half minute punk song, and it would take an entire book to cover the topic comprehensively. The general idea should be pretty clear, however- if someone in your church calls themselves a Christian and yet lives a hypocritical and sinful life even according to pagans, refusing to repent after being patiently and lovingly confronted, they should be thrown out for everyones good! Similarly, if you have a friend in the same situation, unrepentant after you rebuke and plead with them, you shouldn’t even eat with such a person. The Church would be much healthier today if we understood and practiced this.
Secondly, it’s important to understand that Christians are not to judge those outside the Church. All too often we’ll judge non-Christians by our own standards as Christians, and they are correct when they reply “only God can judge me.” He most certainly will one day! Yet we shouldn’t be surprised when they act like we once did before Christ saved us.
I would feel just as comfortable playing this song in a bar as I would in a Church. What non-Christian wouldn’t cheer at the idea of the Church dealing with the hypocrites in it’s own ranks instead of judging them personally?
As for the picture of a boot on the patch of the same name, I realize this might be shocking image to some, but it’s only to drive the point home. I feel that its no more colorful an image than the language used in the chapter itself- ‘purging’ the evil person from among us conjures up the idea of vomiting or popping zits in my mind. And then there’s 1 Corinthians 5:5- “deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh”! How much more explicit can it get than that? Yet that is just how serious church discipline truly is.
Despite the songs controversy, I’m glad it’s creating dialogue. I’ve already had numerous conversations with Christians that were unclear about what the Bible teaches regarding this issue, and surprised to learn that there is a time when we are to judge others.
Edit: A sincere thanks for everyone’s input on the Facebook and Reddit forums about this post. I believe we’ve found a powerful way to incorporate a very real sense of mourning in the song, as well as a hope/desire for repentance and reconciliation. For those of you who are concerned about the message the song gives, I ask that you give us a chance at shows and on our recording- I think that you’ll find that we are dead serious about sharing God’s heart and counsel on this issue.
Thanks to Joel Swanson of TigerRAWk film for recording this video.