Life is messy. That is, I think for a vast number of people, life is messy. Churches, especially in my experience of churches, try to create a tidy space where there isn't any mess. They aim the church to be a place where couples don't get divorced and young people don't have sex without being married, let alone have children when they're not married. They try to make a space where people don't turn out to be gay.
The problem is that these things happen, even in the church. And the church often doesn't know what to do with them. Churches are good at saying these things shouldn't happen, which is not the same as being effective at preventing them. Most churches seem to think that if you stand in the pulpit or Sunday School and say, "Don't do this," maybe say it very loudly, that pretty well takes care of that.
Meanwhile, there are a host of people who have grown up in the church, maybe who would love to stay in the church, but when their lives get messy, the church shuns them. Maybe it's not even entirely intentional. Maybe it's just uncomfortable. Uncomfortable for the person with the "messy" life, uncomfortable for the church with its assumed cleanness. And so those whose lives are on the margins just disappear, maybe even get angry. They didn't go looking for a divorce. They didn't ask to be gay.
In recent times, the church at large has tried to normalize the mess. "I'm not perfect just forgiven." Here we get to the opposite set of proverbs. God does expect us to try. The person who runs off and has an affair has created his own mess. He's ruined the life of his wife and children. The church should be a place where he can be restored--if he truly wants to turn his life around--but it should not be a place that is ok with adultery.
One problem is that the church has had a tendency to major on the minor. For example, in the case of adultery it is not the sex act that is the major. The major also is not the breaking of some abstract rule that you shouldn't have sex outside of marriage. Rule oriented morality is a lower level understanding of morality, not to mention the fact that that this particular rule isn't even stated in the Bible. It's a synthesis of several different biblical commands rather than a principle the Bible actually states explicitly.
What is major about adultery is the lives it destroys in a selfish act. It is thus doubly wrongful, deeply hurting both spouse and children and doing so merely in the pursuit of selfish pleasure. Premarital sex doesn't do this kind of damage. Homosexual sex doesn't do this kind of damage. Yet somehow the church has become comfortable with divorce, with the massive damage it does, while the teenage parent who truly loves her child and the guy who did nothing to become attracted to the same sex have committed unpardonable sins.
What is the church to do with those who don't follow the script? The church is supposed to proclaim the ideal, after all. Would that it grew up a little in its sense of moral evaluation, however. Intention in context is the key to evaluating morality. What was the intention of a person? What were the circumstances? Could the person have done anything differently? All sin is not the same. This is not only an unbiblical notion. It is way unbiblical. We should more measure things by the harm they do to others and the intent of the individual in doing the harm. The level of selfishness is also an indicator of moral vice.
But once a person's life is a mess, it is not the job of the church to mete out the consequences. Yes, there is a place for church discipline, another proverb. There is a time for a pastor to be removed or for an individual to be taken off the church board. I'm speaking of the person whose mess is its own punishment and who truly would like to continue in community. Here all the other proverbs kick in about the church being more a hospital than a haven.
Life is messy. We celebrate those whose lives are squeaky clean. But a loving and welcoming hug for those whose lives have turned out to be messy. We're people of the heart, not the external appearance.