Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                          September 7, 2009
Binding and Loosing
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 September 20 
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Dear ,
"To be human is to have differences; to be human wholesomely is to process those differences, not by building up conflicting power claims but by reconciling dialogue" (Yoder 1992:8).
One of the telltale signs your fellowship is congealing is righteous conflict. I know it sounds strange, but it's true.
QUESTION/TOPIC IN FOCUS: Why conflict is natural, useful, and even beautiful
Binding and Loosing
Excerpted from Body Politics by John Howard Yoder
Org_Lead"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." -Jesus (Mt 18:18)
Jesus' choice of a pair of rabbinic technical terms, bind and loose, [is important]. To "bind" in rabbinic usage is to respond to a question of ethical discernment: We still have the root in our word obligate. To "loose" is to free from obligation: In the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had warned that whoever "looses" any commandment will be "the least in the kingdom." Thus the activity has two dimensions: moral discernment and reconciliation (1992:2).
My Reflections 
Ephesians 5 tells me that it's my responsibility to wash my wife with the Word. Hmmm, that's interesting. But what does that mean? Am I to read her Scripture?
After many years of thought, I'm getting closer, I think, to a right interpretation. To unpack the interpretation, I must first begin with what Jesus did for me. As the incarnate Torah (Word of God), Jesus bound (obligated) me to Torah and loosed (un-obligated) me via his reconciling death on the cross. In this way, Jesus did not excuse my sin (he deemed me a sinner: that is, he bound me to Torah). Yet, at the same time, he washed me in his blood (he deemed me righteous: that is, he freed me of my transgressions).
Now, what I'm about to write is really important, so follow closely. Loosing does not negate the binding. In other words, just because there's forgiveness doesn't mean we throw the standards out the window; those are still in effect. Thus, herein lays the beauty. Jesus washes me in the Word by simultaneously holding me accountable to the Law while freeing me from any infractions. Amazing.
In this way, I am to wash my wife in the Word. As a husband, it is my responsibility to instruct her in the way of Jesus (i.e., bind her to Torah), but I am also to compensate for her weaknesses, which often causes me to have to die to self (i.e., I loose her).
In my best estimation, in Ephesians 5 the Apostle Paul is simply extending the way all Christians should treat each other to the "mystery" of marriage...because, in verse 32, Paul does a switch-a-roo and acknowledges, See what I'm talking about? I'm talking about how Jesus binds his bride to Torah and looses her via his death.
So, that's the way it is with fellow believers. We offend and forgive. We offend in that we are holding our brothers and sisters accountable to God's standards, but we simultaneously forgive. We bind. We loose. It's beautiful. It's biblical.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table