My fiancee and I were having a discussion that got kind of heated. I let it go too far, and I realized I had issues in certain areas of my life with my oldest brother, who has turned away from God for the past 15 or so years. It was more that I was getting mad because she was hitting a sore spot. It started over whether we should go to my parents' house for his birthday. I said I am not going because he won't change his life around for Christ. She sees it differently, saying to go but don't support his lifestyle. The problem is, most likely his girlfriend, who he lives with (and he's been divorced twice and was sleeping with this woman while still married to his last wife at the time), will be there with her kids. I have nothing against her kids of course. But I feel I should separate myself from my brother by not going to celebrate his birthday because of his choice to leave Christ. I feel that includes not going to his birthday party my parents might throw for him. My brother knows my opinion. I told him before (I think everyone has). But he still follows Satan and not Christ, so I figure I should treat him like a fallen brother in Christ. But I'm unsure is it ok to go to the birthday party. If he was not family, I wouldn't think twice about it. But I agreed with my fiancee I need a second opinion due to my issues with my older brother. I need someone who isn't biased by the situation.
I know all the verses for withdrawing from a brother, but maybe I'm looking at them wrong: II Thessalonians 3:6,14-15; I Corinthians 5:11-13; II John 9-11. I know there are a few more, but I feel these particularly apply. Most say to withdraw from, but one does say that but treats him as a brother.
I'm not rude to my brother. I have been in the past but not anymore. We don't have anything in common. He's proud of his sin of cheating on his two ex-wives and proud that they ended badly. He helped it end badly too. I don't know. I have issues with my brother because of how he treats his son mostly, but I still love him and want him to come to God. However, we don't share anything in common. I feel like it is supporting him if I go to his birthday. My fiancee doesn't feel it is supporting him if we do and it's not wrong to.
I guess I need wisdom from a view besides my own. My fiancee made some good points about my issues about my brother, but even with those I still don't feel it's right to go to his birthday party. I need to know if I am taking it too far or not. Because I am on the inside, I can't see the whole thing because of my bias. I try to think about how I have treated other people in the past who have fallen away. I give them respect. I say "hi" whenever I run into them, but I won't go hang out with them, go to an event, or go out for coffee because they don't want to follow Christ.
Is it OK to treat family differently or not? Just confused thanks for the advice. We appreciate your help!
A key point is whether your brother is a Christian or not. By this, I don't mean whether he is behaving as a Christian, but whether he actually at some point became a Christian by entering the covenant with Christ through baptism. If he had, then your fiancee missed an essential point. If he has not, then you are demanding him to live to a standard he hasn't yet accepted.
"I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people -- not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat" (I Corinthians 5:9-11).
Since you said your brother left Christ, let's address this from that viewpoint. It is true that some people have obligations that still must be met. A parent of a minor child will still have to support that child even if the child had been withdrawn from. A boss must still deal with an employee, even if the employee has been withdrawn from.
But in this case, there is no obligation for holding or attending a birthday party. In doing so, your family treats your brother as if nothing is wrong and that his adultery is acceptable. That is the very thing that Paul said not to do.
If you read from the beginning of chapter 5 you will find that the Corinthians were having fellowship with a man who was sleeping with his step-mother. Paul points out that even Gentiles find such behavior disgusting, yet the Corinthians were accepting this man. "And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?" (I Corinthians 5:2).
By treating him as if nothing is wrong, there is no motivation to change. He doesn't gain anything from people by returning to Christ. He doesn't lose anything that he wants from people by remaining in his sins.
The "treat him as a brother" must be taken in its context.
"If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother" (II Thessalonians 3:14-15).
Notice that Paul said not to associate with him. Yet, he isn't to be treated as an enemy but admonished as a brother. That means you don't treat him like dirt, or that you never talk to him. In this, I think you are having a hard time because you are so close to him.
Let me give an example, I have a young man whom I dearly love who has left Christ for drugs. Right at the moment, he isn't talking to me, yet I call him up once a month or so and leave him a message that I love him and would like to talk. For a while I wrote letters to him, each talking about how he needed to improve himself. There was a time for about two months that he did come back and he told me that he kept all the letters in a notebook to read over every once in a while. I'll keep it up, hoping against hope to win him back to Christ. I would restart the letter writing, but I don't have his address. Yet, while he remains unfaithful, I won't be going to events with him, much as I dearly want to share special moments with him. My contact with him right now is limited to teaching him with all the love I can show.
The point is, I don't put that much effort in for non-Christians, but I will for a brother I love.
So, in this, I have to disagree with both of you. You shouldn't go to events when your brother is there, especially events that honor your brother, such as a birthday party. There are going to be times when you can't avoid it because he is in your family. You might go home for Christmas to visit your parents, but you can't control if he comes while you are there. Yet, you can't solve this problem by not talking to him at all or spending your time being angry with him.