Hi, I'm not sure how to even ask the question. So I'll explain my concerns.
I'm a Christian, being a member of the church of Christ. A sister of mine has married a prisoner. He's in for murder. She met him through Bible study with a group from a church of Christ. She's known him for almost 11 years. They recently married. He repented of his sins and was baptized over nine years ago. He continues to study and read his Bible. His now-wife has been visiting with him for the last 11 years, and they always pray together and study.
My concern is the way her family is treating him and now her as his wife. He's never been married before, she was a widow. So they are not in sin as I can see. But her family is shunning her and won't have anything to do with him. So my question is, as Christians aren't we to be an encouragement to him, be loving and kind? Also to our sister. I'm not saying we need to go visit him. He's in prison in another state. But he has written a few members and some of her family are not being kind or loving. One of the brethren, the woman's adult child had the prisoner sent to another prison so that now their mother has further to travel to see her husband. Also, her children are treating her differently, not spending as much time with her, etc.
My concern is that brethren themselves sinning with the treatment of their mother and their new stepfather. I just want to do what's right in the sight of God and let my brethren know if they themselves are in sin. So what should our behavior be toward a prisoner who has been saved? I read your article about whether a murder is saved and goes to heaven. I believe only God knows this man's heart and if he truly has repented. But as a Christian, I need to be an example to him and everyone by doing God's will. If my husband and I don't write back, for example, are we being an encouragement? I think not, nor are we showing love. Please help me with this. I want to be right with God in my decision and the choices I make.
Of course, sins can be forgiven. I know of no passage instructing Christians to sit in judgment on whether someone has truly converted or not.
So do write to him. "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me'" (Matthew 25:34-40).
The problem is that you have brethren and family who are not convinced that someone can truly change. They probably would like evidence of a change, which cannot be given while he remains in prison. "This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow" (II Corinthians 2:6-7).
You can't make people behave properly, but you can be an example and tell them the truth.