Doug Wilson points out that discipline has never been a problem in the churches, it has merely been converged, twisted, and redirected:
This niceness vibe has been advanced in such a way as to make conservative believers think that they have been attending churches that have real trouble disciplining for error. But . . . not whether but which. In this world, it is absolutely necessary for every group that has defined boundaries to discipline for error, or for what they consider to be error.
Do you remember those times when conservative believers were chafing over the fact that no discipline ever seemed to be applied when young people drifted into sexual immorality, or into drugs? Or when middle aged businessmen abandoned their families and nothing happened? Or when someone announced that they were gay, and everyone thought it was a shame, but nobody did anything? It was easy back then to assume that this was because such churches didn’t know how to discipline.
But they did know how to discipline. Not whether but which. If you ever had pressed your concerns about the ongoing grab-assing in the youth group,, you would find out that they did know how to crack down on sin. They would crack down on you for your use of the word grab-assing in your letter to the session, which was totally unnecessary, and not becoming to one who names the name of Christ. In addition, they would discipline you for the legalistic spirit you were unfortunately starting to display. The discipline was there, just not aimed in the direction it ought to have been.
And how many churches over the last couple years have vigorously policed their congregations when it came to the wearing of masks? And they did this when to your knowledge they had never vigorously policed anything before. The one thing this should have told you is that they do know how to do it. They do know how to withstand pressure and blow back—but just from certain quarters. Not whether but which.
They had earlier refused to apply discipline in certain directions because they were concerned about the reaction they would get (from certain quarters). But on a different issue they applied discipline unambiguously and they were entirely unconcerned about the reaction they would get (from other quarters). When it came to you and your concerns about your aunt, who didn’t want to get the jab or wear a mask, but who had the antibodies, they were a rock wall. When it came to the concerns of those whose feelings were hurt by a visiting speaker who spoke insensitively about sex roles in marriage, they were a mound of marshmallows. Not whether but which.
This was because they feared the CDC (and the people who feared the CDC), and they did not fear God (or the people who fear God). Some went this way because health is their god, and they feared the virus. Others did it because the state is their god, and they feared the voice of officialdom.
At this point, the average church – be it Catholic or Protestant – is more likely to expel you from the congregation for quoting a Biblical passage deemed excessively racist or judgemental than for having a gay affair with the pastor’s son-in-law.