In Matthew 18:15 it says if your brother or sister refuses to listen, we should treat them as a pagan or tax collector. What are your thoughts?
Matthew 18:15-17, provides a set of guidelines for Church members to follow when offenses happen, and they will happen.
The scripture describes the first step as speaking directly with the offender one-on-one. The second step explained, should the offender not come clean, is to bring forth witnesses who are able to confirm the offense. The final step if the offender continues to deny their offense is to bring them before the body of the Church. Should he/she continue to neglect even the Church, then treat the man as a “heathen” or “publican.”
Remember, Publicans “were detested by the Jews, and any Jew who undertook the work was excommunicated.” It would appear, that the offense was not a minor, but serious trangression, that would result in the individual either being excommunicated, or some other form of discipline by the Church. In other words, these offenses spoken of are not your simple everyday disagreements we encounter correlated with the dynamics of human relationships.
Why then might the scripture relate the trespasser to a pagan? Heathens (pagans), are individuals who are unacquainted with the “one true God,” his principles and doctrines — idol worshipers. I am reminded of the scriptures found in Doctrine and Covenants 64:7-11. My mind’s eye recognizes the connection with “pagans” merely saying, let God judge between me and thee. If they are unwilling to accept their offense and repent (correct their trespass), then there is nothing more I am able to do except leave the individual in God’s hands, and then go about my daily activities.