Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Execution of Homosexuals?

More Doug Wilson ... Execution of Homosexuals? ... quote!

All Christians who believe in the inspiration of Scripture believe that God was just and holy and right to require the death penalty under Moses the way that He did. In other words, no consistent Christian can "apologize" to modernity for the treatment that anyone received under the law of God in the Old Testament, whether that person was an adulterer, homosexual, or necromancer. The nation of Israel was in covenant with God as a holy people, and their holiness code required certain things of them. The standard was strict and high. The Christian church is in that position today, but the Christian church does not have (and ought not to have) the power of the sword. This is why in certain instances the New Testament substitutes excommunication for execution. God's people are still summoned to holiness, and that holiness is still defined by the Bible, and only by the Scriptures. The standard is still high, still grounded in the character of the triune God.

Having said this, we have to consider how such Old Testament laws are to be interpreted and applied today, if at all. After all, the Old Testament is not the Word of God, Emeritus. In recent decades, there was a school of thought among some Christians that such laws were to be applied "straight across." In other words, the death penalty should be applied today for adultery, sodomy, etc. In response to that position, critiquing it, I have argued that things weren't that simple. The Old Testament contains instances of individuals receiving penalties that were far less than what the Mosaic code required. For example, David was guilty of adultery with Bathsheba, and was not executed. Certain kings exiled homosexuals, or banished them from the house of God, which was not the strict penalty apparently required by the Mosaic law. This meant that there was a certain latitude in the law; it could be applied as a case law system where the principles were observed, with adjustments made according to circumstance. This is not relativism; it is how common law works. I was not arguing, as the newspaper represented me as arguing, that there are two (and only two) appropriate things to do with someone convicted of homosexual behavior -- execution or exile. That is not my position. The context of the quotation had to do with my exegetical rejection of the view that execution for homosexuals was mandatory.

The whole situation was made more gloriously complex with the arrival of Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross for sins and sinners of all stripes. The woman caught in adultery was not stoned, and she was not stoned because of how Jesus caught and trapped the Jewish leaders in their own misapplication of the law. In principle, the same scene could have played out in the same way with a homosexual in the center of the ring, surrounded by Pharisees. And had it been, the Pharisee would have departed, and the homosexual would have been told by Christ to "go and sin no more." The former homosexuals in the church at Corinth were urged by the apostle Paul to exult in their forgiveness, and not to volunteer for execution, or kill themselves because they deserved to die. Christ came to save the world, not destroy it. And He came to save the world from its sins, and this would include the sin of homosexual acts. The point of the gospel is to bring salvation and forgiveness to the world, and not death to the world. We don't need to bring death to the world because the sin that pervades the world is "death in transgressions and sins."