Should Homosexuality Be Illegal?

No, according to two leaders of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, President Russell Moore and director of policy studies Andrew Walker.  They commented that laws that criminalize homosexuality are “an affront to the image of God embedded in all persons.” Moore and Walker wrote in response to a New York Times article about how anti-gay legislation in places like Uganda and Nigeria complicate international diplomacy.

They continued by pointing out that all are sinners and God has given authority to the state to maintain order and to carry out punishment of sinners.   If ever thing Christians thought was sin was made illegal, the  jails would be full and no one left to prosecute.

Attempts to criminalize homosexuality have been based upon Old Testament scriptures.  Moore and Walker pointed out that Baptists, of all people, should know from their own history shows what happens when a state attempts to apply Old Testament law to the civil state.

“Our ancestors were whipped, beaten and exiled from Old England and from New England for refusing to sprinkle infants or to pay taxes for Anglican preaching,” they said. “We ought then to be, of all groups, in support of limiting the power of government to see itself as a theological broker.”

This is a refreshing change of direction and also establishes a logic for dealing with similar issues involving church and state.  Any time government has to determine what is a religion and what is not, it becomes perilously close to establishing a religion.  At the same time we have groups laboring for government to enact and to enforce legislation that would bind all citizens to a distinctively Christian ethic and theological understanding.

The current lawsuits involving Hobby Lobby and others over the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act falls under this same category.  It is up to individual employees to decide whether or not they would utilize contraception of any kind.  The argument from Hobby Lobby would simply transfer from government to employer who would determine a practice based upon religious belief.

Another example would be homosexual marriage.  The state is primarily concerned primarily with paternity and property, and any ceremony which recognized that could constitute a marriage legally.  A church or denomination can establish whatever definitions and practices it wants to define marriage.  What a church considers to be marriage should not be made normative for the state.  Interestingly, I have read of countries where two ceremonies were required: one for the state and one for the church, and the legal one was only the state ceremony.  Maybe a reader can help me remember the country.  I am guessing on of the predominately Catholic countries.

Christians use a tremendous amount of time and resources advocating legislation that would enshrine Christian principles. That same energy should be used to win others to a Christian point of view through witness and persuasion, not legislation.

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