imageOn a recent post that David Shedlock wrote at Caffeinated Thoughts one commenter, Nick Thomas, said:

The Bible states that homosexuals should be put to death, not that they should keep their homosexuality secret lest they be forbidden to serve in the United States Armed Forces. If the author is prepared to say that homosexuality is a sin–based on the Word of God–then he should also advocate death to those who engage in homosexual acts.

He claimed that David and I, because I said he misunderstood Mosaic law, were being inconsistent in our application of Mosaic law (recorded in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).  This wasn’t because he holds it in high regard, but rather that he desired to make our premise that homosexuality is sinful look foolish.

I thought it would be best to address this topic at length here rather than in the comments of a mostly political blog.

Let me say something that I hope isn’t controversial.  I don’t believe homosexuals should be put to death.  Just like I don’t believe adulterers or disobedient children (well maybe disobedient children sometimes – kidding!) should be put to death.

How Old Testament law given by Moses is relevant to secular civil governments is incredibly complex.  Some things to consider when you desire to apply Mosaic law to government.

These laws were part of a covenant that God had with the nation of Israel.  A covenant in the Bible is a contractual agreement, a legally defined relationship… in this case between God and His people.  Mosaic Law defined that relationship.  You also have to consider the context for the laws – the time and place of Israel in human history.  We also have to consider what God’s purposes for Israel were.

  • Israel was a theocracy Exodus 19:6 God says to the people of Israel via Moses, “you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” (ESV).  This theocracy was ruled by God Himself.  The laws that Moses gave were not just civil laws, but they also governed Israel’s religious life.  This is seen in the commands detailing their sacrifices, festivals and worship.
  • God’s judgment in Old Testament history -  an example would be God sending His people to conquer and destroy Canaan.  It was part of God’s plan, it was a specific command of God.  It would be a lousy pattern for civil governments today.
  • Israel’s identity as a holy nation – explains the extended use of capital punishment.  Actually looking at Romans 8:3-4 and Galatians 3:21-25 we can see that applying capital punishment didn’t create a holy people.  So with this context in mind it would be inappropriate to apply capital punishment for idolatry, religious infractions, rebelliousness toward God and family and sexual sin.
  • Christ fulfilled the ceremonial law through His death and resurrection, (Matthew 5:17).  Israel’s sacrificial system and festivals all foreshadowed Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, (Hebrews 8:1-13).  Also, again Israel was “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

There are laws that specifically are meant to be applied to only Israel at that time.  There are other parts of the Old Testament that are not addressed to the nation of Israel or to the Jewish people as they were dispersed and speak generally to everyone.  It can (and does) serve as a model today, but it was never meant in its entirety to be applied to civil government in our day and time.

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