(Note from Tim Bayly: As I've noted in recent posts concerning Ted Haggard's advocacy of the repeal of anti-sodomy laws that are already on the books of our nation and states, other prominent Christians have blazed the trail he is on. One I'm especially aware of is Dr. David C. Jones who is a member of my own Ohio Valley Presbytery and served for many years as a professor at our denomination's seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary. Some years back I sent the following letter protesting Dr. Jones' position. In response to the letter I received a quite-graceful response from Dr. Jones and another letter from Covenant's president, Bryan Chapell. But neither of them responded to the substance of my letter. And so, the argument I make below remains my conviction about all those Christians leaders who seek the repeal of anti-sodomy laws in the name of Christian compassion.)
March 9, 2001
Rev. Dr. David C. Jones
Covenant Theological Seminary
12330 Conway Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63141-8697
Dear Dr. Jones,
At some point this past year, I came across your comments published in Christianity Today (October 4, 1999) arguing that "(the practice of sodomy) is not the state's business," that sodomy ought to be made legal, and that sodomites deserve to have their civil rights protected because no one made in God's image ought to be "put down" by "jokes or sneers or whatever..."
Here are a few pertinent excerpts:
Van Leeuwen: One of the major questions is how to think about domestic partnerships. Some policymakers have suggested that we should have domestic partnerships but we shouldn't think of them in terms of sexual orientation...
Another example is Lee Bryant, a Canadian woman in her early seventies, who is a celibate lesbian. At 72, Lee is still an adjunct teacher at the community college, trying to make ends meet. She shares a household with another woman, Betty, a British immigrant to Canada who is on a British pension...
The state has a compelling interest and Christians have a compelling interest in people's emotional and economic commitments to one another. If people can demonstrate that they are emotionally and economically committed to one another, then they should have some of the tax benefits in that particular culture that would be given to a married couple.
David Jones: I worked one summer at Camp Nathaniel in Kentucky when I was in college and spent some time with two single women who were part of that organization and owned a home together and lived together in a perfectly chaste relationship. If one of them went to the hospital, I would expect the other to be able to serve as next-of-kin.
* * *
Richard Mouw: You're saying that the law should recognize persons who live together and have deep and abiding friendships, whether or not those friendships are genitally intimate.
David Jones: It's not the state's business whether they're chaste or not.
People are hesitant to address any of the domestic-partnership issues be cause they fear that it will lead to the implementation of some larger agenda from the gay and lesbian community. The removal of the sodomy statutes stalled when people perceived that it was part of a larger agenda.
* * *
Richard Mouw: You're going on record now as opposing sodomy statutes?
David Jones: Yes. I don't think they're necessary. At the same time, we should oppose laws that would make it mandatory for Christian schools to hire practicing homosexuals or a Christian couple who own a rental property to rent to a gay couple if it is against their conscience.
We must be intolerant of persecution of gays just because they're gay. We must send out the message that persecution of gay people, especially--but not only violence toward them is wrong. We cannot tolerate the various ways in which people, by their jokes or sneers or whatever, put down people, who are made in the image of God, just because of this sin.
Since you and I both hold our membership in Great Lakes Presbytery, I write asking if you would be so kind as to assist me in coming to a better understanding of the Biblical support behind these statements?
What would cause one to speak of a class of persons, unified by their self-professed commitment to rebellion against God's Moral Law, as deserving of affirmative civil rights action? Then too, on what basis would one seek the repeal of laws against a sin universally proscribed across nations and time? Do you see Scriptural support for the legalization of other sexual perversions also?
This is what Scripture says concerning this sin. It warns men that "it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience" (Colossians 3:6); that "the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching" (1 Timothy 1:8-10); and that the civil authority has been delegated by God the power of the sword as "an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil."
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake" (Romans 13:1-5).
Pertinent to this discussion, our subordinate standards state that God has armed the civil authority "for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers" (Westminster Confession of Faith XXIII, 1). Our standards also indicate that efforts by the civil authority to support marriage, working to "remedy" attacks upon marriage such as "adultery" and "willful desertion," are entirely proper--indeed, most excellent.
Would we also say that men who belong to a murderous fraternity, known publicly for their love of shedding the blood of innocents, ought to be protected from expressions of revulsion by the general law-abiding populace? Ought we to repeal laws condemning bestiality because it is not the state's business what men do in the privacy of their barns?
Over the years, a good portion of my pastoral care has been spent working with women and men tempted by homosexual desires; currently a significant subset of our congregation here in Bloomington is composed of such beloved brothers and sisters. As you may well understand, then, this is a matter of grave concern to me. The removal of laws condemning sodomy is, as I see it, destructive of these souls, robbing them of the educational function of the law at the very point of their greatest temptation.
Please help me to understand how a fellow presbyter comes to such convictions under the Word of God and prayer.
Under His mercy,
Your brother in Christ,
Timothy B. Bayly