Seeking the repeal of anti-sodomy laws is disgraceful...

Error message

One pastor comments concerning my post, What Do Ted Haggard and N. T. Wright Have in Common:

Tim, do you think Paul advocated anti-sodomy or anti-fornication legislation for the Roman Empire? Probably not, since it was a pagan empire (consider 1 Corinthians 5:9-13). I think ours is also a pagan society. It's not the abstract question of whether laws can be used for such purposes. I believe you are right in saying that they can and even that they should. If we can persuade our society on grounds it will accept to enact such laws, well and good. But to make this the cutting edge of our encounter with an unbelieving society conveys the notion that we are legalists and undercuts the preaching of grace--and all without achieving the enactment of the laws we seek.

This question is often brought up by men (other than the author of this comment) who have anabaptist leanings and think the lack of involvement of Christians in the politics of the ancient world is a slam-dunk condemnation of political involvement by Christians today. But I'm not convinced. The entire civil realm was so radically different than what we live in here in the U.S., for instance. Ours is a constitutional and representative democracy. This is hardly the position the Apostle Paul was in as a citizen of the Roman Empire. So my reader asks whether Paul advocated anti-sodomy legislation and I respond, due to the difference in the form of government we live under Paul had different duties as a citizen than Christians have in the U.S. today.

The question is not whether we live in a pagan (or Christian?) society, but what our duties are as Christians in any society? And that question must be answered looking at the form of government those Christians live under. In other words, if we today live under the same Constitution that John Adams lived under, despite (arguably) our culture growing more pagan, our duties today are no different than Adams' several centuries back. The only thing that changes as paganism grows is the difficulty of those duties, and therefore our temptation to withdraw into a comfortable subculture.

But there's something else going on here that it appears my reader is missing: notice that Ted Haggard (and David Jones) are actively seeking to do the very thing my reader is accusing me of doing--they are public advocates of a particular moral position being carried out by our national laws. They are seeking to change our national laws so that sodomy is legal...

So this post is not even the tiniest little bit about "achieving the enactment of the laws I seek," but rather about my opposing Ted Haggard and David Jones as they seek to repeal the laws we already have. The difference is crucial.

But just for the sake of argument, let's say I had written not to oppose the repeal, but rather to promote the passage, of anti-sodomy laws, what implications does this have for our spiritual work saving souls? My reader wonders whether Christians will be known as graceless legalists if we lift our voices in support of just laws?

Well, I suppose there will be many who view us this way when we, for instance, speak up in behalf of the feeble and defective and hungry and unborn and elderly. But so what? The cost of silence would be to declare that our Lord didn't heal the sick and cast out demons and feed the hungry, but only saved souls. What does it mean, after all, for us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven"?

As I see it, here's the rub: either we silence our voices on abortion in order to protect our ministry of grace and compassion to those listening, or we don't silence our voices on abortion in order to protect our ministry of grace and compassion. For myself, only the second proposal makes any sense, biblically.

And if we lift our voices up against abortion as a ministry of grace and compassion, we remind ourselves that we're not just being graceful and compassionate to the little ones in their mothers' wombs, but also to the mothers themselves, and to their fathers and brothers and boyfriends and husbands who stand next to them, and to the so-called doctors and nurses whose hands are stained by the blood of hundreds of children they've been paid to slaughter, and the lawyers and judges and legislators who have connived at this slaughter as our public servants, and on and on.

In other words, we must keep our eye on the ball. Grace is not what the world perceives, but what God decrees, and the minute we redefine it to be a matter of perceptions--and specifically the perceptions of the unregenerate--we've struck out.

So those still with me will recognize that it's considerably easier to make this case concerning abortion than sodomy, but we must wash out our eyes. Sodomy is also a matter of life and death--literally as well as spiritually. And just as John the Baptist lost his head loving Herod by telling him he ought not to have his brother's wife, so we today should lose our heads proclaiming the holiness of God to those lost in sin.

Without that proclamation, there is no crossing guard, no tutor leading the lost to the Cross and grace and love of Jesus Christ.

So, Ted Haggard and David Jones are making the repeal of anti-sodomy laws as a function of their Christian witness. Who needs barbarians at the gates?