Homosexualist marriage, death, and compassion...

Think with a Christian mind. When a lesbian in a homosexualist marriage is facing death due to Stage IV ovarian cancer, one of two things is true: either now is the time to release her from the oppression of residents of the state of Indiana so she and her partner in this "loving relationship" may approach her death in peace; or now is the time to warn her that, if she defies God to her very end, upon death she will certainly face God's wrath and eternal damnation. Death is the great purifier of thoughts. The choices are clear. The Holy Spirit has spoken: "it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

Which side of this choice shows compassion for this immortal soul? The attorneys and judges who use this lesbian's impending death to express their own hatred and defiance of God? Or the citizens of the state of Indiana who call their civil magistrates to condemn the evil of lesbianism and warn those who practice it, particularly at the time of their death?

Who has compassion...

The Roman Emperor who uses his citizens' taxes for the purpose God has expressly declared when he delegated authority to him—to be "an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil?" Or the Roman Emperor who abuses his citizens' taxes for the purpose of defying God Who delegated authority to him—and thus becomes "an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices good?"

This is the thing all believers living in our Modern Roman Empire must fix firmly in our minds: there is no third option. Either the civil magistrate will punish evil or he'll punish good. Either he'll connive at the damnation of the dying lesbian or he'll warn her to flee the wrath to come. There's no third option that maintains neutrality.

The civil magistrate has been appointed by God to be a cause of fear for bad behavior, for evil, for lesbianism, sodomy, and homosexualism just as for fornication, adultery, and bestiality. The last few decades of reversals of these laws previously on the books across the Western world is nothing less than defiance of God and cruelty toward sinners. It's nothing less than the theft of tax dollars by men who use those dollars to do the opposite of what God gave them those tax dollars to do.

Either society confirms its subjects in their defiance of God, or society confirms its subjects in their submission to God. There is no third choice. This is the meaning of the Holy Spirit's declaration in the midst of the decadence of the Ancient Roman Empire:

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. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. (Romans 13:1-6)

 

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

I found this post very spot on, and also very humbling because of the immense peer pressure which would be upon any of us in the position of the magistrate in this case. May God give us the strength to say something to the dying which will please Him and actually help the person about to meet God.

This seems obvious, but is it not amazing how far from anything approaching Biblical thought our nation's conventional wisdom is right now? I feel like we are about to enter another period of prolonged dark ages in terms of spirituality. I wonder if God in His wisdom will allow the flame of the church to grow as dim as it did in the days prior to the 95 Theses?

And what is our duty regarding the ministers if, as is the case, they are punishing righteousness and promoting evil? Jesus and Paul instruct us to pay taxes - and Rome was pretty corrupt - but we have a degree of say in our government... Where is the line between a "free country" and theonomy? (*copied in the "Paying Taxes to God's Ministers" thread, also.)

I agree with raising the question about 'theonomy'. The track record with the 'rule of the righteous' has not, over the years, been a happy one. Whether it is Cromwell's Commonwealth, Calvin's Geneva itself, Northern Ireland (where in the 1930s its leaders were calling for 'a Protestant country for a Protestant people'), South Africa (perhaps) or the Netherlands (perhaps) ... generally the 'half-life' of these systems has not been a long one, and they don't last.

Anyway, no doubt if someone could explain things more clearly? Also: how is the civil magistrate proscribing lesbianism, the same as warning a lesbian about the wrath to come? Sorry, I've obviously missed something here.

It is fair to note that the call for a Protestant country for a Protestant people was made in response to a call from the south for a Catholic country for a Catholic people. It didn't just emerge from nowhere.

>>> The track record with the 'rule of the righteous' has not, over the years, been a happy one.

Dear Ross,

The track record of the righteous rulers all through Bible history has never been a happy one either though---if you look at how things ended up for Israel and Judah you might think Josiah and Asa and Hezekiah were on the wrong track, but their leadership was approved by God: "Asa did what was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father...[Josiah] did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left," etc.

"The track record with the 'prophets of the LORD' has not, over the years, been a happy one" either, since there was seldom a good response to the Old Testament prophets' message and they were often mistreated or killed---yet they too were approved by God. Looking at how successful we think our fathers were in an endeavor is not a good way to decide what God requires.

Just as we'll never give ourselves to worship if our concern is to avoid being called a charismatic, I think our faithfulness and fruitfulness will never extend to seeing righteousness "in the gates" as long as our concern is to avoid being labeled theonomists.

I don't think theonomy is necessary, but if we're honest we're positively ashamed of God's just and righteous Old Testament civil law, and that is wrong. God gave that law, and it was not a mistake, but was good and right and in keeping with His perfect character. Until we understand the beauty and goodness of that law we'll never be in a position to evaluate how it should or should not be applied in the civil sphere today---we'll just be relieved that we weren't called theonomists.

Love,

>>how is the civil magistrate proscribing lesbianism, the same as warning a lesbian about the wrath to come?

Law educates. It is our schoolmaster. Whether it tells the truth or lies, it speaks to consciences with the voice of God.

Love,

Dear Keith,

First, don't allow yourself to get brow-beaten by those who want to give you no room between theonomy and a radical two kingdom view.  The truth is that there is a big area in between, and it is called the gospel.

First principles:  You have to believe in a TRANSFORMATIONAL gospel, not an ineffective one.  You have to believe that we have weapons for this warfare. You have to believe that God is sovereign, and rules in the Church and in the world until "the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ."

Application:  We continue paying taxes because God has ordained our rulers rule us, whether they are good or evil themselves.  God is sovereign--maybe He is using them to judge us.  But even if that is true, they are accountable to Him to do what is right, so in love for them, we use the proper weapons of our warfare--proclamation of the Law of God and the Gospel of salvation.  We proclaim the Law by using the privileges that God has given us in our country--right to assemble, freedom of speech, the right to vote for our rulers. The Holy Spirit uses this proclamation as He sees fit to transform our citizens and our rulers so that, all over the world, the Law of God is joyfully carried out in the regenerated hearts of men.

This way, those who think they live in a "free country" because they oppose God's Law will realize that they are living in a "bondage country" so that they can repent and live in a truly free country.

Warmly,

Ben

I love you, Ben; thank you.

Thanx for people's replies to my questions, I understand somewhat more of what's involved in this issue. @Daniel - I don't doubt the validity of the OT examples you mentioned; I'm just trying to learn from the examples of Christian history since.

Of the OT examples of how to live in a way that honours the Law, I have always come back to the example of the Exiles in Babylon (Jere 29), as this might give us a 'roadmap' that connects well into our current situations. If people disagree with this take on things, I would be genuinely interested to hear more as to why.

Dear Keith,

I also have a personal confession and exhortation about my comment above.  It sounds good, but how often do I fail at it?  Often.  And the reason is because the line between theonomy and the radical two kingdom theology is the width of faith.  For those with no faith, there is no space between.  It is either/or. But for us as believers, the space between is the width of a mustard seed. And who is sufficient for such things?  But that narrow way is the only place where the Spirit of God works.  It is where all the power is.  So my exhortation to you and all of us is to keep walking down the middle of the path as much as we can, repent when we fall in either ditch, and pray for faith.

Warmly,

Ben

@Ben, thanx; this is part of what I have been trying to say.

See http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/04/04/Federal-judge-t.... A U.S. district court judge in Cincinnati has already ruled that so-called same-sex marriages must be recognized in Ohio :-(.

P.S. Not sure how long the link will be active. Articles on the free of this paper's website don't stay up for very long.

Brothers, what is the definition of "theonomy"? Some are using the term here, but the definition is assumed. And it is clearly taken for granted that it is a bad thing. A self-evidently bad thing, to be avoided carefully. A "ditch" to avoid falling into. 

Could someone please give a definition of theonomy? And it must be a definition that a theonomist would agree with. I have read many critiques of theonomy and Christian Reconstruction. I have also read a few theonomists and Reconstructionists in their own words. What I keep finding is that the critics' presentations of these positions sound nothing like what the theonomists and Reconstructionists would say. 

In one sense, I suspect every reader here is a theonomist. Should a pastor be allowed to be given to bestiality? If not, why not? Does the New Testament prohibit bestiality? No, but we know from the Old Testament Law that it is forbidden. 

Dear Stephen,

You caught me making a straw man.  I really know very little about what a theonomist would say about himself, but rather the characterization.  

The true ditch opposite of R2K, as I see it, would be having as the ultimate/only goal the use of political power to make the law of the land match the Law of God (especially in our own pet areas.) Maybe I would define it as godless political conservatism. Defined that way, both ditches are identical in their lack of faith.

Warmly,

Ben

Stephen,

If you are interested in reading the locus classicus of theonomy you should consider purchasing Theonomy and Christian Ethics by the late Greg Bahnsen. A shorter book, and easier reading, is No Other Standard, by the same author.

The simplest definition of a theonomic Christian outlook would be that there is ethical continuity between the covenants, and therefore the working mode of operation in terms of our ethical considerations would be to assume that what God commanded in the Older Covenant Scriptures is still binding today unless God Himself annuls or modifies a previous revelation.

In descriptions by the best representatives of this view, theonomy is not a belief is a ecclesiocracy, where the church lords over the state, nor does it require practicing the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, nor does it assume that we should simply take the laws of the Old Testament and simply drop them into the current day without a thought. I would say that theonomy seeks to apply the equity of the law of God with New Testament controls and insights, and on an exegetical basis. Obviously, the administration of certain laws (put a railing around the roof of your home) has changed since an ancient agrarian society, but the marrow of that principle is binding (so today, for example, we may not entertain people on our roof tops, but there are plenty of culturally relevant ways that this binding principle would be applied, such as making sure your home isn't dangerous for guests).

I think what most people found offensive about theonomy was their view that the penology of the Old Testament must also abide if the law in question abides (or else it isn't a law if there is no sanction), so it lead to conclusions that many Christians felt were untenable. However, as a theonomic Christian myself, I found these sorts of arguments unconvincing.

I think for many Christians, if they were to read a book like the ones I mentioned above, at the end their reading, they would wonder what all of the previous controversy was about. A theonomic outlook has been around in Reformed circles for a long time; it wasn't called theonomy, but the ideas are there. Last year, I read Calvin's sermons on Deuteronomy for example. Calvin was definitely not a two kingdoms kind of guy!

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