There have been some questions about my position regarding sodomy and the civil government. Some previous associations have straw-manned my position by even accusing me of wanting to “kill all the gays.” I thought it would be helpful to make clear my position on the role of the church and the civil government.
Let me begin by stating that I believe in a separation of church and state, though not in the modern sense which is more of a separation of state and God. I believe that God has created both the church and the state and that Christ has authority over both. Both the church and the civil government are to obey God in carrying out the roles he has given them. They have been given two separate jurisdictions or spheres of authority and responsibility. There is some but not much overlap between the two spheres.
First, God has given the Church not the sword of vengeance but the sword of the Spirit. The Church has been given the keys to the kingdom. It has the responsibility and authority to proclaim the word of God to the world. The Church proclaims the good news that Jesus Christ has died and risen. People everywhere can be set free from the curse of the law and the bonds of sin. Eternal life is found in Jesus Christ. The church proclaims the mercy of God, that he takes sinners by grace through faith and washes them clean. Fornicators, Idolaters, adulterers, the effeminate, the homosexual, the thief, the covetous, the drunkard, the reviler, and the swindler can be freed from their sin, made at peace with God, and granted eternal life. The elders and pastors of the church have been given the responsibility to shepherd the flock and to discipline the members of the church to keep the body unified, pure, and holy. This discipline is spiritual and includes the power to correct, exhort, rebuke, and cast out (excommunicate.) While the church has not been given the sword of vengeance (the responsibility to punish crime), it does have the responsibility to proclaim to the civil government its duty and to warn them of failing to obey God.
Secondly, the scriptures make clear that Christ paid for all kinds of sin and that repentant sinners can truly enter the kingdom of heaven. Someone who has committed homosexuality can truly be forgiven and have eternal life by the grace of God through faith. Someone who has stolen (a thief) can truly be forgiven and have eternal life. They are washed clean before God, made repentant and are embraced by the church. While our sin is forgiven in heaven, it still has earthly consequences. Someone who commits fornication may be forgiven and yet still may get pregnant or get an std. God may, however, in his wisdom by his prerogative and sovereign will choose to diminish the consequences. You may commit fornication and not get pregnant or not get an std. You may have committed theft and not been caught, or the store owner may decide to not press charges. Yet, this prerogative of God does not mean that there are not consequences. If one commits murder, God may grant you repentance and faith, yet you will still have earthly consequences to face which according to God’s word would mean capital punishment. The church proclaims to the criminal the grace of God and then teaches the criminal to face the civil punishment due their crime.
This leads to number three, the role of the civil government. God has established the civil government as his minister (Romans 13) to punish evil and protect good. The civil government has not been given the sword of the spirit but the sword of vengeance. The reason that the civil government exists is to punish crime and to ensure that the church of God is protected. Contrary to modern American theory, the government is not separate from God nor is it to be “neutral” in its handling of religion. It is not possible for it to be neutral. Neutrality is a myth. Washington DC answers to Christ Jesus and he will hold them accountable for how well they minister his justice. The civil government is to punish crime. When they do this swiftly and with justice, it will have the effect of curbing evil, at least the outward manifestation of it. This restraining of evil will not provide salvation to people, but it is still a benefit and a loving thing to do. It will protect those who are Christ’s from the harm of evil and will keep the wicked from piling up as much sin as they could for judgment. Furthermore, when the state does not carry out the punishment of crime swiftly, this has an encouraging effect for evil. Evil flourishes and the nation falls in disarray when crime is not punished justly.
The State can know what a crime is and how to carry out its punishment by the law of God. What God has revealed in his word as a crime is a good idea for the civil government to criminalize. When God says in Genesis that those who shed the blood of man shall have their blood shed, God established civil government and he established in his word what the punishment for crime was.
Which leads to the issue of sodomy or homosexuality. Five quick points.
1. You can search high and low in scripture but you will never find the concept of sexual orientation. What you will find is degrading passions, unnatural desires, abominable and wicked acts. Biblically, homosexuals are not called homosexuals because they have some inborn trait that is unchangeable. They are called homosexuals because they practice homosexuality, just as a thief is a thief because he steals.
2. The scriptures make it clear that sodomy (the homosexual act) is a crime of serious nature. Leviticus 20:13 says “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.” The concept of bloodguiltiness is found throughout the bible and is associated with the taking of human life. One becomes bloodguilty for shedding human blood. But in the case of sodomy (also incest and beastiality) the crime is so great that the bloodguiltiness lies upon those who commit the crime. In Leviticus 20:23 God tells the people of Israel “Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.” God says that these practices are so wicked that he is driving out the nations for practicing them. Romans 1 describes God’s wrath against the unrighteous. It deals with the practice of homosexuality (and lesbianism) The chapter ends with an indictment of the nations by saying “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” Rather than following the ordinances of God regarding crime, the nations not only practice them but give hearty approval. Sodomy is a crime in the word of God.
3. When a civil government allows this crime to go unpunished, it will grow full bloom. It brings the wrath of God upon nations where it is practiced. It also reveals that God’s wrath is upon the nation it is allowed to be practiced in. It is destructive to the people who practice it. It destroys their bodies and their souls. All kinds of medical issues and disease are associated with its practice. It is harmful to families. It turns the God-given roles of man and woman on its head. It makes men soft and cowardly leaving women unprotected by men. It hardens women causing them to turn aside from their God-given responsibility to be nurturing. It sexualizes children especially young boys. It turns aside the creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply. This destruction of the centrality of the family in society leads to an increase in anarchy (lawlessness) and an increase in tyranny as the government tries to clamp down on increasing lawlessness. The open practice and celebration of sodomy coincides with an attack on the religion of Christ. The shame of sodomy is misplaced upon those who would be against it.
4. This position that the act of sodomy should be a crime is not new. In fact, it was the established position in the nation until 2003(though it was not enforced strongly). It was a capital crime in all 50 states until the 1950s and remained so in many states up until the 1990s. It was not until 2003 that the tyrannical Supreme Court overturned the sodomy laws in the US. Though some states still have them on the books. It was a crime in England and Europe as well going back for years. John Calvin and other reformers upheld it as a crime. In Geneva where Calvin was a pastor, there are records of punishment for the crime. But one thing you didn’t see while it was a crime was wide bloodshed. There were no mass killings of people practicing sodomy because the criminalization of it was a deterrent to the open practice. However since the states starting removing sodomy laws and especially since the corrupt court ruling in 2003, the open and blatant promotion of homosexuality has increased. It is promoted in public schools, on the television, and by our civil government. Pride parades in cities like Indianapolis are now similar to parades given to a returning victorious army. These parades have floats of near naked men gyrating followed by middle school bands followed by apostate churches followed by the police department. Since the legalization of sodomy, we have also seen confusion over manhood and womanhood and the issue of what bathroom to use. We have also see Christian businesses sued, bakers and photographers put out of business and fined, and Christian firefighters and web browser designers fired. The legalization of this crime is being followed by the persecution of the Christian faith. Rather than the civil magistrate punishing evil and rewarding good they are doing the opposite. A large part of this is the result of a refusal by the church to preach the whole council of God and to instruct the civil magistrates in their duty. And people are being harmed. Homosexuality and especially lesbianism is on a rise among school age children who are following the trend. It is destroying a generation.
So what is the answer? Am I therefore calling for the rounding up of all “the gays” to “murder” them? No. As a Pastor, it is my job to teach the whole council of God’s word. I am to proclaim the good news that those who practice homosexuality can be set free. I am to warn them of the wrath of God. Furthermore, it is my duty to instruct magistrates of their duty. This is the answer: Faithful men of God teaching the whole word of God to every realm of life.
But won't this mean that the civil government will round up all "the gays" and start "murdering" them? No. Again, there is no such thing as orientation just sin, inward and outward. The Civil Government cannot criminalize anything but outward behavior. They have no authority or way of criminalizing lust or desire. They can and should ban the promotion of sodomy and should punish those who commit sodomy. This does not mean that they will be coming into everyone's bedrooms. The laws about probable cause, search warrants, and freedom from unnecessary searches still apply. The effect of the law would be to push sodomy back into the shameful shadows. Criminals will still find way to break the law just as murderers and thieves do. Yet open rebellion will be curbed and the harmful effects of the public promotion and celebration of sodomy will also be curbed. This will also have the effect of protecting the church and helping the officers of the church in their preaching against this wicked and shameful sin. The shame of sodomy will be restored. This is a good thing and is loving towards both those who practice this sin and those who may be tempted to practice it.