How Should Christians Treat Sexual Deviants?

I read an article today on christiantimes.com. The headline reads, “Ben Carson on LGBT community: Jesus died for everyone, including gays and lesbians; equal rights but not extra rights”. In the article, he is quoted as follows:

“Another reason that we must be informed and understand our Constitution is so that people don’t manipulate it,” he said, as quoted by The Christian Post. “For instance, look at the LGBT community. Now, I don’t have anything against gays and lesbians. You know, Christ died for them just like he died for everybody else. Our Constitution protects them just like it protects everybody else. … Everybody gets equal rights but nobody gets extra rights. Nobody gets to change everything.”

I agree completely with the point he is making. So, what’s my beef? It is that some of his words (assuming that he has been quoted correctly) will tend to create confusion. This article is an attempt to set forth clearly the Christian position with respect to sinners of this sort, without compromise, and without the subtle misdirection produced by “politically correct” language.

Political correctness

First of all, the word, “gay” has been made a politically correct euphemism for homosexuality. It has been perverted from its historical meaning, and thus stolen from us. Now, if we use the word according to its proper definition, there is an inevitable, though unintended, reaction to it, as if we were making some kind of sexual reference. So we dare not use it, as the AV Bible does in James 2:3 in the expression “gay clothing” or as Stephen Foster in “My old Kentucky Home, “Tis summer, the darkies are gay…”. (“Darkies” was not, at that time, a derogatory nickname for Negroes, any more than “Blacks” is in America today.) And why has this good old word, “gay” been thus perverted? For one reason, and one reason only; to make the filthy practices of sodomites seem innocent and harmless. For this reason, I avoid the use of the word; preferring to call such things what they are. I happen to think that everyone else should do the same.

Why we should have something against homosexuals

Second, what does he mean by saying, “Now, I don’t have anything against gays and lesbians.”? It is plain to me that people ought to have something against them! They not only commit acts in private that are abominable; but they have succeeded in abolishing the criminal laws against their perversions; which means that now they can run for public office and have a part in making our laws! It means that they can promote their evil practices without fear of penalty. They are even now doing just that in our government schools. This puts our children at risk! I think we should all have something against them for that.

And, just as Lot was in danger of God’s judgment because of the homosexuality and violence of the inhabitants of his city; so will we be endangered if we allow these things to be practiced in our midst. We should fear the wrath of God if we as a society are complicit, as many of us are, in the perversion of human sexuality. I resent it that our courts and other branches of government have legalized, normalized, and even created legal protections for, sexual deviancy! Our whole society is thus placed in danger of God’s severe judgment. I have something against them for creating this terrible situation.

And what about the fact that such people spread deadly diseases — not only among themselves, but among the children that they rape, and the innocent wives and husbands that they infect, and the children born with these diseases because of their mothers’ infection? I think it is only right that I — that all of us — should hold this against them.

To be fair, I know that Dr. Carson did not mean what he said to be taken too literally when he said that he has nothing against them. It is the kind of disclaimer that we hear all the time from people, especially public figures; because of — shall we say — “pragmatic considerations”. The point is that many people will take them literally; and will infer that they ought not to “have anything against them” either. Whereas they do damage to our society that is out of proportion to their numbers.

Sinners’ rights

Next, I think it ought to be said, to clear up any confusion on the point, that whether or not Christ died for a particular category of sinner has absolutely nothing to do with what those sinners’ legal rights are. The legal institutions of a city, county, state, or nation define them. They do not always define them correctly, and in that case, Christians may properly try to change them.

As to the law of God, the Bible condemns this perversion of human eroticism in no uncertain terms, and makes it a capital crime. This is not just in the Old Testament, but also in the New. Offenders against these laws have the right to a fair trial; not a right to practice their abominations without stigma or penalty.

The community of Jesus is therefore to call for the various legislatures to institute laws against sodomy and other abominations, with the biblical penalties, and for the legal authorities — not private persons — to discourage perverse practices; by arresting those who are suspected perverts, as well as those who flaunt their lasciviousness or proclaim themselves as deviants, by trying them, and by executing the just biblical penalty whenever a person is found guilty.

The law of God is still in force

Redemption does not change the moral law, or mitigate the seriousness of a crime defined as such in Moses’ law, or make the Mosaic penalty unjust or inappropriate. Nor did Jesus abolish the moral law of Moses, a point that He stressed in the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount; which not only defines what practices are to be punished, but how they are to be punished, and to what degree. He only abolished those laws which separated the Jews from the Gentiles, and the laws peculiar to the commonwealth of Israel, a nation which, at the time when He delivered that sermon, He was about to destroy.

The moral fitness of a particular punishment for a particular crime is expressed in the lex talionis, “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”. This is not a harsh principle, as it is usually represented. This is a provision of justice, in contrast to the arbitrary laws of pagan nations, which, for example, often punished lesser crimes with death and confiscation of property, destroying not only the offender, but his family. It limits the punishment, while not weakening the claim of justice. The punishment is to fit the crime, and this principle, so often stated in Moses’ law, provides an objective canon to enable the achievement of that goal.

But how does this principle apply to sodomites? Why does the law of God prescribe the death penalty for this particular crime? The Scripture tells us that it is because it is an abomination to the Lord:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (Lev 20:13)

Paul stresses the fact that this is a sin against nature:

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (Rom 1:24-27)

Now, nature is another name for God’s creation — especially His created order. The gift of human sexuality was not given that we might gratify our appetites in any way that pleases us. It was made to attract a man and a woman to each other; and to cement the bond between them in the institution of holy wedlock. It is in the stability and affectionate relationship of this union that children are to be born and reared. Normal sexuality not only gives pleasure: it produces and fosters life.

Sodomy, on the other hand, may produce a kind of perverted pleasure; but it does not produce life. It is literally a filthy act, that by its very nature causes disease and death. It is a peculiarly vile form of rebellion against God; and a great offense in His eyes. It is in consideration of the infinite dignity and majesty of the person sinned against that it deserves the death penalty.

We must also remember that the purpose of punishment is not only to visit judgment upon the perpetrators of crimes: it is also to deter others from committing the same crimes. (It would be well if we could return to the practice of the public execution of the penalties of the law, for the purposes of deterrence.) There must not only be punishment; but a demonstration of justice, in the penalties prescribed by law. If the punishments are insufficient, then this purpose will be frustrated; for the people will lose respect for a law that coddles criminals. On the other hand, if the penalties are unnecessarily cruel, then the people will abhor the law, rather than respecting it.

The difference that Christ makes

That Christ died for sodomites and other perverts is absolutely true, and many of them have been, and will be, saved. We are to rejoice for them and with them whenever this occurs. We are to embrace those who repent as our brothers and sisters, no less than former drunkards, thieves, murderers, or any other kind of sinners:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9-11)

How we should treat them

Moreover, the general rules of Christian conduct towards those who are outside the Christian community are not to be suspended where perverted persons are concerned. That rule is to “love thy neighbor as thyself” to show respect, meekness and kindness in our dealings with them, while not taking them for intimate friends, or giving them the status or the privileges reserved for the brethren.

We are to exercise benevolent love, which desires the good of the loved one — not complacent love, which takes pleasure in him. We cannot stop abhorring his sin, and showing our abhorrence if he makes a shameless display of his sin in our presence. We cannot pretend that he is a normal, much less a virtuous, human being. But neither are we to treat him as if he were sub-human. He still possesses some remains of the image of God — however much marred they may be.

Most importantly, we are to seek to make known to him the true nature of his evil practices, to show him his lost estate, his liability to the eternal wrath of God, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, by which he can be saved from it. We are not to harm him, or to incite other private persons to harm him, or to threaten him with harm. We are to seek his good by showing him that there is hope for him, as for every sinner, in the power and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Howard Douglas King

June 13, 2016

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