Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Defense for Stoning Homosexuals - Leviticus 20:13

Assuming you believe homosexuality is defined by a specific act...

I listened to a university philosophy professor argue some ideas are so bad they must be banned.  He alluded to this instance:

Gipson is a Baptist minister and a business lawyer when not serving in the Legislature. He notes in his official state biography that his family are "of the Christian faith, and are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention."
The passage from Leviticus that Gipson first cited reads: "If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

 In Genesis 22 we see God acquainting Abraham with Himself.  The means are disturbing, God tells Abraham to make a sacrifice of, that is to say kill, his only and beloved son, Isaac.  As God was introducing himself as the One True God among very many different gods, all of which required human sacrifice (just as today), Abraham proved that he believed YWHW was his God, for Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac.  At the moment of truth, God stayed Abraham's hand to demonstrate in one way YWHW was unique among all of the gods, for the One True God wanted no human sacrifice.  Unthinkable! Scandalous!  But what seems to be a barbaric request is in fact liberating.

And lending credibility to the story, Isaac and Abraham do not meet again until Abraham's death.  If you were Isaac having gone through that experience, wouldn't you steer clear of dad?  (From Kass, Beginning of  Wisdom.)

After centuries as a people, Moses is lawgiving to Israel in the desert.  Here again, Israel is surrounding by practices their God abhors, and the law reflects it:

Leviticus 20:13
King James Version (KJV)
13 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.

And the death is by stoning, with the fine point the killers will have no blood on their hands for the killing.

This is called barbaric and all sorts of other negative things, but for the people who are persuaded this is the law of the one true God, it is to be obeyed, just as are the seemingly whimsical circumcision laws.  And if the Author of Life demands certain activities be curbed by stoning to death, then on what basis do condemn those who follow the law of Whom the believe to be the One True God?

Now, a couple more fine points, which will become important later.  The crime is not being homosexual, the crime is a certain homosexual act. To be convicted of an offense, there must be two or three witnesses.  That means other people must see a homosexual act in progress (rather indiscreet).  There must be a trial.  And if convicted, the witnesses must lead the community in the stoning.  It takes quite a bit to get to the point where one would be stoned.

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Rules reveal our weaknesses, and the extensive rules Moses laid down reflected the problems the community was experiencing.  The laws were the solution.  And the punishment for false witness is the punishment meted out for the crime: to falsely accuse one of blasphemy would get you executed.

The reason given for the punishment is to stop the spread of the activity.

In this homosexual acts joins a long list of other acts that will get you stoned: adultery, blasphemy, etc.  And again, this is a people listening to the One they believe to be the True God.  These are outlier crimes with outlier punishments.  And in an important sense homosexual acts are not singled out, there are plenty of acts that are forbidden, if one wishes to stay within the community.  Anyone is free to go, and join the tribes practicing such things around Israel.  If one believes, ones strives to comply, and all believers are struggling, with one challenge or another.  That's life.

Also, there is much commentary about suffering death as punishment and thus the soul is made acceptable to God (nothing like an execution to clear a man's mind).  Certainly this is taught about martyrs, and perhaps about sinners too.  To the Creator, there are worse things than death.

Contrary to the will of God, Israel does not do well with the law, and in one of the most contumacious acts recorded in scripture, some 400 year later Israel demands and gets a king, in spite of clear warnings (1 Samuel 8).  Now Jews are no longer free, there is the force of political power behind the laws.  Then begins a downward spiral for Israel lasting centuries, in which the will of a few may be imposed on the many, in which only a savior can redeem Israel.

When that Savior came, he fulfilled the law.  He did not change the rules on stoning transgressors to death as some people weaselly suggest.  Jesus simply taught now that we have Jesus as a Savior, compliance with the law is on a much higher order.  If you lust in your heart, you are guilty of adultery. If slapped on one cheek, offer the other.  If pressed a mile, give another.  And in fact in an instance where Jesus was presented a capital case, what do we see?

John 8  King James Version (KJV)
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

"In the very act." Probably in an alley somewhere.  Jesus did not refute the law and the penalty.  He did ignore the question at law for a moment, for the prosecutors were acting on the law-before-Jesus.  The pause introduces a clear change.  Dramatic.

What was Jesus writing on the ground?  "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?"  "Go and sin no more?"  Jesus neither rejected the punishment nor repealed the prohibition.  Jesus goes much farther, he makes a far higher requirement now that we live under His Kingship. Judge not, lest ye be judged, and at the same time, go and sin no more.  The prohibition of the acts and the punishments are not repealed. Immeasurably higher standards are introduced.  And the ability to follow the law is only in He who fulfilled the law.

Now, what if someone believes all of this?  What if someone, say a Baptist preacher legislator, lived a wicked life bringing misery and unhappiness on all who loved him, and then repented, and found forgiveness and grace in the law of the prophets and Jesus?  Why would anyone expect him to set it aside when he believes it is the most valuable thing he has to offer?

It would be strange for believers, convinced of the truth through their own experience of struggling with their own particular issues, and having against all odds found a happy result, to not share their experience and recommend the action, even desiring the legislation of the law.  It would be foolish to expect otherwise.

The only problem arises when we have a system where people have the power to do so.  Whether it is to write laws to require homosexuals to be stoned, or write laws the allow homosexuals to marry, the problem is giving power to others "to fight our battles for us," something God Almighty expressly rejected, and Jesus seconded as his followers wanted to make Jesus another human King, the only difference is they would be the powers that be, instead of Herod and Caesar.  There is no objective basis for right or wrong in such polities, and for one season it is "stone gays" and another it is "let gays marry" and then back goes the pendulum and the marriage rolls are consulted as to who may be stoned.  C'est la vie.

The criticisms of the Baptist legislator/preacher are lightweight thinking and ignorant.  But the problem lies in giving other people power over ourselves.  Repeal that and the controversies go away.

In the meantime, anyone without sin, within the people of the book, may stone anyone caught in the act.  In other words, it ain't gonna happen, in spite of the provision of the law.  Glad of that, since I've also broken different laws that would get me stoned.  The hard part is "go and sin no more."

Feel Free To Email This To Three Friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment