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Dear Sirs,

I refer to your newsletter NEWS 59 which quotes Leviticus 20:13 :

"If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they should surely be put to death....".

Where would you draw the line between -

'This text can be understood in a "straight" forward way'


- 'This order is no longer valid for us Christians today (because we are no longer
under the law etc. etc.)'?

In other words: Would you, relying on this text, be in favour of death penalty for sexually active gays? If not, how do you justify that the moral condemnation is still valid
for you, but the penalty isn't?

This was the gist of the query.

The REPLY may interest or prove helpful to some, and hence it is included. Naturally, the source of the query is not relevant here. The main reply from WWWW follows.


Your question was of interest, and it so happens that I have just constructed two new parts of Joyful  Jottings (available in the first left hand margin on the Home Page, by hyperlink), Numbers 27 and 28, which relate in terms of basic, underlying principles to your question. I do recommend you read these for perspective and orientation. If you still should have further questions, please actively pursue any element of interest. The scripture has enormous depth, and repays the bathyscope.

Meanwhile, your questions I shall take one at a time.

This line is firstly that of power, second of authority and third, of final authority (such as the Romans held for execution of Christ, something denied to the Sanhedrin). Christ said,
"My kingdom is not of this world," (John 18).

Hence it does not use the implements of the kingdoms of this world. The 'peculiar people', or 'people of His own' of  I Peter 2:9 is no longer formed into a theocracy. THAT has served its educative purpose, and now this new international formula serves its own place. THAT, the theocracy,  showed the reality of justice, judgment and righteousness, and that it MATTERS. THIS, the body of Christ throughout the world, drawn out from it,  shows the reality of the mercy (always available, but now highlighted abundantly) which is NEEDED to avoid the intense penalties of law on sin. In EACH, the other is present; in each there is a specialisation. The SEQUENCE of the specialisation is itself a teaching lesson.

THUS the penalty of death is now applicable in the style of WHAT IS HIS KINGDOM - namely in terms of exclusion from it, of being cut off from the King and people spiritually - as is explicitly stated in I Corinthians 6:9-10. The remedy is to be "justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (I Cor.6:11), and the Biblically defined RESULT of this in terms of living we shall look into shortly (it is also found in Joyful Jottings 27, 28, the two noted earlier).

Thus II Timothy 3:16 instructs us that the law is suitable for "instruction in righteousness". Righteousness does not change; the penalties associated with its APPLICATION vary, but not in kind, merely in quality and disposition. As to sin, God is against it, and as seen in the Old Testament (and indeed in the New) such sin He penalises it most heavily ALWAYS. It is not however a sin that cannot be covered and the soul that sins is not a soul that cannot be converted. Adultery can damn too, if not repented, in heart and spirit.

No. Emphatically not. Even if a "church" HAD somehow gained a political rule, I should not deem this apt. The theocracy is NO LONGER AUTHORISED AS THE MODE OF GOD'S EXPRESSION CORPORATELY, so that its laws and powers, apt for a social-political-legal-theological unit are no longer applicable. The discipline of the CHURCH is at most exclusion. The JUDGMENTS are for later on, for the impenitent; but now is the day of salvation (II Cor. 6:1). Emphasis is vast and the desire is profound, to this end.
NO NATION is allowed to claim this power or right of governing the church, for the body of Christ is now THE CHURCH (Ephesians 2:19-22, 4:15-16, I Cor. 12:27ff.). It is international and dispersed.

The church, for its own part has authority only as and while it obeys the Lord, for as Paul stated, in II Cor. 13:8ff., "For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth... Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord has given me to edification, and not to destruction." THIS is his mission.

So the disciples are sent AS He was sent (John 20:21), subject to authority and to express it according to His word; and HE was sent not to condemn, but that the world might be saved. Indeed, even His own doctrine He did not preach, for the Father had given Him a commandment what He should say (John 12:48-50). IF of course HE as Saviour and Lord was rejected, then, His mission rejected, the longstanding judgments simply remained (as in John 8:23-24), and the destiny of the rebellious is merely defined in the very presence of the light. This is very precisely put in John 15:22-24.

Again, the death penalty is expressly not apt for a kingdom "NOT of this world". As we have just noted, in John 3:17 we find that He came not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved.

Saving produced pardon PLUS the dictum,  "GO AND SIN NO MORE ," (John 8:1ff. etc.), the invariant requirement of righteousness (read carefully Joyful Jottings 27,28 and note Romans 5:21).

It is not, then, a 'mere' moral condemnation which is in view in the case you note, but a spiritual abomination, by God. It is one of a group of allied sins. Its impact is now revealed in an ultimate and eternal sense - the 'ante' rises. However, the condemnation remains.

What we are dealing with, seeing it in its divine creation perspective, is not simply SOME ONE SIN: it is rather an EXAMPLE of design breach which fouls up the works of the spirit within, the heart and the emotions, BECAUSE these are not suffered to have that orientation devised by the Almighty when making us a physical format designed to be capable of fellowship with Himself. HE has no body (except when and as incarnated, an excursion mode), being a Spirit (John 4); but for those who DO have bodies, this is the way in which the full-orbed range of family, romance, adventure, friendship, domesticity and so on, is arranged.

Neither physically nor spiritually has He organised it in another way. This reality is all obvious scripturally, but the point I am wanting to make is this: that it is repugnant to Him for adultery and sodomy and all the rest, because it trifles with what has been prepared in the rainbow grandeurs which are nevertheless quite precise in their provisions.

That however is not to the immediate point of your question, merely a background to prevent law as seeming the whole issue: rather it is expressive of it in a particular formulation. The substance goes beyond. Law regulates, it does not create. It deals with wrong-doing, as Paul indicates in I Timothy 1; it is not the substance itself (see I Timothy 1:5,9). This in no way adds to my answer to the immediate point of your question; but it is valuable always to see things in their setting.
But let us return to the law as such.

The penal force of the law is what Christ BORE (Galatians 3:1-13) for those who receive Him (Romans 8:32); and that is for them thus fulfilled. The grace that bore, however, for His own, is that which "reigns through righteousness to eternal life " - Romans 5:21. It does not reign through unrighteousness: that is the exact opposite in fact.

Judgment comes later for the recalcitrant, for whom no grace relates, no regeneration is desired, no crucifixion of the "old man" (cf. Galatians 2:20, 5:24) is tolerable; and it comes as graphically shown in Revelation, to the very place of heaven - by EXCLUSION (Revelation 21:8). With this, as with any other sin, it is either repented, with a repentance not to be repented of, or it is not (II Cor. 7:10, I John 3).

If it is, it is covered;  if it is not, it stays. WHEN it is, the whole being is changed, the various sins and the sin itself which has dominated the sinful personality, being covered, the spirit cleansed, the heart renewed and the life regenerated.

Please do feel free to correspond: it is good to hear from you ...

(Philippians 1:20-21)