or adultery be recriminalised?
Western societies generally pride themselves on their tolerance and
freedom. In matters of race and culture, there is much to commend this
breadth of spirit, and Christian churches as well as being dismal
stalwarts of racism have from their inception (Acts 13.1) also been
pioneers of this proper pluralism. However it may be questioned whether
all forms of tolerance are right or healthy. HIV is a virus that promotes
tolerance in the body with fatal effects on its immune defence. We don't
tolerate unsafe driving practices, defective airplane designs, or
dangerously stored food, so why does our solicitous care end with the
carnal and the temporary, and why are we negligently reckless when it
comes to the spiritual? If we care about our children and citizenss
physical health, why are we so reckless about habits and practices that we
know very well will take them to Hell?
HIV invading a host cell (wiki)
Two common arguments arise at this point. The first is practicality, can
you really jail more than half the adult population for adultery? Indeed
this was Cromwell's problem and it shortly became the Puritans' in early
America. Law is at best a weak restraint on sin.
The second is where is the mandate for Christians to press for such laws?
Like the Lord, we are concerned for mercy and repentance not for
punishment per se, we'd much rather see Magdalene restored with tears,
than lashed like another poor Afghan victim of the Taliban. We also know
that many of our church members fully deserve to be under such a penalty,
indeed it is of the Lord's sheer mercies that all of us are not consumed
in Hell (Lament. 3.22). Often with dear martyr Robert Bradford, when
astonished at the latest depravity we mutter under our breaths, 'there but
for the grace of God, go I'. Similarly there's the allied question of
whether there is any propriety to Gentile Christians applying the
theocratic laws which were given to Moses for the State of Israel in its
These are both legitimate objections, and I don't propose to address them
now. Nevertheless, there is a basic question should idolatry or adultery
be punished by law in a healthy society? Should Christians have a view on
this? Is there a Christian view?
First a question of definition, idolatry is not simply any worship we
don't agree with but a violation of the second (yes second, not first)
commandment. It is a physical expression of worship to a visible
manifestation or representation of Deity. This does not include Judaism,
or many so-called Christian sects, like the Jehovah's Witnesses or other
Arians, for there is no visible form to which they offer worship. However
it most certainly does include Roman
, most branches of so called 'Orthodox' Christianity, Islam
, Buddhism and of course Hinduism along
with many other faiths. This kind of religious adoration will be universal
in the last days, (Rev.13.12-15) as it was in Shadrach's Babylon
(Dan.3.8-18). Adultery is any form of voluntary extra-marital sexual
intercourse, (holy matrimony being lawfully entered into according to the
creation ordinance by any consenting single man and single woman only) and
includes other sexual perversions.
Second a basic question, what is the law of the land for? Is it primarily
for our public or private good? This is the chief and only thought of
secular law makers, but Divine Law is an expression of our love for God
and His for us, remove the Law and we cannot see His love or care in any
focussed or specific personal way. Civil law is a faint reflection of
Our response to those who challenge any such suggestion of legislation is
based on the dear Patriarch Job.
It was Job, who centuries before Sinai or the Levitical covenant that
shields and enshrined the Law, wrote these most trenchant and relevant
' I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a
For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance
of the Almighty from on high?
Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the
workers of iniquity?
Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?' (Job.31.1-3)
' If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid
wait at my neighbour’s door;
Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon
For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be
punished by the judges.
For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root
out all mine increase.' (Job.31.9-12)
The word for 'iniquity to be punished' is עָוֹן פְּלִילִים
and as the AV indicates strongly indicates a crime worthy of
punishment by the civil magistrate. The word means, ' calling for
judgment, judicial, assessable, criminal'.
The same is indicated of the worship of the visible,
'If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in
And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my
This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should
have denied the God that is above.' (Job.31.26-28)
The expression defining a civil crime, 'an iniquity to be
punished by the judge'' is עָוֹן פְּלִילִים
, is the
same. Job would look at our benighted and decadent societies with
amazement and shame. How could such technologically advanced societies be
so willfully ignorant of their Creator and Designer, their own good, of
wisdom and discernment and the safety of their prosperity? 'Spoilt
dwarves, blind guides and moral cripples', he might well sigh, as he heard
our pedagogues and social architects pedalling their poisons on our
Secular judges and legislators may shudder and tremble at these Divine
requirements, but it is they that must first give account for the failure
to implement them. Desalinated Christians and church leaders must also
give account for having conceded to the docetic vogue of our evil age and
having failed to voice them, for with us the judgement of God shall surely
begin (1 Pet. 4.17).
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges
of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when
his wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.