I believe I understand what Russell Moore and Andrew Walker were seeking to do with this piece, and I wish them well and applaud their efforts. There is much that is valuable about what they are saying, particularly in their recognition of the distinction between sins and crimes. However, comma . . .
The problem, as I see it, is embodied in a sentence near the end of their post. The context that makes it problematic is cultural climate in the West today. I do not say any of this to applaud the Ugandan legislation, about which I know nothing, but rather to point out how the forces of Progress in our nation use such things to maneuver us into a position that is much more to their liking.
“The jailing and execution of people for consensual sexual immorality, in contexts like we see in many places around the world, isn’t Christian, either.”
This sentiment rests on a particular understanding of the old order, the order of Christendom, at the very time that this order is under a full scale assault, by the very people this sentiment is designed to protect.
I have perhaps said it before, but my pastoral philosophy of ministry is summed up by this: “What would I do here if I were the devil?” and then try to counter that. And if I were the devil, I would take this sentence, and then take two steps beyond it.
The first step beyond it, if once we have established that consensual sexual immorality ought not to be a crime, is to start promoting various forms of consensual sexual immorality that the state would have a necessary interest in discouraging. Things like adultery and prostitution come to mind. Prostitution can be as consensual as buying a can of beans is.
When it comes to sexual immorality, the human heart is amazingly creative, and since the forces of immorality are not at all interested in finding some peaceable point of equilibrium with us, they will find multiple ways to push the boundaries. They can always figure out ways to push us that will require the defending culture, if it acts, to act with some form of a civil penalty that represses their consensual immorality. It may not be jailing and execution, the penalties they mentioned, but anything else the modern state does — fines, deportation, etc. — depend upon the power to jail. Why should the marriage partner who didn’t commit adultery get the kids? And so forth. Why should the state get to penalize someone for what was a consensual sexual act between a boss man and his secretary?
Also, incidentally, I am not here trying to build my ideal biblical libertarian republic from scratch. You have to play cards with the hand you were dealt, and you should dance with the one what brung ya. So the immediate question is not whether prostitution was criminalized in Moses’ Israel, about which I have opinions, but rather what the practical effect would be in the present if it were decriminalized in 49 states. Such a decriminalization could not be separated from the current push for widespread acceptance of every form of sexual deviance, and it puts Moore and Walker in the awkward position of advocating for the decriminalization of prostitution because of how our forebears treated the Baptists. But I can’t imagine that this is what they would want — although the structure of their argument seems to require it.
So why worry about what Uganda might do to criminalize a consensual sexual act? Why aren’t Christians fighting the injustice of criminalized consensual acts sexual here?
When the bad guys have pushed that kind of thing sufficiently, they will then take the next step. In fact, their agenda is far enough along that they have already been taking it. What’s with that tired old category consensual? The first place that this comes under assault is with age of consent laws. Those laws presuppose the old order of Christendom, and a childhood protected from sexual predations was a cultural artifact of the Christian gospel. I thank God for it. The apostles of Progress are trying to dismantle the entire thing, and I really don’t think we should be helping them in any way.