The New Covenant Provides Contemporary Wisdom
Capital punishment for homosexuality has been implemented by a number of countries. The death penalty remains a legal punishment for homosexuality in several countries and regions, most of which have sharia-based criminal laws. In some areas, first offenses have a lesser penalty, such as flogging.
With the seeming acceptance of homosexuality and its rapid proliferation in many parts of the world, some professing Christians in America are claiming that the answer is to execute homosexuals, allegedly, “because that’s what the Bible teaches.”
The number of professing Christians in the U.S. who make this claim is growing every day. This American phenomenon has been credited with ultimately producing Uganda’s harsh anti-gay laws.
According to an article in The Independent published in March 2014 titled “How Uganda was seduced by anti-gay conservative evangelicals,” critics of Uganda’s harsh anti-gay laws blame the views of American Christian fundamentalists.
They argue that it is not homosexuality that has been imported from America but homophobia. Roger Ross Williams, director of God Loves Uganda, said “The anti-homosexuality bill would never have come about without the involvement of American fundamentalist evangelicals.”
One of the first to investigate links between American conservatives and the African anti-gay movement was a Zambian clergyman by the name of Kipya Kaoma. He explained that homosexuality was illegal in Uganda under existing colonial laws but, “Nobody was ever arrested or prosecuted based on those old laws. People turned a blind eye to it. Homosexuality was not a political issue.”
Is there any substance to these charges against American evangelicals? From my investigations, it seems that there is. There seems to be a growing movement among some Christians in our country to make the claim that, “the Bible teaches that homosexuals need to be executed.”
For example, a 2022 Newsweek headline read, “Pastor says ‘Solution’ to Gay People is Executions: It’s in the Bible.’ ”
The article says, “Pastor Dillon Awes said that the ‘solution’ to gay people is presented in the Bible: ‘They should be lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head.’ ”
Pastor Awes ministers at The Stedfast Baptist Church that moved this summer from Hurst, Texas, to Dallas. In a Sunday sermon focusing on the so-called “biblical solution to the problem of homosexuality,” Awes suggested that those who disagreed with his sermon were not real Christians because the execution of gays “is what God says.”
Tom Ascol, a well-known Calvinist Baptist pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla., blasted U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, when the senator called Uganda’s new “Kill the Gays Law” “horrific and wrong.”
“Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is grotesque and an abomination. ALL civilized nations should join together in condemning this human rights abuse,” Cruz tweeted.
In response, Pastor Ascol quoted the book of Leviticus, writing, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
Ascol asked, “Was this law God gave to His Old Covenant people ‘horrific and wrong?’ ”
Two hours later, Ascol tweeted, “Amazing how many professing Christians, even self-designated ‘conservative’ ones, are embarrassed by God’s Word. Just quote some unpopular words of God & watch what happens. Many so-called Christians react the same way that unashamed unbelievers do. It’s a commentary.”
What Does the Bible Really Say?
But is it really true that the Bible teaches we should execute homosexuals? Is that the biblical solution to an issue that has become one of the main subjects of discussion in today’s world—capital punishment for gays?
For those who want to apply Old Testament penalties to sinners today, consider the implications of such a practice. Do you want to put adulterers to death? Do you want to put sabbath-breakers to death? And what about blasphemers? Surely, they need to be stoned. Should the same then be true for rebellious children, witches, sorcerers, and idol-worshippers—execution?
For New Testament Christians, the purpose and meaning of Mosaic law is not the same as it was for Jews under the Old Covenant. For the Jew in ancient Israel, Mosaic law provided a blueprint for the civil order, a Divine directive to be carefully followed. For the New Testament Christian, Mosaic law provides types and shadows of Jesus whose life and ministry fulfilled those types and shadows.
The laws of the Old Testament are provisional and temporary. The revelations of the New are permanent and final. In fact, Hebrews 8:13 clearly spells it out, “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
We should not execute sinners on the basis of a law that “decayeth and waxeth old,” or in modern terms, is “obsolete.”
A Matter of Chromosomes
God’s laws and standards are unalterable. There are males and there are females. It’s not a matter of choice but a matter of chromosomes. Is homosexual practice still wrong in God’s sight? Most assuredly, yes. Is there ever a circumstance in which God will approve of a “homosexual marriage”? Never.
Just because I do not believe that homosexuals should be executed “because the Bible says so,” does not mean I am soft on the sin of homosexuality.
By now the reader knows that I don’t believe that practicing homosexuals should be executed. Please don’t think that I am soft on homosexual sin nor that I deny that homosexual practice is sinful behavior. I don’t deny that.
What I do deny is that behaviors considered capital offenses in the Old Testament should be considered capital offenses in today’s world by those no longer living under the Mosaic covenant. All Scripture is given for us, but not all Scripture is about us. Old Testament law was given to guide the principles and practices of the Old Covenant community.
We must not ignore the big differences between a Jewish theocracy and the New Testament church. Today, Jesus is building His church. This group is no longer defined by political and ethnic unity and obedience to the laws of a Jewish theocracy.
On the contrary, the church is a worldwide gathering of people from all nations, all ethnicities, scattered among all different political and national systems, and not identified with any one of them, unified only by their spiritual connections to the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
As long as Christians keep claiming the Bible teaches that we must execute homosexuals, we will consistently misrepresent the Word of God, increase opposition to the outreach of the church, and be the architects of our own misery.
The natural man is innately hostile to the message of salvation. Why feed that hostility by claiming that “the Bible says” when it really does not?