Should Christian Pastors Speak Out Against The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Laws? I Say No!
Posted by Job on December 26, 2009
Homosexual activists and others who would promote and proliferate various forms of disorder and perversion throughout the world have tried to target and discredit Uganda ever since they proved on a national scale that it was possible to successfully fight the spread of AIDS, and it was done through a Christian woman in the Ugandan public health department who advocated abstinence. Now it seems that such people have their opening: Uganda’s considering a law that would criminalize homosexuality.
Now make no mistake, in general I oppose efforts to legislate morality. The purpose of human institutions i.e. cultures and governments are to restrain evil, and because humans are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26) and are recipients of His common grace and used to achieve His purposes (Romans 13:1-8). However, because human institutions also reflect man’s fallen nature, they are incapable of achieving or imposing God’s righteousness and are not participants in or beneficiaries of special – that is saving – grace. Human institutions cannot and will not ever redeem cultures or nations. Instead, God will redeem His holy and elect nation, His church. Whenever a government passes the boundary of restraining evil, it becomes evil itself.
Now of course, the definition of government action which restrains evil varies with times and places because of the state of the culture. What restrains evil in some cultural contexts creates confusion and chaos in others. (This is a principle that was quickly discovered by Christian evangelists on the mission field who at times caused real problems by attempting to change offensive local practices before the minds and hearts were ready for such changes.) That is one reason why we need wise, honest and prudent rulers, governors and administrators.
So, a law against homosexual behavior in America would be utterly ridiculous in a nation whose culture has been defined by 40 years of the sexual revolution – and also humanistic Enlightenment ideas for centuries before that – and now has large numbers of homosexuals in positions of authority in government, academia, media, culture (and increasingly clergy!) and where large portions of the population of major cities have given themselves over to this abomination, either by participating in it or having pleasure in those who do (Romans 1:32). But, a law against homosexuality in a culture where the homosexual population, culture and influence is small and more importantly the prevailing cultural mindset does not embrace the idea that living to please oneself is the goal and duty of man’s existence (and yes, American culture has long exalted the individualistic ideal of pleasing oneself) may be practical and effective in restraining evil in that culture.
This is important because in order to restrain evil, a law must be practical and effective. If a law is impractical or ineffective, it increases evil by making a mockery of the law itself and the rulers and servants who administer it. That is precisely an issue in America, which is plunging into disorder in no small part because of a labyrinth of laws that can never be enforced, causing the populace to view our government and leaders as weak and ineffective. A law against homosexual behavior would only cause more people to despise and defy the government, making the ability of the government to restrain evil in other ways (i.e. enforce laws against murder and theft) that much more difficult.
But would such a law be practical, effective and necessary (another vital component, as laws must also be needed and not capricious vanities) in restraining evil in Uganda? To this only Ugandans know the answer. But if a law against homosexually is necessary, practical and effective in Uganda and thereby restrains evil, what basis does a Christian have for speaking against it? In Biblical terms, we have no reason.
Instead, the ability of such a law to restrain evil and the need for such a law is a matter for the Ugandan rulers to decide. Claiming otherwise is bad policy in the secular arena and bad theology in the Christian one. Yet many western Christian pastors and religious leaders are falling over themselves to criticize and denounce Uganda and in the process humiliate, undermine and make appear less effective government, rulers and administrators in an area that badly needs it (and yes, the failure of so many civil governments in Africa and the disastrous consequences of these failures is a major argument for one world government!) without stopping to consider that by acting against a government that appears to be effective at restraining evil that they are violating Romans 13:1-8. Why? In order not to offend mainstream sensibilities. In order to curry and maintain favor with those in power. In short, to be relevant.
Further, it is hypocritical for American pastors. What is the difference between a law against homosexuality and a law against polygamy? Please realize that where the Bible calls homosexuality a sin in both the Old and New Testament, it nowhere does so for polygamy. What about our laws regulating or criminalizing the use of some drugs (particularly allowing the ones that cause the most damage – alcohol and tobacco – to be legal while forbidding others)? What about our laws against gambling? Claims that either are based on the Bible is absurd. There are lots of things that are declared illegal by our laws but aren’t explicitly declared to be sins in the Bible.
And what of things that are illegal in America ONLY because they are declared to be sinful in the Bible? Best example: prostitution. Make a case that prostitution should be illegal without resorting to what the Bible says about fornication and adultery. You can’t. Plus the fact that pornography is legal makes laws against prostitution ridiculous. There are other areas also. Why, for instance, do statutory rape laws – a matter completely different from child molestation mind you – exist? And what about age-consent laws for marriage?
So, now we have the bizarre state of affairs where evangelical pastors in the west are speaking out against anti-homosexuality measures in Uganda while remaining silent concerning THOROUGHLY INEFFECTIVE measures against gambling, marijuana and polygamy (the state can only prosecute a person for legally marrying multiple spouses but can’t do a thing to prevent it socially or culturally, and yes religious groups can and do perform marriages to polygamists) in their own countries, and moreover lack the theological consistency to recognize that an anti-homosexuality law is no different from a law against prostitution or statutory rape in their own countries.
So, their stand is not based on the Bible, for if it were such pastors would – in order to be consistent – oppose our own laws against prostitution as well. But as the evangelical pastor who favors decriminalizing prostitution would soon find himself without a congregation – and the influence that comes from being a pastor of one – on this issue they remain silent. That exposes the danger of playing politics and attempting to mix being a religious leader and a secular one. It is, quite simply, impossible to be effective in both religious and secular leadership spheres because in the former you are leading (mostly) born again people and in the latter you are influencing (mostly) unsaved ones, and you are bound by the duties of your leadership to respond to the needs and desires of both. It is inevitable for the leadership spheres to be in conflict, and you must wind up choosing one over the other. As Jesus Christ said, you cannot serve both God and mammon, for you will either love one or hate the other.
This is not an argument against Christians being in government service or even against pastors’ having secular jobs. Instead, it is a statement that Christian pastors, when acting and speaking from the role of pastor with the authority of pastor, should rule wisely with wisdom, caution, prudence and consistency. Speaking out against Uganda’s anti-homosexuality laws because retaining your place of popularity and leadership in mainstream society requires that you do so falls short of this principle, especially if by doing so you ignore similar problems with our own government and laws. Pastors, concentrate on effectively serving your own churches first, and let God take care of the rest.