All right, let’s get this out of the way right now:
Does the Bible say that Christians are supposed to kill homosexuals?
No, it doesn’t.
Okay, okay, calm down. There is quite a bit to say on this because I want to make sure I handle the Scripture rightly on this. Once again, for a subject commonly engaged with a great deal of emotion and where personal experience is valued over transcendent truth, I desire to take it out of that and into the realm of the testimony of the text.
Homosexuality is forbidden in the Mosaic law, in Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Leviticus 20:13 gives the punishment for this act: “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.” But again, as mentioned above with regards to Qur’anic commands to execute homosexuals, this is not a command given to all people anywhere to carry out as they wish. This is given to the people of Israel, within the framework of the Mosaic law, to be carried out in that legal system.
That system, of course, does not exist any longer in the sense of the ancient nation of Israel. There is a country called Israel that occupies roughly the same area geographically, but they do not hold themselves under this law. But what about Christians? How do we regard these passages?
My wife came up to me yesterday and asked me, “Does the Bible say we should kill gay people?” I was rather taken aback, since this subject doesn’t exactly come up on a regular basis. But as we discussed the issue, about what Scripture says and what a Christian response to an evil act like the Orlando nightclub shooting looks like, the discussion turned more to the responses she had seen on Facebook. And there are many understandable ones: What kind of person does something like this? How can we hope to stop this from happening again? Then there are ones that ask very pointed questions of Islam, as the shooter was a claimed adherent of Islam and, according to police, called 911 before or during the shooting and pledged allegiance to both ISIS and al Qaeda. Then there were some responses that involved Christians, both from the Christian side (such as “How should we be serving these people in their time of pain and loss?”) and from the secular side (most pointedly, “How can you say you love these people and pray for them when you say they are living in sin and condemned to hell?”)
I think these all deserve discussion from a Christian point of view. Most especially, they deserve discussion because when those around us experience pain and suffering, we should be ready to engage with them meaningfully–not with a pat answer and phony Christianese sunshine, but with the only real answer that matters, the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the hope it provides even in the darkest moments. I don’t intend to make this “the definitive Christian response” but I want to do my best to answer questions I know many of my friends have. I highly recommend listening to Dr. Albert Mohler’s excellent Briefing podcast episode from yesterday, as he calmly yet lovingly discusses some of the specifics from this issue. The Gospel Coalition also has some excellent posts, including one by Nabeel Qureshi, who converted from the Ahmadiyya denomination of Islam and is now a Christian apologist working with Ravi Zacharias’ ministry.
I’ll be putting up several posts over the next couple of days. I want to let this series of posts stand as a place to discuss the questions, responses, and frustrations of many, both Christian and not. I may update it as time goes on. Please feel free to post your own thoughts and anything you would like to see addressed in the comments below. I do moderate for spam and trolling, but I will never turn away honest and heartfelt questions and disagreement.
I want to divide this up into sections, beginning with the subject of the shooting itself and branching out to broader issues. For example:
- What kind of man could do something so horrible to people who have never hurt him?
- The shooter claimed to be a Muslim–was he really Muslim? Do all Muslims have to act like the shooter?
- Does the Bible say we are supposed to kill homosexuals?
- How can you say that you are praying for the victims and that you love them, when you condemn them and say they are in sin?
This is my prayerful and thoughtful attempt to bring a meaningful gospel response to a horrific and wicked act. I hope my readers can recognize this, and are willing to engage in that spirit.