I’m sure you’ll all aware of Brunei’s recent announcement that homosexuality, adultery and apostasy are now punishable by stoning.
Many atheists are using this opportunity to draw parallels between this and Leviticus 20:13 which states:
Leviticus 20:13 New Living Translation (NLT)
13 “If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense."
Even if that law was only for the nation of Israel and limited in period, atheists say no killing for that crime is justifiable, so who would worship a God like that?
@JamesHunt I think the our first response must be to pray for mercy in this nation - mercy such as Christ showed the sinner and the outcast. May it be so!
The law of the Old Testament was given to a specific people at a specific point in world history for a specific purpose. It was never intended as a manifesto for governing a multicultural nation - not even in its original context. The law was given by God to set apart a special people for Himself so that they could be a light to the world and His presence could dwell among them. For God to dwell there, the people had to be holy - sin had to be addressed.
At this point in history - thousands of years later - God has sent Jesus to be the mediator of a better covenant.
Galatians 4:4-5 - But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
We must consider that God wants people to freely choose Him and is intervening at specific points in history in specific ways to try to achieve that goal. If we think of God as a missionary, He is approaching humanity in a way they can comprehend - He meets the world where it is at during a specific epoch of time.
When talking with someone who does not even believe in God there are lot of mental hurdles here - especially around the concept of sin.
isn’t sin just a set of cultural taboos that have been encoded?
why should I take sin seriously if I do not believe in the supernatural? And who would want to follow a God who punished you for enjoying yourself anyway?
how can you enforce your morality on someone else?
Before the Old Testament law can even begin to make sense, you at least have to establish that sin is meaningful as a category and that God is not just being a bully when He decides to enforce a certain morality on a whole nation.
Why is sin destructive?
How is our culture hypocritical in the way it excuses its own sin and denounces sins in other cultures?
Might not God be better positioned to know how we ought to use our bodies if He designed them?
I really do not think you will ever get anywhere with someone in a discussion regarding OT law unless they are willing to at least entertain the notion that sin is self-destructive and God exists. If they believe the entire law is just encoded human superstitions or cultural taboos, it is very difficult to communicate what is already a nuanced point within our own worldview.
God gave the “law of Moses” to a theocracy, of ancient Jews. It was a covenant, that each person had to choose to enter, or not.
The people of God in the New Testament do not live in a theocracy. The new covenant is a covenant (that people must choose to enter, or reject), but it is not given to govern a physical nation. The same category of “covenant-defiling” sins that God commands the death penalty for, in the law of Moses, God treats as grounds for expulsion from the people of God in the New Testament.
The moral/ethical code of God has not changed. The state of the individual who commits these sins (as is unrepentant) remains the same. They are under the condemnation of God. At the final judgment, they will receive the same condemnation.
For non-Christians who are looking at the Jewish/Christian moral/ethical code, from the outside, they may not accept the concept of an afterlife at all. So they may not recognize that the equivalency of the punishments in the law of Moses, and the New Testament. Or, they may not accept that what the Bible defines as covenant-defiling sins are even morally/ethically wrong.
I think that Christians need to follow the bridges of historic apologetics, that present the biblical concepts of the conscience and universal knowledge of basic right and wrong. And, the existence of a God who has revealed this universal moral/ethical code to all human beings, and will evaluate each of us at the final judgment based on this moral/ethical code. Someone who cannot accept these realities, has no context for considering gay/lesbian behavior is damaging to the individuals involved, and promoting gay/lesbian behavior is damaging to all who become convinced that this behavior is benign.