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ERLC: Criminalizing homosexuals unjust

Tom Strode writes for Baptist Press:

ugandaA government that criminalizes homosexual behavior “has overstepped its bounds drastically and unjustly,” say two leading Southern Baptist ethicists.

Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), and Andrew Walker, director of policy studies for the same entity, wrote in a March 3 essay they remain aligned with the Bible’s view of sexuality while also contending homosexuals should not be targeted by the law.

They believe, Moore and Walker said, what the church has affirmed traditionally and universally — “that sexuality is to be expressed only within the one-flesh union of the marriage of a man to a woman. Anything else is a sin against God. The church has believed this, and will always believe this, because the Bible teaches it.

“At the same time, we believe laws criminalizing homosexual activity to be unjust and an affront to the image of God embedded in all persons,” they wrote in the commentary, which was posted at the ERLC’s “Canon & Culture” blog channel.

The comments from Moore and Walker came in the wake of additional countries criminalizing homosexual activity.

Uganda enacted a law Feb. 24 that includes life sentences for people convicted of repeated homosexual activity and imprisonment for “aiding and abetting” homosexuality, according to a March 7 article by The Christian Science Monitor. In January, Nigeria approved a similar measure that authorizes 10-year prison sentences for same-sex couples observed kissing publicly and people visiting a gay club, the newspaper reported.

The United Nations (U.N.) reports 78 countries either have laws that criminalize homosexual behavior or have prosecuted lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people under other laws. Seven regimes — mostly Islamic states in Africa and the Middle East — have authorized capital punishment for homosexual conduct, according to the U.N.

Their principal reason for opposing such laws is the Gospel of Jesus, said Moore and Walker, who wrote, “Not everything that is sinful should be a crime.”

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Russell Moore: When Jesus’ priorities become our priorities

When you work for justice, and when you do it with the Gospel at the center, you’re following in the way of Christ, Russell Moore told college students at the NAE‘s Christian Student Leadership Conference this past week.

Click image to watch the video

Click image to watch the video

When Jesus’ priorities to become our priorities, believers “start caring about what it takes to cause the people around us to flourish, what it means for them to live in ways in which they are blessed rather than cursed,” Moore said.

That’s the reason why we care about the unborn when the rest of the world would want to dehumanize them by speaking of them simply as zygotes and embryos and fetuses and unplanned pregnancies. That’s the reason why we care about people who are suffering with AIDS and with other diseases. That’s why we care about women who are being trafficked. That’s why we care about immigrant communities that are suffering. That’s why we care about people who are in prison.

Some Christians worry that focusing on justice will detract from either the Gospel or mission of Jesus, and that’s a legitimate concern “because there are all sorts of people who would rather think about the common good than the Gospel,” Moore said. But “the mission of Jesus is the extension of the life of Jesus,” he said.

Jesus preaches the kingdom of God, never backs down from preaching the Gospel with Himself as the center of it. And as He does that, Jesus listens to the cries of those who are vulnerable around Him in order to work toward well-being and the common good. He preaches. He heals. He casts out demons. He feeds. He listens. He touches. He loves.

When we respond to the cries of the unborn, when we welcome the orphan, when we hold the diseased, when we in our own churches first signify to the rest of the world that no one is without value, no one is without dignity, no one is without worth, all we’re doing is by the power of the Holy Spirit being conformed into the image of Jesus so that His priorities are our priorities, His mission is our mission, and His future is our future.

Read the full text of this excellent article by Tom Strode by clicking here.

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