Friday, March 28, 2014

Is all sin criminal?

Without any heart fanfare, the news this morning made mention of the the fact that as from midnight gay marriage becomes legal in the UK (or maybe just England and Wales, I'm not sure). anyway, I was wondering when the first pronouncements might be made about this from those who have spoken so loudly about it in the past and what it says about our society's general decline. Now I've blogged before about how I see the issue and that in my opinion it isn't the ultimate threat to our way of life that some evangelicals would suggest. I'm also not so sure that the floods and storms are necessarily God's angry response to our secular government's decision to pas this measure into law.

And that's the point. We live in a secular society, and the best secular society can do is to protect the rights of all its members, or seek to do so.

In the shower this morning I was thinking about this and wondered how a conversation might go between myself and someone who wanted to understand what I thought about the whole thing. Where would my emphasis be? What questions would I raise and what reasons might I give? In the end, what is my theology, or rather how does my theology work itself out in practise over such an issue.

I remember reading John Stott's Issues Facing Christian Today when it first came out in the early 80's/late 70's. What I took away from that book wasn't necessarily a series of systematic doctrines about certain issues, but rather a way of thinking about things that was hopefully more Biblical than just textual (i.e. based on a broader understanding of the whole Bible than just the direct application of a handful of proof texts). I wasn't thinking about the book in the shower, but it's that thing about facing issues and thinking "Christinanly" about them that's the key.

I wonder if the reason we, as Christians, have got ourselves in a stir over this and other things is that we have confused the idea of what does not honour God (i.e. sin) and what is criminal. It seems to me that while all crime is  a sin, because all crime surely offends God, not all sin is a crime. Think about it for a moment. We don't criminalise lying, except when under oath in a court, but telling untruths is surely listed as dishonouring God. Similarly we don't arrest a couple for setting up home together yet from a biblical perspective we would probably agree that such a choice does not sit comfortably in the context of a desire to live a God-honouring life.

So there you have it. not fully worked out, not all the nuances explored, just a simple thought: Is all sin a crime? You tell me.

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