Uganda may pass a law that could lead to the death penalty for homosexual behavior.

The proposed law is odious.

Due to the legacy of colonialism, Western people should be sensitive about interfering in sub-Saharan African politics and modest in making moral pronouncements regarding Africa, but this law deserves universal condemnation. Uganda experienced many evils under colonialism, including the loss of basic liberties.

Experiencing evil does not give a free pass to do evil and this bill is wicked.

It is not a close call.

No good can come of this bill and great harm will be done if it is passed.

Some fringe Evangelical support may be behind the bill and so American Evangelicals have some obligation to comment and urge rejection of this hateful, useless, and dangerous piece of legislation by all Christians.

Hopefully conservatives who follow the Prince of Peace would not need much persuading to convince them that this is a bad bill. However, since at least some extremists have supported it, an argument is necessary.

Traditional Christians should strongly oppose this bill on moral, political, and pragmatic grounds.

Morally, the bill is bad for numerous reasons.

First and most importantly, it places the life of the citizens of Uganda, fellow humans created God’s image, in peril for grossly insufficient reasons. A Christian can only support loss of liberty or the death penalty in order to protect society from peril to other citizens that cannot be handled in any gentler manner.

The application of any law is always harsh and removes the element of mercy.

This law denies the humanity of a class of Ugandan citizens, because it is so harsh, singling out one private vice for extreme public punishment, that it effectively dehumanizes a class of persons.

No sinner can vote for this bill without tacitly rejecting the Golden Rule and I have not heard that any legislature is dominated by saints.

Second, the punishments in the bill are radically disproportionate to any harm done through the putative crimes, even if one views them as crimes. Punishment must always fit the crime!

Finally, the bill forces citizens who dissent from the bill to act as government informers or face prosecution. Such a strong state intrusion into the private conscience of a man should only be done for the gravest reasons and there are no adequate reasons to deny soul liberty in this bill.

There are sound political reasons for a conservative to oppose this bill.

This expansion of government power anticipated in such a bill is enormous. The bill strips family and church of the power to deal with a pastoral and family issue and gives this power to the state. The intrusion of the state into family and church life would be immense.

Caesar should not be given this much power or the last word in every area of morality. Will pastors turn in parishioners? Will the hearts of children by turned from their parents? Will this lead to a society in which issues are discussed or an ugly culture of hypocrisy and hiding?

Pragmatically this is a very bad bill for traditional Christians. Of course, the main reason to oppose the bill is that it is morally bankrupt, but it is also useless and counterproductive and associates the good name of traditional Christians with barbarism.

Christians do not think everything immoral should be illegal and no Christian should be eager to extend the death penalty. Most of us who support the death penalty only do so in extreme cases where society can be protected in no other way.

Nothing is more likely to turn people off to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in other parts of the world than an immoral association of Christians with brutal statism.

Where we have little political power, Christians rightly demand freedom to practice their faith. Where we have greater political power as in Uganda, we have an obligation to extend the same courtesy to those who disagree with us as much as is compatible with public order. It is hypocritical  to argue that we should be left alone in California and demand the death penalty for those whose behavior upsets us in Uganda.

But protecting the dignity of human life, the moral issue, is the vital one. Even if all the world approved, Christians should not support this bill.

More on: Culture, Politics

Articles by John Mark Reynolds

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