In a column on the American Family Association website, Bryan Fischer, host of the AFA broadcast Focal Point said the New Testament teaches that the state should criminalize homosexual behavior.
He bases this on a spurious reading of I Timothy chapter 1, saying:
I received a complaint from a listener to my “Focal Point” radio program, complaining that I had suggested that it is appropriate to impose legal sanctions on those who engage in homosexual behavior. Here is my response. The individual’s name was not attached to the email, so I wasn’t able to address him by name.
Hi!Thanks for writing me about my comments on my program regarding homosexuality.It might be worth noting that what I actually suggested is that we impose the same sanctions on those who engage in homosexual behavior as we do on those who engage in intravenous drug abuse, since both pose the same kind of risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. I’d be curious to know what you think should be done with IV drug abusers, because whatever it is, I think the same response should be made to those who engage in homosexual behavior.If you believe that what drug abusers need is to go into an effective detox program, then we should likewise put active homosexuals through an effective reparative therapy program.Secondly, I’m afraid you’re simply wrong about the Bible’s perspective on the law and homosexuality.
Paul lists quite explicitly in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 the actions and behaviors that are the proper concern of the law:
“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine…”
The bottom line here is that, biblically, those “who practice homosexuality” should come under the purview of the law just as much as those who take people captive in order to sell them into slavery.
You express a belief in the Scriptures, and I trust your confidence in Scripture is not selective. If you believe all Scripture is inspired, then you are compelled to accept that legal sanctions may appropriately be applied to those who engage in homosexual behavior.
Thank you for contacting us, and I hope this response will help you think in a thorough and biblical way about this important social issue.
Bryan Fischer, Host, “Focal Point” radio program on AFR Talk, a division of the American Family Association
© Bryan Fischer
I wonder what punishments Mr. Fischer would impose on the “unholy and profane?” How about liars? And the quite broad category of folks: Sinners?
One contributor to the mischief is Mr. Fischer’s misreading of the word law in I Timothy. Paul is writing Timothy to warn him about false teachers who want the Mosaic law applied to the followers of Jesus. Elsewhere Paul taught that the law was a “schoolmaster” which demonstrated the need for the good news of the gospel of redemption by belief in Christ. Mr. Fischer needs to spend some quality time reading Galatians chapters 1-4.
Paul is giving Timothy religious instructions and not saying that the civil law is given to prosecute various actions at odds with Christian teaching. Paul demonstrates that spiritual salvation is view, not civil punishment, when he writes later in I Timothy 1:
12 though I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: howbeit I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief;
13 and the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
14 Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief:
15 howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all his longsuffering, for an ensample of them that should thereafter believe on him unto eternal life.
16 I thank him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he counted me faithful, appointing me to his service;
Fischer apparently believes this passage somehow justifies civil penalties for homosexuality. Not at all. In fact, if anything, it argues that the proper role of the church is to proclaim redemption, rather than lobby for new laws against private conduct.