Law and Love – New Era of Change – Part 9 – LGBTQIA++

Law and Love – New Era of Change – Part 9 – LGBTQIA++ May 12, 2022

Why is there law?

“It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality [sex] of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.” – 1 Corinthians 5:1

“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.” – 1 Timothy 1: 5-7

“… law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,” – 1 Timothy 1: 9-10

Before moving from the Hebrew Bible about LGBTQ to the Apostle Paul’s view on LGBTQ, a complete understanding of the relationship of Christianity to Judaic Law is essential. It’s poorly understood and so lends itself to abuse. Some want the Good News of forgiveness to fade away while others want to drag favorite laws from Judaism into Christianity. But does the law create morality?

Necessities first – understanding law

Martin Luther King on law by US Mission Geneva on Flickr
Martin Luther King on law by US Mission Geneva on Flickr

Let’s talk about law

For many, attitudes toward Biblical law and societal law are identical. But we all sin – we do things to others that aren’t right and boot God out of our lives because of it. God is love. Without forgiveness and making amends we drag those things along with us and it destroys our lives and relationships.

“Some level of participation in criminal activity is normal, especially during adolescence and among males. Almost all citizens act dishonestly, commit crimes, and behave in antisocial ways at some point in their lives. Most will have committed more than one crime.

“Most people offend infrequently and soon age out of committing crime. Involvement in criminal behavior peaks in adolescence (ages 14–17) and then generally fades rapidly. “Some level of participation in criminal activity is normal, especially during adolescence and among males. Almost all citizens act dishonestly, commit crimes, and behave in antisocial ways at some point in their lives. Most will have committed more than one crime.

“Most people offend infrequently and soon age out of committing crime. Involvement in criminal behavior peaks in adolescence (ages 14–17) and then generally fades rapidly.”

Analyzing and Responding to Repeat Offending – ASU Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Do countless laws work?

We make countless laws in the US. Law and order is the endless refrain of many in politics. The US has the highest incarceration rate per 100,000 people. How’s that working for us? Apparently not well. Should we make more?

“Most people who have served time in prison do re-offend.”

“… the latest review of the available evidence looked at 57 rigorous studies and found not only that imprisonment fails to decrease re-offending but that it actually increases crime. This review concluded that incarceration raises the rate of re-offending to somewhere between five and 14 percent.”
Politicians Love Punishment—But Does It Actually Reduce Crime? – Literary Hub

Our brimming prisons are proof that legislating ethical and moral behavior into law has minimal impact on people’s conduct. Some of us by our nature will follow the rules. Others won’t. Moral behavior requires a change of heart. It requires an attitude of love. Only a few are restrained just by rules or law.

Gun offenders more likely to commit crime again, says study – Chicago Tribune

“A study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission released last month reported more than two-thirds — 68 percent — of federal gun offenders were re-arrested within eight years of being released from prison, compared to less than half — 46 percent — of non-firearm offenders.”

Should we lock up more people?

We seem to think that everyone needs law for guidance. It’s ineffective, and “A much smaller number of persistent and prolific offenders are responsible for a substantial proportion of all crime. Roughly half the crimes committed can be attributed to those identified as prolific offenders.”
Politicians Love Punishment—But Does It Actually Reduce Crime? – Literary Hub

Locking up people leads to a bad outcome so we should try not to do that because it makes things worse. It’s only a small specific set of people who should be locked away.

Understanding the problem of law offenders

There are clear differences between offenders and the reasons they offend. For those under age 27, they may not yet realize the consequences of their actions. Like ten-year-old kids you can tell them not to do something, but with no appreciation of why they just do it anyway. People tend to be like this, and for the younger age group they think they’re invulnerable and either they won’t get caught or it won’t affect them. Not all kids are the same – some just need a glance.

We think everyone has morals from birth. Nope. Moral development is a continuum, and some people never develop morals even if they call themselves Christians. They may have a measure of empathy and compassion but not ethics or morality. Piaget, Kohlberg, others, and Wayne Fowler (Stages of Faith) have each built on the previous person’s work to show moral development, and understanding this is a major key to understanding people age 4 through 30. Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development. – Simply Psychology

Poverty and crime

There is a correlation between crime and economic situations such as poverty or perceived economic stress. During the Great Recession the crime rate actually dropped for a while, but has picked up again.

During the Great Depression, when things looked hopeless for many, crime picked up until the New Deal put people back to work, then it went down again. How Economic Depressions Impact Criminal Behavior – Attorney John Razumich.

Pockets of poverty have high crime rates and high gun crime. They are difficult to understand. But the gist is young adults and their parents don’t have access to transportation that can get them to good jobs, so they are economically stuck. They feel they have no way out of their situation but crime pays. Gangs create family and opportunity.  But if these problems are attacked properly with the right resources and resolve to spend years fixing them, they can be fixed. Systemic and intractable problems – Part 3 – inner cities. – Dorian Cole on Nations Agenda.

For problems like drugs which are a gateway to crime, drug courts have been very helpful in getting people off of drugs instead of sending them to prison.

Shame and repeat offenders

We also have to look at the psychological effects of crime: Guilt and shame. One is helpful, the other is counterproductive.

“The findings show that inmates who feel guilt about specific behaviors are more likely to stay out of jail later on, whereas those that are inclined to feel shame about the self might not.”

Why is that?

“When people feel guilt about a specific behavior, they experience tension, remorse, and regret,” the researchers write. “Research has shown that this sense of tension and regret typically motivates reparative action — confessing, apologizing, or somehow repairing the damage done.

“Feelings of shame, on the other hand, involve a painful feeling directed toward the self. For some people, feelings of shame lead to a defensive response, a denial of responsibility, and a need to blame others — a process that can lead to aggression.” –  After Committing a Crime, Guilt and Shame Predict Re-Offense. Association for Psychological Science

Prevention, not punishment, works best

“Prevention is the first imperative of justice” – United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – Crime Prevention

“There is clear evidence that well-planned crime prevention strategies not only prevent crime and victimization, but also promote community safety and contribute to sustainable development of countries. Effective, responsible crime prevention enhances the quality of life of all citizens. It has long-term benefits in terms of reducing the costs associated with the formal criminal justice system, as well as other social costs that result from crime.” (Economic and Social Council resolution 2002/13, annex)”

Crime has dropped dramatically despite what politicians say

Despite what people think and politicians say, crime has dropped dramatically in the US over the last 30 years.

What the data says (and doesn’t say) about crime in the United States – Pew Research Center

Crime Rate Drastic Drop - Pew Research
Crime Rate Drastic Drop – Pew Research

Do we need law?

Despite the thoughts of the ancients, we don’t live in a world where the law makes everyone walk a narrow path. If it creates shame it is likely to cause repeat offences. Young adults are the worst offenders and they grow out of that stage in their moral development. Most crimes are committed by a small group of people committed to crime.

So do we need law? Having a guiding law doesn’t hurt unless it’s unnecessarily hurting people. We have the law in our hearts so know when we’re hurting others. As people are developing, the wisdom of the ages can be one component in moral development and behavior. The individual cited by Paul who was having sex with his father’s wife is one example.

We have to keep in mind that we’ve already as Christians dismissed most of the 613 Laws found in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible because they simply aren’t relevant. Divorce, hair covering, and women wearing pants wearing pants were dismissed in the 20th Century. Laws should be based on reality not ignorance.

What we see is that moral instruction doesn’t stop crime or breaking a moral code. In fact sending people to prison increases recidivism rates (repeat offenders), and shame does the same. Most crimes are not done by most of the people, but a small group of offenders who want that way of life.

Take Home Points

Conclusion 1 on Law

Jesus understood the inability of law to correct people’s behavior. He focused on love, giving it a preeminent place in his theology.

It’s not wrong to have rules for society to live by, but as an organizational principle and enforcement mechanism we know that it not only doesn’t work, it can make things worse.

What law can do is remove people from society whose only goal is to harm others, or to get what they want at any expense to others. They aren’t most people who offend the law. We need to remember Paul’s admonition: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain …” And don’t forget to forgive because shame helps no one.

It’s clear from the apostles that everything is legal but not necessarily good for us, and trying to return to the law makes us subject to judgement by the law, which only condemns. God’s law is in our hearts and if we don’t feel condemned by it then our behavior is okay.

Everyone knows God’s law in their heart. There is no need for people to go around instructing others about law.

We need to increase our understanding of why people break laws and work on preventing this as much as we can.

The next two articles are on law, Paul, and love.

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Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.

– Dorian

  • Additional references

Promiscuous America: Smart, Secular, and Somewhat Less Happy. Institute For Family Studies.

How Casual Sex Can Affect Our Mental Health. Psychology Today

https://christianstudies.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/230/

Free Speech – Rabbi Berel Wein.

Judaism and the Gays: Part 1 – Dealing with Mishcav Zachar. Oral Torah.

Sexual Morality? Is it the same today as in 1200 BCE?

Some series references:

How to Keep Millennials Engaged in Church – on Patheos

What Is Meant by Truth? – on Patheos

Tabernacle of Hate – False Religion – on Patheos

10 Reforms Christianity Needs to Make Right Now – on Patheos

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The standard of belief and conduct for Christianity is love. Legal standard.

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If you find these articles intriguing, please consider joining the mailing list.

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Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.

– Dorian

About Dorian Scott Cole
Additional information about the author is on the About tab. You can read more about the author here.

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