Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
Bookmark and Share

Does Scripture Exhort Christians to
Violence Against Homosexuals?

Rev. Angus Stewart


In a letter in the Belfast Telegraph of 24 March, 2011, a correspondent refers to the judge's upholding of freedom of speech in Sandown Free Presbyterian Church's advertisement explaining Scripture's opposition to homosexuality. Then he or she quotes Leviticus 20:13: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death," claiming that this exhorts Christians to violence.

The death penalty was for various sins in Old Testament Israel (such as wizardry, cursing parents, adultery, incest, sodomy, bestiality, etc., in Leviticus 20), and is called a cutting off (v. 17) or, more fully, a cutting off from among God's people (vv. 3, 5, 6, 18). The reason for this is that Israel must be holy (v. 7) with "no wickedness among" them (v. 14), for the Lord separated them from all other peoples that they should be His (vv. 24, 26). The execution of offenders against God's holiness in Israel was to be through judicial process (e.g., Lev. 24) and not by mere individuals, never mind unruly mobs.

When a member of the congregation in Corinth committed incest—one of the capital offences in Leviticus 20—Christ's apostle did not call for him to executed but to be excommunicated by the church. By God's grace, this was used to bring him to repentance and he was forgiven by the Lord and the saints, and restored to the congregation (II Cor. 2; 7).

In short, the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament's death penalty in Israel is the excommunication of impenitent church members for incest, adultery, bestiality, homosexuality, etc. (Rom. 1:26-27; I Cor. 6:9-11: Eph. 5:5). As regards non-church members, our calling is to bring the gospel of peace which promises the full forgiveness of all sins and spiritual strength to fight against our manifold lusts through the cross of Christ.