Puritan Board Sophomore
Since adultery is transgression of the moral law, would the stoning of the adulterer also be considered part of the moral law?
Does this also apply to homosexuality?
Does this also apply to homosexuality?
Institutes of the Christian Religion
OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT.
14. In states, the thing next in importance to the magistrates is laws, the strongest sinews of government, or, as Cicero calls them after Plato, the soul, without which, the office of the magistrate cannot exist; just as, on the other hand, laws have no vigour without the magistrate. Hence nothing could be said more truly than that the law is a dumb magistrate, the magistrate a living law. As I have undertaken to describe the laws by which Christian polity is to be governed, there is no reason to expect from me a long discussion on the best kind of laws. The subject is of vast extent, and belongs not to this place. I will only briefly observe, in passing, what the laws are which may be piously used with reference to God, and duly administered among men. This I would rather have passed in silence, were I not aware that many dangerous errors are here committed. For there are some who deny that any commonwealth is rightly framed which neglects the law of Moses, and is ruled by the common law of nations. How perilous and seditious these views are, let others see: for me it is enough to demonstrate that they are stupid and false. We must attend to the well known division which distributes the whole law of God, as promulgated by Moses, into the moral, the ceremonial, and the judicial law, and we must attend to each of these parts, in order to understand how far they do, or do not, pertain to us. Meanwhile, let no one be moved by the thought that the judicial and ceremonial laws relate to morals. For the ancients who adopted this division, though they were not unaware that the two latter classes had to do with morals, did not give them the name of moral, because they might be changed and abrogated without affecting morals. They give this name specially to the first class, without which, true holiness of life and an immutable rule of conduct cannot exist.
15. The moral law, then (to begin with it), being contained under two heads, the one of which simply enjoins us to worship God with pure faith and piety, the other to embrace men with sincere affection, is the true and eternal rule of righteousness prescribed to the men of all nations and of all times, who would frame their life agreeably to the will of God. For his eternal and immutable will is, that we are all to worship him and mutually love one another. The ceremonial law of the Jews was a tutelage by which the Lord was pleased to exercise, as it were, the childhood of that people, until the fulness of the time should come when he was fully to manifest his wisdom to the world, and exhibit the reality of those things which were then adumbrated by figures (Gal. 3:24; 4:4). The judicial law, given them as a kind of polity, delivered certain forms of equity and justice, by which they might live together innocently and quietly. And as that exercise in ceremonies properly pertained to the doctrine of piety, inasmuch as it kept the Jewish Church in the worship and religion of God, yet was still distinguishable from piety itself, so the judicial form, though it looked only to the best method of preserving that charity which is enjoined by the eternal law of God, was still something distinct from the precept of love itself. Therefore, as ceremonies might be abrogated without at all interfering with piety, so, also, when these judicial arrangements are removed, the duties and precepts of charity can still remain perpetual. But if it is true that each nation has been left at liberty to enact the laws which it judges to be beneficial, still these are always to be tested by the rule of charity, so that while they vary in form, they must proceed on the same principle. Those barbarous and savage laws, for instance, which conferred honour on thieves, allowed the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, and other things even fouler and more absurd, I do not think entitled to be considered as laws, since they are not only altogether abhorrent to justice, but to humanity and civilised life.
16. What I have said will become plain if we attend, as we ought, to two things connected with all laws—viz. the enactment of the law, and the equity on which the enactment is founded and rests. Equity, as it is natural, cannot be the same in all, and therefore ought to be proposed by all laws, according to the nature of the thing enacted. As constitutions have some circumstances on which they partly depend, there is nothing to prevent their diversity, provided they all alike aim at equity as their end. Now, as it is evident that the law of God which we call moral, is nothing else than the testimony of natural law, and of that conscience which God has engraven on the minds of men, the whole of this equity of which we now speak is prescribed in it. Hence it alone ought to be the aim, the rule, and the end of all laws. Wherever laws are formed after this rule, directed to this aim, and restricted to this end, there is no reason why they should be disapproved by us, however much they may differ from the Jewish law, or from each other (August. de Civit. Dei, Lib. 19 c. 17). . . .
As Paul also affirmed in Romans 1:32Christ doesn't say the woman isn't deserving of death, but that we are all guilty of sins deserving death.
Aaaaaaaaaargh! Another vast field with cannons roaring on both sides!
I think there is a question to be asked first: Can/should the law of God be the basis of a society's laws? Theonomy, or even a discussion of which laws apply, are subsets of that discussion if you affirm in the positive. You might start asking that question first, and you'll get your framework for addressing applications.
Probably not, but my (or the state's) feelings towards the severity of the transgression should not determine the punishment.Should people be stoned for picking up sticks on the Lord's Day?
Recall at the end where were not the 2 or 3 eyewitnesses required for conviction. So Jesus could still be maintaining the Mosaic law.The example of the woman taken in adultery would suggest that such crimes are not to be dealt with in the same manner as they were in Israel of old. That said I don't see that it is wrong, per se, for a society to have the death penalty as a punishment for adultery or sodomy. But I think we are given liberty to show mercy in our penal code that wasn't there under the old dispensation. Christ doesn't say the woman isn't deserving of death, but that we are all guilty of sins deserving death. If we would desire mercy we should be merciful to others. Similar to when he applies the ten commandments to our inner life as well as our outer actions.
The passage would suggest it was the sinfulness of those planning to stone the woman, rather than the lack of verification, which Christ was focusing on.Recall at the end where were not the 2 or 3 eyewitnesses required for conviction. So Jesus could still be maintaining the Mosaic law.
Yes, I understand. The OP specifically is exploring if there is a link between the moral law and the punishments enjoined to its infraction. If the punishment is part of the moral code, then it would logically also apply to the Sabbath. That's my only point.Probably not, but my (or the state's) feelings towards the severity of the transgression should not determine the punishment.
Same argument for the above-mentioned verse (Rom 1:32):
I don't 'feel' that someone who gossips (verse 29) deserves death, but yet Paul says that they do.
Surely the question should be "Should people be stoned for breaking the Lord's Day"?Should people be stoned for picking up sticks on the Lord's Day?
I'm not sure if you agreeing/disagreeing...Surely the question should be "Should people be stoned for breaking the Lord's Day"?
Certainly they deserve death. Whether by stoning or some other way, perhaps. But in what way does Christ's crucifixion and resurrection alter how we apply the Law? That is the question, as well. It doesn't remove the deserved penalty though.
I wasn't sure if you were using the sticks example as a reductio ad absurdam argument, which is why I rephrased it. Indeed there was mercy in the OT too. I think my thinking on the matter is that in the new dispensation the civil magistrate has greater liberty in how the penal code is organised. I see no reason why the moral law shouldn't serve as the basis of our penal code, but the penalties mandated by it wouldn't be mandated today. That doesn't mean the same penalty couldn't be used but mercy is a far more prominent feature in this dispensation than it was before (though obviously present).I'm not sure if you agreeing/disagreeing...
I mentioned picking up sticks since we have an example of this (Num. 15:32-36).
Of course, every sin is deserving God's eternal wrath. However, this thread is asking if there is a civil moral obligation to enjoin the same (moral) penalty to an infraction of any of the 10C.
Concerning the woman caught in the act of adultery, Christ acquitted her prior to His death and under the nation state of Israel. We have other OT examples of such mercy as well, David bring a prime example.
God no longer has the same judgements under the NC though that was under the OC setup for Israel.Yes, I understand. The OP specifically is exploring if there is a link between the moral law and the punishments enjoined to its infraction. If the punishment is part of the moral code, then it would logically also apply to the Sabbath. That's my only point.
God practiced with her the spirit of the Law, as David deserved death, but received grace.Regarding the woman taken in adultery, the sole intent of the mob was the entrapment of Jesus and whether a life was callously taken in the process, without regard for godly motive, was of no consequence to these wicked men. Accordingly, had Jesus acquiesced to their plea by condoning the woman’s death on their terms, he would have partaken in their scheming and wickedness according to Exodus 23:1-4.
Moreover, had Jesus allowed for the penalty under Moses to be enacted in this particular case, he would have implied that men need not submit to God’s ordained (Roman) government.
Jesus was in a predicament. He did not want to condone the woman’s execution given the motivation of the witnesses and accusers, lest he himself could be guilty of paving the way for their sin and become an accomplice with them according to Exodus 23:1-4. Nor did Jesus want to suggest that the woman did not deserve immediate punishment for her sin as prescribed by Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22.
Her action was indeed worthy of death, (lest the law which he authored had been abolished; yet he had already stated most unambiguously that he had not come to abolish the law. Matthew 5:17) Let there be no mistake about it, Jesus was for the death penalty when his law required the death penalty. He also required that such penalties be carried out not by perfect men but rather by those who had removed the plank from their own eye. Execution was to be carried out in a spirit of godly humility. Anything less than that was to do God’s bidding with a murderous heart, which would reduce to self-serving vengeance as opposed to righteous justice. We are God’s servants, and we not our own. Indeed, Jesus was concerned not only with the letter of the law but also the spirit in which it was to be followed. This must be appreciated by all Christians, especially theonomists.
The dilemma solved:
Given the circumstances of no witness-accuser who possessed a heart for righteous judgment - the only one who could have put the woman to death and satisfied the full intention of the law both in letter and spirit would have been God himself. Accordingly, Jesus, unwilling to exercise his divine prerogative, invited anyone without sin to throw the first stone. By handling the difficult providence as he did, Jesus upheld Moses’ intention pertaining to a godly accuser's spirit, yet without compromising the deserved, temporal penalty for the woman. We might say that the case was thrown out of court due to the greater sin of the witness-accusers (and the priority of Roman rule, which I believe was secondary). Yet by couching the invitation as Jesus did, the Lord acknowledged both the rightful penalty and the unworthiness of anyone within that mob that day to carry out God’s law as in the manner God would have it - as God’s servant.
God is concerned with the spirit of the law but not at the cost of abrogation. Now if anyone wants to make more of the passage as it pertains to theonomy and suggest that Moses has been abrogated because nobody is without sin, then in turn they prove too much by relegating all temporal justice to the Final Day, a most absurd and unworkable principle. The only question I have at this juncture is whether the anti-theonomists will go out one by one in shame for butchering the logical implications of the text. Or will the angry mob of Jesus' day prove themselves more worthy than these?
Punishments for civil crimes are aimed at justice, not restoration. That’s one of the problems with our American “justice” system; we throw murderers in prison in hopes of reforming them, most of the time only making them harder criminals.Yes, but with intent to save and restore whenever possible.
I agree that justice needs to be served, but mercy and Grace are also part of that process.Punishments for civil crimes are aimed at justice, not restoration. That’s one of the problems with our American “justice” system; we throw murderers in prison in hopes of reforming them, most of the time only making them harder criminals.
Of course, but it is the victim’s prerogative to show grace or mercy, not the state’s. Mercy shown by the state is not virtuous, but a grievous miscarriage of justice. The Lord Jesus Christ can show mercy in any situation, though, because...well, does that really need explaining?I agree that justice needs to be served, but mercy and Grace are also part of that process.