Saturday, September 29, 2018

Natural Law, S377A, and the Christian witness

[Note: S377A, or Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, criminalizes homosexual sex acts between men. The exact wording is as follows:

Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.

The law is a legacy of British Common Law, and passed to Singapore as Singapore was a former British colony.]

What is the rationale for Singapore Christians to support S377A? Most assuredly, countries like Singapore are not Christian nations. While arguments from sociology and healthcare can be marshaled in support of S377A, is there any other reason for laws like S377A to not only exist but to be defended as a just law?

From a Christian perspective, we believe that God is the sovereign Lord of Creation. God is the Creator first, then the Redeemer. As Creator, his moral laws are binding upon creation. But this moral law is not just something out there, but it is within our own hearts. For as it is written,

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them (Rom. 2:14-15)

God has inscribed the moral law upon the consciences of every man, woman and child. Due to the Fall, our consciences are marred, yet our consciences still reflect however imperfectly God's moral law. This moral law is also known as "natural law" as it seems natural to us, based upon our innate consciences, for these laws to be laws. For example, all societies hold that murder is wrong and that stealing is wrong. There is also an innate desire for justice to be done in this world, based upon our admittedly flawed understanding of natural law. Therefore despite our sin, the consciences of men are still present, and they show us the natural law which God had inscribed upon the hearts of all humans in all places and all times, including 21st century Singapore.

Thus, with God as Creator and the moral law inscribed unto the hearts of Man, a just society is one whereby the righteousness of God is manifested externally in the obedience of men to Natural Law, which is merely to say that society institutionalizes the moral compasses of their consciences. Since the moral law is innate in the conscience, therefore it is not strictly speaking "religious" for the moral law to be commended to any and all societies. A good civil society honors Natural Law even if it denies the God of that law, as the ancient Romans did before the downfall of the Republic. Conversely, an evil society is a society whereby the consciences are actively and systematically suppressed by that society, as the Assyrians, Babylonians and much of the ancient Roman Empire had done.

So natural law is the basis for a just society. What then the Christian witness? As certain Left-leaning pastors love to remind us, the Bible calls us to promote justice in society (c.f. Micah 6:8). Biblical justice in society IS to establish the moral law in society. In this penultimate state prior to Christ's return, justice in society is to be sought by calling society to be conformed more and more to Natural Law, thus creating a just society. Thus, the Christian witness in society (outside the church) is to pursue justice in conformity to Natural Law. This is the correct view of biblical justice in society, not the leftist version of "social justice" that has taken entire segments of reformed and evangelical churches captive.

Part of the Christian witness to society therefore is to defend S377A, for that law is a preservation, albeit imperfect, of the Natural law against sexual immorality. That is the reason why it was part of British Common Law, which was then passed to Singapore due to Singapore being a former British colony. To "do justice" before God on the issue of homosexuality is to defend S377A, and it is extremely sad when pastors and churches refuse to promote justice and defend this law outside their service times. For if the church does not teach the congregants on the matter of Natural Law, who else is going to teach them the demands of God's justice? If we just call believers to "do justice" but refuse to tell them what that means, the world's idea of "social justice" will fill the void created by the negligence of the churches.

It is certainly true that the focus of the Church is to proclaim the Gospel. That is the primary role of the church in her preaching. Yet, the church also teaches her people how to think biblically about things, and that belongs to all teachers in the church. I therefore fully agree that church should not be about politics, but teaching believers how to think biblically is not politics. The church should not call for support of S377A in her preaching, but is to teach that supporting it is in conformity to natural law in her catechetical classes. So that in all things, believers will be able to honor God in their minds and hands as well as their hearts and mouths.


steve said...

You might wish to edit your post to define S377A. I doubt most folks are familiar with the Singaporean penal code!

Daniel C said...

Hi Steve,

thanks for that. I will add a note on the issue.