Thursday, August 23, 2007

the method or the severity?

In my opinion, the story of an Iranian man receiving 80 lashes for alcohol abuse and sex outside of marriage is horrific.

But for Christians on the "Religious Right", it brings up an interesting question. Often, RR'ers will argue that there should be laws ("crime and punishment") because something is a sin. This turns out to be incoherent since there are all sorts of sins for which they would not advocate laws or punishment.

If RR'ers are uncomfortable with the Iranian story, is the issue that the man was punished by the law (at all)-- or that they are (subjectively) bothered by the severity of the punishment?

The larger issue: should sexual ethics and substance abuse be the stuff of which Christian public policy advocacy is made? Yes, no, or sometimes. If sometimes, what are the contexts in which such advocacy is appropriate and consistent?

Or more broadly, as I address at length in one of my books: when should Christians actively embrace government activism as a godly (and practical) means to godly ends?


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