Screwing for Virginity

Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Rex Rogers on Crime and Sin

This is a post I made on the CU Discussion Board which produced almost no response. I thought I'd adjust it a bit and put it on the blog to get some discussion going. There are a host of sticky issues under the surface here (i.e., natural law theories and the debates that surround them), but I'll just post my initial thoughts and see where things go.

At a chapel earlier this semester, Rex Rogers addressed two tensions which, in his view, characterize Christian life in modern America. I'm interested to hear what people think about his ideas. I'll briefly summarize his main points for those who weren't able to make it.

The first tension he addressed, drawing from John 17, is found in the Christian's call to be "in" but not "of" the world. This is well-trodded ground, so I'm grateful he spent more time on the second, more interesting tension. The substance of his second tension can be captured in a question: what does it mean to be a Christian in a pluralistic society? In other words, how are we to be Christians in a society which is not (and, by the way, never was) Christian? In light of this, what does a faithful engagement with the political sphere look like? Toward the end of chapel, he suggested it might be fruitful to begin by distinguishing between sin and crime. He spent a regrettably short amount of time fleshing out this distinction, but I'll try to explain what he meant. Sins include those things expressly forbidden in Scripture. His examples were adultery and obscene language. Crimes, I believe, include those things which, regardless of their status as sins, are outlawed by the government. Examples include anything that is illegal from murder to public nudity. He said we must recognize that not all sinful things are (or should be) crimes and vice versa. So simply because the Bible says something is wrong does not necessarily mean it should therefore be legislated against. He used adultery as an example.

So I'd like to know what people think of this. Here are a few questions to initiate discussion. Feel free to address these or add any other thoughts you might have.

1) Is it useful, as he suggests, to distinguish between crime and sin? If not all crimes are sinful (i.e., wrong according to the Bible), by what standard are they judged wrong?
2) How does the Crime/Sin paradigm help us address especially thorny issues like homosexuality? If homosexuality is a sin, should it also be a crime? What about adultery (which he said should not be outlawed)?

3) If you disagree with the Crime/Sin paradigm, what framework have you found helpful for thinking about the legislation of morality?

Though Rex recently fired our beloved Mike Rohwer, this should not affect your evaluation of his ideas...just his character. Oops...where'd that come from?