(LifeSiteNews) — Russell Moore, former head of the Southern Baptist convention in the U.S., criticized Uganda’s recent anti-sodomy law as “unchristian,” after conservative backlash over comments from Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Twitter that characterized the law as “grotesque” and “an abomination.”
“One might be surprised to see Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — not known for repudiating the far extremes of his base — labeled on various social media platforms as soft, weak, and compromising,” Moore said. “Some even suggested that Cruz was rejecting the Word of God itself. His radically ‘progressive’ idea? That Uganda shouldn’t criminalize homosexuality and execute gay people.”
Taking issue with Uganda’s The Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023, which the country’s Parliament passed in a nearly unanimous vote and was signed by the president with strong support from the nation’s predominantly Christian population, Moore stated that what he found “most chilling of all” was that “the law would impose the death penalty on categories deemed to be ‘aggravated homosexuality.’”
Touting his adherence to the truth of Scripture and its teaching on marriage, Moore stated, “I am also a Christian who agrees with the teaching of both the Scriptures and the church — Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant, for 2,000 years — which is that marriage is a one-flesh covenant between a man and a woman and that sexual expression outside of that covenant is wrong.”
“And yet my repulsion at the Ugandan state violence in this law is not despite those commitments but precisely because of them,” Moore continued.
He then argued that the imposition of the death penalty in the Old Testament for acts of sodomy was intended only for the Old Testament Jews and cannot be imposed now in a Christian society. Moore stated, “Leviticus 20 explicitly condemns almost every form of sexual immorality — premarital sex, extramarital sex, and nearly every other kind of nonmarital sexual expression. Sexual sins are included alongside occultic practices, necromancy, and the cursing of one’s mother and father.”
“Of course, this is consistent with the rest of the biblical witness (whatever one thinks of its authority). Yet the penalties of death that come with those violations are situated in a very specific context in redemptive history. God revealed that the theocratic civil code, as well as its punishments, was for a purpose: to separate his people from the rest of the nations to prepare them to enter the inheritance of the land (Lev. 20:26).”
“To cite such passages of the old-covenant civil law as a mandate for a civil state outside that covenant is a misinterpretation that doesn’t fit with any historic, apostolic teaching of Christianity,” Moore claimed, as though it has never been the case that Christian or Western nations have judged it just to impose the death penalty for any of the “aggravated” acts of homosexuality that are named in Uganda’s law, such as child rape.
A brief look at American history reveals that several states in the U. S. imposed the death penalty for child rape until recently. In 2007, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the death penalty for Patrick Kennedy for the rape of his stepdaughter in Louisiana v. Kennedy. The Louisiana law was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, but this only shows how recently the American legal system has allowed the death penalty for what a state deemed “aggravated child rape.” Even more to the point, in May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law allowing child rapist to be eligible for the death penalty.
Seeming to minimize the gravity of such acts as homosexual child rape or homosexual rape of the mentally ill or the elderly, which are listed under Uganda’s law as acts of “aggravated homosexuality,” Moore declared, “Not everything that’s a sin is a crime. To equate all sin with crime, without the authority to do so, is itself a sin against God — to take the name of the Lord our God in vain. If the historic Christian vision of marriage and family is true and good and beautiful, as I believe it is, then we demonstrate that truth, goodness, and beauty to our unbelieving neighbors through our witness — not by threatening to kill them.”
“Unleashing the violence of state-ordained execution, imprisonment, and surveillance on gay and lesbian Ugandans is a condemnable act of authoritarianism and a violation of the self-evident and unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
However, not only is it the case that there have been and are American laws punishing child rape, but in addition, before 1962, every U.S. state had laws criminalizing sodomy, imposing prison sentences and/or hard labor, with several states naming homosexual acts “crimes against nature.” The overturning of these laws came in the wake of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, with the Supreme Court invalidating all remaining anti-sodomy laws in its 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision.
According to Uganda’s law, the following are the categories of homosexual acts deemed now to be “aggravated” crimes liable to the death penalty: acts in which
(a) the person against whom the offence is committed is a child;
(b) the offender is a parent, guardian or relative of the person against whom the offence is committed;
(c) the person against whom the offence is committed contracts a terminal illness as a result of the sexual act;
(d) the offender is a serial offender;
(e) the offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed;
(f) the person against whom the offence is committed is a person with disability or suffers a disability as a result of the sexual act;
(g) the person against whom the offence is committed is a person with mental illness or suffers a mental illness as a result of the sexual act;
(h) the person against whom the offence is committed is of advanced age;
(i) the sexual act is committed against a person by means of threats, force, fear of bodily harm, duress or undue influence, intimidation of any kind, or through misrepresentation as to the nature of the act; or
(j) the person against whom the offence is committed was, at the time the offence was committed, unconscious or in an altered state of consciousness due to the influence of medicine, drugs, alcohol or any other substance that impaired his or her judgment.
Most of the acts indicated in the law would legally qualify as acts of rape because they involve force, compulsion, or are committed against a person who is especially vulnerable or incapable of meaningful legal consent. In ordinary legal jurisprudence, regardless of whether such acts are homosexual or heterosexual, such acts would be deemed criminal.
The president and leaders of Uganda have taken a firm stance in defense of the newly passed anti-sodomy law, even as it continues to run afoul of the pro-LGBT agenda of western governments, with the president of Uganda identifying homosexuality as a psychological perversion, and students taking to the streets to voice their rejection of U.S. aid if it is tied to the acceptance of homosexuality.
As the Ugandan Catholic bishops have stated, the people of Uganda are still keenly aware of the witness of the first Christian martyrs of their country, who were killed in horrific ways after incredible tortures because they refused to accept or consent to the homosexual acts of their king. These martyrs chose to suffer death rather than accept as something normal a sexual deviancy that Scripture calls a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance. The feast day of these martyrs was just celebrated by Catholics on June 2.
As LifeSiteNews has previously noted, homosexual activities have explicitly carried criminal penalties under the law since at least Uganda’s time as a British protectorate, which ranged from the late 19th century until 1962. Life imprisonment was already a possible consequence of violating the country’s prohibition of “unnatural acts” in the country’s Penal Code Act of 1950, though the section was rarely enforced in practice.
The outrage against Uganda’s newest law even from so-called conservative voices in the West would seem to indicate an acceptance of homosexuality within western society that cannot allow its punishment in any way, even when homosexual acts are forced upon innocent children and the vulnerable in acts of rape that previous generations of Americans deemed self-evidently criminal.