Proportionality and Restored Dignity vs. Hatred and Degradation
Second, God judges ‘each one according to his ways’, which means that justice is proportionate.
A firing squad is not appropriate for cheating on one tax return or even on several. Amputating limbs is not appropriate for stealing a loaf of bread or even several. Excommunication is not appropriate for buying a pornographic magazine or even several.
In other words, God’s judgement is always fair-minded, based on realities and not prejudices, based on real extent rather than the generalisations (and hence implicit false testimony) of rule-based religion. The law says, “if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall make him lie down and have him flogged in his presence with the number of lashes his crime deserves, but he must not give him more than forty lashes. If he is flogged more than that, your brother will be degraded in your eyes” (Deut. 25:2-3).
In other words, to exceed certain limits in punishment, and certainly to exceed what a deed deserves, only serves to ‘degrade your brother’. The aim is to punish a sin so as to restore a loved one to dignified living, not to degrade them. Proportionate punishment knows where to draw the line: it aims to restore dignity out of love, not to remove it out of hate.
If a person feels he has ‘paid’ for his actions in the presence of those who love him, then he retains his dignity and is restored. If a person feels he is effectively ‘murdered’ for a small sin by those who hate him, then he will resent the loss of dignity and God will hear his prayer. But, of course, the subtle excluders, those who love places of honour and who prance around with ‘polite’ rhetoric will vehemently deny that there is hatred, and parentally label those who cite it as ‘paranoid’. The most severe judgement will be reserved for them.
I am quite concerned, therefore, that it would be possible for traditionalists to seriously break the law of God in the way they treat self-designated homosexuals. And that is before we even begin to ask the question of the relationship between homosexual practice and sexual immorality. It is all too easy to ‘read off’ what the ‘right judgement’ should be in a situation on the basis of what the label is, rather than what the reality is. If our critique of the potential dangers for traditionalists is correct, then the level of understanding of the homosexuality issue is generally low. This means that we are using inadequate stigmatising labels which, in turn, means that we are potentially judging people blindly, falsely, disproportionately, degradingly, and self-righteously. And we shall not be let off the hook lightly.