Monday, November 28, 2005

Crimes are Few

Crimes are a small subset of all of sins. We can identify crimes by determining whether biblical law specifies a punishment. If it a sanction is specified, the sin is the crime. If there is no sanction, the sin is not a crime.

A judge has no authority to deal with sins that are not specified to be a crime, because God has reserved them for himself. He can see into people’s hearts, so he is best placed to deal with them. Judges are not required to eliminate all sin, as that would be impossible. It is limited to punishing the few sins that really disrupt the functioning of society.

The surprising truth is that the biblical law specifies only a few sins to be a crime. The following sins specified in the law as crimes.

  • False Witness (Deut 15:19-21)
  • Theft (Ex 22:1-4)
  • Murder (Ex 21:12)
  • Manslaughter (Ex 21:13)
  • Kidnapping (Ex 21:16; Deut 24:7)
  • Incest (Lev 20)
  • Witchcraft (Ex 22:18)
  • Sacrificing children (Lev 20:2)
  • Adultery (Lev 20:10)
  • Bestiality (Ex 22:19)
  • Homosexual activity (Lev 20:13)
  • Treason against God (Deut 13).
This is a very short list. It gives judges a very limited role in dealing with sin. However, even this list must be shortened further by the “hardness of heart” principle.

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