[#] Campus Delecti

Apparently Steve Camp said this:
We don't have the right biblically to go around holding unsaved people to that same standard (1 Cor. 5; Rom. 6:20) as they do in many of their writings and radio broadcasts (Being constantly critical of non-believers for living like non-believers.)
I have taken a side in the argument Steve is trying to advance here, but I think he has made a pretty bad error in saying what he has said in this case.

Before we jump into why this is a bad idea, let’s look at the texts he cites to support his statement.
    Rom 6: 17But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

    20When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What Paul is talking about here is man’s spiritual ability to follow God’s law, not the practical matter of what standard human law can or ought to hold an individual to. To try to use this passage to justify the assertion that unbelievers “cannot be held to the same standard” is to overturn the apple cart of the book of Romans by ignoring that every man is, in fact, accountable for his actions because he knows the difference between right and wrong and chooses to do the wrong things anyway (Rom 1 & 2).
    1Cor 5: 9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—10not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler--not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."
This section of 1Cor 5 is interesting because Paul is talking about church discipline here – not about civil government. When Paul says, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders,” he is underscoring that shunning sinful men is about church discipline – because if he meant “never have anything to do with a sinner”, he realizes that he would be saying “never go out into the world” (as he admits in v.10). He doesn’t mean “never go out into the world”: he means “don’t let sinful men who do not repent stay in the church”.

That is hardly the rebuke “don’t hold unbelievers to the same standard as you hold to believers” in the political sense. It is the rebuke that we have an obligation in the church to uphold holiness and to call each other to reformation and repentance all the time.

In that, I wonder: if “we don't have the right biblically to go around holding unsaved people to that same standard,” how do we preach the Gospel to them exactly? As I have practically tattooed 1Cor 15:1-4 to myself blog-wise, how do we preach the Gospel that “Christ died for our sins” without pointing out that we all have sins that require a debt of blood to be paid?

If we can’t hold “them” to the same standard, then they can’t be accused of being lawless and sinful because that’s just “how they are”. It is inherently and fundamentally necessary to say that man can and should be held to God’s standard in order to preach the Gospel. The paradigm, of course, is not that we sin therefore we are sinners but that because we are sinners we sin – the nature causes the effect. But the effect is breaking God’s law and violating God’s moral decrees.

They are held to the same standard in the objective sense – and in that, government can hold unbelievers to a code of law.

The question is this: how ought government come to its code of law?

You think about that, and I’ll get back to you.