I have some questions, which I want to ask for the sake of discussion. I am not interested so much in people dogmatizing on the question as discussing the issues. I am wondering if how we frame the question changes our thinking on the issues. Here is how I cast the questions:
Should Orthodox Christians in the U.S. work to have the power to arrest, prosecute and punish people who have different beliefs/belief systems then our own? Should we arrest and prosecute people who have morality differences from us? (I am thinking here of some type of “citizens’ arrest,” but also of St. Paul being given authority by the Sanhedrin to have Christians arrested)
Should Orthodox Christians in the U.S. work to have laws enacted that would have THE STATE (but not us Orthodox) on our behalf arrest, prosecute and punish people who have different beliefs or moral principles then ours? (Maybe it is loathsome for us to think that we would persecute or prosecute anyone, but what if we can pass laws and get the state to do the dirty work, is that acceptable to us? Most “Christian” states have used such a power against minorities, heretics, etc)
Should Orthodox Christians EVER work to have laws passed that will result in people being arrested, prosecuted and punished because of their theological or moral beliefs or because their beliefs differ from ours? (Do we have much impetus from the New Testament to do anything more than dialog/debate people of other theological/moral persuasions?)
And yes I am thinking about these questions in terms of abortion and homosexuality. Say we succeed in passing laws that outlaw gay marriage – should we Orthodox then go around arresting, prosecuting and punishing gays who “marry” or those who perform gay marriages? Should we push the state to arrest such people?
Same for abortions – is it our duty to arrest and punish those who have abortions or perform them? In the US with the death penalty, shall we make abortion a capital offense and execute those who do it or the women who have it done?
I am not trying to form any “trick” questions, but just pondering what we Christians ultimately hope to accomplish. It seems to me that our arguments and our agenda as Christians can become improved, sharpened if you will, by engaging in real and difficult dialogue and debate. It seems to me that this is exactly what happened to Christian theology in the patristic age – they engaged in real and difficult debate, and it went on for centuries as they grappled with terminology as well as with theology, orthodoxy and orthopraxis.