The Death of Matthew Shepard

By Wayne Jackson

The tragic case of Matthew Shepard has been prominent in the news of late. Sheperd was a twenty-one-year-old student at the University of Wyoming. He openly professed homosexuality. Apparently, he was lured from a bar and taken to a remote place; there he was tied to a fence, pistol-whipped, and left exposed in the cold. Eventually, he died.

The news media are saying that the crime was motivated, at least in part, by an anti-gay hatred that characterized his murderers; supposedly, he had “flirted” with one of them. The so-called “gay community” is up in arms; they are attempting to extract as much publicity from this unseemly event as they can. The president has jumped on the band wagon (he needs every issue he can muster to deflect attention from his own problems); he is calling for the passage of a “hate crime” law. There are several things that should be said in order to put this sad circumstance in focus.

First, it was wrong, horribly wrong, that this young man was murdered; not because he was a homosexual, but because he was a human being. It is wrong for any person to capriciously take the life of another, the reason being, we all are made “in the image of God” (Genesis 9:6). Murder is ultimately an assault upon the Creator. Only the sovereign God himself, who is the Author of life (Acts 17:25), has the right to determine when human life is worthy of termination. Every Christian, therefore, must find this crime atrocious. But it has nothing to do with the young gentleman’s sexual proclivities. It has nothing to do with his gender. It has nothing to do with his race. It has nothing to do with his age. It has to do with his life!

Second, responsible people must not let this vile deed become a causa promulgare for the homosexual crowd. The homo-promoters are working this incident for every column inch of newspaper space they can secure, for every prime-time news minute they can obtain. Already they are sending their missiles toward that dreaded “religious right,” in an attempt to mute vocal opposition to the sodomite lifestyle. Christians must not be bullied. We don’t back away from our protest of abortion just because bloody radicals bomb abortion clinics. And we should never cease to expose homosexuality as a wicked way of life, just because evil men took the life of a boy who happened to be involved in sexual perversion.

Third, why, pray tell, do we need another so-called hate crime law? We don’t enforce the laws now on the books. Do we have laws against abducting a fellow human being? Yes. Do we have laws against pistol-whipping others? Of course, we do. Are there laws against murder? Everyone knows there are. Why, then, this outrage for a new law? The motive is to popularize the notion that something is being done. We are not standing idly by! We politicians are going to protect you! We are on your side! It’s all just a smoke screen.

Fourth, government officials who offer a new law, a band-aid measure, under the guise of protecting society, are, in large measure, the very ones who have argued that our school children must not be taught that moral conduct ultimately must be anchored in theology. You cannot teach youngsters they must behave sexually, or that they should respect human life, and do it with a cavalier wave of the hand—a “just because we said so,” or a “just because it’s the law,” rationale. They want deeper answers than that.

The truth is, those who have gutted the morality of this nation share the blame for brutal crimes like that against Matthew Shepard.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.