Jesus and Homosexuality

It’s truly one of the most ignorant statements I’ve read this year. And I’ve read some doozeys.

19627631_82fcd9b6d7_bI’ve actually read this statement many times before, and there was a time when I agreed with it. But then a patient pastor friend pointed out something so obvious I was embarrassed I’d missed it. I suppose I should be kinder and gentler because of my own failure, but with all candor, I’ve got to say that it’s one of the dumbest arguments going around.

And there are some pretty weak ones.

They’re pretty predictable. Every time someone wants to argue for more Christian tolerance towards homosexuals or homosexual marriage, there are always a few lines you can expect:

Like how Christians shouldn’t have a problem with same-sex unions until they deal with all the adultery and divorce in their ranks.

Or how homosexuality, if a sin, is surely no more a sin than the more common lying, gossiping, and coveting.

Or how Jesus said we shouldn’t judge people.

All easily answerable by someone with a Bible and a little bit of logic.

But then there’s this:

“Jesus spoke not a word about the sin of homosexuality.”

True or False?

There are actually two problems here.

First, there’s the problem of elevating the four books which primarily contain Jesus’ spoken words above the other sixty-two (or sixty-nine, if you’re Catholic). Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are neither more nor less Scripture than the rest. Still, as the argument goes, if it were so important, wouldn’t Jesus have said something about it?

And that brings us to the second problem with the statement: it’s wrong.

Completely incorrect.

Oh, I’ll grant that the English “homosexual” is completely missing from any translation of the four Gospels that I’m aware of. And I’ll grant that the two Greek words used to condemn homosexual acts in other New Testament passages are also missing from Jesus’ recorded speech. I’ll even grant that tiny fraction of his oral teaching preserved for us by the Evangelists doesn’t contain the kind of description of homosexual acts that the Apostle Paul would later use as an example of sinful behavior.

But none of this means that Jesus had nothing to say on the subject.

Holiness

This post would be too long to list and discuss everything he had to say about it, so I’ll simplify. In Matthew 5:17, in what could be called the heart of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “I have not come to get rid of the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them.”

If that’s all he had said, it would have been enough. Jesus came to fulfill and uphold the holiness of God as revealed through the Law.

The Law that condemns homosexual behavior – Jesus supported it.

And really, that’s not all he said.

Every time he used unqualified words like “fornication” or “adultery,” he was using words with very broad definitions, broad enough to encompass all manner of sexual immorality.

Immorality as defined by the Law of God, which he supported, which included condemning homosexual acts.

In other words, if Jesus ever spoke against fornication – and he did – his audience would have understood his words to include homosexuality. He didn’t need to specify it because the Law already did that.

The Law he supported.

Legalism!!!

Of course, whenever we bring up Jesus and the Law, there are always objections. So, let me try to address a few of them briefly.

Yes, Jesus loves me, just like he loves all other sinners.

No, Jesus’ love doesn’t mean that we can’t identify sin, only that his death and resurrection mean that we can offer forgiveness and redemption in his name.

Yes, Jesus fulfilled the Law, perfectly obeying it himself so that he could offer his life as a substitute for all us sinners who have failed to do so.

No, Jesus never taught that the Law was a way for us to earn our salvation. That’s why he had to die for us to be saved.

Yes, Jesus often broke traditional interpretations of the Law and even seemed to take pleasure in doing so on occasion.

No, he never broke the Law himself.

Yes, Jesus taught that the Law was more about the inner love of the heart than the outward form of obedience, though the two are not contradictory.

No, he did not teach that the civil statutes of a theocratic nation state (The Kingdom of Israel) applied directly to a stateless assembly of true believers (The Church). For this reason, his Apostles continued to observe the moral implications of the Law, recognizing the fulfillment of the ceremonial elements in Christ’s crucifixion, and yielding its civil functions to secular government. (This is why most Christians can call certain behaviors sin while also not calling for things like stoning as punishment.)

The Point

For the moment, I don’t really care what you think about homosexuality or homosexual unions. This post isn’t about whether or not I like you, or whether I think I can have homosexual friends (I do), or what opinions I may have on the civil rights of homosexuals.

I simply want to evaluate one statement for the good of my neighbors and my Christian family.

Let the arguments about such subjects be debated on other grounds, but please don’t accept the facile assertion that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. As God, Jesus inspired every word of both Testaments. And as God incarnate, he spoke enough words to embrace the rest.

Whatever else you may think or believe, no rational person who accepts the Bible can honestly say that Jesus did not consider homosexuality sin.

Christians may be accused of clinging to ancient bigotry instead of following the teachings of Christ, and regrettably, this accusation is sometimes accurate. But to make the accusation on the basis that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality? Nothing could be further from the truth.

He said plenty, and what he said was more than enough.

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