Dan Popp
January 1, 2014
What did Jesus say about homosexuality?
By Dan Popp

Much of this material was published earlier, in two parts. I hope this more cohesive and comprehensive form will be helpful to those researching and debating the topic.

It's another slogan that passes for thought among the thinking-averse: "Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality...." The rest of the sentence remains unspoken for fear that laughter might break out. "Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality; therefore He approves of it."

First of all, that's what's known as an "argument from silence;" a logical fallacy. By this rule Jesus would be made to endorse rape, cannibalism and lots of other nasty stuff. Secondly, we cannot know whether Jesus, in His brief earthly ministry, ever mentioned homosexual sin specifically (see John 21:25), so the claim can't be substantiated. But the slogan is not only unverifiable and non-rational; it reveals ignorance of what we know Jesus did say. Though His teachings recorded in the gospels don't directly address the issue of same-sex sex, the Scriptures leave no room for an honest reader to conclude that Christ condones any sin, including this one.

Before we look at what Jesus said about homosexuality, let me explain my purpose in writing this. It isn't to put anyone down, or to say, "Jesus hates fags." If the Lord hated homosexual sinners, He would be required to hate heterosexual sinners (like King David), and certainly murderers (like David, Moses and Paul), thieves, and so on, right down to jaywalkers. And me. And all Christians. If the Son of God had hated us sinners, He certainly wouldn't have endured torture and death on the cross to rescue us. To rescue us from our sins. My one intention is to help other believers respond to the half-baked untruth that "Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality."

Jesus' affirmation: The morality of the Old Testament is still valid

Contrary to the popular misconception, Jesus is not the Second Moses. He didn't come to give us new laws, or to hand out free passes to break the old ones. Christ didn't have to stand on a mountain and repeat by name every sin mentioned in the Old Testament, in order for all of those sins to remain sins.

Now, at this point an uninformed person will retort, "I guess eating shrimp is still a sin then – if the Old Testament laws are still valid." But anyone who has studied the matter for more than thirty seconds knows that there are three kinds of laws given in the Old Testament: Civil laws, which pertained to the ancient state of Israel alone; Ceremonial laws, symbolizing the realities of the New Covenant that superseded them; and Moral laws. Of these types, only the moral laws remain. Indeed, the Moral Law, as exemplified by the Ten Commandments, cannot change.

If you're confused about this, simply consider the fact that the Jewish dietary laws are declared in many places in the New Testament not to apply to Christians (for example, Mark 7:19, Acts 15:5-29, and 1 Corinthians 8:8); and there is never any such annulment of a moral law.

Jesus condemned homosexual sin together with all other sins when He said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:17,18) Again in Luke 16:16,17 He said, "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of the Law to fail."

Far from smashing the moral code revealed to Israel, Jesus didn't even relax it – He tightened it.
    "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder....' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court.... You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery,' but I say to you, that every one who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart." (read Matthew 5:21ff)
In this less-loved portion of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord continues with four more laws – each time with that same formula: You have heard...but I say – each time showing not that God's Law has been repealed, but that it reaches deeper than we ever knew.

Jesus' premise: The original pattern is God's will

In answering a question about divorce, Christ lays a foundation that has implications for our topic.
    And some Pharisees came to Him, testing Him, and saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?" And He answered and said, "Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh'? Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate and divorce her?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been this way." (Matt. 19:3-8 NASB, emphasis mine – see also Mark 10:2-9)
His argument is built on the assumption that God created things a certain way because (duh) that's the way He wanted them. If we can get back to the original pattern, before sin marred the picture, we'll be able to see God's will for human sex and marriage. That heavenly will, restated here by the Lord, is one man and one woman united in marriage for life.

Christ taunts the Pharisees for not deducing God's perfect will regarding marriage from the simple words, the two shall become one flesh. Even more elementary are the implications of the fact that, before God joined them in physical union, He made them male and female.

Homosexual behavior and "gay marriage" aren't going to fit into this primal pattern. If "serial monogamy" between man/woman couples isn't God's will, then neither is anything further outside the lines drawn in the opening chapters of Genesis. Jerry Falwell popularized this argument, "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." He created them male and female for a reason. Creation involves design, and design reveals intent.

Jesus' commission: The Apostles speak for Him

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time: to print the "Words of Christ in Red." But this marketing gimmick may help fuel the notion that the sayings of Jesus are somehow "more inspired" than the rest of the Bible. That isn't possible. Paul wrote, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16, emphasis mine) Peter classed Paul's writings among "the rest of the Scriptures." (2 Peter 3:15,16) The New Testament Apostles and the Old Testament prophets agree that every word of the Bible, as originally penned, is exactly as God wants it to be.

The Apostles had plenty to say about same-sex sex, and none of it positive – for example:
    Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
    (Romans 1:24-27)
And:
    Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
And:
    ...realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.... (1 Timothy 1:9,10)
And:
    ...and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter.... (2 Peter 2:6)
So when people say, "Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality..." they're insinuating that there's a feud between Christ and His hand-picked spokesmen. Not only is there no evidence for that, it's ludicrous on its face. Virtually everything we know about Jesus comes from the Apostles. If they misrepresented His views in their letters, then we can't trust their reports in the gospels. On the other hand, if you accept "Blessed are the meek" as an authentic sentiment of Jesus, then Romans 1 and all the other scriptures against homosexual behavior are also accurate representations of His thoughts.

Jesus explained in advance how this would work. At the Last Supper, alone with His disciples, He said:
    When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. ... I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come." (John 15:26, 27... 16:12,13)
Just as the Son spoke for the Father by the Spirit (John 8:26-29; John 12:49,50; John 14:10), the Apostles spoke for Jesus by the same Spirit. If you believe in Jesus, you've staked your eternal soul on the veracity of the Apostles. To believe in Christ is to believe the Apostles; to disbelieve them is to disbelieve in Him. There is no rift between Jesus and Paul, or Jesus and Peter, or Jesus and John. The black letters are just as much the thoughts and intentions of Christ as the red letters.

Jesus' pre-existence: The Word speaks for Himself

But the excuser of homosexual sin doesn't just have to invent a war between Jesus and His designated agents. He also must pretend that there's contention within the Godhead. The Son uproots the works of the Father.

In fact it was the pagan Gnostics who taught that Christ was sent to demolish the ways of the inferior Hebrew god (the "demiurge") and establish the worship of a better, nicer god. People who say that Jesus repealed the Law given at Sinai are ignorantly parroting the dogma of a long-dead cult.

Christians believe that the Son of God did not begin to exist when He "became flesh and dwelt among us." Rather,
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:1-3)
And:
    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)
Though we can distinguish the Son from the Father as Persons, they aren't separate gods, or separate parts of God. They are in perfect agreement. Whatever was said by God the Father in the Old Testament – including what He said against same-sex sex – was said by the Son, and by the Spirit as well. The holy prophets from Moses to Malachi were moved by "the Spirit of Christ." (1 Peter 1:11) So the command in Leviticus 18:22, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination," came from the Word, the Logos, the Christ – just as surely as did the command, "Let there be light," and the command, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."



Those were the points I made in my original two-part series. Since then, readers have reminded me of a couple of other red-letter arguments.

Jesus, in Mark 7:21, said, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries...." (See also Matthew 15:19) This word "fornications" in the Greek is porneia, which seems to be a catch-all word for immoral acts, including homosexual acts.

In Matthew 10:14,15 the Lord says, "Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city." (There is a similar statement in the next chapter and a parallel in Luke's gospel.) The point here is that Jesus was not referring to the past destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but to the residents' future judgment. He uses their pending punishment as a benchmark of intolerability. This is further evidence against the deluded view that Jesus was undoing the uptight morality of that dodgy Old Testament god. The clear implication is that the perversion of Sodom will be punished severely, and in Jesus' view, deserves to be punished severely.

Conclusion

The Son of God did say something about homosexual behavior. Quite a bit, actually. He said it in the Old Testament, and in the New. He said it directly, by His own mouth; and indirectly, through others. He spoke about it generally, under the umbrella of all sins; and he talked about it very specifically, describing the activity. It just isn't honest to say that Christ was silent on this subject.

Or that He approves.

© Dan Popp

 

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