What does Jesus really think of homosexuality?

13 Apr

From Kevin DeYoung:

Crossway has done a great job putting together a number of resources related to the new book on homosexuality.

Here is a general page giving basic information, including endorsements and other links.

Crossway has also put out a free 36-page sampler which includes the Table of Contents, the Introduction, and Chapter One. A free study guide is also available for download.

Recently, I gave an hour long message covering a few of the themes in the book. Following the message I sat on a panel with Justin Taylor, Jackie Hill-Perry, and Josh Moody to continue the conversation. Both of these videos are embedded below.

 Further:On a recent episode of “The Good Wife” a wedding planner, who refuses to take on a gay couple as a client, is asked two questions.  “Did Jesus ever condemn homosexuality?”  She replied “No.”  She was then asked if Jesus condemned divorce.  She responded that he had.  The point of the attorney was that her religious discrimination was ‘selective’ because she was willing to do a wedding for a divorced heterosexual couple but not a homosexual couple marrying for the first time.

Sigh… Where to begin?

First, the wedding planner claimed to be a Christian, not a follower of a religion based exclusively on the spoken words of Jesus as he walked the earth.  I’ve never heard of such a religion, in fact.  Second, I don’t think we would like such a religion, since it would have a hard time condemning incest, rape or bestiality, also subjects that Jesus did not address explicitly in his earthly ministry as contained in the four gospels.

But Christianity does not teach that all theology and all morality is contained only in the words of Jesus found in the four gospels.  Seriously, the claim that Jesus had no opinion on the subject of homosexuality is simply laughable (as bible scholars left and right know).

Here are just some of the reasons, first from Robert Gagnon (leading expert on the Bible and sexuality):

Q: Speaking of Jesus, some argue that because Jesus said nothing about the matter that it was not an important issue for him. What do you think?

There is no historical basis for arguing that Jesus might have been neutral or even favorable toward same-sex intercourse.

All the evidence we have points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that Jesus would have strongly opposed same-sex intercourse had such behavior been a serious problem among first-century Jews. It simply was not a problem in Israel.

First, Jesus’ alleged silence has to be set against the backdrop of unequivocal and strong opposition to same-sex intercourse in the Hebrew Bible and throughout early Judaism. It is not historically likely that Jesus overturned any prohibition of the Mosaic law, let alone on a strongly held moral matter such as this. And Jesus was not shy about disagreeing with prevailing viewpoints. Had he wanted his disciples to take a different viewpoint he would have had to say so.

Second, the notion of Jesus’ “silence” has to be qualified. According to Mark, Jesus spoke out against porneia, “sexual immorality” (Mark 7:21-23) and accepted the Decalogue commandment against adultery (Mark 10:19). In Jesus’ day, and for many centuries before and thereafter, porneia was universally understood in Judaism to include same-sex intercourse. Moreover, the Decalogue commandment against adultery was treated as a broad rubric prohibiting all forms of sexual practice that deviated from the creation model in Genesis 1-2, including homoerotic intercourse.

Third, that Jesus lifted up the male-female model for sexual relationships in Genesis 1-2 as the basis for defining God’s will for sexuality is apparent from his back-to-back citation in Mark 10:6-7 of Genesis 1:27 (“God made them male and female”) and Genesis 2:24 (“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”).

These are the same two texts that Paul cites or alludes to in his denunciation of same-sex intercourse in Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. For Jesus, marriage was ordained by the Creator to be an indissoluble (re-)union of a man and woman–two complementary sexual others–into one flesh. Authorization of homoerotic unions requires a different creation account.

Fourth, it is time to deconstruct the myth of a sexually tolerant Jesus. Three sets of Jesus sayings make clear that, far from loosening the law’s stance on sex, Jesus intensified the ethical demand in this area: (a) Jesus´ stance on divorce and remarriage (Mark 10:1-12; also Matthew 5:32 and the parallel in Luke 16:18; and Paul’s citation of Jesus´ position in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11); (b) Jesus´ remark about adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:27-28); and (c) Jesus´ statement about removing body parts as preferable to being thrown into hell (Matthew 5:29-30 and Mark 9:43-48) which, based on the context in Matthew as well as rabbinic parallels, primarily has to do with sexual immorality.

Simply put, sex mattered to Jesus. Jesus did not broaden the range of acceptable sexual expression; he narrowed it. And he thought that unrepentant, repetitive deviation from this norm could get a person thrown into hell.

Where then do we get the impression that Jesus was soft on sex? People think of his encounters with the adulterous woman in John 7:53-8:11, the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50, and the Samaritan woman who had many husbands in John 4.

What the first story suggests is that Jesus did modify the law at one point: Sexual immorality should not incur a death penalty from the state. Why? Not because sex for him did not matter but rather because stoning was a terminal act that did not give opportunity for repentance and reform. Moreover, all three stories confirm what we know about Jesus elsewhere: that he aggressively sought the lost, ate with them, fraternized with them. But the same Jesus who could protect an adulterous woman from stoning also took a very strong stance against divorce-and-remarriage.

We see a parallel in Jesus’ stance toward tax collectors, who had a justly deserved reputation for exploiting their own people for personal gain. We do not conclude from Jesus’ well-known outreach to tax collectors that Jesus was soft on economic exploitation. To the contrary: All scholars agree that Jesus intensified God’s ethical demand with respect to treatment of the poor and generosity with material possessions. Why then do we conclude from Jesus’ outreach to sexual sinners that sexual sin was not so important to Jesus?

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