Pastor Bob O'Bannon
Below is the sixth post from Pastor Bob in an ongoing blog series designed to help Christians think through the issue of homosexuality in a careful and Biblical way. For more on the reason for this series, click here.
Question 6: Why do Christians get so uptight about homosexuality when Jesus didn’t even talk about it?
Is that true – Jesus didn’t even mention homosexuality in all his teaching? Really?
It is true that in the Bible there is no record of any instance in which Jesus spoke directly about homosexuality. From this, the conclusion is drawn that the issue must not have been very important to him. For instance, British author Francis Spufford writes that Jesus seemed to be “weirdly unbothered about sex,” that he expressed “no opinions whatsoever” about homosexuality or gay marriage, and that “what we do in bed is not specially important to him.” (p. 116).
There are at least three responses to this assertion.
First, we can’t expect that Jesus would speak directly to every single potential ethical question that has faced humankind throughout every culture and in every period of time throughout history. In his earthly ministry, he was located in a specific cultural and historical era that had its own ethical questions and difficulties. Apparently, homosexuality was not among the most pressing issues of his day, so it was not addressed, just as presidential candidates today don’t feel the need to assert their position on slavery. Do we conclude from their silence on the issue that they are “weirdly unbothered” by slavery? Of course not. It simply means that the issue of slavery was a more pressing issue in another time.
It should be noted that Jesus also doesn’t explicitly condemn spousal abuse, cocaine addiction, or air pollution, but because of broader moral principles taught by Jesus and in the rest of the Bible, I’m quite confident He was against all of those offenses.
Secondly, to draw the conclusion that homosexuality is acceptable in Christianity simply because Jesus didn’t address the issue specifically is to betray some serious misunderstandings about orthodox Christian theology, both related to the doctrine of Scripture and the person of Christ.
As Christians, we believe Jesus is God in the flesh — that the God who created the heavens and the earth, and who was active in the Old Testament to deliver his people from bondage in Egypt, and to give them His law so they would follow and obey it, is the same God who took to himself a human body in the person of Jesus Christ and lived on this earth 2,000 years ago. Jesus is the God of the Old Testament in human form. That means that whatever God declared in the Old Testament also came from the heart of Jesus as the pre-incarnate second person of the Trinity. John 1:14 says Jesus is the “Word became flesh,” but go back to John 1:1 and notice that the Word (Jesus) existed from the very beginning. Col. 1:17 says Jesus was “before all things.” This means that when God said in Lev. 18:22 that homosexual activity was an “abomination,” those were the words of all three persons of the eternal Trinity – Father, Spirit, and the Son too.
Thirdly, the case can be made that Jesus actually did express his disapproval of homosexuality, though in a more indirect way. For instance, in Mat. 19:4-5, Jesus reiterates the Biblical foundation for heterosexual marriage by saying, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’” This is the pre-fall, pre-political, transcultural, God-endorsed ideal for marriage – one man and one woman – and it is affirmed and taught by Jesus in the New Testament.
Also, in Mat. 5:17, Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but rather he came to fulfill them. In this statement, Jesus is basically saying, “I affirm and support what is written in the Old Testament law.” And of course that would include Lev. 18:22 and 20:13, both of which refer to homosexual activity as an “abomination.”
So, contrary to what is frequently said, Jesus did have an opinion about homosexuality: it is displeasing to Him and contrary to God’s design for marriage. And yet Jesus also says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden . . .” (including those who struggle with same-sex attraction), “ . . . and I will give you rest.” (Mat. 11:28).
Next week’s question: How can you say homosexuals are wrong when they are born with their sexual orientation?