Jesus Said Nothing About Homosexuality?
Some claiming to be Christians assert there’s nothing wrong with homosexual lusts or behaviours. Sometimes such “Christians” identify themselves as “progressive Christians.” At other times they refer to themselves as “sex-positive Christians.” In a previous post, I addressed one of their arguments, namely that the Bible never spoke about homosexuality until 1946. In this post, I’ll tackle a different one: Jesus said nothing about homosexuality.
There are two ways to disprove this claim. One is to consider how this claim has a far too narrow understanding of how Jesus speaks. Simply by virtue of his divinity, the entire Bible is the word of Christ. Because of his deity, Jesus Christ stands behind everything written in the 66 books of the Bible, including what the Old Testament and the New Testament both teach about homosexuality. If Jesus is God, and if the entire Bible is the Word of God, then the entire Bible is also the word of Jesus. So, when Romans 1:26-27 speaks of homosexuality in terms of “dishonourable passions” and relations “contrary to nature,” that is Christ speaking. When 1 Timothy 1:10 includes “men who practice homosexuality” among those who are “ungodly and sinners,” that is our Lord Jesus speaking too.
The other way to disprove this claim is to actually look at the spoken words of Jesus as he carried out his ministry on this earth. In other words, let’s look at the spoken words of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels and John. We can readily grant that Jesus never used the word “homosexuality” in his teaching. We can also readily grant that he never directly spoke of homosexual lusts or relations. This can be explained quite easily from his context. Jesus was ministering primarily in a Jewish context where it was a given that homosexuality was out of accord with God’s will – after all, the Torah was clear in Leviticus 18 and 20. Analogously, I’m quite sure that if you were to jump in a time machine and travel back to listen to Reformed preachers in the nineteenth century, there would likewise be very few mentions of homosexuality because of the broader cultural consensus on it. There wasn’t a pressing need to address it.
Jesus did indirectly address homosexuality, however. Amongst the Jews of his day, Sodom and Gomorrah were renowned for their sexual immorality. The nature of that infamous immorality is described in Jude 7 as the pursuit of “unnatural desire.” This type of desire and behaviour was regarded as repugnant. So, when a teacher like Jesus invoked the names of Sodom and Gomorrah, he was calling up that reaction in his listeners. Jesus does exactly that in Matthew 10:15. He’s speaking there about any Jewish town which refuses to welcome the preachers of the kingdom of heaven. He says, “Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” This is a remarkable statement. For the Jews then, and for God’s covenant people today, Jesus was saying there is a sin worse than homosexual lusts and behaviours: rejecting the preaching of the gospel. Covenant unbelief is more abominable than homosexuality! However, don’t miss the fact that the surprising nature of this teaching is based on an acceptance of what the Old Testament teaches about homosexuality: it is an abomination.
We could also refer to what Jesus teaches about marriage and divorce in Matthew 19. The Pharisees asked him whether divorce was lawful for any cause. Before he answered, he affirmed what the Old Testament taught about the institution of marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Mt. 19:5). Jesus here affirmed that God designed marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. He affirmed heterosexual marriage as the only context in which sexual intimacy (“shall become one flesh”) ought to exist – consistent with the teaching of his Word elsewhere.
Imagine if someone were to argue, “Jesus said nothing about incest, therefore incest should be acceptable for Christians.” Or imagine, “Jesus said nothing about pedophilia, therefore pedophilia should be acceptable.” We could go down the list of all kinds of moral issues where Jesus “said nothing” and end up approving of everything and anything.
To claim that “Jesus said nothing about homosexuality” is just not honest to the facts of the Bible. I’d therefore propose a new name for “progressive Christians.” Let’s call them what they are: “wishful thinkers.” They just wish the Bible would support their easy-going acceptance of what the world holds about sexuality. Then they create for themselves their own personal Jesus who will approve of their worldliness. It’s just as Christ told us in his Word:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false prophets among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Peter 2:1-2).