“…but Jesus never talked about homosexuality…”
I’ve heard this comment several times recently by people, some Christians, who are trying to reconcile the shifting cultural ethic on sex, gender and sexuality with the Church’s historical teaching. It seems to be used as a phrase that gives us permission to dismiss the clear teaching of all God’s Word. After all, the reasoning goes, if Jesus didn’t address it, it must be up for grabs!
1. This argument shows a lack of grasp on the nature of God’s Word. Believe it or not, the red words in our Bibles (the words of Jesus) don’t have more authority than the rest of God’s Word. That may sound blasphemous, but let’s think about it. Jesus didn’t write down his own words. We have the writinigs of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The words of Jesus are words recorded by people who were led by the Spirit of God. The same Spirit directed Moses in writing the Law. He also directed Paul in writing Romans and 1 Corinthians. And He directed John in writing the book of Revelation. If we had words of Jesus on homosexuality, or any other issue, we would expect to see agreement, if the Word of God is the Word of God.
2. The teachings of Jesus are often confrontational. He taught things that were counter-cultural. He had no problem going after the religious leaders when they got it wrong. If He had a different teaching from the accepted teaching of the religious community, we would expect to read it in the Gospels. Its very absence indicates that He had no different view on human sexuality than that of the faith community around him.
3. Jesus never contradicted the Law and the Prophets, in fact He applied them in even stronger and clearer terms. We see that over and again in the Sermon on the Mount. In teaching against hypocrisy and judgmentalism, Jesus did not lower the bar of holiness. Instead He raised the bar. Jesus said it wasn’t enough to be against murder, because anger against another is the same heart condition (Matt. 5:21-26). It wasn’t enough to love your neighbor, because holiness demands that one love his/her enemy (Matt. 5:43-48). It wasn’t enough to be free of adultery, it is the lusting heart that stands condemned (Matt.5:27-30). And it goes on and on.
Jesus never excused sin, or explained it away. He never redefined it. He just insisted on 3 things from those who love God:
1. When dealing with sin, we have to see ours first! We have to be honest about our own failures and our own need for grace.
2. We are invited to depend on the grace of God and the gift of forgiveness in Christ. With that, we have to offer the path of reconciliation to others.
3. We are compelled to live in growing holiness. We aren’t to deny the ethic of personal holiness taught in Scripture. That is exactly what the leaders of the day were doing. This growing holiness will shape the inward condition of our hearts and minds. It will also shape our outward lives, aligning them with the desires and direction of God.
If we want to know what Jesus thought about sexuality, we have to know what God thinks about it. If we want to know what God thinks about it, we have to look at the whole teaching of Scripture. Read Genesis 2:23-24; Leviticus 18; Matthew 5:27-30; Matthew 19:6-12; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6 & 7; Revelation 21:8. These teachings are written over a period of about 1500 years, by many different authors, to many different cultures and places, yet there is amazing unity in them concerning sexuality. There is no reason to think they don’t also speak truth to our culture today.
In another blog, I’ll try to address how we can and should live redemptively in a world with a different sexual ethic. I’d love to hear any ideas you have about that.