I received an email this week that stated the following:
“Although in your eyes, it may not be right to be gay…in God’s and Jesus’s eyes, they are accepting and loving of it.”
If you received such an email…or if a family member, friend or co-worker said something along these lines…how would you respond? I’d like to share what I believe is a biblical response and would encourage you, as God provides the opportunity, to share this response “…with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
1. Jesus forbid “sexual immorality” which included homosexual behavior.
Jesus said in Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’” [that is, morally unclean] “Sexual immorality” in this context refers to “sexual acts that are morally objectionable.” Since Jesus said these things to his disciples, who were Jews, we must look to the Mosaic Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy) as the standard for right and wrong. In the law of Moses, forbidden sexual sins include (but are not limited to) incest, adultery, homosexuality and bestiality (see Leviticus 18:6,20,22,23).
So: 1) Jesus said that “sexual immorality,” a catchphrase for all sexual sin forbidden in the Mosaic law, was evil and made a person morally unclean. 2) Homosexuality is listed as a forbidden sexual practice within the Mosaic law. 3) Therefore, it is grossly misleading to imply in anyway that Jesus supported the homosexual lifestyle. He wasn’t silent on the subject and what he said explicitly categorized homosexual behavior as immoral.
Imagine with me a parent grounding his kid from “technology” for a week. Within that time frame the kid is caught using his phone. He tries to justify his actions saying “You never said anything specifically about using my phone!” Would the parent accept his justification? Of course not! The punishment was “no technology.” Technology is a catchall phrase that encompasses phone usage.
In the same way, Jesus forbid “sexual immorality.” For the homosexual to try and justify homosexual acts saying “Jesus never said anything specifically about homosexuality” is just as dishonest as the kid saying to his parents “You never said anything specifically about my phone.” It doesn’t matter if it’s mentioned specifically or not. “Sexual immorality” is a catchall phrase for all sexual sin that encompasses the homosexual lifestyle.
2. Jesus taught that God’s created intent for human sexuality was heterosexuality.
Jesus said in Mark 10:6-9, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Jesus makes clear here that God’s created intent for human sexuality is heterosexuality. By explicitly pointing to heterosexuality as God’s standard, Jesus implicitly condemns any lifestyle that falls short of that standard – which includes, but is not limited to, the homosexual lifestyle.
It may be helpful to think of it this way…If the speed limit says 35mph, then 35mph is the standard. Any speed over that standard is breaking the law.
3. Jesus affirmed the Old Testament law, which clearly does not affirm the homosexual lifestyle.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-18, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
Jesus accepted and affirmed the law – the law that forbids homosexual practice (see Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). One of the reasons why proponents of same-sex intercourse think that they can enlist Jesus in their cause is that they labor under a popular misconception; namely, that Jesus was far more tolerant on sexual matters than his Jewish contemporaries. But precisely the opposite is true. On matters relating to sexual ethics Jesus adopted stricter, not more lenient, demands that most other Jews of his time. For example, in Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus said “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus here takes the baseline standard of the Mosaic Law (don’t commit adultery) and then raises it (don’t even lust). So we see that Jesus’ expectations regarding sexual purity exceeded the expectations both of the Mosaic Law and of the traditions prevailing in Jesus’ day. And so we see that Jesus did not overturn any prohibitions against immoral sexual behavior in Leviticus or anywhere else in the Mosaic Law.
CONCLUSION: The idea that Jesus was, or might have been, personally neutral or even affirming of homosexual conduct is revisionist history at its worst. The portrayal of a Jesus as a first-century Palestinian Jew who was open to homosexual practice is simply ahistorical. All the evidence leads in the opposite direction. In light of the clear teaching of Jesus we can only conclude that those who find in the Gospels a Jesus who is a prophet of tolerance, who forgives and accepts all, regardless of behavioral change, have distorted the historical reality of what Jesus actually taught.