Jesus Never Addressed Homosexuality
“Jesus never addressed homosexuality.”
This is true. Jesus never spoke specifically about homosexuality. Jesus didn’t come to give us new ethical teaching or to reinforce old ethical teaching. Jesus came to bring about a new reality. When it comes to moral issues, we should not imagine that we can simply “look up” the answers to moral questions in a Biblical concordance. That is not the way that the Bible works. Jesus was not primarily an ethical teacher, but a revolutionary leader and prophet. Just because the followers of Jesus did not record Jesus’ thoughts on a subject, does not mean He didn’t have any. In fact, some things might have been so readily understood by Jesus’ contemporaries that no teaching was necessary. On one subject, however, there was apparent debate:
Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh’; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Whatever therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Mark 10:2-8
John the Baptist lost his head
Why would this question concerning divorce be a challenge for Jesus’ community to answer? Because a very powerful person in their community had recently married a divorced woman, his brother’s wife. It was in fact Herod, the Roman-puppet “King of the Jews”. Herod was not in the lineage of David and had no legitimate royal claim. He was a war-lord who was installed by Rome to keep the Jewish people in line. Nevertheless, Herod wanted to legitimate his Royal claim before the Jewish people and so he began a massive restoration project on the Temple in Jerusalem, to beautify it. By this act, Herod hoped to gain the support of the Jewish leadership. Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, would have none of it. John pointed to Herod’s most recent impropriety with his brother’s wife as clear evidence that Herod was no true King of the Jews and certainly not the long-awaited Messiah. John paid for his words with his life.
But here is the important thing: It was not difficult for John or for Jesus to declare the reason for the condemnation of Herod’s action as immorality. No new teaching was needed. Rather, they simply went back to the beginning. They went back to the very foundational understanding of the Jewish world-view. Three times a day the Jews would pray this prayer: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, He is one Lord…” The very foundation of Judaism is that there is only one God and He is the creator of the world. That is what Jesus Himself believed. What follows from this is that human beings, who were created to share in God’s image, are also made to reflect God’s oneness. The two halves of God’s creation, male and female, were made to compliment and support one another. Two different but complimentary halves of God’s image. God Himself dwells in heaven, which is God’s own realm within His creation and is made, ultimately, to be joined to earth, the different but complimentary second half of God’s creation (See Revelation 22). The two complimentary halves are joined together and become one, reflecting the Oneness of God Himself. Divorce is a violation of the covenant made between God and His people, and a violation of the image of God Himself. So, is it okay for a man to divorce his wife if he follows the legal protocol described by Moses? Not at all. Except for the reason of unfaithfulness, there could be no legitimate cause for divorce.
Equally, Homosexuality is a violation of the image of God. The two halves of God’s creation and of His image bearers are complimentary. And within this image, there is a particular order of things. God is in the position of strength and He gives His strength to His people as He draws them to Himself to be united as one. In a marriage, the woman gives her vulnerable self to the man and the man gives his strength to the woman. The two complimentary halves becomes a perfect unity that reproduces life and reflects God’s one image. For a man to have intercourse with a man, suggests that God Himself would subject Himself to another god. But God is only one and He does not share His glory with another. (Isaiah 42:8).
Similarly, Lesbianism is a violation of God’s image. A woman having sexual intercourse with another woman suggests that God’s people can and should relate to one another without reference to God at all. It even suggests that we could give ourselves (our worship!) to one another instead of to the One true God. This is fruitless, unfulfilling, rebellion and idolatry. From the beginning, it was not this way.
Unfaithfulness within the marriage covenant of a man and a woman, or sexual intercourse between any man and woman outside of the marriage covenant is equally blasphemous and rebellious. Since God is One and He will not share His glory with another, we cannot share partners. We are called to be joined to our faithful husband, not to pour out our favors to every passer-by.
So, if the answers to proper sexual conduct was so readily available to Jesus’ contemporaries, why did the Pharisees ask Jesus this question? They did it for the same reason that the New York media interviewed Daniel Murphy, an out-spoken Christian, after the professional baseball team he played for invited an openly homosexual man to come and be a special guest at their team work outs – they knew that almost any answer to their questions was likely to get the man in trouble. After all, Jesus’ cousin was beheaded for his answer (Mark 6:14-29).
Daniel Murphy was questioned after a former ballplayer and open homosexual was invited to the NY Mets’ team workouts.
The questions today concerning what constitutes acceptable sexual behavior are not that difficult to answer on an intellectual level. However, when a sword is held above one’s head, one’s judgment has a tendency to get cloudy. But unless we want to be slaves to fear, bullying, and lies for the rest of our existence; we must pull our courage together and speak the truth. It is better to enter into life without a head, then to enter into death with bodily parts still in place. As we have already seen in our culture, in a world of compromise, bodily parts are not as stationary as we could wish them to be.
If you are struggling with sexual identity of whatever sort, ask Jesus to forgive your sin and to fill you with His Holy Spirit. He will lead you out of hurt and confusion and into new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).