A Facebook friend of mine posted a meme this morning of former President Jimmy Carter that said the following:
“Homosexuality was well-known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born, and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all his teachings about multiple things – he never said gay people should be condemned.”
Of course, my friend and his friends jumped on this confirming it and then bashing Paul who did speak in his epistles about homosexuality quite frankly.
I decided not to address the issue on his page. Honestly, there is a reason we are told not to throw pearls before swine – arguing there would be useless. However, I did invite my friend to contact me directly if he wanted to know what Jesus really said.
Thinking a bit about it I decided that I should probably blog on it so that others are very clear that Jesus did, indeed, address homosexuality even though He didn’t mention the word directly. Let me bring you to scripture and show you.
In Matthew 15:19-20 Jesus says these words, 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
To understand these verses, you have to understand what “sexual immorality” meant in the 1st century Israel. I think this section from an article in Apologetics press explains it pretty well:
In order to understand what Jesus was saying, we must go back to the original language and identify what the word meant in the first century. The word translated “sexual immorality” in this verse is the Greek word porneia. The respected Greek lexicon of Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker states that the word refers to “prostitution, unchastity, fornication, of every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse.” In their primary definition, they mention that it refers to “the sexual unfaithfulness of a married woman” (1979, p. 693). The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words has an extensive section on porneia and related words: “This word group describes various extramarital sexual modes of behavior insofar as they deviate from accepted social and religious norms (e.g., homosexuality, promiscuity, pedophilia, and esp. prostitution)” (Verbrugge, 2000, 6:1077). This dictionary further notes: “Rab. Jud. (Rabbinical Judaism—KB) frowned on any kind of prostitution of extramarital sexual intercourse. Incest and all kinds of unnatural sexual intercourse were viewed as porneia (6:1078). In the discussion of the word’s use in the New Testament, the volume states:
It is not clear whether porneia in the so-called ‘exceptive clause’ (Matt 5:32; 19:9) is to be understood simply as extramarital sexual intercourse in the sense of moicheia or as including prostitution. Most interpreters tend to favor the former interpretation…. The porne word group denotes any kind of illegitimate sexual intercourse in Paul’s letters (6:1078, emp. added).
Thus, saying that Jesus never used the word homosexual is kind of like saying Jesus never said the word cat knowing full well there were cats in His time!
But let’s dig further. Jesus confirms God’s original plan for human intimacy in in Matthew 14:4-6: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 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’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Here Jesus is confirming scripture – God’s plan for human intimate interaction is between a man and a woman. It can be clearly assumed that Jesus would further support them going forth and multiplying as God commanded as well.
But these verses aside, my real problem with any Christian saying that Jesus didn’t address homosexuality denies that Jesus wrote the Bible! According to John, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God! (John 1:1). The Word, of course, is Jesus. He was there from the beginning with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. God spoke things into existence meaning Jesus created all things. The Word of God – the Bible – is Jesus’ word! Do you really think the Jesus changed His mind during His incarnation? No, and He makes that very clear in Matthew 5:18 when He says not one jot or one tittle (one stroke or point) of the law shall pass away until all is fulfilled!
Further, Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to make void the law or the prophets; I am not come to make void, but to fulfill” Now remember, there no New Testament then just the Old Testament where Jesus was very clear about sexual relations, sexual immorality, and God’s plan for humanity.
So, yes, Jesus addressed homosexuality and it is outside God’s plan for us.
Now, let me address the second part of President Carter’s comments. Carter is right; Jesus never condemned gay people as He walked this earth. Let me share with you how I think this works from a biblical perspective.
There are two sets of people we deal with in scripture, believers and unbelievers. Paul makes very clear in 1 Corinthians 5:9-12 that we in the Body of Christ are not to hold those outside the faith to the tenants of the faith because they are not in the faith! In other words, if you are a homosexual but not a Christian Paul tells us not to worry about that. It’s not our business.
I feel very strongly about this – holding someone to a Christian value they don’t ascribe to is silly. I have a number of gay friends outside the faith and I never talk with them about their sexuality. It doesn’t matter. I will tell them about a relationship with Jesus but not due to their sexuality but due to their eternity which is a different conversation all together! But honestly, I don’t care who is sleeping with whom if you’re not a Christian. Not my business.
However, if you claim Christ as your Lord and Savior the rules change! Jesus calls us to submit to God’s ways in lieu of our own in every aspect of our lives – money, pride, relationships, and yes, sex. So, if you’re a practicing homosexual and consider yourself a Christian are you condemned? That’s the question that gets asked, but I think it’s the wrong question.
Romans 8:1 tells us that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. However, are you really in Christ Jesus if you embrace something Jesus calls sin? Let me say it another way, Jesus says that if we love Him, we’ll do as He commands. Do you really love Jesus if you tell Him he’s wrong on the gay issue? And if He’s wrong on the gay issue is He God at all?
Paul has an interesting dialogue in Romans 5:20-6:2 –
“20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means!”
Some thought that if grace covers us (My grace is sufficient) than we should sin more so grace increases! Paul nips that right in the bud! No, we don’t sin more we actually do everything we can to fight our sin nature.
This issue is so divisive that I know a lot of my Christian brothers and sisters want to find an easy solution by doing a bit of biblical gymnastics to make the Bible say what they want it to say. However, my friends, the Bible says what it says, and we are to submit to it even if we don’t like it, understand it, or even want to hear it.
So, how are we in the church to deal with our same sex attracted members?
- First, we love them! We’re all fallen, and we all have something in us that doesn’t work the way God would like. You are no better than anyone else.
- We share that if that person is a follower of Jesus that He has something better for them even though it is an extremely heavy cross to bear. I can think of no heavier cross than to have to abstain from intimate relationships, but I also know that God would use that powerfully in one’s life.
- We walk with them through the difficulties associated with such a cross. It’s not good enough to tell someone to do what God says and then leave them alone to do it. That is not loving at all. You walk with them! You help them. You care for them. You encourage them. And yes, you pick them back up and dust them off when they backslide which they will – we all do!
- Lastly, we don’t judge or condemn them. President Carter is right on this account. Our job is to love God and love others not to judge. God is the only righteous judge and one’s sin life is between them and God not you and them.
I know this is a long blog so to summarize:
- To my friends who say Jesus never addressed the issue of homosexuality I humbly say you are wrong.
- To my LGBTQ+ friends outside the church, live and let live. But I hope you get to know Jesus some day!!
- To my brothers and sisters in Christ, instead of throwing rocks let’s see if we can walk with those struggling with their own issues of fallenness just as we struggle with our own. Let’s not judge lest we be judged. Let’s instead love and help our friends find Jesus’ will for their life step by step.
As always, Brother Tom, you speak through the Holy Spirit. I have some deep meditating to do on this issue — always have, as I’m sure you’re aware that I have many loved ones who are in this category. I’d love to see an exchange of view between you, President Carter, and Pope Francis on this issue. I know it would be very enlightening. Blessings, my friend.