The Silence of Jesus on Homosexuality (or Tango on the Titanic)

*(If you’re just joining us, I recommend you read the previous two or three posts.)
So far, in our discussion of homosexuality and faith, we can agree on a few things:

God is worth pursuing.

We are all sinners in need of Jesus.

No sin is greater than any other.

None of us is qualified to judge the other.

Hell is a terrible future and not one of us is fit to decide who goes there.

The church is guilty of causing immeasurable hurt by applying truth without love and grace (although I’m guessing God has found a way to measure it!).

Many of us hide from discussing homosexuality for fear of judgment from both camps but we’re tired of hiding.

We respect others and don’t want to hurt anyone but we do want to be honest about what we believe to be true.

So far, we have found one point of disagreement:

Is homosexuality a sin?

To answer this question from my perspective, my sole points of reference are the Bible and Jesus. To sin means “to miss the mark.” Only God decides where the mark is so only He can define missing it.

How humans define sin outside of scripture is of no relevance to me. Many religious leaders have decided that everything from wearing lipstick to reading Catcher in the Rye is a sin. When defining sin, I don’t go by any human-devised tradition but only by what God has revealed through the Bible. Sin is an offense against God so only He decides the terms.
That said, I also believe that a) the Bible is not a club with which we are hit one another, b) it’s dangerous to pull verses out of context and ALWAYS best to process every verse in light of the entire Bible, c) the Bible can be understood and applied by the common person – it doesn’t require degrees in Hebrew and/or Greek but the guidance of the Holy Spirit, d) God has provided some Christians with the gift of teaching and they can aid us in discerning difficult passages and e) most of our problems stem NOT from what is hard to understand in the Bible but from not putting into practice what is easy to understand.
Still with me?

As I’ve researched this topic, I haven’t developed any personal anger towards homosexuals but, believe me, I’ve wrestled with anger towards false teachers. The New Testament writers cautioned us that false teachers would come and Timothy warned that “- the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3.
I believe we live in that time.
Because false teachers abound, we cannot assume that a person who disagrees with our perspective is either rejecting scripture or unstudied. He or she may have researched an issue, such as homosexuality, and found some Christians teaching that the original Greek and Hebrew mean something different than “same gender sexual relationships”. Some Bible teachers are now saying that recent scholarship has discovered that the words traditionally translated as “homosexual” are actually words that were more commonly used for pederasts or for dominant/unwilling same-sex advances.
Because of this, I think it is best for believers to avoid saying foolish things such as “It’s right there in the Bible!” or “God said, I believe it, that ends it.” There is no place for smugness or sarcasm when discussing the state of someone’s soul or their relationship with God.

It’s wiser to acknowledge that, yes, it is possible to find Christian teachers willing to reinterpret the passages on homosexuality. That is true.
BUT,
While some may be advancing the idea that “new research” on this subject is the best, others think it is more likely that the people closest to speaking the original Hebrew and Greek are our best guides to knowing how the words were translated. It was not until the mid-20th century that the notion of homosexuality NOT being a sin began to be debated within the church. That speaks to how clearly there was an agreed upon translation for hundreds of years (and certainly there must have been Medieval monks and priests, wrestling with same-sex attraction, who would have wanted to re-translate those verses.)

So, in our conversations with people about homosexuality, we should remember to be respectful, kind, and compassionate about what the Bible teaches since some have come under those teaching a contrary doctrine from the same passages traditionally translated to mean homosexual behavior.

On the flip side, I think gay-rights advocates should stop using the worn out argument/visual when they say, “Here is everything that Jesus had to say about homosexuality.” And then they stand silently with their lips drawn tight (to indicate that he said nothing.)
That’s very dramatic but it doesn’t serve anyone. Jesus was also silent about incest. He was silent about pedophilia and bestiality. That is not to equate these with this discussion, but simply to say it’s risky business to argue from His silence.
Jesus was born a Jew and lived in a day when it was commonly accepted that homosexuality was a sin. He would not have had much challenge on the subject.
Jesus was loving and gracious to all who sinned but His instructions were ALWAYS to stop sinning. In fact, whenever He discussed an Old Testament law regarding things like divorce or murder, Jesus generally indicated that God’s expectations were even higher than expected (don’t even LOOK on a woman with lust, don’t even harbor ANGER in your heart against another).
So, the idea that if he’d been asked about same-gender sexual relations, He might have loosened up on the Old Testament laws doesn’t have much basis for argument.

I’m sure my words offend.

I’m sorry if my clumsy way of communicating has caused the offense.
I’m not going for “clever” here and I’m not trying to “win.” I believe that people will know we are Christians by our love not by our self-righteous “rightness” but, I take God’s word very seriously – in fact – I believe it is GOD’S WORD.
So when I read verses that indicate homosexual acts are “contrary to sound doctrine” (I Timothy 1:9-11) or that “men who have sex with men” are listed with those who, if unrepentant, will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6: 9-11), I am hard-pressed to see it meaning anything other than what it says it means. And this makes me concerned for the eternal futures of those I love who wrestle personally with this issue.
And it leaves me with questions for other believers who dismiss these verses. Questions that ask, please explain the basis on which you choose to walk past what these passages say. Help me understand.
I respect the life experience of those who tell me they were born attracted to the same sex and cannot change. I don’t deny that that is their experience. But I also respect the experience of those who tell me they have been able to change with the power of Christ (and yes, I know some personally). I also respect the struggle of some who have tried to change in Christ but continue to struggle.
We’re not in heaven yet. Life on this side of glory is a fight to the finish and nothing is easy (and it only promises to get harder.) But saying that everyone is okay and everything will work out in the end while ignoring sound teaching based on God’s word is like telling everyone to keep dancing and dining as the Titanic slowing sinks into the icy sea.
So, share your thoughts. Don’t give up the discussion. Keep talking this through. With God, nothing is impossible.
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8 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Well said. We can’t deny the struggle against any sin, nor can we deny the straightforward truth of Scripture. We all have to “work out our salvation…” Thanks, Lori

  2. Calvin says:

    Lori, my biggest beef with talking about homosexuality is that every time the subject comes up, I end up being lumped together with pedophiles, those who have sex with animals or their siblings. That is frankly insulting and hateful, and hopefully a habit that will end with those that read this.
    Jesus is NOT silent about pedophilia, bestiality, or incest. He spoke about protecting the innocent, of loving your neighbor as yourself, and honoring your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

  3. Calvin says:

    Pedophilia and bestiality is a crime against God and a crime against Man because it is an intrinsically selfish act that destroys a child or an animal, neither of which can consent to a loving sexual relationship with and equal. Incest has been known throughout time as a taboo act that will result in grotesquely deformed children.
    It is sinful to confuse the rape of a child or sexual gratification gained by raping an animal to who I am as a person and the love that I have for Shawn.
    Further, Jesus does speak about love. He speaks about it A LOT actually. My homosexuality is simply about love. (And I use love as a verb) Homosexuality is between two adults consenting to a relationship, (not one sex act) that love each other as equals.

  4. calvin says:

    I have to say Lori, I agree with you – only God decides what a sin is. However, all actions that God has told us through scripture that is sin shares one of three characteristics: Sin hurts us, it hurts others, or it hurts our relationship with him. This is not a definition, it’s an observation.
    You have yet to give me an example of another sin that does not have those characteristics. (Even though I have asked nicely! LOL)

  5. calvin says:

    God wants the best for us and does not want us hurt or to hurt anyone else. That is the opposite what sin does. Homosexuality does not, in any way shape of form hurt me or anyone else. In fact, I am living proof that my Homosexuality makes me a better man, and my relationship with God is strong. (I will not presume to talk for Shawn, but I think he finds our relationship pretty awesome after 10+ years!)
    My experience of God in this universe is one of logic and reason. The whole of our beautiful planet, the cosmos, the human body, all of it runs on logic and reason. The whole of creation seems to follow a set of rules like gravity and magnetism, all created by God. God uses this logic and reason in everything that I experience. Why would anything be different? Why would sin be different?
    I think your definition of sin is the only thing that has “missed the mark”. (My attempt to be clever leaves much to be desired! I couldn’t resist thought – please forgive me.)

  6. Calvin, my own sin is also equated with bestiality and pedophilia. All sins and all sinners are lumped together. As far as I’m concerned, homosexuals don’t get a special exception from being lumped with other sinners (I know we disagree on homosexuality being a sin.)

    “My” definition of sin is actually the translation from the original language, not my own paraphrase.

    Many people would argue that having sex outside of marriage doesn’t hurt anyone if it is loving but that, too, is a sin. Some would argue that amicable divorce doesn’t hurt anyone but that, too, can be a sin, as can remarriage except under certain circumstances.

    I think early in this discussion, I answered on this point of how homosexuality hurts anything that God created us in His image, male and female and that somehow in coming together in marriage, we illustrate something about Him that He chose to illustrate in just that way. THAT is what gets hurt whenever we play with that image (and there are countless ways for gays and heterosexuals to mar or altar that image). God’s imagery to us about Himself is a big deal.

    You could say that lusting after someone in your mind doesn’t hurt anyone, some modern psychologists advocate it as healthy, but Jesus says that lust is a sin.

    There is no law against love. I am free to love everyone – even my enemy. The law is against who I am free to express that love to in a sexual manner. So, when you say this is about love, I disagree. It’s about how we are free or not free to express the love we have. There are many, many ways to express love. Our modern society has put on a lens that tries to filter all expressions of love into sexuality but God wants us,not to narrow our view of love but to broaden it. That’s what this is about.

    I’m happy you’re still in the conversation. I can’t thank you enough for being here.

  7. Bill Hurter says:

    To say that Jesus was silent on homosexuality, or any sin not specifically mention by Jesus, is to say that what is written and taught by the Apostles was their own idea and therefore not to be considered as something God or Jesus condemned. This is a dangerous path to travel. 2 Timothy 3:16 is very clear that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, ” We also tend to overlook that what is written and taught by the Apostles was in fact what Jesus had taught them. I know this as Jesus told them in that after he left to be with the Father that the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance all things He had said and taught: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26. So I believe that Jesus was not silent but that the Apostles wrote what he had said to them.

  8. Tammy Smith says:

    The Scripture that comes to mind in this whole post and comments section:Jeremiah 17:9″The heart is deceitful above all things,and desperately wicked;who can know it?”
    We cannot trust our feelings in anything,only in Scripture can we trust…..that’s where you’ll find me standing.Standing anywhere else is only sinking sand.