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

domino-163522_640*(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’re 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 (although I’m guessing God has found a way to measure it!) hurt by applying truth without love and grace.

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.

This is a complex topic, especially for those who struggle with same-sex attraction.

So far, we have found one point of disagreement: Is homosexuality a sin?

To answer this question, my sole points of reference are the Bible and Jesus. The Bible’s word for “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 want to go by 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 wasn’t 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 a small percentage of Medieval monks and priests, wrestling with same-sex attraction, who would have wanted to re-translate those verses. Most men who chose these callings were heterosexual but there were incidents of homosexual acts requiring discipline in the ranks and it was always treated as a sin.)

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. He was silent on numerous issues. That is not to equate these issues with homosexuality, 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.

(Read the comments on the original post here at https://loriroeleveld.com/is-homosexuality-a-sin/the-silence-of-jesus-on-homosexuality-or-tango-on-the-titanic-2/)


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4 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    A thoughtful, balanced take on the issue, I feel. Well put.

    We must be loving but firm- as far as anything I’ve seen, the Bible says homosexuality is a sin. That much, to me, is clear.

    It’s also clear that we must never let our hatred of a sin tinge our love of the sinner. We are to love everyone. End of discussion.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hate the sin, love the sinner. And without question, it is a sin…a serious one. But many will encourage others to think otherwise, to satisfy their own consciences. They provide a stumbling block to some confused, and for that, the Bible says they will suffer…something about a millstone and the sea.

  3. Moses says:

    I love reading these posts, and you treated this subject with sensitivity. I appreciate that. Four and a half years ago, I left a homosexual relationship. I had been openly gay for eight years starting in high school. It was all I knew. It felt right. I was hurt and upset by comments made from church people, so I stopped listening to them. It was when I was 22 that I started to read the bible out of desperation. I saw my sin. I didn’t just see homosexuality. I saw lying, cheating, stealing, hatred, envy, manipulation. I saw my fear and cowardice. Jesus came to save us from our sinS., our complete body of death. As I began to pray, I slowly came to the realization that I could not fulfill another man as he needed. As I prayed more, it became obvious that knowing God was more important than maintaining who I thought I was and what I thought I wanted. He who saves his life will lose it, and he who loses his life will save it. It is difficult to be around, because I know what it is to live there and I still have struggles. Thank God for Jesus, that I can know in my heart of hearts that I am right with him. Thanks for listening.