As the endless culture wars continue to escalate in our nation and around the world, much of the rhetoric centers around the issue of homosexuality. Furthermore, people on all sides of the debate clamor to make the Lord Jesus Christ a spokesman for their cause. If you are in this situation, I would like to ask that you examine your motives in taking the position that you hold. Do you sincerely desire to know Jesus’ heart on the matter, or are you just trying to use His name to further your own agenda? In other words, if Jesus’ teaching on the topic is not what you are expecting, would it change your mind?
The argument that Jesus never addressed these issues was largely popularized by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who stated that:
Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. ¹Of course, President Carter is correct in saying that homosexuality was common in Jesus’ time. However, he seems to overlook the fact that Jesus was a Torah observant Jew as were most of the people He interacted with. This Torah included passages such as Leviticus 18:22, which states that “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” According to ancient Torah commentaries, this passage was universally understood to be a total prohibition of all homosexual behavior. This would not have been a controversy among the Jewish community in Jesus’day. If anything, His perceived silence on the issue would indicate that He saw no reason to correct that interpretation.
John 1:14 describes Jesus as being “…full of grace and truth.” We need both grace AND truth if we are going to properly relate to Him and to others. Emphasizing truth without grace has led to many treating gay people in very cruel and demeaning ways. I have personally condemned this from the pulpit and encourage all other Christian leaders to do likewise.
At the same time, emphasizing grace apart from truth is also problematic. It ignores the fact that, as we will discuss shortly, God’s commandments are given to us for our own good. Many of the crises that our society faces are the result of our forsaking His ways. Again, we will be coming back to that, but there are a number of other problems with the “Jesus never mentioned homosexuality” argument.
First of all, arguing from silence is a rhetorical fallacy. We also have no record of Jesus specifically addressing rape, spouse abuse or drug trafficking. Should we then assume that He approved of those things too?
Furthermore, it attempts to put Jesus in conflict with the Scriptures He cherished and diligently followed. Jesus emphatically said that the Scriptures are God’s Words (Mark 7:8-13, John 10:35). Since He is the Second Person in the Triune Godhead, that would make ALL of the Bible Jesus’ words, not just the “words in red.” His teachings were firmly rooted in Old Testament Law (Matthew 5:17-18). He quoted from the the Old Testament 78 times. He also said:
- “You err, not knowing the Scriptures.” (Matthew 22:29)
- “” … the Scripture cannot be broken.”(John 10:35)”
- “The Scriptures must be fulfilled. (Matthew 26:56; Luke 4:21; Luke 22:37)”
RELATED: Jesus and the Scriptures
Finally, to claim that Jesus was silent on these matters is simply not true. While it may be true that Jesus never used the specific terms “homosexual” or “gay,” that certainly does not mean that He was neutral on the issue. Whenever He addressed subjects of marriage and sexuality, as with all other subjects, He always brought the focus back to the Scriptures. In this case, He goes all the way back to creation. Quoting from Genesis 2:24, Jesus says:
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 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’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:4-6 ESV).
In perfect harmony with the rest of the Bible, Jesus affirmed that the only sexual activity permitted by God is within the confines of heterosexual Marriage. In light of this, He firmly taught against sexual immorality in any form, i.e. “fornication” (Matthew 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; Mark 7: 21).
“Fornication” (from Greek word porniea, from which we get the word “pornography”) is a blanket term for any type of ungodly sexual behavior, including premarital sex, adultery and yes, homosexuality.
It is noteworthy, however, that Jesus addressed sexual sin as a whole rather than singling out individual categories. For example, a heterosexual couple living together without being married is no less in sin than a gay couple. The call to forsake sin and live a holy life is made to everyone, in every walk of life.
God is not at our mercy. We are at His. As our creator He has the perfect right to tell us how we are to live. Yet His commandments always reflect His character. Sexuality is a powerful thing. It is a gift from God to be enjoyed to the full, but within the guidelines God has established.
Far from being a hateful or bigoted message, it is a reminder of a loving and wise God who expresses His love and wisdom by giving us guidelines both for our own protection and for the benefit of all people. Consider this: If the Biblical sexual ethic were followed by everyone, there would be no AIDS. There would be few, if any other sexually transmitted diseases and the number of unplanned pregnancies, abortions and divorces would plummet.
So where does this leave a homosexual person who becomes a Christian? Is change possible? Yes, there are countless Testimonials from people who have successfully left the gay lifestyle.
That being said, it is NOT simply a matter of “Praying the Gay Away,” nor should any person claim the ability to “cure” or “fix” anyone. To be sure, prayer plays a vital role and getting proper counsel and support can also help. Nonetheless, overcoming sin and bondage is generally a process rather than a “quick fix.”
When a person comes to Christ, their past is washed away and they become a completely new creation. This is what Jesus referred to as being born again (John 3:7, also see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Yet learning to live this out in our daily lives involves a special act God performs in us which is known as sanctification which means “setting apart.” It is a day to day process that continues throughout our lives:
- And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV).
- Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own (Philippians 3:12 ESV).
- … and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (Colossians 3:10 ESV).
So all Christians are in the same situation, gradually growing, overcoming our sins and weaknesses while being transformed into the image of Christ daily. Yet that transformation will not be complete until we get to Heaven. Therefore, it is very irresponsible to promise that homosexual desires will completely go away until then.
And as someone in this situation, what Jesus calls me to do is exactly what he calls anyone to do…I am to deny myself, take up my cross and follow him. Every Christian is called to costly sacrifice. Denying yourself does not mean tweaking your behaviour here and there. It is saying “No” to your deepest sense of who you are, for the sake of Christ ².
The Christian message is a message of hope, forgiveness and restoration. However, part of our response to this message is that we fear God (Ecclesiastes 8:12 , Ephesians 5:21, Revelation 14:6,7) and depart from sin (2 Timothy 2:19).
The constant struggle with sin in any Christian’s life is very real and at times can be agonizing (see Romans 7). Yet that struggle shows us that the sin has not defeated us. It is when we stop struggling and start making excuses for our sin that we get into trouble. This is one of the reasons that being part of a good church is so important. We need encouragement and support from our spiritual family.
Just like those coming out of any other sinful lifestyle, the church is to offer love, encouragement and support to those leaving homosexuality. This creates an entire mission field that we must be equipped to reach. In closing,, I again quote from Dr. Allberry:
We need to love (homosexuals) more than their gay friends do, and we need to love them more than they love their homosexuality… Only then can we begin to point to the greater love that God has for them. ³
Keep It Real,
1. Carter Quote taken from
2. Alberry, Sam. Is God Anti Gay? (Kindle Version). 2013. The Good Book Company. P 7
3. Alberry, p 66.
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