Jesus and homosexuality
Remember that trendy little saying that used to appear everywhere?
An acronym for “What would Jesus do?” many don’t realize that this phrase came from the excellent little 19th-century book In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. And it’s still a great question for us to consider today.
What would Jesus say…
to a homosexual?
And how might this question shape the Christian view of homosexuality?
“We can’t know what Jesus would say,” many protest. “He never addressed homosexuality.”
One could make this statement about a lot of things.
After all, Jesus never addresses the internet. Or the pornography we find there.
He doesn’t tell us what to wear to the beach.
He doesn’t mention what programs to watch on Friday nights.
Or what movies we should avoid.
He didn’t even address pedophilia.
But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t care about any of those things.
And guess what?
God makes a powerful statement in 2 Peter 1:3 when He says: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence.”
Christ-followers have absolutely everything we need to be able to make discerning, godly decisions. God’s Word is complete, bearing principles that clarify every aspect of life and godliness. And we apply those principles rightly as we rely on His leading through His Spirit within us.
So before we consider what Jesus would say to a homosexual, please allow me to point out a couple of lies that are widely purported in our modern times:
LIE #1 – Jesus’ teachings carry more weight than the rest of Scripture.
According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Jesus Himself said that He didn’t come to abolish the Law and the prophets, but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). He often quoted directly from the Old Testament, confirming its authority. He never, ever contradicted it. Ever.
In fact, He took the Law that was so focused on our actions — what we do that defies God and what we must do to restore that relationship — and He started it applying it to our hearts. Our innermost thoughts. The deepest, darkest, most secretive ones that we deceive ourselves into thinking don’t really matter.
But get this important distinction: following the Law isn’t what earned His rebuke. His problem was that they limited their worship to their actions, divorcing it from their hearts, and thus ignoring the heart of God altogether.
We must look to the entirety of Scripture to find God’s heart. And the truth is, He splays it pretty openly.
LIE #2 – If Jesus didn’t speak of a specific issue addressed in the Old Testament, it must be obsolete.
One thing that’s easy for us to forget in this 21st century is that Jesus’ primary ministry was with people who were already very familiar with the Law and generally obedient to it.
That’s a really important point. Because rather than assuming that Jesus’ silence about some aspect of Old Testament moral law (as opposed to the civil or ceremonial ones) negates it, we should assume that His silence confirms it.
The Sermon on the Mount, for example, shows how Jesus challenged some of the prevailing religious thoughts of His day. Wouldn’t it have been easy to include homosexuality in this discussion, if His audience’s thinking needed to be realigned with God’s heart?
Perhaps it would’ve sounded something like this: “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not lie with a man as with a woman. It is an abomination.’ I say to you, affectionate feelings are to be celebrated, no matter the genders of the parties involved.”
But this never happened. The natural implication of which is that Jesus was in agreement that homosexual practice is an abomination.
Based on the entirety of God’s Word, here’s what Jesus says to sinners — with no respect to age, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation.
A Christian View of Homosexuality
1.) “I love you.”
He doesn’t lower his eyes and look away with awkwardness. He doesn’t sneer at you with disgust and then spits on the ground.
He meets your gaze steadfastly, looking at you with tenderness.
2.) “You are so much more than your fleshly desires.”
He says this to prostitutes and porn addicts.
He says it to drunks and to gluttons.
He says it to adulterers and to promiscuous teens and twenty-somethings.
He says it to anger addicts and compulsive liars.
He even says it to not-so-young unfulfilled women whose lustful thoughts are thus far just that — thoughts.
And yes, he says it to homosexuals, too.
He beckons you not to get swept up in the “gay rights” movement.
He urges you not to be deceived into thinking that sexual immorality isn’t so bad just because everyone else is doing it.
He exhorts you to understand that a lustful thought is no less a perversion than a lifestyle full of immoral deeds.
He implores you to trade in your food and your drink and your sex and every other vain attempt to find fulfillment for the Bread of life and Living Water (John 4:13-14; 6:35). And there you’ll be satisfied.
3.) “I’m coming to your house today.” (Luke 19:5)
He wants to be with you (Mark 3:14). He wants your fellowship. He enjoys your company, and He does more than love you…He likes you. You don’t have to clean up before coming to Him. In fact, He’ll come to you just the way you are. All you have to do is receive Him, and He’ll take care of the rest.
4.) “Get up, pick up your bed, and walk.” (John 5:8)
Don’t rely on what you think you know about yourself. Don’t rely on what popular opinion says. Don’t rely on the latest medical research, or your common sense, or even your past experience. And for heaven’s sake, your feelings are the worst guide ever (Jeremiah 17:9).
God is the One who made you, and He knows all about you (Psalm 139). He will equip you to do whatever He’s asking you to do.
But you have to believe that He’s strong enough to be able to, and kind enough to want to. You have to trust that He doesn’t issue mandates for your harm, but for your good.
Have faith that He can do the impossible in your life; believe in Him, and you’ll witness the miraculous.
5.) “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
Once He comes to you and you have a taste of the sweetness of divine relationship, He lets you know that He loves you far too much to let you stay as you are.
This is true no matter your orientation.
No matter your addictions.
No matter what sin has ensnared you in its grip.
The power of the gospel is that we are considered righteous before God, and we’re free to pursue holiness in our daily lives (Hebrews 10:14).
What does this mean for Christians?
We’ve acknowledged that homosexuality is a sin, and we’ve considered what Jesus says to sinners. But what should we sinners say to our fellow sinners, including homosexuals? Click here to read the follow-up post, where I explore this very timely topic.