There has never been a moral shift in society that has swept across all facets of society quite like the moral shift this nation has experienced over the last decade: the affirmation of homosexuality, the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex unions, and the diversity of issues that make up the ever-expanding LGBTQ revolution.
“The momentum of this revolution is so massive that Americans who have any contact with popular culture are very aware of the narrative that policymakers and the creators of culture and moral judgment in this society are determined to write: only those affirming the normalization of all same-sex behaviors and relationships are ‘on the right side of history’—an audacious claim, given that the homosexual movement is, in the grand scheme of history, so very young.”1
In an attempt to get “on the right side of history,” many Christians, churches, and denominations have found themselves in a difficult place. The evolution of morality has exposed much that is wrong among evangelical churches.
Homosexuals have been a favorite target of too many Christians. Those in the LGBTQ community were a segment of the population that was seen as too immoral, degenerate, and reprobate to be in need of compassion. Many Christians were suspicious of what appeared to be a militant and subversive agenda behind the LGBTQ movement, further fueling suspicion and opposition.
By contrast, many liberal Christian denominations and churches were willing to embrace those in the LGBTQ community. Brian McLaren explained, “The question is complexified from ‘Is homosexuality right or wrong?’ to ‘How should gay and straight people understand and treat one another in God’s kingdom?”2 Those who view the Bible as a collection of writings of which a person can pick and choose the parts they find helpful and encouraging while rejecting parts they no longer see as reflecting the moral will of God. Adam Hamilton, the pastor of the largest Methodist Church in America and author of Making Sense of the Bible, has a chapter on The Bible and Homosexuality where he states 4 different times the Bible is “out of sync with God’s will as we understand it today.”3
For the person who is honestly seeking to understand what the Bible (and more specifically, Jesus) truly teaches on sexuality and sexual expression, it is difficult to know where to look. If a person is to seek answers in a church or among professing Christians, it is challenging to know whether they will receive judgment or affirmation. Where can a person receive compassionate and intellectually honest assistance as he or she considers how to reconcile the many scriptures that seem to clearly oppose homosexual practice?
The obvious place to start is with Jesus and the Bible itself.
Jesus was never afraid of sinners and the outcasts of society. The religious leaders labeled Jesus a “friend of sinners.” In Luke 15:1, “The Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’”4 The word “receives” carries with it the sense of waiting for or even searching for. Another one of Jesus’s disciples records Him calling out, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”5
“What would Jesus do? He would listen to us, and he would love us, and when he disagreed with us, it would always and only be out of compassion, never oppression. There is no hurting person he would mock, or shun, or insult, or sneer at. He is so determined to pursue what is best for all of us that he died—excluded, mocked, and rejected—to secure it.”6
What does it mean to say Jesus is “determined to pursue what is best for all of us?” It does not mean that Jesus lowered or dismissed the moral standards and requirements of the law. Jesus actually increased the moral implications of the law from judging merely actions to including motives. In Matthew 5:21, 22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”7 Jesus goes on to add that those who lust are just as guilty as those who commit adultery. (Matthew 5:28)
A common claim, regarding the teaching of Jesus, is his silence regarding homosexuality. The assumption is that since Jesus did not condemn homosexuality, he must have affirmed it. Those who make this claim would surely not extend this same line of reasoning to say Jesus must have affirmed Beastiality, pedophilia, and incest since he did not condemn them either (all of which are condemned along with homosexual practice in Leviticus 18.)
While it is true that Jesus did not specifically condemn homosexual practice or homosexual marriage, he was explicitly clear on his definition of marriage. When Jesus was asked if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife he replied, “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.”8
Jesus rooted his explanation about marriage in the creation story recorded in the Law of Moses (Genesis 2.) Jesus, being the second person of the Triune God, affirmed the whole law, having participated in its revelation to Moses.
In summary, Jesus is clear that marriage is of God’s design and not a human invention. Marriage is the explicit union of one man to one woman. The marriage is to be consummated by the two complementing one another physically and joining together in a sexual union of oneness–uniquely complementing and completing the other (relationally, sexually, physically), uniquely picturing the union of Christ to his bride, the church (God’s redemptive love for his people), and uniquely creating the opportunity to reproduce children.
Jesus’s teaching and ministry make it clear that any sexual practice, heterosexual or homosexual, outside of the sacred institution of marriage between one man and one woman, is sin. Jesus was also clear that only those who are sick and in need of a doctor and only those who are willing to repent of their sin and trust in his perfect life and death on the cross for their sin would be saved.
Jesus did not evolve with the ever-changing morals of society. His morality transcended the pride, self-righteousness, and hedonism of humanity. Jesus was about transforming the lives of all who would answer his invitation. To the weary and heavy-laden, come.
Written by David Anglin / August 6, 2020
“What was distinctive about Jesus’ ministry…was his incredibly generous spirit even toward those who had lived in gross disobedience to God for years. He expended enormous effort and exhibited great compassion in the search for the lost. Jesus did not wait for the lost to come to him. He went looking for them. He invited them to participate in God’s gracious kingdom, extended to them his powers of healing, and entered their homes for table fellowship.” 9
1 Mohler, R. Albert. We Cannot Be Silent. Nashville: Nelson, 2015.
2 Ibid, 180. (See “Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question: Finding a Pastoral Response,” PARSE, Leadership Journal, January 23, 2006, http://www.christianitytoday.com/parse/2006/january/brian-mclaren-on-homosexual-question-finding-pastoral.html/).
3 Hamilton, Adam, Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today. (Harper Collins, 2014), 271.
4 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 15:2.
5 Ibid, Mt 11:28–30.
6 Walker, Andrew. God and the Transgender Debate. (Epsom: Good Book, 2017), p.15.
7 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 5:22.
8 Ibid, Mt 19:4–6.
9 Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2010), Ch.3,III..