Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why Jesus never talked about homosexuality

Since last week I've been embroiled in an on-line controversy -- which, for those of you know know me well, is not abnormal. This time, however, it's with gay-rights and gay-marriage supporters who are trying to justify their stances using the Scripture and with whom I've figuratively gone to the mat. (My own view is that homosexuality has no business in the church due to "worldliness" and that same-gender matrimony cheapens it because it's necessarily based on hormones rather than on partnership.)

Anyway, one of my opponents, trying to paint Jesus as someone who accepted people no matter what they did, said -- correctly -- that He never brought up the subject.

The reason He didn't? It wasn't necessary.

If that sounds glib, consider His original audience: The Jewish people of that day, who simply weren't doing it. How do I know? Well, they still held to most of the tenets of Mosaic law, with the Pharisees, the lay group, out front. Furthermore, Jewish law all but required a considerable amount of cultural accountability, with everyone "in each other's business" to a degree that would chafe us Westerners, who by contrast are more individualistic. (This is part of the reason why Jesus let the "woman caught in adultery," referred to in John 8, go -- He recognized it as a setup.) And while I have no proof of this, I suspect that one of the reasons the Jews of that day hated Rome so much was due to its licentiousness, with (according to the singles pastor of my church) 70 percent of Romans involved in homosexuality -- not terribly surprising when you consider that 1) there were few women/girls around because infanticide was also common and 2) it was largely a society of leisure. This is why homosexuality was primarily considered "of the world" -- it was always a cultural distinctive, something that God's people just didn't do.

That also was the reason the Apostle Paul, whose ministry was primarily to Gentiles, did have to address the issue, most notably in Romans 1 -- many of them had participated in such. But even here, it was not so much a moral issue but also one of distinctiveness from the world of that day.

Today, however, the church of Jesus Christ has more cultural authority, making, among other things, infanticide of female babies culturally unacceptable wherever it has had influence. It's probably also the reason why homosexuality is seen as a particularly heinous sin (but going beyond the parameters of Scripture in the process). I would suggest that such is the root of the struggle over gay rights in general and gay marriage in particular, with their supporters trying to persuade the country about the righteousness of their cause. Some have even gone so far to invoke Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, ignoring that he focused on not just "rights" but reconciliation. Others claim that there were no spiritual "lepers" with Him, never mind His calls for repentance (He told the woman caught in adultery, "Don't sin any more").

In short, my argument with the people who try to use the Scripture to support their contention that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle for the Christian is that they miss the point that God is utterly holy and doesn't trifle with sin. In the book "The Holiness of God," author R.C. Sproul related the story that a seminary student asked him why God didn't zap him even though he deserved it -- a contrast from the other students who were horrified by the way he treated Israelites who had committed what appeared to be trivial offenses.

That's the point. As much as my opponents want to appeal to the grace of God, it really has no meaning unless you have an understanding of your sin.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Thanks again and amen. Do we find common ground with those who refuse to argue this, when we will agree on other issues of walking out the gospel. There will always be those who change the truth about God into a lie, and therefore will justify whatever lifestyle they choose. Yet God came to set the captive free, and If I have nothing to offer other than the mandate to stop sinning, I'm falling short. God's power is able to transform, redeem, change, heal, restore and reconcile. But if one does not believe they need any of this, it will be difficult to offer the cross as the pathway to redemption.