The Significance of Jesus’ Silence on Homosexuality

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Some challenge that Jesus never specifically forbid homosexuality. This perspective fails to recognize that Jesus’ commandments are contained in the entire Bible, not just the Gospels. Second Peter 1:20–21 and 2 Timothy 3:16 teach that all of Scripture is the result of God’s inspiration, and it is the consistent testimony of Scripture that practicing homosexuality is an act of sin (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26–28; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 1:7). Moreover, the argument that Jesus did not consider homosexuality to be a sin because He never specifically addressed the issue of homosexuality is an argument from silence which is never a particularly strong argument. Jesus failed to specifically address many issues that we believe to be sin based upon the testimony of Scripture, or are we to believe that because Jesus never specifically addressed spousal abuse, substance abuse, bestiality, rape, or incest that these are somehow not important to Jesus and unmeriting of the title “sin?”

Jesus was called Rabbi because of His deep understanding of the Law of Moses and the acceptable application of that Law (John 3:1–2). During the time of Christ, homosexuality was commonly practiced within the Roman Empire, but the Jews considered it to be immoral, sinful, and against the Law of Moses. At the very least, Jesus would have been aware that the common interpretation of the Law of Moses was that homosexuality is a sin. The fact that He did not speak against this understanding should not lead a person to assume that He disagreed with it. Rather, the assumption should be made that Jesus accepted this interpretation of the Law unless evidence can be presented to the contrary.

Jesus taught in Matthew 15:18–19 that sexual immorality defiles a man, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Given that it was generally understood among the Jews at that time that homosexuality should be included under the title “sexual immorality,” and given that Jesus did not offer homosexuality as an exception to this sexual immorality, it is reasonable to believe that Jesus had no varying views on the issue of homosexuality from the other religious leaders of His time.

Furthermore, this argument that Jesus did not consider homosexuality to be a sin because He never specifically addressed it assumes that Jesus never presented a principle that applies to the specific question of homosexuality. However, in Matthew 19:4–6, Jesus answered a question about divorce by affirming that God’s pattern for marriage has always been the union of a man and a woman, “He answered, ‘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.’”

This principle answered the question of divorce which was asked in Jesus’ time, and this principle answers the question of homosexuality which is being asked in our time.  In this sense, Jesus did address the issue of homosexuality, indirectly.

Keep in mind that Jesus Himself declared in Matthew 5:17 that He came not to destroy the Law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. The Old Testament Law consisted of redemption laws and moral laws. Jesus fulfilled the redemption laws—the dietary matters, rituals, cleansings, sacrifices, and priestly duties—by dying on the cross. As for the moral laws, Jesus raised the standard (Matthew 5:21–22 and 27–28). Never did Jesus teach against or remove any of the moral laws in the Old Testament. Rather, He affirmed them by referring to such sins as murder and sexual immorality which were defined as sinful in the Old Testament Law. None of the moral laws were removed in Christ’s advent. Instead, they are reaffirmed throughout the New Testament.

Those who truly love Jesus will follow His commandments found in all of Scripture and will accept that the practice of homosexuality is clearly portrayed as sinful behavior worthy of judgment in Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26–28; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 1:7.

Be sure to read Timothy Zebell’s book Laid Bare: Uncovering the Relationship Between Homosexuality & the Gospel.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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