Steve’s extensive response to new questions in the ComBox below. For the newly revised and full article click here.
IN RESPONSE TO MY BLOG JESUS IS NOT A HOMOPHOBE, ROD WROTE:
Your posting is remarkable ! It is remarkable that, despite your attempts at convincing yourself that Jesus did not accept homosexuality, you were unable to come up with a single reference in the Gospels in support of your statement. No where in the Gospels, which is the only first hand, direct account we have of Jesus’ message to us, does Jesus make any comment in support of what you are advancing (either against homosexuals or in support of the “hate the sin not the sinner” approach). In fact, Jesus’s message is at the other end of the spectrum. He talks of love, tolerance and acceptance.
How people interpret the bible on their own time in their own private lives is not my business. But when such ignorance of the scriptures is flaunted ….
Look into your heart, my friend, when judging your fellow neighbors … Then, when you’re certain of what you’ve done, what you’ve thought and where’s you’ve been: go ahead, cast the first stone.
Good luck with your search for truth and love. Rod
STEVE RAY RESPONDS:
Thanks for your comment. Honest and irenic discussion is a good thing. You may want to read the blog I posted following the “T-shirt” post. It is titled “Was Jesus Nice?”
And, as to who is ignorant of Scripture – we will let others judge that after reading the next few paragraphs.
Now to your comments. You are correct: the gospels never mention Jesus discussing homosexuality, the gay lifestyle or same sex attraction. But let’s stop and ask why?
First, Jesus addressed the issues that were prevalent in his time. Homosexuality was certainly not a front-burner issue in first century Palestine. Even today when I am in the Palestinian areas with people who still live and think much like earlier Palestine, the topic is taboo and they are embarrassed and shocked if you mention such things.
Second, the gospel writers recorded very few of Jesus’ actual words and deeds. Three years of teaching and instruction and only a few short accounts. St. John says that what he wrote is only a minuscule portion of the what he said and did (Jn 20:30-31; 21:25),. Jesus addressed and they recorded, the issues that were pressing in their own context and culture. Homosexuality was not such a topic.
Third, we cannot say Jesus did not mention or verbally condemn such behavior since we have so little of what he actually said and did during the three short years of his ministry. We have no recorded mention of abortion (again a non-issue in 1st century Palestine), yet Jesus obviously would have condemned it soundly. Jesus never mentioned riding donkeys slowly through intersections to avoid accidents. We have no record of him reminding people not to “drink and drive” or to eat good to avoid heart attacks.
Now, what we do know is the culture, the religion and the ethics of Jesus. He was not a 1st century pagan, nor a San Francisco gay; not an atheist Marxist or a Hindu. Jesus was a Hebrew Jew through and through. He obeyed the Law of Moses completely. The hypocritical leaders knew this because they could never pin anything on him. He was the 2nd Person of the Trinity who made man and women and who gave them the Law at Mount Sinai.
Being the visible image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), Jesus was not likely to negate or reverse the moral law he imposed on the world based on his nature and attributes.
But even if you deny that Jesus was God, he certainly was an observant Jew with a love for and respect for the Law. He said in Matthew 5:17–19, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus did not negate the Law but upheld it and even upped the ante and made it more stringent. What does the Law say about homosexuality? Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” The pagans—who even offered their children as living sacrifices—practiced such sexual deviations. God forbade his people to live and act like the despised pagans around them. They had a Law that ordered their society according to the will of God who had made them.
Interestingly enough, this next passage puts homosexual activity in the same category as incest and bestiality. The punishment was death. We read in Leviticus 20:13–16 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them. If a man takes a wife and her mother also, it is wickedness; they shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you. If a man lies with a beast, he shall be put to death; and you shall kill the beast. If a woman approaches any beast and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the beast; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”
I could go on for pages with such passages—demonstrating the Law and the culture of the Jews. Jesus was an obedient Jew. No rational person would suggest that Jesus would condone, much less promote homosexuality, incest or bestiality. (I am not talking about homosexual inclinations but homosexual acts; inclinations are not sin, acting out the impulses is.) The only way to superimpose such “tolerance” on Jesus is to rip him from his own religion and cultural context and anachronistically paint him a different color with a modern brush. This “new Jesus” is a creation of a culture that wishes to create God in their own image.
The book of Revelation is especially applicable in this regard—especially since it is a revelation given to St. John by Jesus himself. It was written by St. John who is presumably the disciple of Jesus and one quite intimate with the teachings and practices of his Rabbi. And John claims that the book is the actual words of Jesus. But even if one refuses to accept the fact that it is written by St. John, it is still a man who understood the culture, law and acceptable conduct that the Jewish culture and the early Christian community expected of people. So the book claims to be words of Jesus in addition to what we find in the Gospels.
Revelation tells who will and will not be in heaven. We read in Revelation 21:27, “But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” In the Jewish and biblical context, what is an abomination? We already confronted that word in Leviticus where such abominations were mentioned and condemned. Homosexuality, incest and bestiality were among the abominations which God abhorred. Those who practice such things will not be in heaven according to Jesus.
Later in Revelation 22:15, “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood.” Note, the Greek word used in Scripture for “fornication” is pornos which means illicit sexual relations or conduct. In the context, without twisting Scripture to suit one’s own purposes or to justify one’s own conduct, homosexuality, bestiality, incest and other deviant sexual activity are included in the word “fornication.” It would also apply to someone committing adultery, having sex outside marriage—or any other sexual activity outside of a monogamous man-woman marriage relationship.
It seems pretty clear that if one reads Scripture in context and one understands the life and moral teaching of Christ in context, and his words in Revelation, there is no possibility of concluding Jesus condoned or approved of homosexual conduct.
Now, having said that, Jesus loved the sinner without condoning the sin. We as Catholics and Christians strive for the same thing. To love and cherish every person no matter what their sexual orientation or conduct. However, we will speak out against deviant behavior, sin and conduct contrary to the laws of nature and of nature’s God.
If someone brings up the adulterous woman in John 8 to demonstrate Jesus’ tolerance and acceptance of sexual sins, we must remember that Jesus did not accept the sin of adultery. He accepted the sinner, forgave her, and told her to sin no more. Here he loved and forgave the sinner but did not love the sin and explicitly said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again” (Jn 8:11). In another similar situation a man was cured and Jesus. “Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you” (Jn 5:14). Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Jesus used the situation to expose the hypocrisy of the adulteress’s accusers. They wanted to kill her but failed to condemn the man involved in the sin and her judges were full of sin themselves. We who oppose homosexuality are not out to stone homosexuals, nor do we claim we are without our own sins. But we do make a judgment about moral norms and encourage all, including ourselves to come to Jesus for forgiveness and healing—and then to sin no more.
One often hears the mantra “Jesus said not to judge, so why are you judging?” This is a misunderstanding of what Jesus is saying. Here is the quote in Matthew 7:1–2, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” He is simply stating that if you don’t want to be judged by others, then don’t start the ball ricocheting off the walls because it will come back to hit you. If you don’t want others to judge you, then don’t judge them. Yet he himself was at that moment being very judgmental (without the negative connotations of the word).
This is certainly not a command against making judgments. Obviously we make judgments every day—we discriminate all the time. We marry one person instead of another, we choose some people as friends and avoid others, we judge someone as wrong who punches us in the nose. Urinating on people in a crowded street would bring down judgment by the most tolerant among us.
And by the way, keeping things in their wider context, Jesus told us we are to judge. Consider these two examples.
“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
If someone is determined to promote the gay lifestyle and practicing intolerance toward those who oppose such conduct, what I have said will likely mean nothing to them. They want to create God in their own image and continue to do whatever they want to do even if they have to twist the historical Jewish Jesus into a tolerant modern relativistic caricature.
Mother Theresa loved everyone equally without holding back an ounce of blood, sweat or tears; yet, she would never condone homosexuality. She would tenderly love and care for a dying homosexual with AIDS without condemning him. But at the same time she would clearly denounce homosexuality as a sin and to be utterly opposed to it. Neither would Mother Theresa condemn a woman who’d had an abortion, but no one was a stronger critic of the abortion than Mother Theresa.
Again, I don’t mean to offend or alienate and I do appreciate your candid comment. May God also bless you as you seek to know the God of creation and his Son Jesus Christ.
Catholic World Reports article: Jesus, Marriage and Homosexuality