Sexuality and Gender

Did Jesus Never Say Anything about Homosexuality?

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 01/19/2012

This week I’m starting a new series that responds to common objections on the topic of homosexuality. Each Thursday I’ll address a different challenge. I’ll be starting with religious kinds of objections and then slowly move towards more secular ones.

Today’s challenge: “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, so he must not have thought it was a sin.”

I remember driving to a conference about homosexuality and seeing a line of protestors outside the building. A man was holding a large sign that read, “What Jesus said about homosexuality” and the rest was blank. The implication was obvious: since Jesus was silent on homosexuality, he must not have thought it’s wrong. It’s as if Jesus’ silence on the matter trumps all other considerations. Although that sign might have rhetorical power, there are a number of reasons why this argument doesn’t work.

First, it’s not certain that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. The Gospel writers didn’t record everything that Jesus said – only what they thought was important to their audience. Indeed, most of what Jesus said (and did) was never written down. John 21:25 says, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” It’s possible Jesus did talk about homosexuality, but the Gospel writers didn’t feel it was necessary to include it in their accounts.

Second, it’s clear what Jesus would have said about homosexuality if asked. Jesus was an observant Jew who, like all Jews living under the Old Covenant, was bound by the Mosaic Law. That’s why He often referenced it (e.g. Jesus references the two greatest commandments of the Law in Matthew 22:37, 39). Therefore, if He was asked what He thought about homosexuality, He would have cited the Levitical prohibitions (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) that unequivocally state that homosexual behavior is a sin.

Third, Jesus did not speak about every immoral behavior. Should we infer that drunkenness, child sacrifice, and neglecting the elderly are appropriate since Jesus never said anything about them either? That’s absurd. Jesus addressed moral issues as they arose in conversation with His disciples, the crowds, and his opponents. Since there were no gay pride parades or organizations defending homosexual behavior at the time, it’s reasonable that Jesus wouldn’t be prompted to address the issue. And as mentioned earlier, not every discussion was documented by the Gospel writers.

Fourth, the argument that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality presumes that the words of Jesus are more authoritative than the words of Scripture elsewhere. But it is the Holy Spirit – God Himself – who inspired all of the Bible, including epistles like Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy where homosexuality is addressed. That means the black letters in the Bible are just as authoritative as the red letters. Moreover, Jesus and the Holy Spirit co-exist in the Godhead and have been in perfect and eternal communion from eternity past. Therefore, we can be confident that Jesus agrees with what the Holy Spirit revealed about moral issues in the Bible.