By Mike Riccardi
A couple of months ago, I began responding to a couple of popular arguments for why some believe that homosexuality is reconcilable with Christianity.
My hope was (and still is) that I might be able to serve those who are mistaken in this regard by helping them to see that faith in Jesus and His Word cannot be reconciled with attempts to legitimize homosexuality.
I had addressed the semi-sarcastic objection that we as Christians are inconsistent in condemning homosexuality on the basis of the Levitical law, since we don’t also condemn eating shellfish and mixing fabrics. I also addressed the objection that in condemning homosexuality Christians are being unloving—getting caught up in the details while forgetting that our cardinal Christian virtue is love. If you haven’t read those, I hope you will.
But today I want to address another popular argument for reconciling homosexuality with true Christianity. And that is the objection that Jesus Himself never said a word about homosexuality. Those who make this argument grant that Paul condemned it as sinful (Rom 1:26–27; 1 Cor 6:9–10; 1 Tim 1:9–10). But the sentiment behind this objection is that Paul had corrupted the way of life and the ideology that Jesus came to propagate, and that Jesus would have been “loving” and “accepting” of homosexuals, just as they are.
But is it true that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality?
Actually, just like the other objections, there are several reasons for which this objection simply does not hold up to biblical and logical scrutiny. Today I’d like to address five of them.
Argument from Silence
First, it must be noted that this is an argument from silence, and thus rests on a shaky rational foundation. Jesus also didn’t say a word about pedophilia, bestiality, or rape. But it would be absurd to seek to garner support for any of those abominable acts on the basis of such silence.
Secondly, this objection rests upon a premise that the objectors reject—namely, that the Bible is God’s infallible Word. What I mean is: the only source of knowledge for the claim that Jesus never said something about a particular topic is the Bible itself. The argument is: “Jesus never said anything [implied: as we see recorded in the Bible] about homosexuality.” Yet it is the authority of this very Bible that these folks deny when they refuse to accept Paul’s teaching on homosexuality. So the argument itself is a case of special pleading. Those who employ it appeal to an authority that they elsewhere explicitly reject—namely, the Bible as God’s Word.
No Reason to Say What Everyone Agreed Upon
Third, a great portion of Jesus’ ministry related to Israel and those familiar with the Law of Moses. They were living in an age under the Mosaic Covenant, which explicitly condemned homosexuality (Lev 18:22; 20:13). Unless there was some precipitating issue that would force Jesus to comment on homosexuality, the only reasonable conclusion—especially in light of the fact that Jesus viewed the Old Testament as the very Word of God (e.g., Matt 22:43) which was infallible (John 10:35)—is that His view of homosexuality was the Old Testament’s view (i.e., God’s view) of homosexuality.
What Jesus Did Say about Marriage
Fourth, when Jesus did speak about marriage, He affirmed it as an institution between a male and a female. In Matthew 19, the Pharisees asked Him what He thought about divorce, hoping to trap Him into disagreeing with Moses and therefore finding reason for condemning Him. Now, in Jesus’ response about why divorce is a bad thing and a result of the hardness of human hearts, Jesus says, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined 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 no man separate.”
Now, if Jesus wanted to simply and efficiently answer the Pharisees’ question about divorce, He could have done so by skipping immediately to verse 5: “Have you not read that the two become one flesh?” That’s really the answer to the question about divorce. God joins spouses together as one flesh, and man shouldn’t separate what God has joined together.
So why does He start, in verse 4, by reminding the Pharisees that God made human beings male and female? For two reasons, at least. One, He goes out of His way to make this point in order to underscore that marriage, by its very nature, is a divinely-ordained institution—that the originator of marriage is the Creator Himself. Number two, He makes this point, which would otherwise seem superfluous, in order to make it clear that that divinely-ordained institution exists only between one man and one woman. God created man as male and female, and then brought them together in one flesh as the husband-wife relationship illustrates the complementarity and unity-in-diversity that characterizes God’s own nature as one Being who eternally exists in three Persons.
All of Scripture is the Word of Jesus
But all of those responses are really supplementary to this final one. It concerns the inspiration of the New Testament. While it’s true that we have no record of Jesus speaking about homosexuality during His earthly sojourn, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to speak His words (John 16:12–14), superintended what Paul wrote so that he wrote exactly what God desired to be written (2 Tim 3:16–17; 2 Pet 1:20–21).
See, strictly speaking, Jesus did not stop speaking when Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John finished their Gospel accounts. While Jesus was still on earth, He told the disciples that He had much to say to them, things which they could not bear at that time (John 16:12). But He promised that the Holy Spirit would come to the disciples and would guide them into all truth. This is a promise from Jesus Himself that the word that the Holy Spirit would speak through the disciples would be Christ’s own words (John 16:13). In this way, the Spirit would glorify Jesus (John 16:14).
And the Holy Spirit did just that. As the Church was being built, the Spirit spoke Jesus’ words to the writers of the New Testament. All Scripture (which, according to 2 Peter 3:16, included Paul’s writings) is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16)—that is, it is the very Word of God, His own breath. “But,” you ask, “didn’t men write Scripture?” Yes they did. But the Holy Spirit so superintended the minds and wills of the writers of Scripture such that the words they wrote under their own recognizance were precisely what God wanted to say to His people (2 Pet 1:20–21).
So the Book of Acts, the epistles of Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude, the letter to the Hebrews, and the Revelation given to the Apostle John are all the word of God Himself. And, since God exists eternally as Father, Son, and Spirit, and since Jesus is Himself God the Son, all of the New Testament is the Word of Christ. Even the words not appearing in red type are nevertheless the Lord of the Church speaking to His Church by means of the Holy Spirit through the agency of human writers.
So did Jesus address homosexuality? Yes, He did. He did so by sending His Spirit to superintend the writing of Paul such that what Paul wrote was precisely what Jesus intended, so much so that it could be said to be “God-breathed.” Jesus condemned homosexuality by means of Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality. And therefore, to deny that homosexuality is sinful is to deny Jesus Himself, and is irreconcilable with true, biblical Christianity.