And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment [regarding divorce]. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and 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” (Mark 10:5-9).
Supporters of same-sex marriage took quite the arrogant victory lap on social media last month when the Supreme Court handed down their decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Two major focuses of the assault seemed to be 1) Christians shouldn’t judge homosexuals because their holy book tells them not to judge, and 2) Christians are just haters and homophobes, because Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. In a previous article I examined one of the memes prevalent in my Facebook news feed, which I referred to collectively as the “Judge not…” meme. This article will focus on a rather irritating, though clever, little meme featuring Steven Colbert, which asserts that Jesus never had anything to say about homosexuality.
Fellow Christians, I hate to admit it, but Jesus never said the word, “Homosexual.” He never explicitly said anywhere in the New Testament, “Don’t go around having sexual intercourse with other people who are the same sex as you.” I’ve searched the New Testament front to back and still can’t find a passage where Jesus denounces legislation legalizing gay marriage. I guess that the “marriage equality” crowd has got us on this one, and we need to fall into line with the rest of main-line liberal Protestantism, and a big chunk of American Evangelicalism.
Before we go painting #LoveWins on our LCMS churches in rainbow colors and ordaining transgender pastors, perhaps we should go back and take one last look at the things Jesus did say regarding marriage, men, and women. After all, just because the word “homosexual” wasn’t uttered by Jesus, doesn’t necessarily mean that he condones the lifestyle. If that were the proper method for interpreting the Scriptures, we could do away with the doctrine of the Trinity, as that word is also MIA from the pages of the Bible.
When asked by the Pharisees about divorce, Jesus appeals to the beginning of creation. He points out to them that, “God made them male and female,” a fact which was obvious to his audience. Jesus is saying here, however, that the estate of marriage was intended by God from the beginning to be comprised of a man and a woman. It is the natural created order. Or, if you are a Darwinian Naturalist, it is the natural law produced through “millions” of years of “evolution.”
In this passage, Jesus defines what marriage is, and his definition makes it clear that gender is essential to it. He doesn’t have to continue on and say, “But God did not make them male and male; neither did He make them female and female, nor male and female and female, or…” All other combinations are excluded by the example which Jesus gives. Societies can pass laws legalizing whatever type of relationships they wish, but no human law can negate the natural law God has built into his creation. God made them male and female and, for this reason a man leaves his father and his mother and becomes “one flesh” with his wife.
But what about polygamy in the Bible? What about adultery? Jesus can’t mean that marriage is supposed to be exclusively between one man and one woman, because the Bible is full of polygamy, adultery, and all other manner of what up-tight confessional types call “sin.” Yes, the Bible does record many instances of polygamy. I am well aware of Abraham and Solomon. The Bible also records many murders, thefts, and other felonies, but this does not mean that God is giving mankind Carte Blanche to commit these acts. The Bible records that Cain murdered Abel, yet we don’t call for the legalization of murder because it’s “in the Bible.” The Bible records David’s adultery with Bathsheba, yet we do not claim that it is sanctioning such behavior by us in the present day. The Bible isn’t even sanctioning such behavior by the people about whom it reports, contrary to what the liberal Bible scholars and social activists would have people believe. God specifically judges the actions of David, Solomon, and many others by commanding, “You shall not murder,” and “You shall not commit adultery.” Likewise, the Bible records at least one instance of homosexual behavior in the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 18 and 19 recounts the destruction of Sodom because of its wickedness:
Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know,” (Genesis 18:20-21).
What was the sin of Sodom? Homosexual lust.
But before they [the two angels] lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them,” (Genesis 19:4-5).
Lot’s plan to avert the assault of the townspeople on his angelic visitors was less than noble. He offers his daughters to the crowd as a substitute, perhaps rationalizing that heterosexual rape of his virgin daughters would be less wicked than the homosexual rape of guests under the protection of his roof. Yet, no one in their right mind would suggest that the Bible condones fathers handing their daughters over to be raped. Nevertheless it’s recorded in the Bible.
Those passages about Sodom and Gomorrah are from the Old Testament though! They don’t apply, and that still doesn’t negate the fact that Jesus never said anything condemning homosexuality. Checkmate!
Well, not so fast…
In the passage cited above Jesus quotes the Old Testament, specifically Genesis 2:24, by which he calls to mind the passage read at many a Lutheran wedding:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:18-25).
Jesus Christ is Immanuel – God, with us, God incarnate. He is the image of the invisible God, by whom all things were created.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).
Jesus is the very God who created and sustains the world. He told the Jews this and, when they heard him assert that he was the great I AM who had told Moses his name through the burning bush, the God who spoke to Abraham, they were ready to stone him for blasphemy. The Jesus speaking to the Pharisees in Mark 10:7 is the same person speaking the words recorded in Genesis two.
That also makes him the God who spoke the words recorded in Leviticus 20:
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them (Leviticus 20:13).
While Jesus in the Gospels does not use the word homosexual, the Apostle Paul does, offering the negative argument concerning the practice. St. Paul explicitly states that men who practice homosexuality with not inherit the kingdom of God.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Did you also notice how St. Paul singled out homosexuality? Quite to the contrary, St. Paul records a list of sinful behaviors, including homosexuality, which does not leave out one person. It’s like a buffet of sinfulness – everyone can find something that they like. St. Paul continues, however, reminding the Corinthians that, despite having once been sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, etc., they have been redeemed by Christ.
St. Paul also takes Jesus’ thread from Mark 10:7 regarding the one-flesh union and explains it further, calling the Corinthians – and us today – to repent of our sins, flee from sexual immorality of all kinds, and glorify God in our bodies:
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” – and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).
It is clear, even to someone who is not a Christian, that the male body was not designed (or did not “evolve,” if you want to appeal to the secular Darwinist) to mate with another male body; Likewise with two female bodies. The fact that people crave such relationships proves that something has gone terribly wrong with creation (Engelbrecht 2009). That thing is sin, and no human being since The Fall has been immune to it. In fact, we have all been utterly corrupted by sin from the time of our conception. That corruption may not manifest itself as a desire to fornicate with people of the same gender in some, but it does in many. And, those who do not struggle with homosexual desire most certainly struggle with something else. We are all in the same boat when it comes to sin, and our complete inability to overcome it.
The problem is that liberal Bible “scholars” and social activists don’t believe that Jesus is God. They don’t believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God. They don’t believe that St. Paul is an Apostle. They believe in moral relativism because that gratifies their flesh. Nothing, short of God changing their hearts, will change their darkened minds.
As Christians we are called, as St. Paul called the Corinthians, to abhor the sin of homosexuality – and all sin – and to flee from it. We must also bear in mind that Christ shed his blood and died for all men – for the homosexual, the idolater, the adulterer, the thief, the hypocrite, the murderer, the liar – no matter in what particular ugliness their sin might manifest. A homosexual, like any other sinner, needs to hear God’s word of Law and Gospel applied to their life with the goal of repentance and faith (Engelbrecht 2009).
Engelbrecht, Rev. Edward A., ed. The Lutheran Study Bible. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009.