Letter to a Gay Man in the Churches of Christ, Part 4

gay

There are many theories on how the meaning of the passages dealing with homosexuality could be interpreted and I have read the gay side of the story and the idea that the scriptures have been mistranslated or have lost their original meaning makes a lot of sense. Also, Jesus accepted everyone and never once said anything about homosexuality.

N. T. Wright addresses those theories in the conversation quoted in the first post of this series. Let me just add this thought about the words of Jesus.

Jesus spoke to a Jewish audience in the First Century. The Law of Moses teaches that homosexual acts are an “abomination” or, as the NIV translates, a “detestable act.” Many other improper sexual acts were also condemned, such as adultery. All came to be referred to as “fornication” in Jewish speech of the day.

Jesus said,

(Mat 15:18-20) “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”

Without a doubt, his hearers understood “sexual immorality” to include homosexual acts. And Jesus said nothing to change that impression. That’s what the word meant in that time and place.

Paul was a missionary to Gentiles, who were steeped in the Greco-Roman culture that largely approved of homosexual acts. As a result, Paul expressly condemns them — along with various improper heterosexual acts. Jesus did not need to change the Jews’ thinking on homosexuality, as they already considered such behavior wrong.

On the other hand, you are quite right that Jesus ate with prostitutes and publicans and freely forgave the woman caught in adultery. And adultery was a crime that, like having homosexual relations, was punishable by death.

Jesus was roundly condemned by the “religious” people of the day for consorting with such people, but he suffered their criticism in order to bring grace to those who most needed and appreciated it. However, he also insisted that they reform their ways.

Jesus was the master of loving the sinner while hating the sin, and he demonstrates to us how to do exactly that. He gladly associated with those addicted to sin, forgave them, and encouraged them to overcome their sin. He did not condone the sin, but he was willing to suffer that accusation to be with and show love to those trapped in sin.

To be like Jesus, we too must show an extravagant compassion to those caught up in sin. We must call them out of their sin, but never feel too holy to associate with them and help them. And like Jesus, we must help them find God’s forgiveness, and we start the process by first showing them God’s love — not by conditioning our love on their first repenting. It works the other way around.

Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to stop her sin, but she already knew it was sinful. She didn’t need a sermon listing three reasons why adultery is wrong. Rather, she needed a Savior who would provide her with what she was futilely seeking through sex: love.

Now, none of this means that Jesus expected those he forgave to live perfectly thereafter. He did expect them to repent and to resist the temptation.

It’s a distinction many struggle with, especially when the sin is an emotionally charged one. We subconsciously tend to impose a higher standard for repentance for sins we despise, while sins that we’re more comfortable with require less repentance.

But this is not the way of the Christ.

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About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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0 Responses to Letter to a Gay Man in the Churches of Christ, Part 4

  1. Anonymous says:

    The part about Jesus showing love to the sinner is especially meaningful in that he was about forgiveness and healing, not condemnation and ridicule. Your comments about Paul and what he said to the Romans is helpful, as far as why he said what he said. it's been easy for me to dismiss Leviticus, right or wrong, because we don't do most of what is in that book anyway. However, it is much more difficult to try and believe that a gay relationship is ok in light of the NT, which I've always believed in. It's hard to know what to believe sometimes when there are people in your life telling you something is OK and you want to find a way to justify that it is OK. Your post today shed some light on the verse, the cultural background and what it means.

  2. Nick Gill says:

    Part of the Christian struggle with humility is our modern understanding of the concept, vs. an ancient understanding.

    1) We believe in "aw-shucks" humility today. Even our humility is self-centered. Many Christians have a hard time accepting compliments because of this.

    2) Biblical humility is not about self! Anytime you put self in the sentence, it shouldn't be there.

    3) Biblical humility is not about how you think of yourself, but about how you ACT towards those around you, especially those of lower social status. Php 2 does not describe Jesus saying, "Aw shucks, I'm not so great as God." It describes him acting graciously and compassionately towards the lowliest of the low.

    4) Notice in Mk 10 and the parallels, that Jesus DOES NOT reprimand the disciples for wanting to be great. He reprimands them for going about it the wrong way, and then teaches them the right way.

    Our struggle to be like Christ with sinners around us stems in large part from our ability to convince ourselves that we are humble because we THINK HUMBLE THOUGHTS. This allows us to be convinced that we are humble, while completely avoiding any contact whatsoever with ostracized people.

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