What Did Jesus Say About Homosexuality?

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot
Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 120 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

In his blog article, Jesus and “Homosexuality,” the happy Agnostic NT textual and early Christianity scholar Dr. Bart D. Ehrman says, “I start with Jesus.  And here the conversation is quite easy.  In our surviving records Jesus says nothing about same-sex acts or sexual orientation.  Nothing.  Nada.” He goes on to say that when it comes to “homosexuality” Jesus “provides no verbal clues.” See his article here.

Jesus Never Spoke of Homosexuality – But …

Liberal scholarship and the LGBT community also argue that the New Testament does not prohibit and condemn homosexuality to the extent that the Old Testament does. However, this is really not the case. The main chapters in the Old Testament that deal with homosexuality are the incident with Noah at Genesis 9:18-28; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for their homosexual lifestyle among other things at Genesis 18:1-19-29; and the laws that prohibit and condemn homosexuality at Leviticus 18:22, 29; 20:13. The main chapters in the New Testament that deal with the issue of homosexuality are explicitly the lesbian and homosexual activities that are condemned at Romans 1:26-27. Then, there are the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts at 1 Corinthians 6:9. God condemns the practice of homosexuality at 1 Timothy 1:10, and the condemnation and prohibition of homosexuality in New Testament times by referring to the historical example of Sodom and Gomorrah at Jude 7.

Liberal scholarship and the LGBT community also argue that Jesus never addressed the issue of homosexuality. This too is not entirely true. It would be better worded that Jesus did not explicitly mention homosexuality. However, by extension, he did explicitly rule out homosexuality, when he mentioned the Creation account that says marriage is between one man and one woman for life. (Matt. 19:3–12; Mark 10:2–12) Jesus did not have to address the subject of homosexuality head-on because Jesus, his disciples, and his audience were Jewish, all being under the Mosaic Law until the ransom sacrifice of Pentecost. Jesus did not accept a polygamous marriage that was permitted during the Old Testament period.[1] Jesus did not accept divorce or homosexuality. Paul, on the other hand, had Gentiles in majority Jewish-Christian congregations and congregations that were predominately Gentile. Therefore, Paul had to be more explicit in what he had to say. Below we will have an excursion into the historical setting that the apostles would have had to deal with, which Jesus did not have to consider when it came to his audience. If you want to see a perfect example of how Jesus spoke of a subject based on his audience and Paul spoke differently based on his audience, see the article, WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL BASIS FOR DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE AMONG CHRISTIANS?

Jesus’ Father fixed (set) the rules that govern marriage some six thousand years before our modern-day LGBTQ movements, liberal, progressive worldviews. Now, what did Jesus repeatedly say about the Father and Himself? “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 5:30) So also Jesus, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.” (John 8:28) This clearly means that if the Father condemned homosexual acts; then, the Son condemned homosexual acts. The opening book of Genesis tells us: “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) The Hebrew word “wife,” according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, “connotes one who is a female human being.” Jesus validated that those gathered together in marriage should be “male and female.” – Matthew 19:4.

Thus, the Father designed marriage to be a strong, constant, continual, unchanging, intimate connection (relationship) between a man and a woman. Men and women were created to complete (complement) each other. The man and the woman was specifically designed and is truly capable of satisfying each other’s mental, emotional, spiritual, and sexual needs and providing children. The last point is all too obvious, what future would we have if the entire planet were homosexuals? Who would procreate? Some might say if man and woman were designed to complement each other why is there such a high divorce rate even among Christians. Sin and human imperfection is the answer. Metrosource.com writes, “According to insights and data gleaned from a recent survey conducted by Nectar Sleep, most [non-Christian] American heterosexual men ages 30 and below admit to having an average of 26 sex partners before “settling down.” Presumably, that means into heterosexual and monogamous relationships or marriages. Some gay men would consider that a slow month on the [sex] apps.”

[1] God has never approved of polygamy. The first marriage in Eden was that of monogamy. Jesus Christ later restated that standard for his followers. (Gen. 2:18-24; Matthew 19:4-6) God exhorted the Israelites not to have multiple wives, especially after the disaster of Abraham and Jacob. (Gen. 16:1-4; 29:18–30:24; see Deut. 17:15, 17) God’s foreknowledge allowed him to know the Israelites were going to be an obstinate people, so he did incorporate laws in the Old Testament. God endured it for a short time, while enforcing it rigorously to prevent abuses. (Ex. 21:10, 11; Deut. 21:15-17) The Son of God was used to reaffirm the marital standard set in Eden.

Young Christians

First Century Bible Background of Homosexuality

Clinton E. Arnold, 1 Corinthians 6:9

Paul uses specialized terminology here.[2] Roman law, in particular the lex Scantinia of the mid-second century B.C., legislated about homosexual behavior.[3] Such laws protected Roman citizens against homosexual acts. Corinth as a Roman colony would thus consider homosexual acts with fellow citizens as illegal, but not with noncitizens (i.e., non-Romans) and slaves.

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Male prostitutes (6:9). This expression translates malakoi. The Greek word malakos transferred to the Latin malacus. It means in effect “a soft person” and took on the meaning of somebody effeminate. The fact that Latin has no indigenous word for such a person may suggest that a passive participant in a homosexual relationship was not condemned by Roman law so long as he was not a Roman citizen.

Homosexual offenders (6:9). This expression translates the Greek word arsenokoitai. This may be a word derived from the LXX [Septuagint] of Leviticus 18:22: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” The malakos (see previous comment) is probably the passive participant, whereas the arsenokoitēs is the active participant. Thus, both stand criticized by Paul within the Christian community. Note, however, that these are but two areas of life that Paul highlights, and the church has not always had the right balance.[4]

David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians 6:9

Pederasty [i.e., man who has sex with boy] was the most common male homosexual act in the ancient world (Schrage 1991: 432). That is because sexual propriety was judged according to social values: “The ancients did not classify kinds of sexual desire or behaviour according to the sameness or difference of the sexes of the persons who engaged in a sexual act; rather, they evaluated sexual acts according to the degree to which such acts either violated or conformed to the norms of conduct deemed appropriate to individual sexual actors by reason of their gender, age, and social status” (Halperin, OCD 720; cf. Dover 1978: 277). A person’s rank and status determined what was considered acceptable or unacceptable. On one side were free males; on the other side were women and slaves. A free male was free to choose women, men, or boys as sexual objects without the majority taking offense as long as he did not demean his status as a free male. A free male could not “indulge in passive acts of love like a woman or a slave” without incurring a stigma (Stegemann 1993: 164). But he could use boys, slaves, or persons of no account with impunity as long as he remained “on top.” “Phallic insertion functioned as a marker of male precedence; it also expressed social domination and seniority… . Any sexual relation that involved the penetration of a social inferior (whether inferior in age, gender, or status) qualified as sexually normal for a male, irrespective of the penetrated person’s anatomical sex, whereas to be sexually penetrated was always potentially shaming, especially for a free male of citizen status [e.g., Tacitus, Annales 11.36]” (Halperin, OCD 721). Homosexual acts between free males were regarded with contempt because one partner would have to take on the passive role (insertivity) suited only to women and slaves (Veyne 1987: 204). We see this cultural attitude manifested in Petronius’s novel, Satyricon (91–100). Two close friends, Encolpius and Ascyltus, fight over the sexual favors of their slave boy, Giton; but they never engage in any homosexual act between themselves.

It should be noted also that “neither sexual desire nor sexual pleasure represented an acceptable motive for a boy’s compliance with the sexual demands of his lover” (Halperin, OCD 721). The younger partner was not to be motivated by, or express, passionate sexual desire for his senior lover, lest he compromise his own future status as a man. As a result, sexually receptive or effeminate males were ridiculed. Society would have considered same-sex sexual acts between two men of equal standing to be shameful. What some in modern society find acceptable—male same-sex eroticism between equals in a committed relationship—would have been condemned in ancient society. Dover (1978: 104) contends that penetration was not regarded as an expression of love but “as an aggressive act demonstrating the superiority of the active to the passive partner.” J. Davidson (1997: 169–82) challenges this interpretation as anachronistic but imposes his own biases on the evidence and does not win the argument. Paul differed from his society’s sexual mores in condemning all same-sex sexual acts.[5]

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[2] B. W. Winter, “Homosexual Terminology in 1 Corinthians 6:9: The Roman Context and the Greek Loan-word,” in A. N. S. Lane (ed.), Interpreting the Bible: Historical and Theological Studies in Honor of David F. Wright (Leicester, U.K.: Apollos, 1997), 275–90 (ch. 14).

[3] This law was passed by the tribune Scantinius c. 146 b.c. See S. Lilja, Homosexuality in Republican and Augustan Rome (Helsinki: Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 1982), 112–21.

[4] Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Romans to Philemon., vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 132–133.

OCD Oxford Classical Dictionary, edited by S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth, 3d ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

OCD Oxford Classical Dictionary, edited by S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth, 3d ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

OCD Oxford Classical Dictionary, edited by S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth, 3d ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

[5] David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 217–218.

5 thoughts on “What Did Jesus Say About Homosexuality?

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  1. Good article. BTW, there is no such thing as an M.Div. in Theology. An M.S. in Theology; Ph.D. in Theology; or Th.D. in Theology. But an M.Div. is just an M.Div. How do I know? I have an M.Div. from LBTS and a Th.D. in Theology from NTS.

    1. I took a picture of my Masters of Divinity Theological Studies diploma with my phone. But I cannot add it to this comment section. Give me your email or your Facebook profile and I will message you with it. Then you can apologize for assuming,

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