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(Part 1) Answering the Toughest Questions About Homosexuality with Alan Shlemon

Think Christianly: (Part 1) Answering the Toughest Questions About Homosexuality with Alan Shlemon

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

(Part 1) Answering the Toughest Questions About Homosexuality with Alan Shlemon

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

From TV sitcoms, politics, and judicial rulings to Facebook conversations, Movies, and the classroom, people have questions about how Christians ought to think about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. What does the Bible actually say? Does making a moral claim on this issue make one a bigot? How do we respond to the tough questions, slogans, and soundbites which can lead to some awkward and uncomfortable conversations?

Many Christians want to have a helpful conversation about what they think is true in this area, but sometimes can't find the words. That's why I'm very excited to announce we will be launching a 12-part guest blog series that will provide brief, but substantive responses to challenges that often leave Christians speechless. (BTW - if you find these responses, please share them on Facebook and twitter so others can benefit).

I've asked my friend and apologist Alan Shlemon to take on these challenges each wednesday. Alan speaks nationally for Stand to Reason on controversial issues like Homosexuality, is the author of the Ambassadors Guide to Islam and contributed a chapter to Apologetics for a New Generation edited by Sean McDowell (if you missed Alan's video responding to Zach Wahls' case for gay marriage you can see it here).

To avoid any potential misunderstanding, let me be very clear from the outset; every human being is made in the image of God and worthy of respect and this includes people who hold different views than our own. Promoting true tolerance is treating others with respect while having candid conversations about questions that really matter. Also, we are all broken by sin and express that brokenness differently and all of us are in need of mercy and grace. So, you will see no self-righteousness here. The Gospel is good news for all of us. The goal of this blog series is to offer clear thinking on a challenging issue that people are passionate about and that has implications for both individuals and our society. Part of loving our neighbor well is caring enough to tell others what we think is true and why. With that said, let's let Alan address this week'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 18:20 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.

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Blogger Rock Turner said...

One of my most personally challenging and often avoided/neglected questions, when I have been confronted with Truth that has taken root in my worldview, is, "What are you going to do about it?"
If Jesus HAD said something explicit about homosexuality and it HAD been recorded in the gospels, what would our culture today do about it?

December 14, 2011 at 2:30 PM  

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