Jesus and Sexuality, Part III

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39-40)

Last evening, New York became the sixth state to approve same sex marriage.  I suspect, that there may be some appeals to the process, but that the law is here to stay in one form or another.  I find it fascinating that there are Christian people passionately on both sides of the argument.

 The purpose of this blog series is to try to develop a Christian ethic regarding sexuality, and specifically applying to the question of homosexuality.  We have already discussed how the morality of any issue, is shaped by Scripture, tradition, experience, reason, and culture for Christians.  All of these things help to shape our understanding of God's desire for us and His standards of morality.  These influences upon our morality are not equally important and their relative importance has been debated throughout the history of Christianity.

For Christians, the Bible is the gold standard.  Its interpretation is then aided by our traditions, experiences, reason, and culture.  The assumption, whether you have a high regard or low regard for scripture (see part II of this blog series), is the the Bible contains God's will for humanity. It contains everything that is necessary for a healthy life (I Peter 1:3-4).

Yet, we all know that scripture can be used for evil.  In the gospels, Jesus is tempted by Satan in the desert (Luke 4:1-13).  Satan, the true personification of evil, tempts Jesus by quoting scripture.  Interestingly enough, Jesus responds to Satan with scripture as well.  In this pericope, we can see both the manipulative use of scripture and the authentic truth-proclaiming purpose of scripture.  Classically, tradition, reason, and experience should be used for the latter.  Unfortunately, often, particularly in socially volatile issues, scriptures are used to manipulate towards a certain political or cultural goal, rather than the revelation of God's will.  Many of us know that scripture was used in the nineteenth century to prove that Blacks were inferior and that slavery by Whites was a gift to them.  In that case, scripture is used for evil, to endorse a cultural and political gain, as opposed to the witness of a God of liberation.

Jesus understood that written scripture can be used to manipulate.  He would tell the leaders of the day, that they misunderstood scripture because the point of scripture points to him (John 5:39-40).  Jesus is described as "Word became flesh" because he is the true representation of the revealed will of God (Hebrews 1:3).  Jesus goes on to boldly proclaim that we only have an understanding of who God is through him. (John 14:6).  Jesus is stating that, as the son of God, he is the ultimate gold standard because even the scriptures of His day were being manipulated and abused.

So here is something that we need to wrestle with.  Get ready:

Jesus never ever discusses his own sexuality.

As both the representative of God (son of God) and the representative of humanity (son of man), we have no records of any statements regarding his own sexuality.  Movies such as the "Last Temptation of Christ" have sought to depict a sexuality for Jesus, but there is no record or comments of Jesus' sexuality.  Scripture suggests that Jesus was "tempted in every way" (Heb 4:15).  Part of that temptation, certainly had to be challenges to distort a healthy sexuality.  Since he was completely human as well as divine, we can assume he did have a sexuality and since he was complete, that his sexuality was healthy.  Yet, we have no record of Jesus discussing his own sexuality.

What can we make of this omission?  Was it that Jesus' sexuality was completely in harmony with the scriptural exhortations of the Hebrew Scriptures, that he did not find it necessary to discuss?  Was it, that the writers of the gospels, whether through the influence of the Holy Spirit (high regard) or through their own reasoning (low regard), felt that his teachings on his sexuality were not an important part of the revelation of God?  Was it, that Jesus made certain assumptions about sex and marriage, that his teachings on marriage can be understood as his teachings on sexuality?

I tend to believe that all three scenarios regarding the omission of Jesus' sexuality in scripture are true.  Jesus tended to have more of Hebrew understanding of life, where there is a holistic view of a person.  A person is not seen in separate parts, but as a whole.  So, Jesus would not look at someone's sexuality as a separate manifestation or practice.  Your sexuality, like everything else, was a gift that was used to honor God.  What that looks like we will engage in the next blog entry.

Take time today to reflect on what Jesus did and did not say about relationships and sexuality.  Consider, that we may see sexuality considerably different than Jesus did.  We often define our lives by our sexuality, whereas, Jesus defined our sexuality and everything by our faith and devotion.  Lets dwell on that.

May God bless  you,

Pastor M Traylor