Jesus and Sexuality: Part IX

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. (Romans 1:24-25)

We are winding down on this topic of Jesus and sexuality.  I have appreciated the feedback that this topic has received and hope that it has helped to clarify the Biblical approaches to this difficult topic.  We have discussed the general nature of scripture, its interpretation, overarching themes in scripture and specific scriptures in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament).  Now, we take time to look at sexuality, specifically same-sex attraction in the New Testament or Greek Scriptures.  Once again we need to reiterate a few concepts:

1.  Jesus is considered the pinnacle of revelation.  He does not only speak for God, but is the "exact representation of His being" (Hebrews 1:3).  Jesus' words and life are authoritative.
2.  Jesus had a Jewish understanding of sexuality, where sex was an issue of marriage.  Any type of sexuality outside of marriage was strictly forbidden.
3. Jesus says absolutely nothing about his own sexuality in the gospels.  Although he was fully human and described as being tempted in every way like other men (Hebrews 4:15), we do not find a description of his approach to his own sexuality.

In first century Palestine, dominated by Roman culture, homosexuality was not uncommon.  In fact, many of the pagan rituals of the time involved homosexual cultic practices, similarly to the cultic practices of the native Canaanites in the Old Testament.  One of the earliest Christian documents, The Didache, specifically addresses the practice of homosexuality in the context of the patronage system, where men would mentor other young men and often have homoerotic experiences with them.

In the Greek Scriptures (written in the first century), we see that sex was honored as a part of marriage and that sex outside of marriage was considered immoral.  In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul argues that homosexuality is common, not because of God's desires, but because of humanity's selfish preoccupation with self and neglect of God. 

Romans 1:25-27

They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. (NLT)

Christian theologians have interpreted this scripture in multiple ways, depending upon if they have a high or low appreciation for scripture (see part I and II of this series).  Some commentators with a low view of scripture see this as a community expression of cultural values.  In other words, first century jewish culture was simply being expressed.  While other theologians, with a high view of scripture, see this as a clear expression that sexuality outside of marriage, including same-sex sexuality is an unhealthy distortion of what God has planned.

There are a couple of practical tests to evaluate which approach is most consistent.  For instance, there are some texts in the Greek Scriptures that seem to speak against the role of women in ministry, but using a couple of tools revealed that this is not the intent.  I will use the same process here:

A. Are there examples of homosexual people in the Bible being honored in all of Scripture?  The answer is unclear.  We simply do not know the sexuality of all of the people in scripture.  There is no specific person identified as homosexual that is used in ministry or honored in Scripture.

B. Is there a possibility that the original context of the Greek words renders a significantly different meaning?  With the many manuscripts available, most Greek scholars agree that the translation is fairly accurate.

C. Is this scripture regarding homosexuality consistent with other parts of scripture?  The answer is yes.  As we have seen, there are multiple scriptures that seek to keep sexual practices within marriage.  Marriage was narrowly defined in Genesis as a man and a woman.

So, if thats the case, what are people with same sex attractions supposed to do?  We have admitted that we are all fallen and have desires that are against God's will for us.  Is it possible that same-sex attraction can develop into love?  If so, doesn't scripture support love?

Join me in the final part of this 10 part series as we look into scripture and see that there is an answer.

May God bless you today,

Pastor M Traylor
Dr. M TraylorComment