Continuing Discussion on Jesus and Homosexuality

by Steve Ray on July 3, 2013

Steve’s extensive response to new questions in the ComBox below. For the newly revised and full article click here.

IN RESPONSE TO MY BLOG JESUS IS NOT A HOMOPHOBE, ROD WROTE:

Rod May 30, 2012 at 10:21 PM

Steve,
Your posting is remarkable ! It is remarkable that, despite your attempts at convincing yourself that Jesus did not accept homosexuality, you were unable to come up with a single reference in the Gospels in support of your statement. No where in the Gospels, which is the only first hand, direct account we have of Jesus’ message to us, does Jesus make any comment in support of what you are advancing (either against homosexuals or in support of the “hate the sin not the sinner” approach). In fact, Jesus’s message is at the other end of the spectrum. He talks of love, tolerance and acceptance.

How people interpret the bible on their own time in their own private lives is not my business. But when such ignorance of the scriptures is flaunted ….

Look into your heart, my friend, when judging your fellow neighbors … Then, when you’re certain of what you’ve done, what you’ve thought and where’s you’ve been: go ahead, cast the first stone.

Good luck with your search for truth and love. Rod

STEVE RAY RESPONDS:

Rod:

Thanks for your comment. Honest and irenic discussion is a good thing. You may want to read the blog I posted following the “T-shirt” post. It is titled “Was Jesus Nice?”

And, as to who is ignorant of Scripture – we will let others judge that after reading the next few paragraphs.

Now to your comments. You are correct: the gospels never mention Jesus discussing homosexuality, the gay lifestyle or same sex attraction. But let’s stop and ask why?

First, Jesus addressed the issues that were prevalent in his time. Homosexuality was certainly not a front-burner issue in first century Palestine. Even today when I am in the Palestinian areas with people who still live and think much like earlier Palestine, the topic is taboo and they are embarrassed and shocked if you mention such things.

Second, the gospel writers recorded very few of Jesus’ actual words and deeds. Three years of teaching and instruction and only a few short accounts. St. John says that what he wrote is only a minuscule portion of the what he said and did (Jn 20:30-31; 21:25),. Jesus addressed and they recorded, the issues that were pressing in their own context and culture. Homosexuality was not such a topic.

Third, we cannot say Jesus did not mention or verbally condemn such behavior since we have so little of what he actually said and did during the three short years of his ministry. We have no recorded mention of abortion (again a non-issue in 1st century Palestine), yet Jesus obviously would have condemned it soundly. Jesus never mentioned riding donkeys slowly through intersections to avoid accidents. We have no record of him reminding people not to “drink and drive” or to eat good to avoid heart attacks.

Now, what we do know is the culture, the religion and the ethics of Jesus. He was not a 1st century pagan, nor a San Francisco gay; not an atheist Marxist or a Hindu. Jesus was a Hebrew Jew through and through. He obeyed the Law of Moses completely. The hypocritical leaders knew this because they could never pin anything on him. He was the 2nd Person of the Trinity who made man and women and who gave them the Law at Mount Sinai.

Being the visible image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), Jesus was not likely to negate or reverse the moral law he imposed on the world based on his nature and attributes.

But even if you deny that Jesus was God, he certainly was an observant Jew with a love for and respect for the Law. He said in Matthew 5:17–19, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus did not negate the Law but upheld it and even upped the ante and made it more stringent. What does the Law say about homosexuality? Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” The pagans—who even offered their children as living sacrifices—practiced such sexual deviations. God forbade his people to live and act like the despised pagans around them. They had a Law that ordered their society according to the will of God who had made them.

Interestingly enough, this next passage puts homosexual activity in the same category as incest and bestiality. The punishment was death. We read in Leviticus 20:13–16 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them. If a man takes a wife and her mother also, it is wickedness; they shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you. If a man lies with a beast, he shall be put to death; and you shall kill the beast. If a woman approaches any beast and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the beast; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.”

I could go on for pages with such passages—demonstrating the Law and the culture of the Jews. Jesus was an obedient Jew. No rational person would suggest that Jesus would condone, much less promote homosexuality, incest or bestiality. (I am not talking about homosexual inclinations but homosexual acts; inclinations are not sin, acting out the impulses is.) The only way to superimpose such “tolerance” on Jesus is to rip him from his own religion and cultural context and anachronistically paint him a different color with a modern brush. This “new Jesus” is a creation of a culture that wishes to create God in their own image.

The book of Revelation is especially applicable in this regard—especially since it is a revelation given to St. John by Jesus himself. It was written by St. John who is presumably the disciple of Jesus and one quite intimate with the teachings and practices of his Rabbi. And John claims that the book is the actual words of Jesus. But even if one refuses to accept the fact that it is written by St. John, it is still a man who understood the culture, law and acceptable conduct that the Jewish culture and the early Christian community expected of people. So the book claims to be words of Jesus in addition to what we find in the Gospels.

Revelation tells who will and will not be in heaven. We read in Revelation 21:27, “But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” In the Jewish and biblical context, what is an abomination? We already confronted that word in Leviticus where such abominations were mentioned and condemned. Homosexuality, incest and bestiality were among the abominations which God abhorred. Those who practice such things will not be in heaven according to Jesus.

Later in Revelation 22:15, “Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood.” Note, the Greek word used in Scripture for “fornication” is pornos which means illicit sexual relations or conduct. In the context, without twisting Scripture to suit one’s own purposes or to justify one’s own conduct, homosexuality, bestiality, incest and other deviant sexual activity are included in the word “fornication.” It would also apply to someone committing adultery, having sex outside marriage—or any other sexual activity outside of a monogamous man-woman marriage relationship.

It seems pretty clear that if one reads Scripture in context and one understands the life and moral teaching of Christ in context, and his words in Revelation, there is no possibility of concluding Jesus condoned or approved of homosexual conduct.

Now, having said that, Jesus loved the sinner without condoning the sin. We as Catholics and Christians strive for the same thing. To love and cherish every person no matter what their sexual orientation or conduct. However, we will speak out against deviant behavior, sin and conduct contrary to the laws of nature and of nature’s God.

If someone brings up the adulterous woman in John 8 to demonstrate Jesus’ tolerance and acceptance of sexual sins, we must remember that Jesus did not accept the sin of adultery. He accepted the sinner, forgave her, and told her to sin no more. Here he loved and forgave the sinner but did not love the sin and explicitly said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again” (Jn 8:11). In another similar situation a man was cured and Jesus. “Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you” (Jn 5:14). Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Jesus used the situation to expose the hypocrisy of the adulteress’s accusers. They wanted to kill her but failed to condemn the man involved in the sin and her judges were full of sin themselves. We who oppose homosexuality are not out to stone homosexuals, nor do we claim we are without our own sins. But we do make a judgment about moral norms and encourage all, including ourselves to come to Jesus for forgiveness and healing—and then to sin no more.

One often hears the mantra “Jesus said not to judge, so why are you judging?” This is a misunderstanding of what Jesus is saying. Here is the quote in Matthew 7:1–2, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” He is simply stating that if you don’t want to be judged by others, then don’t start the ball ricocheting off the walls because it will come back to hit you. If you don’t want others to judge you, then don’t judge them. Yet he himself was at that moment being very judgmental (without the negative connotations of the word).

This is certainly not a command against making judgments. Obviously we make judgments every day—we discriminate all the time. We marry one person instead of another, we choose some people as friends and avoid others, we judge someone as wrong who punches us in the nose. Urinating on people in a crowded street would bring down judgment by the most tolerant among us.

And by the way, keeping things in their wider context, Jesus told us we are to judge. Consider these two examples.

Luke 12:57
“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”

John 7:24
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

If someone is determined to promote the gay lifestyle and practicing intolerance toward those who oppose such conduct, what I have said will likely mean nothing to them. They want to create God in their own image and continue to do whatever they want to do even if they have to twist the historical Jewish Jesus into a tolerant modern relativistic caricature.

Mother Theresa loved everyone equally without holding back an ounce of blood, sweat or tears; yet, she would never condone homosexuality. She would tenderly love and care for a dying homosexual with AIDS without condemning him. But at the same time she would clearly denounce homosexuality as a sin and to be utterly opposed to it. Neither would Mother Theresa condemn a woman who’d had an abortion, but no one was a stronger critic of the abortion than Mother Theresa.

Again, I don’t mean to offend or alienate and I do appreciate your candid comment. May God also bless you as you seek to know the God of creation and his Son Jesus Christ.

********************************

Catholic World Reports article: Jesus, Marriage and Homosexuality

Excellent homily on the same topic by a Catholic priest in Georgia.

 

 

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

James May 31, 2012 at 3:14 PM

JAMES
WILL ANSWER SOON.

Steve,

Great thorough response to the common arguments by same-sex proponents. I still see some holes that I need help with. Please help by responding to the following:

-The bible says to kill those who engage in sexual abominations! (obviously a ludicrous thought today) If we don’t consider the potions of the Bible that say we shouldn’t eat shellfish and pork as relevant today, why should we believe portions about anti-homosexuality are relevant? Aren’t these old teachings just absolutely ridiculous today because people aren’t as simple-minded anymore? (This is a common fallacy used to make all the unagreeable portions of the Bible seem outdated and stupid.)
-You say Jesus was a faithful Jew. Was He actually faithful to the law if he performed miracles on the Sabbath, didn’t follow all the hand-washing rules, etc.? Is his church faithful if they throw out Jewish laws as well- i.e. pork, shellfish, circumcision? Perhaps Jesus wasn’t faithful to the portions of the law dealing with homosexuality?

John Paul May 31, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Brother Steve,

I am a fellow Catholic and appreciate all the education you have just given me. Why do Catholics such as our VP continue to support such a thing? Also it is very alarming that 50% of American Catholics support gay marriage.

Thanks,

John Paul

Steve Ray May 31, 2012 at 6:38 PM

John Paul: More soon. Busy right now. Thanks for writing.

Steve Ray May 31, 2012 at 7:26 PM

Posted by De Maria:
Hi Rod,
Yes, Jesus speaks of love, tolerance and acceptance. But of what? Of sins?

As I can see, Jesus upholds and proclaims His Father’s Commandments. And these declare homosexuality an abomination. If you can point to a verse where Jesus loves, tolerates and accepts sins or sinful activities, you’ll have a point.

But the fact is that we do not have every word which Jesus uttered written in Scripture. Jesus taught the Church and the Church decided what was important enough to write down in Scripture.

1. Therefore it is non sequitur to conclude that Jesus somehow loved, tolerated and accepted homosexuality simply because the Church did not mention His condemnation of it in the Gospels.

2. Therefore also, since Christ trusted the Church with passing down His Teachings, we must obey the Teachings which the Church passed down. Because they come with His authority and they condemn homosexuality.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Teresa Brañas May 31, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Steve,
I discovered your site thanks to Relevant Radio. I am so excited to have a site from such a knowledgeable Catholic to keep growing and discovering our Faith!!
I am very trouble with a personal matter, I will explain you now.
One of my sisters in Spain ( I am from there, number 9 of 11 kids, very Catholic family) used to be a numeray in Opus Dei ( a very conservative group within the Catholic Church) for 18 years. She left the “Order”, 5 years ago with claims of being overstressed and other medical conditions ( migraines, …).
We came to discover three years ago that she is gay or lesbian whatever the correct term is. My parents were as socked as I was. Most of my brothers and sisters didn’t care given the fact that they are not Catholics anymore and they label themselves as “liberals”. For them. This was one of the best things to happen to her, since they stated ” she deserved to be “happy” now. I am very confused how a person after being 18 years dedicated to serve and love God, became this. Was she before? Did she became like this after living with only women for so many years? Is she going to hell?
what I am supposed to say?should I?
I never had a real relationship with her, since we were probably 10 we started hanging up in the Opus Dei Club where we used to go for meditation, classes, plays… When I was about 14-15 I started to cut off with thme since they became a little oppressive and I wanted more freedom. She stayed with them. Signed her obedience to them and by the time she was 18 she was off to college and living in their residences and homes for the past 18 years up to 2005 or so.
Every time I go to Spain, I go in a rush for little time to visit family or friends. I never have much time to spend with her and even when I do, I feel ackward, I don’t know what to say. I do not have her trust to talk about pointy matters less this one in particular. I think a lot about her, and I feel a lot of pain for her. Not only I am not sure if she is deeply in her heart happy or in peace at least, I worry for her future eternal life. I worry for most of my siblings but mostly for her. I recognize that I have not prayed enough for her or them, I am in my own proccess of discovering the Grace of our Lord Jeus Christ, discovering my own journey of Faith, but I feel this pain and I don’t know what to do.

Please pray for them, specially her. Also for my husband and me, to have the knowledge of the Holy Spirit and the Grace of God to raise our six children as Faithfull Cristians in this confusing world.

Your sister in Christ,

Teresa

am it a very good speaking up person when it comes to defend our Faith

Teresa Brañas May 31, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Sorry the las phrase was supposed to say ” I am not too good a speaking up person when it comes to defend our Faith”. I fell I do not have enough tools ( knowledge) to do so. Thanks!

Tom Govern May 31, 2012 at 10:03 PM

Way too much of Steve’s time spent on this because of Rob’s note. This was certainly a condition in the time of Jesus but a perversion no matter what in the Jewish community. It continues today a perversion that we are not supposed to call out. I am retired now so I really don’t care what people think. Marriage is between a man and woman, not same sex. I know that people have problems and I will pray for them.

Tom

Pete June 1, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Hello James, In response to what you are saying about “If we don’t consider the potions of the Bible that say we shouldn’t eat shellfish and pork as relevant today, why should we believe portions about anti-homosexuality are relevant?” This would be like saying, if my town has a law on the books that says smoking a pipe on Sunday is illegal that law because it is a law has the same weight as the law on prohibiting murder. If we can discount the law on pipe smoking surely we can discount the law on murder too. The gravity of the sin has to be taken into consideration. Besides, we have this sin mentioned in more then one place in the Bible. See, 1Cor 6:9-10, Rom 1:26-28. Not only that it was God who changed the prohibition on what can be eaten or not in Acts Chapter 10.

De Maria June 1, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Actually, this is not a Bible matter. The Church which Jesus established has spoken, in Scripture and in Doctrine and has stated that homosexuality is a grave sin. Homosexual activity is declared an intrinsically evil act.

No need to look it up in the Bible. The Catholic Church, the Pillar of Truth, has spoken. The case is closed.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Steve Ray June 4, 2012 at 4:53 PM

James, here is my response to the questions you posed:
A Few Questions Arose about the Validity of Using the Old Testament in the Discussion of Jesus and Homosexuality. I Duplicate the Questions Here, and Respond To Them

The Questions:
1. The bible says to kill those who engage in sexual abominations! (obviously a ludicrous thought today). If we no longer consider OT commands against eating shellfish and pork binding on us, why should we consider as relevant the OT laws against homosexuality? Aren’t the laws against homosexuality ridiculous today because people aren’t as simple-minded anymore?        

2. You say Jesus was a faithful Jew.  Was He actually faithful to the law if he performed miracles on the Sabbath, didn’t follow all the hand-washing rules, etc.?  Is the Catholic Church faithful to Scripture if they throw out Jewish laws – i.e. pork, shellfish, circumcision?  If Jesus was willing to go against the law in some areas, maybe Jesus wasn’t faithful to the portions of the law dealing with homosexuality?

Steve answers:
There are several issues here. Let’s deal with them one at a time. First, as a civilized society we must make distinctions between moral and immoral conduct. Only anarchist deny this but they have their own set of norms regardless. Just stomp on their toes and find out how quick they have a sense of right and wrong.

Once we’ve decided on the code of morals and ethics, then we have to decide how to deal respond to acts of immorality (or any other crime or violation of the society’s law). When a society decides something is immoral and therefore a crime the society must o have a means of punishing that action. Homosexual acts (like all illicit sexual acts) are immoral. Various societies regard it with various degrees of egregiousness. Correspondingly, the reactions to and punishments of such conduct within societies varies because societies vary.

When the Jews were a small tribe, surrounded by enemies, with no real self-defense, and a true theocracy where “church and state” were one entity (so that to deny the Faith was an act of treason), homosexuality was a capital offense. Our questioner is correct in this. It would be ludicrous to treat homosexuality today in the same way it was treated millennia ago. But that is not what is important in our discussion right now. The real question is whether homosexual acts are immoral in the Old Testament, in the mind of Jesus, in the New Testament and in the history of the Church Jesus founded.. The answer is unambiguously yes.

The Jews had three different laws or codes: the Moral Law, the Ceremonial law, and the Legislative law. Whereas most or all of the ceremonial and non-moral issues were done away with, the moral laws remain in perpetuity. This is very clear from the words of Jesus alone, but add the continued moral demands imposed by the apostles, the writings of the New Testament and the early Church.

The Moral Law we see in the Old Testament, especially in the Ten Commandments, is basically the law of most societies more or less. With the Jews it was not negated or minimized but remained and is further perfected in Christ. The Ceremonial Law (i.e., eating shellfish and pork, etc.) has been made obsolete by Christ, and the Legislative Law is no longer applicable as law after the theocracy of Israel ceased.

The teaching on homosexual acts is part of the Moral Law (and Natural Law for that matter) which remains. Eating shellfish and pork is part of the Ceremonial Law—now obsolete at the coming of the Messiah. The two are very different in nature. There is nothing immoral about eating shellfish or pork. That was part of the Temporary Law imposed through Moses but not on God’s people before Moses or after Christ. In the book of Revelation we do not find people excluded from heaven for eating lobster but they will be excluded for sexual deviance and immoral conduct.

Again, dietary laws (the ceremonial law) pointed to the Messiah who was to come. Now that the Messiah has come, they are obsolete. Foods don’t defile, but the things that come out of the heart. Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20–23).

Notice the word “defile.” The dietary stuff made people ceremonially defiled, but immorality is sin and this defiles morally. Circumcision likewise is a sign of a future regeneration. Again, once Christ has come and instituted true spiritual regeneration (i.e., baptism), circumcision (with the ceremony that goes with it) professes a different faith, a faith in the Messiah Who is yet to come. Christians, therefore, cannot be circumcised because they would be professing the Messiah has not yet come.
 
None of these things involve the Moral Law and homosexual acts are not part of the ceremonial law. Unlike Marriage, which is raised to a Sacrament imaging Christ (the bridegroom) and His Body, the Church (the Bride), there is no such analog to homosexuality.

There is also something to be said about the Natural Law. In the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers of our country referred to the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. Things in nature work best (they flourish) when they act in accord with their design (e.g., a car runs great on gas because it is design for gas, but it doesn’t run on water. In fact, it breaks down). Nature and Nature;s God has designed men and women with complementary parts and when they are used in accord with that design they flurish (they have kids). The same is not true for two males or females. This teaching is true and will remain true as long as human nature remains the same.

Homosexual activity is condemned, not only in the Old Testament, but the New Testament as well. Although Jesus never directly and explicitly speaks to homosexuality, his disciple (in whom He gave the Holy Spirit to guide them in all truth) confirmed the immorality of these acts. Likewise, His Church continued to witness to this constant teaching.

The teaching remains the same throughout Church history as well. For example, in the mid-50‘s St. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality…”

Several decades later St. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:8–11, “Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites … and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.”

This was the unchallenged position of the early Church following the faith of Jesus Christ and built on the Jewish foundation. Interestingly, their are two words in the list of sins in 1 Corinthians above that relate to homosexuals, one the passive or receiving partner and the other the active or penetrating partner. One translation even says, “neither boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals” (NAB).

According to A Handbook on Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, a language manual to assist biblical translators, “Many languages can use roundabout ways of speaking about homosexual relations. Paul thought of the practice of homosexuality as a form of perversion. If the people for whom this passage is translated do not normally share Paul’s attitude, it may be important to use a word meaning ‘pervert,’ to make Paul’s meaning explicit.”1

A note about the rescinding of the death penalty for many of the abominations in Israel. During the days of Christ, Israel was no longer a theocracy and able to exercise it’s own laws. They were under under Roman rule. The Jews in Jesus’ time had to reluctantly comply with the new rules and limitations on exercising their own laws. For an example we read in John 18:31, “Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.’ The Jews said to him, ‘It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.’”

Most Western countries had strict rules against such behavior until recently. We have overturned 3,000 years of precedent as though we are now so much smarter than the people of the past. I think we do it to our own peril. But at the same time we are not advocating stoning homosexuals. Times and punishments and cultures change; morals do not change.

A few people may say that we should turn the other cheek, never judge, not punish anyone, allow people to be people. But even though individuals have limitations related to punishment or retaliation, governments cannot turn the other cheek. Paul said in “Romans 13:4, “For he governmental authority] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.” Governments by their very nature are instituted by God to both protect the people under their auspices and to reward good and punish evil and immoral acts without their country.

Another question was whether Jesus was really faithful to the Law or whether he abandoned it and did things contrary to the Law. The answer is he was a Jew faithful and 100% obedient to the Law. He fulfilled the Law completely though he opposed the Pharisees and their manipulation by inflating the Law with their innumerable traditions and regulations. He obeyed the Law but did not comply with all the pharisaical accretions. He never even hinted at resisting the Moral Law—quite the opposite.

Some may claim the Jesus was more hip, so to speak, and would not have held to the “archaic” laws of the past. However, we don’t see Jesus denounce or rescind the Law of Moses. To the contrary, he modifies it and ups the ante but does not remove or even imply the moral demands are less. He did not come to abolish the Moral Law but to fulfill it.

Jesus was a faithful Jew and Jesus, God made flesh, didn’t just follow the Law, he perfected it. So yes he was a faithful Jews, but He took the Law and raised it to a new level. I would take your example and give you one that is even stronger. Forget working on the Sabbath and hand-washing, Jesus actually changed the Law. In Matthew 5, Jesus quotes several items from the Law and then proposes His New Law. For example, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). 

He it taking one of the commandments and giving a new commandment. Jesus isn’t contradicting the commandment, but raising it to a new and higher level made possible by God’s grace. If Jesus didn’t contradict or abrogate the command not to commit adultery but raised it to a higher level, why would He abrogate homosexual acts? Christ is a New Moses giving the New Law and making a New Covenant. He followed the Law and reconstituted it on a new supernatural level. It seems to me very unlikely that Jesus would have said, “You have heard where it is said, “Thou shall not commit homosexual acts” and “those who commit them deserve death, but I say to you “When you stop being stupid primitives (say around the 2012) then go ahead and indulge. And practice bestiality, incest, adultery and murder too while you’re at it.”  Somehow that just doesn’t seem to ring true.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church rightly says,

Chastity and homosexuality
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.2

Steve Ray June 4, 2012 at 4:54 PM

James, here is my response to the questions you posed:

A Few Questions Arose about the Validity of Using the Old Testament in the Discussion of Jesus and Homosexuality. I Duplicate the Questions Here, and Respond To Them

The Questions:
1. The bible says to kill those who engage in sexual abominations! (obviously a ludicrous thought today). If we no longer consider OT commands against eating shellfish and pork binding on us, why should we consider as relevant the OT laws against homosexuality? Aren’t the laws against homosexuality ridiculous today because people aren’t as simple-minded anymore?        

2. You say Jesus was a faithful Jew.  Was He actually faithful to the law if he performed miracles on the Sabbath, didn’t follow all the hand-washing rules, etc.?  Is the Catholic Church faithful to Scripture if they throw out Jewish laws – i.e. pork, shellfish, circumcision?  If Jesus was willing to go against the law in some areas, maybe Jesus wasn’t faithful to the portions of the law dealing with homosexuality?

Steve answers:
There are several issues here. Let’s deal with them one at a time. First, as a civilized society we must make distinctions between moral and immoral conduct. Only anarchist deny this but they have their own set of norms regardless. Just stomp on their toes and find out how quick they have a sense of right and wrong.

Once we’ve decided on the code of morals and ethics, then we have to decide how to deal respond to acts of immorality (or any other crime or violation of the society’s law). When a society decides something is immoral and therefore a crime the society must o have a means of punishing that action. Homosexual acts (like all illicit sexual acts) are immoral. Various societies regard it with various degrees of egregiousness. Correspondingly, the reactions to and punishments of such conduct within societies varies because societies vary.

When the Jews were a small tribe, surrounded by enemies, with no real self-defense, and a true theocracy where “church and state” were one entity (so that to deny the Faith was an act of treason), homosexuality was a capital offense. Our questioner is correct in this. It would be ludicrous to treat homosexuality today in the same way it was treated millennia ago. But that is not what is important in our discussion right now. The real question is whether homosexual acts are immoral in the Old Testament, in the mind of Jesus, in the New Testament and in the history of the Church Jesus founded.. The answer is unambiguously yes.

The Jews had three different laws or codes: the Moral Law, the Ceremonial law, and the Legislative law. Whereas most or all of the ceremonial and non-moral issues were done away with, the moral laws remain in perpetuity. This is very clear from the words of Jesus alone, but add the continued moral demands imposed by the apostles, the writings of the New Testament and the early Church.

The Moral Law we see in the Old Testament, especially in the Ten Commandments, is basically the law of most societies more or less. With the Jews it was not negated or minimized but remained and is further perfected in Christ. The Ceremonial Law (i.e., eating shellfish and pork, etc.) has been made obsolete by Christ, and the Legislative Law is no longer applicable as law after the theocracy of Israel ceased.

The teaching on homosexual acts is part of the Moral Law (and Natural Law for that matter) which remains. Eating shellfish and pork is part of the Ceremonial Law—now obsolete at the coming of the Messiah. The two are very different in nature. There is nothing immoral about eating shellfish or pork. That was part of the Temporary Law imposed through Moses but not on God’s people before Moses or after Christ. In the book of Revelation we do not find people excluded from heaven for eating lobster but they will be excluded for sexual deviance and immoral conduct.

Again, dietary laws (the ceremonial law) pointed to the Messiah who was to come. Now that the Messiah has come, they are obsolete. Foods don’t defile, but the things that come out of the heart. Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20–23).

Notice the word “defile.” The dietary stuff made people ceremonially defiled, but immorality is sin and this defiles morally. Circumcision likewise is a sign of a future regeneration. Again, once Christ has come and instituted true spiritual regeneration (i.e., baptism), circumcision (with the ceremony that goes with it) professes a different faith, a faith in the Messiah Who is yet to come. Christians, therefore, cannot be circumcised because they would be professing the Messiah has not yet come.
 
None of these things involve the Moral Law and homosexual acts are not part of the ceremonial law. Unlike Marriage, which is raised to a Sacrament imaging Christ (the bridegroom) and His Body, the Church (the Bride), there is no such analog to homosexuality.

There is also something to be said about the Natural Law. In the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers of our country referred to the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. Things in nature work best (they flourish) when they act in accord with their design (e.g., a car runs great on gas because it is design for gas, but it doesn’t run on water. In fact, it breaks down). Nature and Nature;s God has designed men and women with complementary parts and when they are used in accord with that design they flurish (they have kids). The same is not true for two males or females. This teaching is true and will remain true as long as human nature remains the same.

Homosexual activity is condemned, not only in the Old Testament, but the New Testament as well. Although Jesus never directly and explicitly speaks to homosexuality, his disciple (in whom He gave the Holy Spirit to guide them in all truth) confirmed the immorality of these acts. Likewise, His Church continued to witness to this constant teaching.

The teaching remains the same throughout Church history as well. For example, in the mid-50‘s St. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality…”

Several decades later St. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:8–11, “Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites … and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.”

This was the unchallenged position of the early Church following the faith of Jesus Christ and built on the Jewish foundation. Interestingly, their are two words in the list of sins in 1 Corinthians above that relate to homosexuals, one the passive or receiving partner and the other the active or penetrating partner. One translation even says, “neither boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals” (NAB).

According to A Handbook on Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, a language manual to assist biblical translators, “Many languages can use roundabout ways of speaking about homosexual relations. Paul thought of the practice of homosexuality as a form of perversion. If the people for whom this passage is translated do not normally share Paul’s attitude, it may be important to use a word meaning ‘pervert,’ to make Paul’s meaning explicit.”1

A note about the rescinding of the death penalty for many of the abominations in Israel. During the days of Christ, Israel was no longer a theocracy and able to exercise it’s own laws. They were under under Roman rule. The Jews in Jesus’ time had to reluctantly comply with the new rules and limitations on exercising their own laws. For an example we read in John 18:31, “Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.’ The Jews said to him, ‘It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.’”

Most Western countries had strict rules against such behavior until recently. We have overturned 3,000 years of precedent as though we are now so much smarter than the people of the past. I think we do it to our own peril. But at the same time we are not advocating stoning homosexuals. Times and punishments and cultures change; morals do not change.

A few people may say that we should turn the other cheek, never judge, not punish anyone, allow people to be people. But even though individuals have limitations related to punishment or retaliation, governments cannot turn the other cheek. Paul said in “Romans 13:4, “For he governmental authority] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.” Governments by their very nature are instituted by God to both protect the people under their auspices and to reward good and punish evil and immoral acts without their country.

Another question was whether Jesus was really faithful to the Law or whether he abandoned it and did things contrary to the Law. The answer is he was a Jew faithful and 100% obedient to the Law. He fulfilled the Law completely though he opposed the Pharisees and their manipulation by inflating the Law with their innumerable traditions and regulations. He obeyed the Law but did not comply with all the pharisaical accretions. He never even hinted at resisting the Moral Law—quite the opposite.

Some may claim the Jesus was more hip, so to speak, and would not have held to the “archaic” laws of the past. However, we don’t see Jesus denounce or rescind the Law of Moses. To the contrary, he modifies it and ups the ante but does not remove or even imply the moral demands are less. He did not come to abolish the Moral Law but to fulfill it.

Jesus was a faithful Jew and Jesus, God made flesh, didn’t just follow the Law, he perfected it. So yes he was a faithful Jews, but He took the Law and raised it to a new level. I would take your example and give you one that is even stronger. Forget working on the Sabbath and hand-washing, Jesus actually changed the Law. In Matthew 5, Jesus quotes several items from the Law and then proposes His New Law. For example, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). 

He it taking one of the commandments and giving a new commandment. Jesus isn’t contradicting the commandment, but raising it to a new and higher level made possible by God’s grace. If Jesus didn’t contradict or abrogate the command not to commit adultery but raised it to a higher level, why would He abrogate homosexual acts? Christ is a New Moses giving the New Law and making a New Covenant. He followed the Law and reconstituted it on a new supernatural level. It seems to me very unlikely that Jesus would have said, “You have heard where it is said, “Thou shall not commit homosexual acts” and “those who commit them deserve death, but I say to you “When you stop being stupid primitives (say around the 2012) then go ahead and indulge. And practice bestiality, incest, adultery and murder too while you’re at it.”  Somehow that just doesn’t seem to ring true.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church rightly says,

Chastity and homosexuality
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.2

James June 5, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Steve,

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions. I’ve had a hard time articulating answers to contradict those 2 arguments. You did it tremendously well. Thank you.

God bless you and your family.

TheresaEh July 4, 2013 at 8:33 AM

“How people interpret the bible on their own time in their own private lives is not my business ”
I suppose this is the reason there are more than 33K independent Christian denominations in the USA.

Edward Hara July 4, 2013 at 8:22 PM

This is a great response, Steve. People who fancy themselves theologians are so quick to say “Well, Jesus said nothing about it.” as if that settles the whole argument in a one liner. As you well pointed out, Jesus is God manifest in the Flesh, therefore, those laws of morality which were given to the Jews (and by extension all mankind) were given by Him as the One Who is the Eternal Word of the Father, one in substance with the Father and the Son, truly God.

Great job!!!

Mark July 6, 2013 at 1:54 AM

We haven’t even considered the overwhelming evidence from the Church Fathers reiterating the Catholic teaching time and time again. Thank you Mr. Ray for taking the time to answer each point succinctly. My prayers are with you and your family.

Craig July 7, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Steve thanks for your deep response. I did come across this in bible study and in Jesus response to rejecting him. He mentions the grave sin of not listening to his teachings and listening to the disciples teachings. He mentions the deep suffering the people of Sodom are facing and the deeper sin of rejecting him. I’m no bible scholar but he tells you the wrong Sodom did.

Luke 10 8-16
8Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; 9and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11′Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.
13″Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you. 15And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades!
The Happy Results
16″The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”

Abel P. Garza July 7, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Steve – even if we did not argue from God’s revelation to man directly through scripture and His church we can simply look at our natural order by Divine Providence. A much simpler answer for those who do not believe in God. From the beginning there were males and females to compliment each other in every major species. The exception to this – insects and micro organisms, which can propagate without a partner. We are not in the insect/micro organism category. All humanity came about because of a male and a female coming together.

There have always been aberrations because we live in a fallen imperfect world of which we are fallen and imperfect as well. There are those persons who through no fault of their own are attracted towards the same sex. I read where scientists have claimed about 2% average on populations are affected this way. Some overcome this by self mastery others do not.

Unfortunately the thinking of the United States leaders in this era has become dominant as well as in influential circles. Like in the movie ‘World War Z’, many have been overcome and have surrendered to the fallen nature completely. (See Fr Barrons commentary on this movie).

Those in power, be it the current administration, major news organizations, think tanks, have espoused this aberration along with other unnatural behavior and have glorified it with unreasonable arguments and by implementing laws to make ordinary people accept this homosexual behavior as not only normal but of a higher class of people.

I would hope (against hope?) that reasonable persons will respect those who are with homosexual tendencies but will not buy into pretending that two of the same sex have the same standing in nature as a man and a woman, through which the natural order has reproduced itself and continues to do so.

Gina Marie Mangiamele July 8, 2013 at 11:54 PM

Unfortunately, a demoralized society is brainwashed into believing they can do what ever they want. There is no truth in their heart. Arrogant and self centered behavior had trumped all truth. It is such a sad day in America.

Steve, Thank you for a proficient and complete homily on homosexuality. Getting people to listen is an up hill battle. But if we are battle ready, we can win back the truth. Keep up the wonderful work you do.

Peter December 21, 2013 at 4:04 AM

“Jesus Never Mentioned Homosexuality”

When gays have birthdays, they don’t mention everything they don’t want but say positively what they do want.
Likewise, Jesus didn’t negatively list every sexual variation He knew mankind would invent, but positively stated that marriage involves only a man and a woman!
Google or Yahoo “God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up,” “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up,” and “USA – from Puritans to Impure-itans.”

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