Social media is awash in video clips of Representative Ted Lieu, D-Calif., on the floor of the U.S. House on Wednesday, June 8.
He stepped up to the podium and said, “I just thought I would now recite for you what Jesus Christ said about homosexuality.”
Then he paused for about 20 seconds of silence, before saying, “I yield back,” leaving the podium.
Surprisingly, we couldn’t find any comments from groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State condemning the mention of Jesus on the House floor.
But we did find plenty of folks, such as this reporter at the Daily Kos, who thought this was a “mic drop” speech, “in an amazing way.”
Newsweek called it a “powerful moment.”
Pink News said the video “points out the glaringly obvious about Jesus Christ and homosexuality,” that is, that the gospels don’t mention Him saying anything about this.
So was this a game changer for believers? Should Christians change our entire thinking about marriage and sexuality because Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality?
This is actually a serious question, and Christians should understand the truth about this challenge to a biblical sexual ethic and be able to offer a firm rebuttal.
Here are four responses to this argument from Jesus’ supposed silence.
First, Jesus was a Jew who lived in Judea in the first century. He went to synagogue and studied the Jewish scriptures – the Law and the Prophets, the Proverbs and Psalms, the books of history – all of it. He prayed Jewish prayers, celebrated Jewish holy days and went to the temple.
Every first century Jew knew and believed that from Genesis through Malachi, the entire Old Testament, there was a clear sexual ethic: God designed humans male and female in His image and likeness, He established marriage as a life-long covenant between a husband and a wife, and He has a heart for children and families.
“What’s Jesus got to do with Leviticus?” asked one tweet responding to this topic. Well, actually, Leviticus was part of the Bible that Jesus read and studied. There’s a long passage in the book that prohibits a variety of sexual sins, including sex between men:
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. (Lev. 20:13, ESV)
The people Jesus interacted with knew homosexual sin was serious.
In first century Judea, they simply weren’t discussing whether homosexuality and transgenderism were okay. The moral law was clear: men were not to dress as women, nor were men to take other men to bed to have sex with.
Nothing Jesus said overturned those prohibitions. In fact, He said:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt 5:17-18, ESV)
Christians believe that this moral law (e.g., don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t covet) is binding on all of us. While we don’t keep the ceremonial, purification and ritual laws of the Jewish people, we do keep the moral law, especially as expressed in the Ten Commandments. That includes no sex outside marriage between a husband and wife.
Second, Jesus is God. When God created humans and established male-female marriage, as laid out for us in Genesis 1 and 2, that was Jesus. John tells us the two types of humans – male and female – were created through Jesus:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He [Jesus] was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3, ESV)
Jesus, as part of the Godhead, existed throughout eternity, before the very foundation of the world when Adam and Eve were created and the first marriage took place.
And when those words in Leviticus and Deuteronomy prohibiting homosexuality and other sexual sins were written, Jesus was still God, giving those instructions.
This is basic Christianity.
It’s not like God ordained male-female marriage, and then Jesus came along thousands of years later, as a separate being, opposing God’s design, supporting same-sex relationships, saying pride was no longer a sin, and arguing, “Love is love.”
Third, Jesus explained clearly God’s design for marriage and sexuality. He had the reputation of being a wise teacher, so people asked Him questions all the time, including ones about marriage. When asked about divorce and remarriage, He pointed back to the foundation of marriage, quoting the book of Genesis:
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV)
Our Lord quoted Scripture and clearly reiterated that marriage consists of a man and a woman, joined together in a one-flesh (sexual), permanent union.
Fourth, what’s silence got to do with it? Jesus was silent about a lot of things we know are sins. He never spoke about incest, infanticide, pedophilia, domestic violence or bestiality.
You never hear people arguing, “Well, beating your wife must be okay, because Jesus never spoke about it.”
Or substitute racism or slavery as a topic, and you’ll quickly understand why making an argument about Jesus from silence is so ludicrous.
In addition, there are many things we believe, taught in other parts of Scripture, that Jesus didn’t mention.
Author and pastoral counselor Joe Dallas was, at one point, part of the Metropolitan Community Church – the first “gay Christian” denomination. He knew all the revisionist theological arguments, and when he came back to following Christ, he knew all the reasons LGBT activist theology was wrong.
In his book, The Gay Gospel: How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible, Dallas writes:
Some of the Bible’s most important teaching, in fact, does not appear in the Gospels. The doctrine of man’s old and new nature, … the future of Israel and the mystery of the Gentiles, … the explanation and management of the spiritual gifts, … all of these appear after the Gospel accounts of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. … Would anyone say these doctrines are unimportant simply because they weren’t mentioned by Jesus?
Jesus did express a deep, loving heart for people caught in sexual sin. Such people were part of his lineage (see, for example, Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba).
But He never downplayed their sin or pretended it wasn’t sin. Jesus knew the damage and devastation caused by breaking God’s law, enduring it on the cross.
That is why He is able to bring real salvation, forgiveness and healing to each of us.
Related articles and resources:
The Bible and Homosexual Practice, by Dr. Robert A.J. Gagnon
Focus on the Family: Homosexuality Resources
Is God Anti-Gay? And other questions about homosexuality, the Bible and same-sex attractions, By Sam Allberry
The Gay Gospel: How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible, by Joe Dallas
What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? By Kevin DeYoung
What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality? Answering revisionist gay theology
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