Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Summer 1998

George Broadhead considers the likely attitude of the Jesus of the gospels towards homosexuality.

Jesus and Homosexuality

by George Broadhead

Gay Christians and their apologists are very fond of pointing out that Jesus said nothing in the Gospels about homosexuality and that he would have condemned the Church’s oppression of lesbians and gays. The clear implication is that he would have taken a benign attitude towards lesbian and gay sexual practices which are clearly condemned in both Old and New Testaments of the Bible. It has even been suggested that Jesus was himself gay and that, were he alive today, he would support the campaign for lesbian and gay rights.

It is true that there is no record in the Gospels (the only sources for what Jesus allegedly said and did) of him referring to homosexuality, but it is absurd to conclude from this that he would have taken a more liberal stance on homosexual practices than his contemporaries, and condoned them. There is not a shred of evidence to support this conclusion. On the contrary, the views he expresses in the Gospels about other aspects of sexual morality all point in the opposite direction.

He supports the statement in Genesis that in the beginning God created humankind male and female, and uses this as a basis for ethical guidance: That which God has joined [i.e. the heterosexual married relationship] let not man put asunder.

In the Sermon on the Mount, he stresses the importance of adhering strictly to the Mosaic Law – a law which required the death penalty for homosexual acts: Do not suppose that I have come to abolish the Law and the prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to complete. I tell you this: so long as heaven and earth endure, not a letter, not a stroke, will disappear from the Law until all that must happen has happened. If any man therefore sets aside even the least of the Law’s demands, and teaches others to do the same, he will have the lowest place in the kingdom of Heaven.

And not content with insisting on compliance with the Law, he wants to go further in condemning what he regards as sexual sins. Whilst the Law condemns adultery, he goes so far as to claim that lustful looks are equally culpable: You have learned what they were told, “Do not commit adultery.” But what I tell you is this: If a man looks at a woman with a lustful eye, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Whilst the Law allowed for divorce in certain circumstances, Jesus condemns it outright and claims it makes people adulterers: They were told, “A man who divorces his wife must give her a note of dismissal.” But what I tell you is this: If a man divorces his wife for any cause other than unchastity he involves her in adultery; and anyone who marries a woman so divorced commits adultery.

There is also a passage in Matthew’s Gospel in which he advises his followers to mutilate themselves rather than give way to sexual temptation – advice taken literally by some, notably the Greek Christian writer Origen who castrated himself in an attempt to get rid of his sexual urges.

Thus, the prudery and puritanism which has characterised the Church’s attitude to sex from the earliest times can be traced back directly to Jesus himself, and the baleful worship of virginity, celibacy and sexual abstinence which has flourished throughout Christian history is all there in germ in the Gospels.

If Jesus were himself gay (and, again, there is not a shred of evidence for this in the Gospels), he would seem to have much in common with those closeted, repressed gay members of the Church of England’s General Synod who voted in favour of the homophobic motion carried overwhelmingly at its meeting in 1987.

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Created : Wednesday, 1998-06-24 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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