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What Did Jesus Teach About Homosexuality?

guest post

This is a guest post by Denny Burk. He is the author of What Is the Meaning of Sex?.


Silence Equals Support?

In a 2012 article for Slate online, Will Oremus asked a provocative question: Was Jesus a homophobe?

The article was occasioned by a story about a gay teenager in Ohio who was suing his high school after school officials prohibited him from wearing a T-shirt that said, “Jesus Is Not a Homophobe.”

Oremus was less concerned about the legal issues of the story than he was about the accuracy of the statement on the shirt. Oremus suggests that Jesus’s views on homosexuality were more inclusive than Paul’s. He writes,

While it’s reasonable to assume that Jesus and his fellow Jews in first-century Palestine would have disapproved of gay sex, there is no record of his ever having mentioned homosexuality, let alone expressed particular revulsion about it. . . . Never in the Bible does Jesus himself offer an explicit prohibition of homosexuality.

Oremus seems to suggest that since Jesus never explicitly mentioned homosexuality, he must not have been very concerned about it.

There are at least two reasons that we should be skeptical of this view.

Two Problems

First, there are many ethical issues about which Jesus made no explicit statement. That observation hardly means that his moral vision has no relevance to those issues.

Jesus never said anything explicit about abortion, same-sex marriage, or child molestation. But it would be an incredible claim to conclude from that fact that Jesus’s teaching is irrelevant to our ethical assessment of those issues.

Second, Jesus did speak explicitly about sexual immorality in general and the nature of marriage. He denounced the former (e.g., Matt. 5:28; 15:19) and defined the latter according to Genesis 2:24: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh” (Matt. 19:5 AT; par. Mark 10:7–8).

Jesus affirmed the covenanted union of one man and one woman as the only normative expression of human sexuality. It is incredible to suggest that these words from Jesus have no bearing on the question of homosexuality. They surely do.

Jesus vs. Paul

So Oremus has misconstrued the relevance of Jesus’s teaching to the homosexual question. Nevertheless, he goes on to contrast Jesus’s attitude with that of the apostle Paul. He writes:

Even if Jesus viewed homosexuality as a sin, he had a penchant for reaching out to sinners rather than shunning them. . . . Not all of Jesus’ followers took such a tender view, however. In Romans 1, Paul denounced gay sex as unnatural—an egregious example of pagan decadence—and said it would bring the wrath of God.

Here is another iteration of the hermeneutical cage match that is so popular today—the view that Jesus and Paul are fundamentally at odds over a variety of ethical issues.

On the one side is Jesus: peace-loving, enemy-forgiving, egalitarian, and inclusive with regard to homosexuals.

On the other side is Paul: war-loving, death penalty–supporting, patriarchal, and exclusionary with regard to homosexuals.

Whereas Jesus was all love and tolerance, Paul was about “wrath” and intolerance. And so the slogan from the T-shirt appears to be vindicated. Despite the hang-ups of people like Paul, Jesus was not a homophobe.

A False Fight

Those who stage hermeneutical cage matches between Paul and Jesus are staging a contest that neither Jesus nor Paul would ever have tolerated. The approach tends to undermine the New Testament’s claim to be a normative basis for ethics by making the black letters subservient to the red letters.

At the end of the day, this argument is not about the color of letters but about the nature of Scripture. Those who wish to establish biblical authority over the long haul will avoid the cage-match approach. And those who truly wish to be red-letter Christians will heed the words of Paul and the other apostolic authors of Scripture as the very words of Christ.

This post was adapted from What Is the Meaning of Sex? (excerpt) by Denny Burk.


Denny Burk (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as associate pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Burk edits The Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and speaks and writes extensively about gender and sexuality. He blogs regularly at DennyBurk.com.

A Poem for Valentine’s Day by John Piper

Excerpted from Velvet Steel: The Joy of Being Married to You, a collection of poems by John Piper.


None But You

Whose tears have soaked my collar dark?
None but yours, no, none but yours.

Whose sorrows leave the deepest mark?
None but yours, no, none but yours.

Who gave herself to me alone?
None but you, no, none but you.

Who is the only one I’ve known?
None but you, no, none but you.

There is no other I desire,
None but you, no, none but you.

Till death my deepest friend, my fire:
None but you, no, none but you.


John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is teacher and founder of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary. He served for 33 years as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and is author or editor of more than 50 books, including This Momentary Marriage, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, and Velvet Steel (excerpt).

 

February 14, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Life / Doctrine,Marriage,Marriage / Family,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

Learning to Love in the Midst of Suffering

This guest post is from Paul Miller, best-selling author of A Praying Life. His latest book is A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships (January 2014).


A Moral Collapse

Western society is in the midst of an unprecedented moral collapse. It is not just Christian moral values that are collapsing, but ancient pagan ones as well. For instance, the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar had multiple lovers, mostly arranged by his wife Olivia, so she could retain control over him, but the public face that Augustus and Olivia presented was of a happily married couple. Marriage was honored even though it wasn’t followed. Instinctively, pagans knew you needed to keep marriage front and center. In fact, when Nero blessed gay marriages the pagan revulsion was a key element of his downfall. Something new is going on in our culture that has never happened before.  It is creating moral havoc, leaving people’s lives in shambles. Let me explain.

A Theology of Feelings

A young married woman named “Sue”, a member of a strong evangelical church, told a close friend of mine recently after the church service almost as an aside, “I think I’ve outgrown my marriage.” When I heard this I had trouble suppressing the laughter. I said, “So her marriage vow ’til death do us part’ was just how she felt on the day of her wedding?”

Sue’s reflection was a perfect summary of Oprah’s theology of feelings applied to life. Feelings trumped commitment. But don’t blame Oprah. Orpah is just channeling 19th century thinkers like Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. “I’ve outgrown my marriage” is just another verse to Whitman’s poem “Song of MyseIf.”

Notice Sue’s choice of language. Sue used therapeutic language (the need for growth) to mask her self-will. To paraphrase her, “I’ve grown as a person. In fact, I’ve outgrown my husband, ready for a new relationship to enlarge my spirit.” Her self-deceit is breathtaking. Sue presents herself on an upward, Oprah-like trajectory of self-improvement, when in fact she is spiraling into herself, a black hole of narcissism.

It reminded me of Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss (greeting Jesus as a friend)—as if Jesus didn’t notice that Judas had 200 torch-bearing soldiers behind him, all armed to the teeth! Jesus brilliantly unmasks Judas’ self-deceit by comparing his outer presentation (the kiss) with his inner motive (betrayal). Jesus probes Judas’ soul, “Are you betraying me with a kiss?” It is a plea for integrity. So to Sue I ask, “Are you betraying your marriage vows with the language of self-improvement? Are you masking your narcissism with words of love?”

Sharing in Christ’s Sufferings

I’ve written A Loving Life to the Sue’s of this world and especially to their spouses—to the modern widows and widowers who have been discarded or found themselves trapped in an uneven or broken relationship, where they are loving without love in return. I don’t want them to just endure or grit it out, but in this hothouse of suffering to learn to love. I want Sue’s husband to learn “the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death, to somehow attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:11).

So instead of being cranky or even bitter Christians, harping on our culture’s moral decline or the unfairness of our life, we can become overcomers who are filled with hope because of the resurrection of Christ. God specializes in capturing evil to do his wonders.  That is what the cross and resurrection are all about!


Paul E. MillerPaul E. Miller is executive director of seeJesus as well as the best-selling author of A Praying Life, among other works. With the help of his ministry staff, Miller creates and conducts interactive discipleship seminars throughout the world. He and his wife, Jill, live in the Philadelphia area and have six children as well as a growing number of grandchildren. His latest book is A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships.

 

January 15, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Culture,Life / Doctrine,Marriage,Marriage / Family,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

Conflict: Recognize, Repent, Refocus, Replace

This is the last post in our series on conflict with Robert Jones, author of Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling our Conflicts. If you missed the first two posts, you can find them here: 3 Ways We Must Handle Conflict and Conflict: When Desires Become Demands

1. Recognize the Ascending Desire

The first step is to recognize which specific desire tends to ascend to your throne, become a demand, and control you—and to catch it when it starts this ascent. Our goal is to become increasingly “heart smart”—to seize the first occasion of a rising desire and to call it what it is. The three tests mentioned previously may help you: (1) Does it consume my thoughts? (2) Do I sin to get it? (3) Do I sin when I don’t get it?

2. Repent of Letting the Desire Rule

As we have seen in various passages above, repentance is the frequent call from the Lord to those who struggle with sins in the heart. Here we must be keenly specific: For what do we repent? For our desires? No, the desires are not the problem. In fact, having desires is good—they remind us to pray, to submit ourselves to God, to seek godly directions, and so forth. We must not try to deaden, neuter, or deny our legitimate desires. Instead, we must repent not of the desire but of the “rulingness” of the desire, that is, the way it has begun to ascend the throne and become a demand. The desire itself is not the evil in view; it is the propensity for it to climb and take over that we must resist.

Whenever we consider repentance, we must keep one vital truth uppermost in our thinking. God always calls for repentance in response to grace already given.

3. Refocus on God and His Grace, Provisions, and Promises

Third, we should refocus our hearts by resubmitting our desires under the throne of Jesus’s lordship and fastening our eyes on God’s presence and promises in our life. This includes a recommitment to please, adore, trust, and obey him. In a short, condensed insertion, James 4:6 puts it this way: But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

4. Replace Sinful Responses with Christlike Graces

The final step is continual and ongoing. God calls us in progressive ways to replace the previously ascending but now resubmitted desires with fresh, ongoing replacements: relational graces (we’ll consider Eph. 4:1–3 and Col. 3:12–14 in chap. 7), good works (Eph. 2:10; Titus 3:14), and Spirit-generated fruit (Gal. 5:22–23; Col. 1:9–12). While the specifics must be tailored to each individual, they often include learning contentment, self-control, prayer, biblical peacemaking, forgiveness, godly listening, godly speaking, and the ninefold fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Robert Jones serves as a biblical counseling professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a certified biblical counselor, a Christian conciliator, an adjunct instructor, and a church reconciliation trainer with Peacemaker Ministries. Jones is the author of Pursuing PeaceUprooting Anger, and has written numerous ministry booklets and articles.

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Conflict: When Desires Become Demands

Conflict in this world is inevitable. The question is, how will we handle it?

We’re glad you’ve joined us for Part 2 in a series on conflict with Robert Jones, author of Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts. Yesterday we started with Part 1, 3 Ways We Must Handle Conflict.

One major cause for conflict is when a desire for a good thing becomes a James 4:1-3 type of demand.

3 tests to help you detect conflict-causing demands:

  1. Does it consume my thoughts? Do I obsess about it? Does my mind drift to it when I don’t have to think about other things (like when I am showering)?
  2. Do I sin to get it? Do I manipulate people or situations to get what I want? Do I bargain or nag or guilt trip?
  3. Do I sin when I don’t get it? Do I pout or explode or pull away or gossip about someone when he or she doesn’t give me my desired thing?

While my initial desire might be legitimate, it becomes sinful when it grows into a demand. And when it becomes a demand and you don’t meet it—and of course you can never meet every demand of my selfish heart—I then judge you in my heart and condemn you. In the final step, my internal judgment produces some outward expression of punishment toward you. I might yell at you, speak sarcastically about you, gossip about you, or avoid you.

4 Statements to help you unearth conflict-causing demands:

  • “You must give me ____  or I’ll be angry at you or cold toward you or . . .”
  • “If only ____ would change, I would be satisfied or content.”
  • “If I don’t get ____, then I become depressed, angry, or anxious.”
  • “What I think I need or I desperately want is ____.”

Left unchecked, any desire has the potential to overthrow and remove Jesus. The desires of my flesh versus Spirit civil war (Gal. 5:16–26; 1 Pet. 2:11–12) continually plots a coup d’état against King Jesus as my rightful Lord. Apart from grace the remnant sin in my heart would overthrow my enthroned King.

How does God want us to handle our desires that grow into demands? A simple alliterated outline provides a plan: Recognize, Repent, Refocus, and Replace.

Join us tomorrow to see what Dr. Jones has to say about this plan.

Robert Jones serves as a biblical counseling professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a certified biblical counselor, a Christian conciliator, an adjunct instructor, and a church reconciliation trainer with Peacemaker Ministries. Jones is the author of Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts and has written numerous ministry booklets and articles.

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