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REJOINDER | Dear @Chude, Which Jesus Are You Talking About?

In your recent speech (see transcript) on the theme of gay equality, you raise a number of salient issues on which I wish to share my perspective. I will leave out the philosophical questions so as not to make this intervention too long. Perhaps I may discuss those with you using other media. I however would offer a few thoughts in response to your view on the person of Jesus Christ.

Before that, I find it somewhat curious that given the audience, which I suppose comprised of a significant number of lawyers, your leading statement into the religious section of your argument took the dimension it did. I have copied a section below for the benefit of others reading this.

I find if curious that you moved from suspicion (albeit deep) in the first paragraph to categorically asserting in the third that there is a deliberate “cancelling out of the gay experience”, and then claiming this (without any further support) as proof of homophobia.

The reason I mention this is because, it forms a key (and necessary for a substantial part of the rest of your argument) conclusion from which you then seem to interpret the words and person of Jesus Christ. The Jesus you then paint appears to me to be missing a few pixels, and I shall proceed to discuss this right away.

Necessarily, I will be letting Jesus give testimony by himself. I note that anything outside the actual words of Christ will not hold water in some circles. For the purpose of this intervention then, let us be Red Letter Christians. Again, necessarily, this will be an intervention of some length, and so I’d like to set out as follows, the matters I will be discussing.

  1. Does accepting sinners mean accepting sin?
  2. If Jesus said nothing about Homosexuality, does that mean he approves of it?
  3. If no one is hurt, does that mean God approves?
  4. Jesus did not judge anyone; everyone is welcome. Really?
  5. “The homophobic Agenda of Moses, Paul and early Christian leaders”

Was Jesus a populist hippie?

For those who view Jesus as some populist hippie, with a rainbow halo who came just to spread joie de vivre, talking about loving the sinner, and hating the sin is easily dismissed as semantics. But is it?

Well, for one thing, they do not think it is semantics when they say, “I think what you are talking is nonsense, but I will defend with my blood your right to continue to say it”. When they talk in that way about the concept of freedom of speech, they do not think it is mere semantic. That you can be accepting of a person (sinner) and totally abhor their lifestyle is a similar concept. There is no difficulty at all in reconciling it.

Jesus had no problem with the concept either, although many people imply that if he was so accepting of sinners, then he must be accepting of all they stand for. Not so. At least, that’s not what he said and taught. Once when the Pharisees accused him of hanging out with unscrupulous tax collectors:

Jesus answered them, “It is the sick who need a doctor, not those in good health.  My purpose is to invite sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think themselves already good enough.” Luke 5:31-32 (TLB)

His purpose, he declares is to separate sinners from their sin. It doesn’t get clearer than that. Importantly, the proverb he chooses to use in his response is a double-edged sword: it is at once a rebuke to the hypocritical Pharisees, as well as a condition precedent for the sinner. Jesus is saying, I am a doctor, and I am only here to serve those who recognize that they are sick. Jesus has time for neither the hypocritical Pharisee, nor the person who is at home in their sin. If indeed, Jesus considers homosexuality to be sin, then the gay person who wears it proudly, is saying, dear doctor, I don’t need your cure.

Just as with the tax collector, in encounter after encounter, Jesus made the distinction between the sinner, and their sin, and he was categorical about getting rid of one. for instance, while addressing the prostitute who had poured perfume on his feet to the chagrin of the hypocritical Pharisees, and thieving disciple, Jesus still mentioned the matter of sin, and the need for its forgiveness.

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look! See this woman kneeling here! When I entered your home, you didn’t bother to offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You refused me the customary kiss of greeting, but she has kissed my feet again and again from the time I first came in. You neglected the usual courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has covered my feet with rare perfume. Therefore her sins—and they are many—are forgiven, for she loved me much; but one who is forgiven little, shows little love.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:44-48 (TLB)

Jesus hardly every missed an opportunity to point out that sin had to go. There are many other examples, but it should suffice to add one more; the man whom Jesus healed at the pool of Bethesda. Later when Jesus met him again in the temple, what do you think he brought up? No, he wasn’t high-fiving the fellow, and asking if he was having a now-that-I-am-healed shindig so he could come grab some roasts. Here’s what Jesus had to say:

“Now you are well; don’t sin as you did before, or something even worse may happen to you.” John 5:14 (TLB)

For even the cursory reader of the gospels, there should be very little doubt what Jesus’ stance was on the matter of sin. Granted that, deciding what is sin is another matter.

If Jesus said nothing about Homosexuality, does that mean he approves of it?

To suggest that “because Jesus did not directly address the issue of homosexuality even though we can safely assume that it was practiced during his time on earth, then he had no issue with it” is suspect theology. It is conjecture. Conjecture of the same sort as; “because Jesus Christ didn’t say anything about sexual orgies, even though it was quite rampant in that period, then he approves of it”.

Jesus did not say a lot about sexual immorality as a whole. As a whole, his message largely aimed to crunch the very voluminous list of do-nots that the commandments had become into an easy to remember list of two. Love God, and Love your neighbour. To aim to simplify is however a different thing from being simplistic. Jesus was not simplistic. In reality he raised the standard of behaviour to which the Christian must rise to; way above what the law required, and I shall come back to this shortly.

For now, let me mention that I find (understandably) only one indirect reference to homosexuality when Jesus said, “even wicked Sodom will be better off than such a city on the Judgment Day” (John 5:12). Of course, nothing is more emblematic of the wickedness of Sodom than homosexuality, and again we shall return to this.

If no one is hurt, does that mean God approves?

This is a key plank on which the push for gay equality stands. “We are two consenting adults hurting no one”.

Here we return to the matter of the standard of lifestyle to which Christ demands that his followers must rise to. The argument that we are hurting no one will ironically be more suited for those living under the law. For those living under grace, Jesus raises the bar somewhat higher.

The relevant question is, who is hurt when a man looks at a woman with lust in his heart? I can’t think of anyone, but Jesus taught that that was adultery. Sin.

“The laws of Moses said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say: Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even if it is your best eye! —Causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. Better for part of you to be destroyed than for all of you to be cast into hell. And if your hand—even your right hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. Better that than find yourself in hell. Matthew 5:27-30 TLB

To paraphrase, Jesus is saying, under the Law of Moses, there had to be evidence of intercourse, but all that has changed. If you as much as think about sleeping with another man’s wife, I reckon that you have already done it. And so, I am telling you that this thing is so serious, and puts you in such acute jeopardy of hell, that you’d better use any means necessary to get rid of the tendency”.

When you read it like that, and I can’t see that there is another way to read it, Jesus doesn’t come across as some hippie in these things he said. He is matter of fact telling us repeatedly to flee from sin of any sort.

Jesus did not Judge anyone; everyone is welcome. Really?

Anything stretched out of proportion can become very distorted, and lose its character. I think this happened with your effort at conveying the idea of Jesus not judging anyone. While Jesus was indeed very welcoming of sinners of every hue, he was nevertheless quite clear, and firm about what was required of those who wanted to follow him.

You would be right to consider that Jesus was the first seeker friendly, come-as-you-are type pastor. However, It will not be consistent with the things he taught to say that he was also a just-be-yourself type pastor. Not if he was the one that said;

If any person wills to come after me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow me [cleave steadfastly to me, conform wholly to my example in living and, if need be, in dying also] Luke 9:23 AMPC

Again, when he sent out his disciples to preach in the villages and cities around, His instruction to them doesn’t exactly paint the picture of the ‘tolerant’ guy that many have come to prefer. Here are his words:

“If a town welcomes you, follow these two rules: Eat whatever is set before you. Heal the sick; and as you heal them, say, ‘The Kingdom of God is very near you now.’ “But if a town refuses you, go out into its streets and say, ‘we wipe the dust of your town from our feet as a public announcement of your doom. Never forget how close you were to the Kingdom of God!’ Even wicked Sodom will be better off than such a city on the Judgment Day. Luke 10:8-12 TLB

For certain, Jesus did not condemn anyone outright, but he did make abundantly clear that their own choices would condemn them.  “Announce their doom” he said.

The (basis of the) judgement (indictment, the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence) lies in this: the light has come into the world, and people have loved the darkness rather than and more than the light, for their works (deeds) were evil. For every wrongdoer hates (loathes, detests) the light, and will not come out into the light but shrinks from it, lest his works (his deeds, his activities, his conduct) be exposed and reproved. John 3:19-20 AMPC

Therein is the key, as many as were willing for their deeds to be reproved, like the tax collector, and the prostitute, Jesus embraced them. As many as realized their need of a cure from the disease of sin, the physician embraced them. But those who want to be followers on their own terms will like the rich young ruler, invariably turn back in sorrow at the things that he demands that they give up.

Were Moses, Paul and other early church leaders homophobes?

For obvious reasons, I have so far refrained completely from quoting anyone but Jesus. You are of the view that Moses who wrote large sections of the bible that gave the law, and Paul who wrote significant portions of the new testament that explicitly discuss homosexuality where somehow writing their biases into the scripture. This is a significant assertion but let us leave that aside.

Assuming (without conceding) that this is correct; that Moses and Paul somehow let their own bias taint the message, it would be helpful to look at what other disciples/apostles might have said about this matter.

Peter who was clearly a leader in the early church, and Jude, one of the brothers of Jesus make references to the subject, which should suffice to let us know that it was not merely something that Paul concocted. In both cases, the reference was to sexual immorality holding up Sodom (which is emblematic of homosexuality) as an example. Jude speaks of “certain men who have crept in stealthily and now pervert the grace of God into wanton immorality”. He goes on to say that although Sodom and Gomorrah stand as warning, there were still folks who go on to engage is similar perversion and corruption of the body. Peter the apostle says essentially the same thing.

[The wicked are sentenced to suffer just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns – which likewise gave themselves to impurity and indulged in unnatural vice and sensual perversity – are laid out {in plain sight] as exhibit of perpetual punishment [to warn] of everlasting fire. Nevertheless, these dreamers also corrupt the body… (Jude 7-8a AMPC)

And he condemned to ruin and extinction the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, reducing them to ashes [and thus] sets them forth as an example to those who would be ungodly; And he rescued righteous Lot, greatly worn out and distressed by the wanton ways of the ungodly and lawless. For that just man, living [there] among them, tortured his righteous soul every day with what he saw and heard of [their] unlawful and wicked deeds. Now if [all these things are true, the be sure] the Lord knows how to rescue the godly out of temptations and trials, and how to keep the ungodly under chastisement until the day of judgement and doom, and particularly those who walk after the flesh and indulge in the lust of pollution and passion and scorn and despise authority. 2 Peter 2:6-10 AMPC

If we discount Paul, what do we do with Jude and Peter? What do we do with the Lord in fact? For he also referenced the wickedness of Sodom. In reality, it stands to reason that Jude and Peter were simply obeying the instruction of Jesus to “make disciples of all nations, by teaching them the things that I have thought you” Matt 28:19-20.

In conclusion

The image of Jesus as someone who was soft on sin is not something that we can support with scripture, even if we limit scripture to only the words that Jesus spoke.

That Jesus didn’t teach specifically about homosexuality cannot be stretched to mean that he approved of it. In fact, taking every other thing he said together, we can be certain that he did not, because he mentioned the wickedness of Sodom and his disciples (not counting Paul) continued in that tradition, linking it directly to sexual immorality with a description that leaves no doubt that it includes, and chiefly refers to homosexuality.

Jesus was not a populist. While he will pursue the last sinner with unwavering zeal, he will not lower his standard to accommodate sin. Populists don’t say things like..

 Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way the leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it. Matt 7:12-13.

Most importantly, Jesus leaves us an example and instructions to do just as he will. Love the sinner. hate the sin.

 

Culled from https://thecolonists.wordpress.com/2017/12/15/dear-chude-which-jesus-are-you-talking-about/

 

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Copyright 2017 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to www.signalng.com and other relevant sources.




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