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Maybe Jesus DOES Talk about “Homosexuality”?

In my recent post I pointed out that Jesus said nothing – nada! – about same sex relations in any of his surviving teachings.   One blog member pointed out a post on a different blog by New Testament scholar Scot McKnight arguing that there are there passages in the Gospels where in fact Jesus *may* have been referring to homosexuality, in condemnatory terms.  I thought, HUH?  THAT’s interesting!  I better look.  So I did.   I don’t think there’s any way this is right, but you can decide for yourself.

This will take two posts.  I’ll cite the the passages, then Scot’s assessment of them (which I summarize), and my response.

Several things to say at the outset.   I have known Scott (not well, but a bit) for many years.  He is a bona fide scholar of the New Testament, a well-trained and careful interpreter of the text.  He is also a committed evangelical Christian, and an interesting one: a few years ago he “converted” (or at least moved on or over) to join the Episcopal church, but still maintains his evangelical views and commitments.  For years he was a professor at North Park Theologial seminary; now he is at Northern Seminary, also in Chicago.  He has published a number of books, principally on the Jesus and the Gospels.

He and I don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things when it comes to these topics, but we’re not light-years apart and we are both pretty much playing the same game.  I do think his personal theological commitments occasionally leads him to see things in the text that are probably not there.  But he probably thinks the same thing of me.

The post where he discusses the matter is here:  https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/04/06/did-jesus-talk-about-homosexuality/?fbclid=IwAR1zS38fRp–SbQOe6gfYavNJBWik6BWkWCeL7Qm-XyDsgNCiOKL0utbuJ4   You can read it yourself to make sure I’m summarizing it correctly.

Scot agrees that Jesus says nothing *explicit* about homosexuality.  But he does think that there are three passages that *may* be referring to it, one of which he is pretty sure does.  He is basing some of this on the work on the Bible and homosexuality by James Loader, who thinks the Bible does condemn it BUT does not agree with that condemnation himself.  I’m not sure what Scot’s own views are (just because I haven’t looked into it).

So here are two of the passages. ….

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    Ficino  November 24, 2019

    “work on the Bible and homosexuality by James Loader”

    Bart, do you mean Bill (William R.G.) Loader?

  2. Avatar
    Apocryphile  November 25, 2019

    I don’t think there’s any mystery here. I don’t think it takes a lot of detailed scholarly analysis to conclude that the reason Jesus doesn’t specifically refer to homosexual acts is probably because, at least in his cultural milieu, they were already understood by his Jewish listeners to be beyond the pale. If we wish to follow Jesus’ explicit teachings (on anything), most of us would have a very hard time living our lives in the modern world. I don’t think anyone, even Evangelical Christians, wishes to go down that road, but then we also need to acknowledge that we all are picking and choosing which of his teachings we wish to follow.

  3. Avatar
    cristianp  November 26, 2019

    Most people probably think that their convictions are the result of years of experience and objective analysis of the information they have available. But the reality is that all of us (some more than others) fall into a very common mistake that goes totally unnoticed and is called confirmation bias. And I think this is the case. Here in Chile we say “look for the fifth leg of the cat”

  4. fefferdan
    fefferdan  November 29, 2019

    Bart… not all of us wear sweaters of mixed fabric! 😉

    Seriously, though, I never noticed before that Matthew places virtually the same quote in Jesus’ mouth both in Mt. 5 [if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away] and Mt 18 [If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.] The context of Mt 5 gives the quote a clearly sexual connotation. I argued earlier that the issue was masturbation, not homosexuality, and cited support from ancient rabbis for this speculation. But in Mt. 18, the quote does not have this connotation, and I agree it’s a stretch to see it as referring to child abuse.

    Question — any thoughts as to why Mt. included this quote twice? What did it refer to in Mt. 5, where Matthew clearly places it in a sexual context, if not masturbation? And if it doesn’t refer to pederasty in Mt. 18, what did Matthew [or Jesus] have in mind. Maybe he forgot he had used the quote earlier?

    • Bart
      Bart  December 2, 2019

      If the “hand” was all he talked about, I could possibly see it. But foot and eye? It’s a stretch.

  5. Avatar
    Chrishuntley  November 29, 2019

    Bart,
    If anything, Jesus is easy on homosexuality. Remember in Matthew 10 when Jesus is condemning towns for not taking in his followers, he says it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment. (And we know what they were known for)

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