One of the things one hears with frequency in our current cultural soiree with regard to homosexuality goes something like this: “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality”, and of course the intended upshot is fairly obvious. As the reasoning goes, because we can find in the words of Jesus, recorded in the gospels, no mention at all, much less disapproval of, homosexuality, then Jesus, at the very least, must have not disapproved of homosexual contact, and perhaps even, by His silence and in accord with His (imagined) value of tolerance, gave tacit approval to it.
Before I answer this, I’ll just mention that this post isn’t, per se, about homosexuality; I have made my viewpoints pretty clear on the subject, and I won’t belabor them here. Rather, this post is more about the stunted reasoning that is often advanced with regard to the stance of Jesus on the subject.
The answer to this supposed silence isn’t particularly difficult, but in this age in which serious thinking is such a rare commodity, it’s surprising how much traction this pseudo-argument gets. But here is the truth: I have been preaching sermons, as recently as yesterday, for over 20 years. I have written down many, many times over the number of words that the gospels record Jesus as speaking. Do you know that in all of my preaching, those several million words undoubtedly, I have never once said one word admonishing people against incest. I have not spent any time, to my remembrance, on some other detestable practices that I won’t mention here. I doubt I’ve ever said, from the pulpit, “it’s a sin to beat your wives, men!” Not a word–and I have spoken, as I said, millions of words–whereas the number of recorded words of Jesus has to be, what, in the hundreds, several thousand at best? Would anyone seriously suggest, on the basis of my silence, that I condone such things? Of course not. Rather, there are things that anyone with any discernment at all would know that I stand against, without my having to say so.
Rewind to Jesus’ day: we have this annoying habit sometimes of trying to project our sensibilities, our issues, on Jesus and the Bible, and expect that His Word will directly address just the thing we are asking in just the way we are asking it. Further, we ignore the cultural milieu from which Jesus ministered. In Jesus’ day, there wasn’t a burning question regarding the rightness/wrongness of homosexual relations–much like today, no one seriously defends child abuse. For that reason, I haven’t preached on “don’t beat your kid”–and for the same reason, let me suggest that Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality.
This “argument from silence” isn’t really much of an argument at all, once you get just a hair beneath the surface.