Since Jesus didn’t talk about it, why is it a big deal?
That is a standard objection to a number of moral and ethical positions that Christians hold in culture and serve as a deterrent against those positions. Usually it is given during the discussion and is seen as the nail in the coffin, so to speak that shuts the conversation down. So how do we respond to something like this? I want to share with you a reason why you can and should respond to this allegation as part of your Gospel presentation. In particular I’m going to use the example of homosexuality/same sex marriages due to the current climate of our culture. If you are sharing the Gospel or sharing a position on this subject with unbelievers or even self proclaimed liberal Christians, this objection is a staple, fully expect to hear it.
“Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus mention homosexuality or even same sex marriages. If Jesus did not talk about it, He affirms it”.
This line of argument shows a lack of understanding of Scriptural unity. Scripture is a unified whole, although it has numerous human authors and spans a time frame of hundreds of years. Scripture ultimately has God for the author, and each of the 66 books of the Bible (39 OT/27NT) are telling the same story in a linear fashion. In other words, the Bible is not telling 66 differing stories, or 39 accounts against 27. It does not promote differing opinions or even dissent among the authors, but has divine continuity. This is something that shows through when a person studies carefully the text. HOWEVER, for the sake of this discussion, we’ll assume that the person you are talking to does NOT believe that. They see Jesus teaching something different than the OT (which is actually a named heresy, but I digress).
There are four facts everyone can agree on that actually work against the objection. Remember these four facts:
1- The Old Testament did indeed discuss same sex relationships, in an overwhelmingly negative context. There is no positive discussion of these relationships in the OT (or entire Bible, for that matter)
2- Where and when Scripture does talk about marriage in the earthly sense, it describes marriage as man and wife (language is precise, cannot be mistaken).
3- Homosexuality DID exist during the time that Scripture was written AND during the time of Jesus’ ministry. It is not a modern invention, it was used in cultic worship, was practiced by neighboring nations and was very common in Roman culture
4- Jesus taught EXTENSIVELY from the OT. This is important, you simply cannot miss this major point. What Jesus did in His sermons to the many, and His teaching to just a few was an exposition and fuller explanation of the OT. The OT was His source material. Jesus makes direct quotes or illusions to almost all 39 OT books.
Jesus taught quite a bit from one particular Book, Leviticus (this is important because Leviticus is the book most often quoted about God’s position on same sex relationships. Go and read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Jesus make numerous quotes from that one book. So here is the situation.
If homosexuality existed, and if Jesus affirmed same sex relationships/marriages, then He would NOT be silent when teaching from a book that disagreed with his position. Numerous times Jesus said “You have heard it said of old (that is, in the OT), but now I say to you…” concerning murder, hate, adultery, etc. If Jesus did in fact affirm and agree to such behavior, you would rightfully expect to hear Jesus say something like:
“You have heard it said of old that man shall not lie with a man as he does a woman, but now I say to you, lay with anyone you choose as long as it is a faithful and loving relationship”
But He doesn’t. Jesus does not correct or edit any Old Testament passages that he knows his audience is familiar with, as if they might be in error. In fact, Jesus does NOT edit the OT at all
Why doesn't Jesus use His teaching to correct erroneous OT passages?
Whenever someone brings that objection up about same sex marriages, I simply ask them another question, “Where does Jesus affirm such relationships, or accept them specifically”? Then follow up with “When Jesus was teaching from Leviticus, why do you think He did not take the time to correct the teaching on homosexuality, if he disagreed”?
I think the answer is clear.
PS Remember, no apologetic response or Gospel presentation is any good without love, compassion and an eternal concern for a human soul.