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Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

What did Jesus have to say about homosexuality?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

(CNS photo courtesy Catholic Communication Campaign)

If you were to read all four gospels thoroughly in search of Jesus’ teachings on homosexuality it would be a futile endeavor. Not only would you come to the end of the gospels without finding anything attributed to Jesus on the subject, you wouldn’t even find a single reference to the issue in any context.

In fact, there are only a handful of references to homosexuality in the entire Bible, but they are found in the Old Testament and Paul’s writings. (To put it in perspective, while there are only seven references to homosexuality, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of references to economic justice and the laws governing the accumulation and distribution of wealth.)

Jesus’ silence on the subject suggests that an issue which can be controversial and/or fraught with emotion these days was simply not a central issue in his lifetime 2,000 years ago in the land of Palestine. The fact that he didn’t address this issue leaves us all to ponder what he might say were he here today.

The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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  • Alex

    Jesus did address this issue (of Homosexuality) when he made the catch-all statement : I did not come to change the law (which calls homosexuality an abomination) or the prophets but to fulfill them.” When in doubt, I turn to Jesus’ parable THE PRODIGAL SON. In this parallel, the son was unhappy living under the authority (representing the Word of God) of his Father’s house. The gracious Father allowed the son to decide whether to go or stay. Likewise, it is our choice whether to be under God’s authority or not. The Father says “choose life or death…I urge you to choose life.” Anyway, the son leaves the Father’s house, of his own accord. After a few years of living outside of the Father’s authority, the son finds himself morally bankrupt, hungry for what he had abandoned. He found himself living in a ‘pit’, eating with the pigs. Yet, he knew that it was he who made the decision to leave. The Father HAD NOT run him off. When he came to his senses and decided that ‘it is better to be a servant (obeying the law) in my Father’s house than to starve amongst the pigs”, He MADE THE CHOICE to RETURN (repented) to his Father’s house. Upon approaching the house, his Father RAN to him and kissed him on the neck, forgiving him immediately, never to bring up the sins again. The son tried to confess that he had made a mistake but the Father cared only that his son was back at home. HOWEVER, the Father DID NOT stop being the Father. He DID NOT leave his son in his filthy garments. The son was bathed in the Word of God, a new garment was placed on him along with some new shoes and a signet ring was placed on his finger. All of this cleansing took place via the Word of God. The Father did not change; it was the son who repented. The son was not left in his filth (sin). 1 Corinthians 6:10 says: DO NOT BE DECEIVED. Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexuals nor thieves nor the covetous nor the drunkards nor the swindlers will inherit the Father’s house (Kingdom). WITHOUT REPENTANCE, THERE IS NO FORGIVENESS OF SINS. This thread is a bout the gay lifestyle, however, woe unto ALL who fall into one of these other categories. I would invite you to do a study of the Korban, the sacrificial sacrifice. Many of today’s pastors preach salvation by grace thru the death and blood of Jesus Christ. This is partly true. His death, his sacrifice, like the KORBAN, eternally paid for our UN-INTENTIONAL sins. HOWEVER, the KORBAN does NOTHING for intentional sins. This is why in Hebrews 10:26 we read: If you continue in your deliberate sin after you have been given the truth, there IS NO MORE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. And this is why Jesus says: If when you are at the alter, you remember that you have offended your brother, leave your offering at the altar and go and reconcile with your brother FIRST, AND THEN come back to the altar with your gifts and sacrifices. LISTEN, if you continue on with your sin (as defined in the Father’s Book of the Law), you will not be admitted into the Kingdom. But it will not be the Father or the Son who has condemned you. YOU HAVE CHOSEN; YOU HAVE CONDEMNED YOURSELF. You maintain your free will. Shalom, and I love you guys.

  • fireicephoenix97 .

    It is interesting the disputes that go on over the bible. Folks need to really keep in mind the the scriptures were written by man and while many do not know this, but most of the scriptures do not have a confirmed author…they are suspected. Not only that but the bible has been translated so many times and through translation comes the translators interpretations. Also, many of the words from the original texts had a different meaning back then. It is like crossing the Webster Dictionary with the Urban Dictionary. Definitions have been changed. So what does anyone know the the information in the bible is exact? Try looking up the origins of hell! The visuals came from the place outside of Jerusalem where they burned rubbish and the bodies of executed criminals. It was a penalty for wrong doing in the physical life, not spiritual life. Most religion is passed down from a legacy of interpretations and when Christianity was spreading way back when, many priests used scare tactics to get pagan to convert. Ya’ll should do some research on the growth of the religion itself. It is pretty ugly. And you won’t find this from a Christian author. I am not saying anything against Jesus, but that it is likely to be a guarantee hat much has changed do to the desired power of the early church authorities. What we know now and what is taught is a descendent of those teachings back then. It is like a countries history book. You we read about way the country stands for and the heroic efforts. but you have to read another country’s history book to find out what dirty work happened. Even after all that, how much of it is true to a ‘T’? We don’t know. That is why I don’t understand all the debate. Even if it was inspired by God, man has corrupted it.

  • Jayjona

    To Judge others is to open ourselves to the same judgement. We are called to love our neighbors regardless if we disagree with their choices. REMEMBER…..We are to use our words in the direction of truth and love……not judgement.

  • Barry Foster

    I accept that Jesus was real and meant well. But I do not believe he was god or the literal son of god. Nor do I believe in ANY god. And if you Christians are honest, you will admit there really is not much difference between us. Mankind has invented an estimated 10,000 or so gods throughout history. I disbelieve all 10,000 of them. Christians disbelieve 9,999 of them. Christians are just a very tiny bit less atheistic than me. I make no exceptions. They make one. That’s the only difference between us. When you understand why you disbelieve all those 9,999 other gods, then you will understand why I and many others disbelieve yours. Now think logically… Why should the moral code supposedly claimed by this one particular god be any more relevant than the moral codes of those 9,999 other gods?

    If your religion tells you not to be homosexual, fine – don’t be homosexual. But please stop telling others what to do or believe. Your religious codes should never form the basis for secular laws applicable to everyone.

    If there is a God, I sincerely doubt he really cares whether we believe in him or not. Jealously and vanity are qualities of men, not gods. No, I think any God would much prefer that we live full happy lives, show kindness to others, and do no harm. Such a person is much more deserving of reward in any afterlife than the imperfect person who merely believes in God.

  • Barry Foster

    Christians who oppose homosexuality and same-sex marriage will almost invariably cite the Old Testament among their reasons. But I have always wondered how Christians can use the OT to justify today’s moral codes when there are so many other things in the OT that are considered immoral and reprehensible today. Take human sacrifice for example. Abraham was fully prepared to murder his own child because he believed it was what his God wanted. Of course we know now that killing your own children can never be moral or justified by today’s standards. Or can it? If a Christian truly believed that their God commanded them to kill their own child, would they do it? I am sure some would. After all, many parents gave their children the Jim Jones kool-aid. I am just wondering how a group of people who claim moral superiority could behave so immorally themselves. Perhaps it is because their notions of morality are rather fluid, selective and dependent on the circumstances.

  • Brett Rocker

    Pseudo christians; YAY!!!! And you wonder why intelligent people run the other way when we see you in public

  • Michael Sweaney

    Are you serious? He didn’t mention it because you would have been stoned under the Mosaic law, that’s like saying “He didn’t mention that it’s wrong to kill me”, it goes without saying.

    To scripture, Romans 1 describes Homosexuality as the highest state of depravity, read if you really believe what the bible says

    24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

  • John Byde

    He didn’t mention wife-beating either. Guess that makes it okay. I’m just off to beat my wife.

  • Bruce Colin Evans

    Quite right to point out that it is not the book (Bible) itself that is at fault for the misuse of the text held within it’s covers. Having said that, i personally have not seen much good use of it. I also have reservations about the entirety of it’s text being the word of God when it can be put to such imperfect use all the while claiming God is perfect. How does something imperfect come from such perfection? In closing I would say that Jesus is the only character in the Bible who’s life and teachings are above reproach and I would caution taking to much example from anyone else. After all, does not the word or title Christian mean to be Christlike? I think practicing what is preached would be a good place to start!

  • Bruce

    The Bible is an interesting piece of pseudo history that has, more often than not, been used to divide, condemn and justify certain religious faction’s prejudices, double standards and atrocities. As I recall, having read the Bible, Jesus stood for tolerance and absolute compassion. Something the younger religions of today i.e. Judaic, Christian and Islamic. give lip service to but, do not in fact practice. Paul, who never actually in the flesh met Jesus (no matter what he claims) simply forced his own brand of veiled bigotry on a very young religion and it has been down hill ever since. By the way, Billions of Buddhists, Hindus and other various faiths would take serious issue with the claim about the “Trinity” being believed in by almost everyone, the typically arrogant and all to common position of the modern Christian. In my opinion, other than life itself, the creators greatest gift to we humans came in the form of our intellect. It might be wise to begin using it before speak most certainly before we act!

    • theThinker

      When properly used, the Bible is the guide to joy and love of everyone.

      People will be fallible people, though. They will use the Bible to judge, condemn, and look down on their bretheren. …. but that’s not really the Bible’s fault, is it?

  • Steve

    Jesus specifically condemned “Fornication” which includes any sex act outside of marriage. Jesus said that he came “to fulfil the law,” that is, the Mosaic law given by God. That law was very clear on issues about marriage, adultery, fornication and homosexuality. Also, anyone who believes in the “Trinity” (almost everyone), believes that Jesus IS God and therefore did speak about such issues in the Hebrew scriptures.

    Do we not accept the testimony of His Apostles as representing Jesus’ thoughts? That said, Jesus does not execute those who do not live up to God’s perfect standard, He asks them to change, to control their desires. The only penalty for refusing is losing out on the chance of everlasting life.

  • Eric Vasquez

    As a Christian… It puzzles me why there isn’t a commandment against it. To hear some speak/rail against it, you’d swear it was the worst crime on the calendar. Still, no 11th commandment and Jesus doesn’t bring it up. Sorta confusing lack of biblical language for something supposedly so bad.

    • kman

      No its not confusing your just overthinking and not accepting. The commandments are absolute rules not to be broken. . And everthing else are trials to see if we are worthy by resisting tempation. This is why we are here. So if you give into your sins and dont try to come back and ask for forgivness you will eventually brake a command to a point where you can not be forgiven. Plus commandment 10 does say no to homosexuality. And understand man means mankind so it implies both man and woman

      • Barry Foster

        I have a question about those Ten Commandments. The story goes that Moses went up the mountain and personally received these commandments handwritten by god himself. Wow! How awesome is that! Just think how important, precious and valuable would be those stone tablets autographed by God himself. They would fetch millions on eBay! But what happens when Moses brings them down from the mountain? The first thing he does is smash them to bits on the ground when he sees all the partying that has been going on in his camp during his parley with God. And then, despite the fresh commandment from God himself saying “Thou shalt not kill!”, what does Moses do? He orders his security team to kill 3000 people in his camp. Does this really make sense to any sane person? Or does it just read like some bad fiction filled with plot holes?

  • JuliePurple

    Does it occur to anyone else that too many people are waaaayy too interested in other people’s private stuff?

    • John Byde

      I agree Julie. Take Mayor Reed who sacks his firechief for a book he wrote in his own time and as a private citizen. Shameful!

  • philip cobbinah

    Jesus Christ talked of Marriage as it was intended to be, by referring to Genesis when He said “Have you not read that He who made them made them Man and Woman?”

    And furthermore, to think homosexuality was not known of during Christ’s time will be false since it was written of in the old testament, He just addressed the matter of marriage as He should have, by laying down the laws of marriage, adultery and even divorce, He did not say some and leave some in this case, so there is no room for assumptions, He ordained marriage as it was ordained by God in the book of Genesis, according to the Bible, so all Christians must take note. That said we must all love our neighbors as ourselves, by giving them the truth as well.

    Thank you for reading :)

  • craig

    Iets Not worry about labels for thats all, they are, straight, gay, bisexual and all the rest let’s not be dragged into something that doesn’t matter, for it is just the same as people going and saying am I straight do u think I’m straight do I look straight in this! What does it matter, I can see that people want equality, the church sometimes gets it wrong people say the wrong thing, some of them are judging calling people sinner, where as if you come to Jesus he calls us friend so go to Him get you’re resolve from him, and listen to someone who loves you for who you are and who u can become for God has a plan that goes beyond ours see he is doing a work soften you’re hearts towards God and ask Him to show you how much he loves you, He longs to show you, you just need to ask Him cry out to Him basically it is you doing this that ALLOWS God to do just that and show you how much He Loves you realising this from been shown by God will be the best thing that has happened in you’re life, the answer you’ve been looking for you will also find the Joy of the Lord is a Real Joy that is happiness and contentment which bring peace that supasses all understanding God Bless

    • Walter Gatlin

      I guess you’re right Craig. Who should care about rules and laws and regulations and all that other stuff that actually matters. We’re all sinners let’s run to the gate and see who makes it in and who doesn’t! Let’s just have fun while we’re here on earth and toss a coin and see who makes it to heaven. This is what you sound like Craig. As a matter of fact why don’t we just not follow the laws on earth as well as the laws in Heaven. let’s forget morality and principle and everything that leads to faith and righteousness. Even though God mentioned laws rules and regulations let’s just forget about that part let’s survive on faith and grace alone. A wise minister told me one time that grace without truth is deception and truth without grace is destruction. You are a deceiver Craig.

      • Chevaz Ramsay

        I agree with Walter. God says come as u are, for he loves the sinner; but not the sin, and God says also; if u love me keep my commandments. When Jesus healed the sick, he said, “Go and sin no more.” So God expects that when he heals us from our sin- sick souls. We shouldn’t carry on with the sickness. Lest we fall victim to a reprobate mind, and blaspheme the holy spirit.

      • Hal Mason

        oh my ..pick and choose from the good old book ,,, ey ,, when can we stone ppl. for adultery? for stealing? for incest? …. when can we eat the children?? ,,, If you are bleeding ,have an open sore ?? ,,don’t you have to leave the city gates for the specified time??? Shell fish shall we ?? Jesus Knew of HOMOSEXUALITY , but there was no such word for it !!!!! Nobody ever heard of Greek or Romans in any such compromised positions except ALL OVER in art ,music ,poetry , Who cares who you love some uptight ripped – off ancient Hebrew JIBBERISH about a man with a man indeed ! PURE TRASH!

      • Hal Mason

        go craig!

  • craig

    people need to love each other sin is still sin, but we should think of it as us putting something in the way of our relationship with God, sin has lost its power for Jesus died took all our sin on himself and paid the price we could not pay he took our place and died for us for He loves us so much, He is there and doesn’t want anything in the way for He wants to spend time with us. if we realise how much God loves us his unconditional Love, we can then love others with that same love, unconditional love let’s not put things in the way of our relationship with God!

  • Carol

    and this is what amazes me today,(Nobody start arguing over this as this is MY opinion, you have all had your opinion)… 1 so called man that has written a book and claims he is god, if you go back before the so called christ religion there was no religion at all but people and animals living off of the land, until one man rose up and said he was god.. to me that sounds cultish and all the religious people from around the world start enforcing their word on everyone, believing that their religion is better than the other, yet all the religions fight over the same thing, doesn’t make much sense… The wars that are caused by religious beliefs are alot worse than someone being gay, just because it says a marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman doesn’t mean that is exactly what happened. Also go back in time and all these “religious beliefs” men were undressing fully naked to do sport in front each other, have a look at most criminals most of them come from so called “religious backgrounds” as most of the news and the families of these criminals say they came from so called “good christian homes”… so why does the world believe that 1 man claims he is god, yet if men and women follow another man it is classed as a cult.. Just maybe religion is a cult has started with this one man… also in the bible it states no man should make idols of me, well nearly every christian have crosses up, or the so called jesus christ on the cross hanging from their walls… Also if someone says they are not interested in religion when the door knockers come why come back and harass them forcing them into believing in god.. I am sorry but forcing and having a go at someone who doesn’t believe does that not defy the so called religion code, that you must treat people with respect and in turn respect will come to you, if there is such a god he would be disgusted in everyone arguing over the same religious crap… cause I can tell you I am disgusted in the who so called new religion.. also since when have they decided to create a new bible, who made that rule.. The way I see it live your life the way you want to minding your own business, instead of arguing over what you think is right or wrong and religions don’t believe in science and technology yet all of you religious ppl are on what telephones, computers,etc etc… I am sorry if this offends anyone but i am not sorry for speaking my mind.. Peace out..

    • kman

      He isnt pleased you are right he says. For the one who is weak in faith welcome him, but do not quarrel over opinions.

  • Walter Gatlin

    First of all Jesus left all of Gods laws in tacked. Second God created Marriage and proclaimed it between one man and one woman. Third Any sex outside of marriage is unlawful. and forth ANY sin to God without true repentance is punishable by Hell. You have two choices my friends, You can believe your friends whom are going to do what they want or you can believe in your senses which was created by God. 90% of the Homosexual battle to proclaim their rights is within themselves. They know in their hearts its wrong. Sin is Sin no matter what brush you use! God Bless.

    • Bella

      “Second God created Marriage and proclaimed it between one man and one woman.”

      Nope, nope, nope. Completely historically unprovable. You asserting it doesn’t make it fact.

      • Walter Gatlin

        In recent years, homosexual advocates have argued that the Bible, rightly interpreted, does not forbid homosexual relationships, only perverse expressions of such. For example, they have argued that God’s judgment on Sodom on Gomorrah (Genesis 18:17-19:29) was merely for these cities’ inhospitality, not for the sin of homosexuality. However, while Sodom and Gomorrah did in fact show a lack of hospitality, it is hardly conceivable that God would punish these cities by utter annihilation for this comparatively minor offense. Also, the Epistle of Jude clearly states that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire” (i.e. homosexuality; Jude 7; cf. Romans 1:26-27).

        With regard to the Levitical Holiness Code (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13), some have suggested that these passages prohibited only homosexual acts performed by Canaanite temple prostitutes as part of the worship of false gods, not homosexuality at large. However, these passages are clearly general in nature, which is seen by the application of the word “abomination” elsewhere also to incest, adultery, and bestiality (Leviticus 18:6-23). None of these sins are prohibited only in the context of idolatrous worship; all have broader, universal application. In the New Testament, Paul addresses the issue of homosexuality extensively in his letter to the Romans, where he writes, “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26-27). This is followed by a long list of vices (Romans 1:29-31). Again, the Bible’s prohibition clearly refers to homosexuality at large, not merely to perverted forms of it (see also 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10).

      • Bella

        >>However, while Sodom and Gomorrah did in fact show a lack of
        hospitality, it is hardly conceivable that God would punish these cities
        by utter annihilation for this comparatively minor offense.<>Also, the
        Epistle of Jude clearly states that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah
        “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire” (i.e.
        homosexuality; Jude 7; cf. Romans 1:26-27).<<

        No, it doesn't. I've already explained this earlier in this discussion. Jude says they "went after other flesh", and the Greek word it uses is "heteras", which means "different". (It's the same root word from which we get our word heterosexuality.) It CAN'T mean homosexuality, which is very definitely *not* different. Jude's immediately previous reference to angels makes it clear that the "other flesh" that the inhabitants of Sodom went after was that of angels, not other men.

    • Waffle_Prime

      3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

      4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

      7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

      8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord
      your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or
      daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any
      foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

      12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

      13 “You shall not murder.

      14 “You shall not commit adultery.

      15 “You shall not steal.

      16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

      17 “You shall not covet
      your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his
      male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to
      your neighbor.”

      Don’t twist God’s words to suit your arguments and don’t condemn other when you have no right. You are not God but man.

    • Hal Mason

      so say you … and your not so mighty space god !

    • Eric Vasquez

      Without taking sides on the subject, as a Christian… It puzzles me why there isn’t a commandment against it. To hear some speak/rail against it, you’d swear it was the worst crime on the calendar. Still, no 11th commandment and Jesus doesn’t bring it up. Sorta confusing lack of biblical language for something supposedly so bad.

      • Cavendish

        Eric I want to know why people worry so much about gay people and ignore other passages in the bible like

        Folly is close to the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15 NAB)


        Blessings are for the head of the just, but a rod for the back of the fool. (Proverbs 10:6 NAB)

        Doesn’t that mean I can beat my wife and kids? The heck with gay people!

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