So, a bit of a warning and a clarification up front with this one. As you can probably tell from the title, this one may get a little heavy and possibly controversial. Thinking about and sitting down to write this one, I can feel the weightiness of it. To me the weight feels like that of importance. The importance to write what I believe and see in the life of Jesus. I believe that if there is controversy associated with what I write, it will be the kind that comes when truth is spoken. My intention is not to be divisive, however truth is sharper than any two-edged sword. This article will be a bit more inside baseball than my previous articles. I will primarily be talking to the Church. This article isn't meant to directly bring people in. Its purpose is to mend some cracks I see forming. Now that that's all out of the way, let's get to it.
Is it a sin?
So we might as well start here, figuring out if homosexuality is a sin, before looking at what Jesus would do. We can get all we need from a few verses.
'Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.' (ESV)
1 Timothy 1:8-11
Homosexuality included in a list of other sins describing the "ungodly and sinners" = It's a sin.
'Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 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. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.' (ESV)
There's a lot going on here, but for our purposes being in the list of "dishonorable passions" that result in a "penalty for their error" isn't something God's going to approve of. = It's a sin.
'Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.' (ESV)
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
In the list of who won't inherit the kingdom of God = It's a sin.
However, that's not the end of the story. There is still hope for redemption and no one should be discarded for being on that list. Kinda Jesus's whole thing, redeeming those who couldn't inherit the Kingdom and what not.
So, for me it's pretty undeniably, undebatably clear that, yes, biblically speaking, homosexuality is a sin. Is it any different or worse than any other sin? Nope. Not at all. Sin is sin. Bottom line.
'the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.' (ESV) (emphasis mine)
So, what would Jesus do then?
Naturally, the best way to answer the question of what Jesus would do would be to find a biblical example of Him doing it. Well, that's where things aren't quite as simple. We don't have any cases recorded where Jesus dealt directly with homosexuality. We do have some pretty close examples though.
If we want to place sins in different categories, homosexuality would fall under the category of sexual sin. I know some of the verses above have them separated, and I'm not completely sure why, but I think those verses were addressing specific concerns within the respective churches the letters were written to. So, under the category of sexual sin in general, we have some examples of what Jesus would do. Specifically how He treated the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well.
The Woman Caught in Adultery
'Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."' (ESV)
In the face of the wickedness of those who brought the woman caught in sexual immorality, Jesus showed grace and compassion. Instead of condemning the woman, He forgave her, empowering her to live free from her sin. This is how the Church should respond to homosexuality, with grace and forgiveness that empowers change. Not hateful discrimination as the Pharisees showed.
The Woman at the Well
'Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock." Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water." Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true." The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he." Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you seek?" or, "Why are you talking with her?" So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" They went out of the town and were coming to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." So the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought him something to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor." Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world."' (ESV)
During the entire conversation Jesus knew the kind of life that the woman lived. His goal wasn't to trap her in her sin or to condemn her. His goal was to lovingly call her out of her sin into a new life. Looking at Jesus's discussion with His disciples after the woman leaves, we see Jesus tell His disciples that he is fed by doing the will of God. Jesus is saying that loving someone in sin out of their sin is the will of God.
The story continues to show how Jesus calling the sin out of that one woman impacted the whole town that she lived in. Because of the love He showed, the town invited Him to stay and teach them. What do you think would have happened if Jesus showed contempt for the woman because of her sin? That's what the Church is doing today. What do you think will happen if the Church stops hating people because of their sin and instead shows compassion and forgiveness? What if instead of calling people out for their sin we call the sin out of people? What if we actually lived like Jesus lived?
The Church is called to follow Christ and show His love, not to throw stones or, on the opposite end, condone sin. In both of the examples where Jesus deals with sexual immorality, He shows grace, compassion, and forgiveness. Not so that they can freely continue in their sin, but for the sake of freedom from sin. Right now in Christian culture I see only two options. Christians are expected to either love the person and accept the sin or hate the sin and reject the person. Those are both only half truths. Two sides of the same coin, both sides lacking Jesus. Jesus loves the person and, in loving the person, seeks to free them from the bondage of sin. That should be our goal as Christ followers. To love with a radical, unconditional love that has the power to transform lives.