WICHITA FALLS, Texas (BP)–I received an e-mail from a member of our community about a sermon I had preached concerning homosexuality. “Why do you feel you can speak with such authority on this subject when Jesus is quoted not one single time on the topic of homosexuality?” he asked.
If you are a connoisseur of the cable news channels, you probably heard the same question posed to those who opposed the election of a homosexual bishop in the Episcopal Church last year or Massachusetts’ supreme court declaring that “marriage” rights must be extended to homosexuals.
“If Jesus had nothing to say against homosexuality,” they say, “why should we?” That argument is seriously flawed in several ways.
First, it assumes that Jesus’ words are more authoritative than the rest of Scripture — something the Bible itself never claims. When New Testament passages that condemn homosexual conduct such as Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 are cited, the typical response is, “Well, those are just the writings of the Apostle Paul.” But even the Apostle Peter (who had his own share of disagreements with Paul) recognized Paul’s words as authoritative and called them “scripture” (2 Peter 3:16). Since that time, Christians have historically recognized all of the Bible as equally authoritative.
But even more significant is the fact that Jesus clearly did address the issue of homosexual “marriage.” In a “Q&A” with the Pharisees about marriage and divorce, Jesus reaffirmed God’s design for marriage as first expressed in the opening chapters of Genesis. “Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made the male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-5).
In these two brief verses Jesus affirmed that God intended for sex to be practiced within the bounds of a heterosexual (“male and female”) marriage (“shall cleave to his wife” not “his significant other”).
Jesus never directly addressed the issue of bestiality, incest, pedophilia, necrophilia or any other sexual aberration. He didn’t need to. By upholding God’s original plan for human sexuality, He automatically condemned any deviation from that standard. We should not need a constitutional amendment to tell us what God has said from the beginning: Marriage is for a man and a woman. Period. I realize it is trite, but it is nevertheless true: The first couple God placed in the Garden was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
The reason God’s guidelines for marriage are preserved in Scripture are not for His benefit, but for ours. For example, suppose you purchase a new television set and read in the owner’s manual that you should use only a 120-volt outlet. “The manufacturer is being too narrow-minded,” you complain. “The set belongs to me, and if I want to use a 220-volt outlet, that’s my business.” Obviously, the manufacturer gave those instructions for your benefit. He wired the set and knows under what conditions it operates best.
Instead of pounding our pulpits in fury and spewing venomous denunciations about homosexuals, we who believe in the authority of Scripture should remind people that the Bible is God’s “owner’s manual” for all areas of life, including sexuality. God’s commands were given for our well-being. Since He wired us, He knows that the optimum place for sex to be enjoyed is within the boundaries of a heterosexual, married relationship.
What would Jesus say about homosexual marriages? The same thing He would say about adultery and premarital sex. “Go back and read the Owner’s manual … then have a good time.”
Robert Jeffress is pastor of First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is the author of thirteen books including the upcoming “Hell? Yes!”