The Gospel on Homosexuality: Jesus Loves Gay People

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jesus loves homosexuals.  


I think it is quite clear from the Scriptures that homosexuality is a sin.  Jesus was known for one thing in the NT and it was being a friend of sinners.  Are you up for an exegetical challenge?  Try this one for the next few minutes.

Notice that Jesus was a friend of sinners.  Luke 7:34 tells us that, 

"The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’   7:35 But wisdom is vindicated  by all her children.”

Perhaps the most-missed word in the verse, in my experience, is the use of the little word "of."  Jesus was a friend of sinners.  The word "friend" in the original Greek is in a case called the "genitive," which simply means that the word is being used to describe or define something.  There are multiple uses of the genitive, and in this context it could mean at least one or all of three meanings. (A helpful chart explaining the breakdown of these usages is offered by Dan Wallace, author of Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, and is available in this PDF.)

First, it could be the genitive of possession.  That means that the friend, which is Jesus in this verse, is seen to be possessed or owned by His friends.  This is not in some slavery or servitude sense, but rather in the sense that Jesus was their Jesus.  They identified Him as belonging to their group, their people, or their kind.

Second, it could be the genitive of relationship.  The use of this genitive indicates a family relationship.  And the context would certainly argue for this sense, wouldn't it?  Luke writes that "wisdom is vindicated by her children," which seems to point out that the people who are following Jesus are His children, since they are following Him...unlike the Pharisees who had such a problem with the company He kept.

Third, it could be a genitive of apposition.  All this means is that one word in the phrase is simply used in place of the other, so that both the words describe each other.  Jesus was a friend of sinners, in that He was seen Himself as a sinner by the religious leaders.  And again, the context would bear this out too according to what the verse actually says, wouldn't it?

So which is it?  I tend to think that Luke intended all three understandings because they all fit with the context.  Jesus was a friend of sinners in that they saw Him as one of them: marginalized, disenfranchised with the ruling powers and hypocritical religious system, unpatriotic, outside-the-box thinkers, etc.  He was also a friend of sinners in that they were a part of His family.  They were the company He kept, and the ones who followed Him.  Finally, He was also a friend of sinners in that He was looked at as one of them...a sinner.  (They did accuse Him later of being demon-possessed, remember?)

The point here is that if Christians are doing to deal with
this issue of homosexuality along a path of integrity,
then we must do it not only in how we look at
what the Bible says about the issue,
but also in how we deal with
the people the Bible is talking about.  

And Jesus was their friend.  They were His friends, more importantly.  Why?  Because He loved them.  He made them, after all.  He created them.  They are made in His image, marred though they may be like everyone else in the world.

If Christians argue for the integrity of the Bible's position on sexuality while simultaneously sacrificing the integrity of the Bible's gospel, which is the very substance of the entire Bible to begin with, then we are not truly "Christian."  We are actually Pharisee.  They are the ones who vigorously adhered to a position of integrity about sin, while rejecting, neglecting, and hating sinners...and even engaging in it themselves.   

Pharisees love the Bible over people. 
Christians love the Bible and people.  

It's the devil's oldest trick and he loves influencing Christians with it everyday, regardless of the issue.  That's why the "religious right" and "Conservative Christianity" behave so vehemently many times in the name of God and His Bible.  But they do not behave in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who loved sinners so deeply...and whom sinners loved so dearly.  

The pathway of integrity then,
in a Christian's dealing with homosexuality,
is one that honors the integrity
of the historicity of the Bible
while at the same time
embracing and living out its message of
unconditional love revealed in the rescue operation
Jesus Christ accomplished at the cross
to restore the right image of God in a man and woman.  

Androgyny and even homosexuality were not His design.  That was made clear enough in the plain reading of Genesis 1 and 2.  Homosexuality, as well as any other form of sex that isn't between a husband and wife, is not God's design.  Rather, they are etches, break-points, scratches, and even head-shaped holes in the windshield of humanity where sin has crashed and totaled our spiritual cars. 

The very message of redemption makes people mad as hell, because it assumes from the start that something is very wrong with humanity.  It points the finger of God's condemnation at the problem however, and not the person.  They are the victim of sin, in reality.  But because there is no real possibility of separating the person from their sin, the person will naturally feel hurt that their way of life is being called sin.  They wrongly assume we are saying that God's original intent is to condemn them for the sin of homosexuality...or any other sin for that matter.  And perhaps they assume that because of the incongruent and inconsistent manner in which Christians have tried to explain this.

The gospel of good news says that
the rescue plan Jesus accomplished
was intended to deal with the sin problem...
not the people problem.
 The problem is not with homosexuals.
It is with sin.  

Deal with the sin, and the supposed people-problem is cleared up.  And that's just what Jesus did.  By dying on the cross He canceled the debt of sin that people have toward God.  He loved them so much that He was willing to sacrifice His own Son to deal with that problem, so that He would not have to sacrifice His precious creation instead.  Jesus got what humans deserved so that humans could be treated as if they were the very Son of God Himself.  That's the "great exchange" inherent in the very good news of the gospel message itself.  What this means should be clear enough for us.  

When Christians "handle" homosexuals,
we must remember that in Jesus' day
they would have considered Him a friend of theirs.
Do they consider themselves a friend of yours?  

If so, then you are a real Jesus-follower.  That probably means that while they carry around this nagging guilt inside of them about their sin of homosexuality, they strangely and mysteriously yet tangibly feel that you very much love them unconditionally because they are the precious creation of God.  Remember, the people are His treasure, and sin has just messed it all up.  If we believe that Jesus has dealt with the sin problem, then we will no longer treat people like the problem.  We will love them and embrace them, calling their attention to the problem which is inside of them, but not originally intended to a part of them.  This then is the theology that MUST drive Christians as they deal with homosexuals and homosexuality.

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