Homosexual activists are fond of arguing that Jesus never spoke a word against homosexuality. They are wrong.
For starters, Jesus condemned the sin of “sexual immorality,” which is the English translation of the Greek word “porneia.” (Our word “pornography” is derived from this word.) The Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon tells us that the meaning of this term is not restricted to what we quaintly call “fornication,” but instead refers to “sexual sin of a general kind, that includes many different behaviors.”
For instance, in Mark 7:21, Jesus says, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,” etc. The word translated “sexual immorality” (porneiai) here is in the plural in Greek, illustrating what the lexicons tell us, that it, porneia, is a generic word for sex outside the bounds of natural marriage, whatever form it may take. Paul, for instance, uses porneia to condemn an incestuous relationship in 1 Corinthians 5:1.
In its earliest and original sense, porneia referred specifically to prostitution, of both the female and male kind. Thus from the beginning, even before being expanded in range, it was a term that included illicit sex whether of the heterosexual or homosexual kind. Demosthenes, for example, used porneia to refer to homosexuality centuries before Christ.
Other literary products of Judaism (e.g., the Testament of Benjamin, Testament of Levi, Testament of Naphtali, and Jubilees) during the period between the Testaments (from 400 BC to the time of Christ) also use porneia to refer to the sin of sodomy.
Jude uses the verb form of porneia quite explicitly to refer to homosexuality when he connects the word to the behavior of Sodom and Gomorrah. “…[J]ust as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire…” (Jude 7).
So, porneia, while it can be used in a narrower sense to refer to fornication, when used in a general sense it refers to every kind of illicit sexual intercourse, every kind of sexual intercourse outside the marriage relationship between one man and one woman. Homosexuality is included.
So, when Jesus condemned “sexual immorality,” and “porneia” is the word used in the biblical text, he was condemning every form of sex outside marriage, including that of the homosexual variety.
Further, and just as importantly, Jesus himself also spoke directly against homosexuality through his apostles.
Paul was the most direct, unambiguous and explicit in condemning homosexual behavior, in places such as Romans 1:26-27 (“dishonorable, contrary to nature, shameless”), 1 Corinthians 6:9 (a sin that will keep one out of the kingdom of God, just like cheating in business), and 1 Timothy 1:10 (behavior that is the proper subject of the law, just like murder and the slave trade).
But, folks will argue, these are the words of Paul, not Christ. This, however, begs the question. Where did Paul get this teaching? Where did he get his message? Who taught him the things he preserved in writing in his epistles?
He tells us quite directly in Galatians 1:11-12. “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Paul goes on to make it clear that he could not have learned his gospel from the early apostles such as Peter since he only saw Peter once for about two weeks, three years after his conversion, and then didn’t see any of the other apostles at all for another 14 years.
No, Paul’s gospel – his message about Christ, God and the spiritual life – is a message he received directly from Jesus.
An apostle of Jesus Christ was quite literally “one sent” by Jesus Christ. He was someone selected, authorized, commissioned, and sent on assignment by Christ. Thus, when Paul speaks as an apostle, Christ is speaking through him. He is speaking with not only the authority of Christ, but with the very words of Christ.
Paul, as an apostle, was serving almost precisely in the role of an ambassador. An ambassador does not represent himself; he represents the one who sent him. And when the one who sent him gives him a message to deliver, he delivers that message faithfully in exact detail.
An ambassador is not a freelancer who thinks and speaks for himself. He is there to faithfully speak on behalf of the one who appointed him, to represent his interests, and to deliver his message.
Bottom line: Jesus rejected homosexuality in words that came from his own lips and with words he spoke through Paul, his chosen ambassador. We may not like what Paul said about homosexuality, but let’s drop the nonsense that he wasn’t speaking for Christ when he said it.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)