Theology vs. Spin

As the cliché goes, people are free to do what they want in their bedrooms.  But people are not free to alter theological history in order to generate the best possible spin for their political causes.

Everyone knows that the Old Testament is unequivocal in its condemnation of homosexuality (see Leviticus, where the death penalty is recommended "if a man also lie with mankind" 20:13-15).  It is therefore strange to see certain leftists claim that the Bible is somehow being appropriated by radical conservatives to suit their own agenda. 

Some would claim that the New Testament does not touch upon homosexuality, at least not in the Gospels, and that we can therefore infer that Jesus was neutral on this front.  Writes Christian Whiton, former senior advisor to the State Department, in the Daily Caller, "As for the New Testament, Jesus famously said nothing about gays."  Or we see Jesus being recruited for causes of the left.  The Huffington Post assures us that Jesus would take a firm stand against the bullying of LGBT students: "Jesus clearly teaches us to love people, not to hate them, not to make them feel hated, and not to stand by while that is happening."  Isn't that sweet?  

To follow this strain of thought, one must never mind the impending Day of Judgment, when God will sort the wheat from the chaff (which kind of implies a judgmental attitude).  Instead, one can cherry-pick quotes about love and acceptance and portray a Jesus who is a poster-boy for tolerance and diversity.

But we may be confident that Jesus -- the historical Jesus -- took the "Old Testament" seriously.  Notes scholar of religions Reza Aslan in his book Zealot: "Jesus of Nazareth was first and finally a Jew" (121).  Jesus would have therefore observed the Jewish law quite scrupulously.  Jesus assures us in the Gospel of Matthew, 5:17-19, "Think not that I come to destroy the law or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill."  By this, of course, he refers to Mosaic Law.  As the law in regards to homosexuality was so unambiguous, it is highly doubtful that Jesus would see things otherwise.  This is not to say that it follows that we all must think and act accordingly, but if we are to characterize Jesus' views one way or another, this is the only honest and historically accurate way to do so. 

The Gospel of Judas sheds more light on this issue.  This Gospel was not officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church, as it presents a different narrative from that of the four accepted Gospels.  There are biblical scholars, however, who regard it as equal in terms of historical plausibility as the Gospels that happened to be included in the New Testament.  Alternate Gospels such as Judas's, writes Michael Baigent in The Messianic Legacy, are "more or less arbitrarily excluded from the canon" (20). 

The Gospel of Judas admittedly strikes one as more eccentric than the others, reflecting its rooting in the Gnostic Christian tradition as opposed to the more familiar Roman Catholicism.  But it is relevant here, as homosexuality is directly referenced by Jesus himself.  The disciples inform Jesus about a vision they received of mayhem at the Temple: "...some sacrifice their own children, others their wives...some sleep with men; some are involved in slaughter; some commit a multitude of sins and deeds of lawlessness" (39). 

Jesus responds by interpreting this vision as a glimpse at those that the disciples "will lead astray" and lists "those who sleep with men" amongst other examples of "pollution and lawlessness and error."  If Jesus's views more closely aligned with those from GLAAD, here was his chance to set the disciples straight, yet instead he reaffirms the disciples' perception of homosexuality as sin. 

Granted, the gospels at times present contradictory images of Christ.  Is he the Prince of Peace, or has he come to baptize people with fire?  Those seem to be mutually exclusive.  These contradictions have befuddled scholars and are the subject of interesting debate and speculation.  In other words, there are gray areas in the Bible about which reasonable people may disagree, one area being how Jesus viewed violence.

But the Bible does not contradict itself in regards to homosexuality.  The only contradiction is in those who purport to regard a book as holy while attempting to nullify part of its doctrine.  Those hoping to use the Bible in their advocacy of gay causes are not honest brokers; they're just using spin.  So if your mission is to advocate for gay marriage, you are free to make your case using other lines of argument.  But there is simply no way that Jesus Christ, a first-century Palestinian Jew, would be in favor or any of the causes associated with the contemporary gay rights movement.

Contact Malcolm Unwell.

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