Did Jesus during his lifetime and in his personal teaching omit any mention of homosexuality, as supporters of the homosexual lifestyle argue? Does his failure to condemn it explicitly constitute his approval?
An article by G. Thomas Hobson, published 2008 in the Spanish journal Filología Neotestamentaria, was posted online today: “aselgeia in Mark 7:22“.
The author argues that Jesus euphemistically refers to homosexual behavior and similar sexual offenses against the Old Testament law by use of the term aselgeia in his list of sins that ‘defile the human heart’ in Mark 7:22-23. The article examines the use of aselgeia by Jewish, pagan, and New Testament writers. He uses the Syriac translation to attempt to identify the original Aramaic word that Jesus might have used and what he may have meant by it. Jewish writers used aselgeia for what they considered shocking violations of Old Testament sexuality.
Some of the autor’s evidence seems stretched, especially his jump from the Syriac translation to the Latin. But the article deserves study and brings a rich resource for the study of the Greek term. It reminds us that Jesus was not unaware of the Old Testament sexual commandments and prohibitions. He upheld them (and strengthened them) in his teachings.
As to whether Jesus himself mentions a specific sin or a specific practice plays to a wrong-headed bias that his words carry more weight that than of the apostles and prophets. The “words in red” do not constitute a canon within a canon, so that all other words are relegated to secondary position of importance.
First, Jesus’ words in the gospels are reported by apostles and prophets. It must not be forgotten that all we know about our Lord comes through the people who walked with him while he was on the earth. The life and teachings of Christ, as much as the letters and history of the men who followed him, come to us through their writings, mediated by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
This is not to say that Jesus’ words are any less trustworthy; it does say that we are not hearing them ourselves, and cannot place upon them a priority that demotes apostolic writings, for his words themselves are apostolic writings.
Second, inspiration guaranteed, as Jesus himself promised, that in the full canon we would have the Lord’s teaching. The Holy Spirit would both remind these men of what he had taught and guide them into all truth. He would reveal more than what they had heard from the lips of the Lord. Christ did not, could not, leave with his people a complete plan before his death. That came after the church began.
So if Paul or Peter or John condemns a thing when Jesus did not, we may take it on good faith that the Lord himself does not approve of it.
I read Hobson’s article with care and appreciation, for it touches on a highly controversial area of study, in which serious research is needed.
At the same time, I would not be so concerned if his main thesis, which I consider valid, were to be disproved, because the New Testament clearly shows homosexuality to be a sin.
Those who want to approve it will grasp at any straw in order to think as they wish and do as they desire.