I noticed your tweet yesterday and offered to answer it for you. You agreed – so here goes.
“I consistently failed Scripture at my Anglican private school, so I’d be glad if someone would show me where in the Bible that Jesus Christ came down hard on homosexuality and abortion. Anyone?”
Thanks for the question. My starting assumption is that it is a genuine question – not just a gotcha! In order to answer this question properly it would take a great deal of time. As you know most of life cannot be reduced to soundbite and memes – especially the more complex problems. There are always nuances, exceptions and difficulties of context and understanding. In this letter I will just provide the basic logical and scriptural outline – and then at the end provide you with some resources if you want to follow them up further.
We need to deal with the general principles first – because it is only when we lay that foundation can we look at the superstructure.
When people use the argument “Jesus never said anything explicitly about X”, they are assuming one of three things. Either he said nothing because he approved of X, or he said nothing because he knew nothing about X, or he said nothing because X was not really that important to him. That whole argument is flawed both because it proves nothing, and it says too little. Does the fact that Jesus said nothing explicitly about paedophilia, or domestic abuse, or racism, or polluting the planet mean that he approved of them, or knew nothing about them, or didn’t care about these issues? That is reductio ad absurdum (you went to a top Anglican school, so I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining what that is!).
There is another more logical and reasonable way of looking at things. Our core beliefs will work out in demonstrable practices in numerous areas. For example, if I believe that all human beings are equally made in the image of God – it is a logical consequence of that belief that I cannot be a racist. (Incidentally modern Western ‘progressivism’ has no coherent logical basis for anti-racism, it does not believe that all people are created equal – because it doesn’t believe that people are created! That’s why progressives have to jump into the murky waters of identarian politics in order to justify their own position – ironically, they end up being racist in order to combat anti racism! – forgive me that diversion – but you get the point. Beliefs and worldviews have consequences).
The principle is that you don’t always need an explicit chapter and verse to know what Christ says or wants. It is the strangest type of fundamentalist that looks for chapter and verse for everything. It is certainly not Christian.
Another basic principle is that Jesus accepted the whole of the Old Testament as the word of God that could not be broken (John 10:35). He regarded all of it as pointing to himself (Luke 24:27). When he was aware that it was being misapplied or misinterpreted, he corrected it – as for example in Matthew 5:38-48.
In terms of the rest of the New Testament – in essence the letters, the book of Acts and Revelation, there is a looking forward. Jesus promised the disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to remind them of everything he had said and to teach them all things (John 14:26). Just as the Old Testament prophets had been inspired by the Holy Spirit to give us the word of God, so the New Testament apostles did the same. Thats why I was so glad that you phrased your question the way you did. You asked ‘where in the Bible’, not just where in the Gospels? The whole Bible is the word of God. In other words what the whole Bible says – Jesus says. You may not like that. You may regard it as absurd that God could actually communicate. But you asked what Jesus said – and this is what he taught – and this is what we as his followers believe. All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). In fact, Christians are so sure of this, we base everything on it.
So, what are the words of Jesus on these two subjects?
Let’s begin with your first question – Homosexuality
The first problem is one of definition. Sexuality as identity is a post-Freudian invention. People did not identify themselves by their ‘sexuality’. The issue in pre-identitarian times was different. Those who followed a biblical culture believed that sex was to be within marriage, and marriage was between a man and a woman. This is what Jesus taught. Take for example this answer Jesus gave to some Pharisees asking about divorce “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6). It is clear that Jesus taught that marriage was between a man and a woman.
To make it even clearer, when Jesus was talking about sin, he stated that it came from within – “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7 v 20-23) As well as lewdness and adultery Jesus speaks of sexual immorality. He uses the Greek word ‘porneia’, from which we get pornography, which means any sexual activity outside of marriage. No one listening to Jesus would have had any doubt that that included homosexuality. It is only in the 21st Century when words have become largely meaningless – to the extent that you can make them mean whatever you want – that anyone would really question what was being said.
Furthermore – bearing in mind what we demonstrated earlier – that Jesus affirmed both the OT teaching and the teaching of his Apostles; there is no doubt whatsoever what Jesus thinks about any sex outside marriage (including homosexual practice). It is porneia – ie. immoral sex. This doesn’t mean that those who commit homosexual sins are any worse than any other sinner (i.e., all of us), nor indeed that their homosexual sins are their main problem. The great equaliser in the Bible is that we are all made in God’s image, and that we are all sinners, and that we are all offered salvation no matter what our sin – or our sexuality.
By the way you wonder whether Jesus would come down ‘hard’ on sexual sin. You will find the answer in his words to the church at Pergamum and the church at Thyatira. To the former he said that if they did not repent of their sexual immorality (amongst other things) he would fight against them. To the latter he warned that their false prophetess who taught them sexual immorality would be cast on a bed of suffering and those who followed her would suffer intensely (Revelation 3:12-23). This is not a warning to you – because you do not claim to be a leader in the church in Australia – but there are plenty church leaders who need to listen to what Christ says in this regard!
Let’s move on to Abortion.
Again, we are here back to the definition of words. Language is power. One of the most powerful people in the world, Kamala Harris, sends out a tweet every day speaking of ‘reproductive health rights. This is the kind of euphemism of which the US military would be proud – ‘terminate with extreme prejudice’! What she means is the taking of human life within the womb. It is that we are talking about.
There is an extremely strong scientific and secular case against abortion – just ask the late great atheist, Christopher Hitchens. (https://www.crisismagazine.com/2019/a-left-wing-atheists-case-against-abortion
But what about Jesus. What did he teach?
Firstly, he affirmed the ten commandments – note that in Matthew 19:18 he puts “you shall not murder”, first. This was just after Jesus told the disciples that the little children were to be brought to him. Then there is the fact that the Gospels clearly considered the child in the womb to be a human being. The baby John the Baptist leapt for joy in the womb of his mother Elizabeth when he met the baby Jesus in the womb of his mother Mary. This was hardly the reaction of two dehumanised blobs!
But for me the most powerful teaching of Jesus is what he says in Matthew 18:6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. “Jesus’s attitude to little children is clear. It’s why child abuse in the church is such an abomination. I think the lowest pit of Hell is reserved for those who abuse children in Christ’s name!
I don’t have time to go into the rest of the clear teaching in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, (if you are interested let me know) but bearing in mind what we already established about the whole Bible being the word of the Lord – it is clear that Jesus is completely opposed to the taking of human life in the womb. Like him we will always defend the weakest members in society.
I realise of course that there will be those who profess to be Christian leaders who will seek to justify the unjustifiable. Just as there were those who justified slavery, so there will be those who justify killing the unborn. I recently read an American church leader who almost seemed to turn abortion into a sacrament to be defended as a religious icon! I will leave her to answer to Christ. But you should have no doubt about his position on this.
Again, please permit me a little diversion here – because there is a wider societal question here – How do we treat the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society? The poor, the disabled, the mentally ill, the very old and the very young? Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood had no doubts. “All of our problems are the result of overbreeding among the working class… Knowledge of birth control is essentially moral. Its general, though prudent, practice must lead to a higher individuality and ultimately to a cleaner race.” (Margaret Sanger, Morality and Birth Control, Feb-Mar 1918). What Sanger meant by a ‘cleaner’ race was one without disabled people and without black people. How ironic that our society is so confused today that in order to defend abortion people align themselves with an organisation founded by a eugenicist racist!
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not accusing you, or every pro-abortionist, of being a Margaret Sanger apologist. I have no idea what your views are. But this is where I want to challenge you.
It is not difficult to work out what Jesus teaches on homosexuality and abortion. It may be difficult for you to accept – but I ask what is your alternative and on what is it based?
The issue that gave rise to your tweet was the Essendon farce – where a man lost his job because a sermon was preached in his church ten years ago, which basically taught what Christ teaches. Apart from the appalling intolerance and bigotry in the removal of Andrew Thorburn, what it shows up is how morally bankrupt our current moral zeitgeist is. When corporate chairmen just go along with whatever is the moral fashion and have no rational or intellectual basis on which to base their morals, then we are all in deep trouble. (for a full account of this have a look at this article )
You may consider that harsh. So here is my challenge. The Christian church knows what Jesus teaches. We have followed, and will follow that teaching. Our society was largely based on that (as were all Western liberal democracies). Now our ‘progressives’ want to replace that with something better. But what is that something better? And on what is it based?
The current zeitgeist, which you regard as ‘progressive’ and on which our society bases its life will soon be gone. Heaven and earth will pass away, but the words of Jesus never will. (Mark 13:31). I prefer to stick with them – rather than the passing fashions of the rich and powerful elites. We stand with the poor.
PS. Can I suggest some further resources if you want to follow this up.
Firstly, three books by Christians who have experienced same sex attraction.
Sam Alberry – Is God Anti-Gay?
Rosario Butterfield – The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
I would also highly recommend this personal talk from Dr Butterfield -Homosexuality and the Christian Faith.
Abortion – Dr Callum Miller and medical ethicist and researcher at the University of Oxford who changed his mind. –
Here is a short book which helpfully summarises the Christian position on abortion – https://www.koorong.com/product/abortion-christian-compassion-convictions-and-wisdom-for-todays_9781784984434#product-tabs