You’ve probably heard about the “Gay Jesus” film on Netflix that has been creating a lot of controversy lately. Most people I’ve talked to about this have not actually watched the film. To be honest, neither have I. But whether you’ve watched the film or not, I think we can still have a conversation about the subject matter and hopefully agree that a gay Jesus is not only not controversial, it’s not blasphemous either.
Here’s why: Being a gay is not a sin.
See, the assumption many Evangelical Christians have is that being gay is sinful. Therefore, if Jesus was gay that would mean that Jesus was a “sinner” and theologically, this is unacceptable for most Christians.
But, a gay person is not a “sinner” simply because they are gay. Some Christians may argue that EVERYONE is a “sinner” because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God“, but that is far different from what most Christians mean when they say that being gay is sinful.
For example, try suggesting to a Christian that being straight is sinful and you’ll see what I mean. They will categorically deny such a thing. In fact, they will most likely argue that being straight is “natural” and “God’s design”, whereas being gay is “unnatural” and “an abomination”, or something along those lines.
So, we need to establish whether being gay – as opposed to being straight – is sinful, or not.
If being straight is not sinful, then why would being gay be sinful?
Does being straight imply sexual promiscuity? No.
But many Christians I talk to assume that being gay does imply sexual promiscuity. They also assume that being gay means that you are actively engaged in homosexual intercourse, even though they would never assume that someone who is straight is actively engaged in heterosexual intercourse.
There’s a bias here, obviously. Assumptions are made about gay people that are not applied equally to straight people.
But, all of this aside, most Christians are swayed by what the Scriptures say about homosexuality. I know that for many years, this was my personal struggle with the topic.
It wasn’t until I learned that no English translation of the Bible contained the word “homosexual” until 1946 that I started to doubt what my Bible had to say about this.
Then I did some digging. I discovered that the 2 words in the New Testament that are translated as “homosexual” in our English Bibles are actually not talking about homosexuality at all.
Take a look:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (malakoi), nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (arsenokoites)” [1 Cor 6:9, KJV]
The Greek word “malakoi”, which is the plural of malakos, was always used in the First Century to refer to straight males who were “girly” and to men who shaved their faces clean. [Is that “unnatural” and “an abomination” to you?]
The Greek word “arseno-koitai” is a compound word meaning “males” who “bed” other males.
But it’s not that simple, as New Testament Scholar David Bentley Hart points out:
“Precisely what an arsenokoites is has long been a matter of speculation and argument. Literally, it means a man who “beds” – that is, “couples with” – “males.” But, there is no evidence of its use before Paul’s text.
“…It would not mean “homosexual” in the modern sense of a person of a specific erotic disposition, for the simple reason that the ancient world possessed no comparable concept of a specifically homoerotic sexual identity; it would refer to a particular sexual behavior, but we cannot say exactly which one.”
Bentley Hart goes on to mention that the Clementine Vulgate interprets the word “arsenokoitai” as those who use male concubines [prostitutes] and that Luther’s German Bible interprets the word as referring to paedophiles.
Further, he says:
“My guess at the proper connotation of the word is based simply upon the reality that in the first century the most common and readily available form of male homoerotic sexual activity was a master’s or patron’s exploitation of young male slaves.”
So, that really only leaves chapter 1 of Romans to consider, and if you read that from the beginning what you’ll notice is that Paul is very clearly describing pagan temple idol worship which involved sexual activity; which Paul would have condemned had it been heterosexual in nature, and if so, I guarantee you no one would come away assuming that Paul [or God] was therefore anti-heterosexual intercourse.[NOTE: For a more in-depth examination of Romans, READ THIS]
So, at least for me, I don’t consider being gay to be sinful. A gay person is no more or less sinful than a straight person. Why? Because being attracted to someone of the same sex is no more sinful than being attracted to someone of the opposite sex. Attraction is not sin.
Was Jesus gay? Who knows? But, if Jesus was gay then it wouldn’t be a sin. It would have been human, and if Jesus was tempted as we are in every way and yet without sin, then Jesus could certainly have felt a sexual attraction to men, or to women, or both, and remained without sin.
So can we.
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