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What Sexual Activity Did Jesus Condemn?

Clarity for us gay Christians

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Jesus is quoted as being against two types of sexual activity (“adultery” and “sexual immorality”). These sexual infractions apply to straights and gays alike. But how did the original audiences understand the meaning of these two terms? And Jesus is shockingly silent on all other sexual activity.

Some progressive Christians believe the four gospels were derived from storytelling, passed down to several generations, and eventually published by a specific author. Furthermore, many believe that the final authors were writing for a particular audience and purpose.

Additionally, some Christians eschew the apostle Paul’s writings in favor of “the straight skinny” provided by Jesus (i.e., the only God-man).

So, what sexual practices did Jesus actually condemn? There is surprisingly little guidance from the Son of God, as recorded by the four authors of the gospel.

Factually, there are only two condemnations stated by Jesus: “adultery” and “sexual immorality.” However, what was the actual meaning of those two terms, in context to the intended audience, meaning of Greek words in that era, and the author’s intent?

If you are a gay man, you know only too well how certain Christians have weaponized the Bible to demonize and restrict the rights of gays. Thus, if you are a gay man who is “sold out for Jesus” and reveres the Bible as valuable, Jesus’ prohibitions of certain sexual activities are a vital truth to understand.

And come to find out, Jesus provided zero condemnation about homosexuality and same-sex attraction. Instead, Jesus only spoke about two vices, applying to straights and gays alike.

Now, you may challenge me by saying, “Yes, but Jesus as a righteous Jew would have always obeyed every law from the Torah [which contains lots of other sexual sins — and seemingly condemnation of homosexuality].” For example, surely, Jesus would have hated rape — but He is not quoted as prohibiting rape. Thus you may say, Jesus agreed with every law — even if He did not specifically cite them.

On the other hand, Jesus did indeed violate some of the Torah’s commands (especially in areas involving working on the Sabbath and being near “untouchables”). And there is the possibility that Jesus spoke out against other sexual activities — but none of the four authors recorded such statements.

In today’s Bible translations, Jesus’ two sexual crimes are described as “adultery” and “sexual immorality.” But how did the ancient readers (at the time of the original authors’ publications) understand the two Greek terms used in the Bible letters?

Glad you asked.

Adultery

The term “adultery” is used by Jesus in two Greek forms: “moicheuo” (verb) and “moichnos” (masculine verb). Those two Greek words speak against a person committing a wrongful sexual act, specifically, engaging in intercourse with someone else’s spouse or a married person engaging in intercourse with anyone beyond his spouse.

In today’s vernacular, “intercourse” is believed to be either vaginal (i.e., with a woman) or anal (with a man or a woman).

Jesus also takes the term “adultery” and extends it to a word that today is translated as “lust” (Greek: “epithumeo”). One of the interpretations for “lust” is to “covet” — a command denounced in the famous 10 Commandments. Effectively this would have meant that it is wrong for a married person to covetously look at someone with the intent of “taking him/her as his own.” Likewise, it is meant to restrict a single person from covetously looking at someone’s spouse.

Is that Greek definition what you think of when you hear the word “lust?” Probably not. I propose that many people conceive of lust as having: 1) an attraction to someone; 2) imagining the person nude; 3) imagining a sexual act with a person, or 4) actually looking at a nude person or someone engaging in a sexual act (e.g., pornography).

Such modern-day synonyms of lust do not align with Jesus and the Greek language of that day.

So what does all of this mean for us gay Christians? According to the quotes of Jesus, we should never have intercourse with someone’s spouse, plus (as a married man) have sex with anyone other than your spouse. Additionally, Jesus’ prohibition would mean that we gay Christians should not seek to covet another person’s spouse.

Sadly, many gay Christians believe they are actively sinning whenever they experience an attraction to a man. Furthermore, gay men wrench their souls whenever they even touch someone’s body in the “wrong way.”

Sexual Immorality

In modern vernacular, “sexual immorality” is a catch-all term to include every sexual infraction (presumably beyond “adultery”). But what did Jesus mean when He was talking about “sexual immorality?”

The Greek word cited by Jesus is “porneia,” which is closely attached to “pornos.” Pornos specifically pertains to a male prostitute. In Jesus’ day, the Jews were sometimes near the pagan temples of worship. Male temple prostitutes were apparently common in ancient times. Having anal intercourse with a pagan prostitute was unthinkable for a pious Jew. Additionally, both porneia and pornos are associated with the concept of “idolatry.” And, of course, idolatry was also one of the 10 Commandments.

Thus, it is highly conceivable that Jesus’ use of porneia made allusions to idolatrous temples, plus the male prostitutes inhabiting these temples. For a Jew to be inside a pagan temple, let alone pay money to have anal intercourse with a male prostitute, were grotesque violations of the Jewish sexual ethic.

So what does Jesus’ prohibition of “sexual immorality” have in connection to modern-day gay men? Well, if the gay man is paying a gay male prostitute for anal intercourse, then Jesus would presumably speak against it. One might be tempted to stretch Jesus’ prohibition to include anonymous gay intercourse (this analogy is not perfect, however).

Well then, what is the relevance of temple prostitutes for two gay men who are romantically in love today and are seeking a monogamous committed relationship (e.g., gay marriage)? Seemingly, no relevance. And yet many Christians believe they act in accord with Jesus when they pronounce two monogamous gay lovers as “an abomination.” Such condemnation does not seem reasonable, given the context of Jesus’ spoken words.

And, as previously noted, Jesus never spoke about gay sexuality or gay marriage. That silence does not mean that Jesus is in favor of either; likewise, it does not mean that Jesus is opposed.

In closing, many gay Christians wrestle with their decision of “what is godly sexuality?” Jesus frowns upon adultery, coveting, prostitution, and idolatry. This would be true for straight and gay men alike. So, it behooves each of us gay Christians to give strong heed to Jesus’ prohibitions — especially in the context of when, where, and to whom did Jesus speak His words. And conversely, we may discover that we are unnecessarily too hard on ourselves.

And the really good news is that no sexual activity can ever separate us from Jesus’ love.

Yoda is a publication to uniquely and specifically support gay Christian men. Click here to learn more.

Dr. Mike Rosebush is the founder and author of Yoda. He has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor with 45+ years of mentoring thousands of gay Christian men. Read a short synopsis of his story here.

Read Dr. Rosebush’s complete set of articles here.

Dr. Rosebush provides friendship support to gay Christian men across the U.S. and can be contacted via Facebook or mikerosebush75@gmail.com. Please, be sure to introduce yourself.

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Articles & support for gay Christian men — intriguing, clarifying, encouraging. Read, clap, become a follower & subscriber, and respond with your viewpoint. Together we thrive!

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Mike Rosebush, PhD

Mike Rosebush, PhD

Lover of Jesus | Gay Married| Founder/Writer “GAYoda” | Counselor/Encourager

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