What Would Jesus Say About Gay Marriage?

Divorce, not homosexuality, was the deviation that preoccupied him.

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Anxious to impress the Master, the young man might conclude by gravely quoting the biblical verse that may soon be enshrined in American law: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; this is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22).

What would Jesus say to all this? On the ethics of homosexuality, we must assume that he would maintain his silence. Had he wanted to take a position about that matter, he would have done so back in Galilee. Deference to biblical inerrancy was never his way, Leviticus 18:22 notwithstanding. On the contrary, his zero-tolerance prohibition of divorce was a bold and deliberate revision of the biblically grounded but (in his view) unacceptable Jewish practice of his day.

As for "the defense of marriage," he would refer his conservative disciple to what he did say. Divorce, not homosexuality, was the deviation that preoccupied him.

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"If your people are determined to bring your country into accord with my teaching," he would say, "then let them dissolve all second marriages and write my prohibition of divorce into their Constitution. But if they insist on overruling that prohibition, then let them look to their other prohibitions and consider revising them as well. For how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the mote out of your eye,' when there is a beam in your own?" (Matthew 7:4).

And then Jesus would take his leave, saying to his young friend in his steely and unflinching way, "He who can take this, let him take it" (Matt. 19:18).

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Jack Miles
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