What Would Jesus Say to a Gay Couple Today?
“Suppose there were two gay men right here in this room — men who loved each other. Suppose Jesus walked into the room right now. What do you think He would say to them?”
A friend of mine was asked that question not long ago. It’s a great question, and the answer he gave was brilliant.
It’s a great question because Jesus’ opinion matters, and because there’s a lot of confusion over what He would say.
Misunderstandings in Jesus’ Name
We know that God is love, and that His first commandments are to love Him and one another. Some say that’s all you need to know; that love is a value higher than all others, higher even than truth. So if these men want to love each other, certainly Jesus would bless them for it, right?
We know, too, that Jesus wouldn’t reject the men. He associated with every kind of “sinner,” while rebuking the “smug religionists,” as I like to call them; the hypocrites who thought they were better than everyone else.
So we know that Jesus would engage with them with warmth and love, and He would certainly stand for love. But still we have to wonder, what would he say?
”Do You Want To Be Healed?”
Here’s how my friend answered. It comes straight from conversations Jesus had when He was here on earth (John 5:2-9, Mark 10:46-52).
“What would you have me do for you? Do you want to be healed?”
Jesus would ask them, “What would you have me do for you? Do you want to be healed?”
He might even offer them God’s forgiveness, as He did with the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12.
Love That’s Truly Life-Giving
The standard gay-rights answer, of course, would be, “Absolutely not! Forgiveness? What an insult! Our love is good and right. You’ve told us to love one another, and that’s what we’re doing. So we expect you to bless our relationship!”
Jesus ran into this kind of thing a lot: people who thought they could tell Him what He should be doing. More often than not He responded with questions.
So I think He might say, “What, do you think you cannot love one another without putting sex in the picture?” His own answer to that should be obvious. Or he might ask them, “What leads you to believe your love is good and right?”
I’ve wondered that myself. It’s not just that gay sex seems inherently wrong to me. It isn’t even just my conviction that God’s word says it’s not good. It’s what we can observe with our own eyes — or the eyes of researchers. The New Atlantis reported on this at length last fall: the LGBT life is not an emotionally healthy one, and it isn’t just because of anti-gay stigma.
Even gay-friendly researchers find that gay men typically connect with an extraordinarily high number of partners. This is not a picture of life-giving relational health. Rather it’s a picture of always seeking, always hoping, and always being disappointed.
Which is why I believe Jesus would ask them, “What would you have me do for you? Do you want to be healed?”
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Why the Question Needs Asking
In the Gospel accounts he asked those questions of a man who was lame, and one who was blind. You’d think the answer would be obvious. I’ve been partially disabled for much of the past twenty years, with serious problems in both feet. I’ve worn out four fracture boots; I’m on my fifth one now. I’ve had four foot surgeries in the past six years, and I’m facing the fifth in less than two weeks from now.
I want to be healed. Who wouldn’t?
There’s a whole movement now of LGBT people who don’t think they need Jesus’ help that way.
But there are people who have “made friends” of their disabilities. It certainly isn’t true of most disabled persons, but some find it more convenient — and perhaps more familiar, too — to allow their physical challenges relieve them of some personal responsibility.
So these questions were very insightful. Jesus didn’t force His healing on anyone. He did it only when He knew they wanted it. And there’s a whole movement now of LGBT people who don’t think they need Jesus’ help that way.
To Say Yes or to Say No
Yet I believe there are many who would still say, “Yes! We’re willing to let go of what’s seemed right to us — because in reality we know it isn’t. We’re not happy being this way. We want to be healed.” And I believe He would do it for them.
Now we know that in real life, people who seek spiritual healing from same-sex attraction rarely experience it fully. It would be cruel to suggest that this is what people should normally expect when they encounter Jesus today.
But this has been a what-if scenario: What if Jesus walked through the door right now, in the flesh? Of course we can’t heal like Jesus did. My doctors haven’t healed my feet like Jesus healed the lame. When He walked the earth, He did what He alone could do. Sometimes He still does miracles; more often He has other plans for us, plans that cause us to rely on Him through weakness, not in strength.
As for those who would consider his offer an insult, I expect He would do as He did with others who rejected His word: He would let them walk away. He would let them live with their decision — and its harmful consequences.
And as He also did when He was on earth before (Luke 19:41-44), He would weep for them.
Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream and the author of Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens (Kregel Publications, 2016). Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.