There is not a hotter or more controversial subject being discussed today in our country than homosexuality. Voices are loud and tempers run hot whenever this subject is mentioned. Although the text before us doesn’t deal specifically with homosexuality, it does show us how Jesus approached a woman caught in sexual sin and what He had to say to those who were quick to condemn her.
Few pastors speak on homosexuality, because they worry about losing church members and diminishing tithes. The subject is made more complicated by media spin, political rhetoric, and arguing. Some consider it too distasteful or painful to think about. Many who are homosexual have been bashed by preachers, thumped by Bible verses, and rejected by Christians. While John 8:1-11 does not deal specifically with homosexuality, from it we discover how to address sexual sin in general—including homosexuality.
First, we see that Jesus was candid with all people. He was honest with the woman in our passage when He told her to ʺgo and sin no moreʺ (v. 11), thus referring to her sexual behavior as sinful. He was not condemning her sexuality, but her choice to express her sexuality in a way God had not prescribed. Our response to anyone’s sin should reflect the God we say we follow: we should love the person enough to tell him or her the truth. Homosexuality is mentioned seven times in Scripture (see Genesis 19, Leviticus 18; 20; Judges 19; Romans 1; 1 Corinthians 6; 1 Timothy 1). The Bible teaches that homosexuality is sin and is contrary to God’s original purpose and plan. In addressing it, we must have Peter’s mindset when he said to the Sanhedrin, ʺWhether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge…. We ought to obey God rather than menʺ (Acts 4:19; 5:29). We must not handle biblical prohibitions irresponsibly, nor can we shape them around personal or cultural preferences. We should never think God blesses the very behavior He denounces. Whatever the culture tells us, God’s revelation trumps all. However, in loving others, we should note the difference between a preference and a practice. The woman in this passage had a preference that became her practice; she was attracted to a man who was not her husband, and she followed her desire into adultery. The good news is that an orientation or a preference does not have to define a person when a spiritual orientation can. We must choose to be defined not by our preferences but by our submission to God. What does this mean? Read Romans 8:1-2. Have you experienced this freedom? Do you want others to?
Next, we consider that God condemns all sin, including hypocrisy, and that Jesus was confrontational with all hypocrites (see vv. 3-9a). The scribes and Pharisees were legalists who claimed to keep the Law and were zealous to judge the woman by the Law. Consequently, they gave a one-sided interpretation of Leviticus 20, which declares that both ʺthe adulterer and adulteress shall surely be put to deathʺ (v. 10). This was because they were not really concerned about morality, but mortality; they were hoping to trap Jesus so that they could kill Him. They did not bring the woman to Jesus because they hated adultery; they brought her because they hated Jesus and were using her for their purposes. In response, Jesus raised the situation from a legal issue to a spiritual issue: they were unfit to be her executioners because they were not without sin. Self-righteous judgment becomes its own gallows (read Esther 5:14; 7:9). However, if we are in touch with our own fallen nature, we will be more compassionate with all unbelievers, whether gay or straight. The Bible has strong things to say about homosexuality, but it also says strong things about divorce, lust, idolatry, and greed (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord; what makes us forget this? Read Ephesians 2:8-10.Lastly, we see that Jesus was compassionate with all sinners. We read that He ʺwas left alone, and the woman standing in the midstʺ (v. 9). In that gathering, there had been only one who was qualified to throw stones, and He didn't. Has this changed? How do we throw stones now? What should we do instead? The accusers were concerned with her punishment, but Jesus was concerned with her. Many people with same-sex attraction feel alienated and uniquely condemned by the church. Historically, the Christian church has been good at showing contempt but bad at showing compassion. It is time to reverse that, using the acronym LOVE. Listen: don’t offer advice until you have really listened. Offer support: pray, wrestle with the issues, and stand with the person through their ups and downs. Voice God’s truth: don’t be embarrassed by the Bible, but watch your tone and speak with tenderness (see Ephesians 4:15). Esteem: all people deserve respect because they are made in the image of God. Read Colossians 1:13-17. Discuss. Church should be a refuge for struggling people, not a museum of perfect people.
Adapted from Pastor Skip’s teaching
The BIG Idea
ʺWe are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good worksʺ (Ephesians 2:10). Join Jesus in saying, ʺNeither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.ʺ
Figures referenced: David Kinnaman, Alfred Joyce Kilmer
Greek words: kategraphen, anamartétos
Cross references: Genesis 19; Leviticus 18; 20; Judges 19; Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; John 2:4; 3:16; 4:16-18; 6:60; 8:1-11; 19:26; Acts 4:19; 5:29; Romans 1; 2:4; 1 Corinthians 6; Ephesians 4:15; 1 Timothy 1
Keywords: homosexuality, heterosexuality, sexuality, gay, lesbian, sex, love, sin, adultery, truth, Scripture, sexual preference, sexual orientation, hypocrites, hypocritical, the church, compassion, respect