[ Author: Kathy Petersen ]
Looking for wiggle room
If you’ve been on the internet much talking about religion, you’ve almost certainly encountered the argument “Jesus never said anything about abortion” or “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality” (and perhaps other topics as well). Those who typically bring up this argument are both non-Christians and those who claim to be Christians and they are essentially accusing the other person of being hypocritical, and/or trying to get the other person to change his opinion about the topic(s).
Depending on the situation, there are several different tactics you might take, to counter the argument:
One is simply to point out that “Jesus never said…” then fill in the blank with whatever seems most appropriate at the time. For example, if the person is arguing in favor of homosexual activity being not sinful, you can say, “Jesus never said that homosexual activity is good,” or “Jesus never said gay-bashing is bad,” or “Jesus never said not to kill homosexuals.” [Use discretion; ramping up the rhetoric is not always advisable, but sometimes it can be worth it, if done right and with the right end goal in mind.] If the person is arguing in favor of abortion, you could point out that “Jesus never said that raping children is wrong.” (Again, use discretion.)
You could also respond more generally to something else that the person likes or holds dear. This of course, works only if you know what that person likes, so it may be of less value unless you’re familiar with the person. The thing you bring up may be something the person agrees with but you don’t–you can also bring up something that you both agree with. The sky’s the limit!
The logical conclusion
The object in bringing up these other things that “Jesus never said,” is to get them to agree that there are a lot of things that Jesus never said, but this doesn’t mean that nothing else can be known or believed about the subject; and also (and more importantly) that we can take what is written in the Bible, and draw conclusions even about certain things that are not specifically talked about.
How this might play out is as follows:
Other person: “Jesus never said anything about abortion.”
You: “Jesus never said anything about sexual abuse of children, either!”
Other: “Well, it’s obvious that it’s wrong to sexually abuse children!!”
You (using Socratic questioning): “How is it so obvious, when Jesus never said anything about it?”
(The response may vary here, depending on the opponent, but will typically include an appeal to something that is said, with a conclusion drawn from what is said to something that is not said. And this is where you have him.)
Other: “Jesus said we are to love our neighbors and to do good to people and treat them the way we want to be treated, and it’s obvious that sexually abusing children is not loving, not doing good, and not treating them the way we’d want to be treated.”
You: “So, you’re saying that abortion is loving, is doing good, and is the way you’d want to be treated?”
Silence doesn’t mean yes
The other tactic usually takes longer, so it’s definitely not something you’ll want to do as a hit-and-run comment but is more useful when you’re in a deeper conversation. This method involves confronting the assumption that just because Jesus didn’t discuss and personally condemn homosexual action or abortion, that that means He approved of it, or that we are somehow left in the dark as to what to believe about it.
First, Jesus affirmed the Mosaic Law and the Law is certainly not silent on the topic of homosexual behavior. While it doesn’t address abortion specifically, it does condemn the taking of innocent human life. Also, if Jesus is God and God gave the Law of Moses (also known as “the Law of God”), then Jesus gave the Law of Moses, which means Jesus must have approved of the condemnation of homosexual action. Further, since homosexual behavior was condemned in the Law of Moses, it was not common during Jesus’s earthly ministry, so there was no reason for Him to bring it up, any more than it was necessary for Him to bring up child sex abuse.
Second, while Jesus didn’t directly address homosexual action, He did address sexuality and marriage, and confirmed what was in the Law of Moses regarding those. For instance, when He was asked about divorce, He went back to the beginning – literally! He cited Adam and Eve as the true and best example of what marriage was intended to be – one man and one woman together for life. In the Garden of Eden, God created everything “very good” (i.e., “perfect”), so if the pre-sin, pre-Fall, God-created, perfect example of marriage was one man and one woman, this precludes not only homosexual relationships, but also polygamy and divorce.
It’s true that at no time did Jesus directly condemn homosexual action but He had no problem with changing or explaining things from the Law or Jewish tradition that the Jews got wrong. There were multiple opportunities for Him to say, “Yes, the Law says that man is not to lie with men as with women, but now we know about loving, committed, homosexual relationships and as long as people are in a loving, monogamous relationship, it’s all good.” But He never did.
To sum up: There are thousands of things that Jesus never said but that doesn’t mean that what He did say and what the rest of the Bible has to say, has no value in determining what we should do in a given situation.