10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Jesus

What to know about the man many people call God.

Father James Martin is the editor-at-large for the Jesuit magazine America and author of several books, including Jesus: A PilgrimageThe Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and Between Heaven and Mirth. He is also, in the words of Stephen Colbert, “the chaplain of ‘The Colbert Report.'” We asked Fr. Martin what he wishes everyone knew about Jesus.

1. Jesus was poor.

Everyone knows that Jesus explicitly, specifically and repeatedly called for his disciples to care for the poor, whom he called the “least” among us. In fact, in the Gospel of Matthew, this is his litmus test for entrance into heaven.

But some may not know that Jesus himself was poor, or at least came from the “lower classes” of his time. Before his public ministry, he lived and worked in Nazareth, a tiny, backwater town of 200 to 400 people. The Gospels refer to Jesus’s occupation as a tekton, a Greek word usually translated as “carpenter.” But it can also mean “woodworker,” “craftsman” or even “day laborer.” It’s important to note that in the social and economic scheme of things, carpenters ranked below the peasantry, because they did not have the benefit of a plot of land. Jesus knew what it meant to eke out a living in a poor town.

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Read more on Jesus in James Martin’s book.

2. Jesus saw income disparities firsthand, and he condemned them.

An hour-and-a-half walk from Nazareth was Sepphoris, a booming town of 30,000 people, then being rebuilt by King Herod. The town boasted an amphitheater that seated 3,000 people, a fortress, courts, a royal bank, and lavish houses decorated with frescoes and mosaics. It’s almost certain that a carpenter trying to earn a living would at least once or twice walk the four miles to the wealthy town under construction in order to seek work. While in Sepphoris, Jesus would have seen how the “other half” lives.

When we hear Jesus express anger over gross income disparities, particularly in the Parable of Lazarus and Dives in Luke’s Gospel (in which a rich man refuses to care for a poor one), we often think of his words as divinely inspired. And they were: Jesus was fully divine. But they also were informed by his human experience, and that experience included seeing great disparities of wealth in his own life.

3. Jesus had close friends.

We tend to think of Jesus as interacting with his apostles, disciples, and followers. But he also had friends. The Gospels describe, for example, Jesus’s relaxing at the house of his good friends Mary and Martha, who lived in Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem. The Gospel of John says, quite plainly, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister.” And when their brother Lazarus is found to be sick and dying (this is the man whom Jesus will raise from the dead), the news is relayed to Jesus with a telling phrase. The message from the sisters does not say, “Our brother Lazarus is ill,” or “Your friend Lazarus is ill,” or even “Lazarus of Bethany is ill.” Rather, in the Greek, Jesus is told that hon phileis is ill: “he whom you love.”

It’s a window into the deep relationships and intimate friendships that Jesus enjoyed. He was not simply Messiah; he was a good friend.

4. Jesus instructed his disciples not to judge.

For some reason, this is often difficult for people to accept. Whenever I mention Jesus’s injunction not to judge — “Judge not, lest you be judged” — some people bristle. Something in us feels not only inclined to, but obliged to, judge. “Well, but that means anything goes, doesn’t it?” is a common response. “Of course we have to judge other people,” say others. No, Jesus says, we do not.

We are called to live moral lives, and invite others to lead moral lives, but we do so primarily through our own example and by gentle persuasion — not by judging and condemning them. Judgment is left, as Jesus reminds us, to God.

5. Jesus didn’t say anything about gays and lesbians.

In all his many utterances about many social situations and human conditions, Jesus never said one word about homosexual persons. Admittedly, St. Paul speaks about that topic, but many contemporary scholars believe that Paul was probably speaking not about homosexuality per se (the word itself is of relatively recent vintage) but about the evils of male prostitution.

In any event, Jesus himself spoke a great deal about helping the poor, forgiving one’s enemies, and even divorce (which he condemned), but nothing about, and certainly nothing against, gay and lesbian men and women.

6. Jesus always reached out to those on the margins.

If a Gospel narrative introduces a marginalized person, it is a sure bet that Jesus will reach out to him or her. The examples are too numerous to mention. He meets a Roman centurion, and rather than forcing him to convert to Judaism, he heals the man’s servant. He meets a Samaritan woman (someone viewed as a foreigner or even an enemy for Jews of Judea and Galilee), and rather than condemning her, engages in a friendly conversation. He meets Zacchaeus, the “chief tax collector” in Jericho and therefore the “chief sinner” of the area, and even before Zacchaeus offers to repent, Jesus offers to dine with him, a sign of acceptance.

Jesus is continually reaching out to people on the margins, and he asked his disciples to do the same.

7. Jesus can’t be tamed.

It’s common for people of every theological stripe to pick and choose which of Jesus’s words to follow and which of his deeds to believe. Thomas Jefferson went so far as to construct his own “Gospel” by (literally) scissoring out the miracles and other traces of his divinity. Like many of us, Jefferson felt uncomfortable with parts of Jesus’s story. He wanted a Jesus who didn’t threaten, a Jesus he could tame.

But Jesus cannot be tamed. The people of his time could not do this, and neither can we. Scissor out the uncomfortable parts and it’s not Jesus were talking about — it is our own creation.

Incidentally, New Testament scholar E.P. Sanders once read Jefferson’s “Gospel” and concluded that Jefferson’s Jesus was a learned man, a sage. In essence, Thomas Jefferson’s Jesus was . . . Thomas Jefferson.

8. Jesus really did perform miracles.

Many people are uncomfortable with Jesus’s supernatural power and other signs of his divinity. But an immense part of the Gospels is taken up with what are called “works of power” and “signs” — that is, miracles. In fact, some of the sayings that people take for granted and quote approvingly — even by those who do not accept Jesus’s divinity — occur within the context of the miracle stories. Remove the miracles and there is no context for many of Jesus’ most familiar sayings.

Jesus’ ability to perform miracles was never in doubt in the Gospels. Even his detractors take note of his miracles, as when they critique him for healing on the Sabbath. The question posed by people of his time is not whether Jesus can do miracles, but rather the source of his power. The statement that Jesus was seen as a miracle worker in his time has as much reliability as almost any other statement we can make about him.

9. Jesus struggled, even in prayer.

Jesus was fully divine. But he was also fully human. That’s a basic Christian belief. It’s also a mystery, that is, something not to be fully understood, but pondered. And one of the most telling windows into his humanity comes in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he is confronted with his impending crucifixion. Jesus asks God the Father to “remove this cup.” He is saying, in essence: “If it’s possible, I don’t want to die.”

Eventually, Jesus accepts that his coming death is his Father’s will — but not before struggle and prayer. Later, when hanging on the cross, he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” This is not a person who does not struggle: Christians do not relate to a person who cannot understand our own human struggles.

10. Jesus rose from the dead.

Not everyone believes this about Jesus, because to believe this is to be a Christian, and not everyone reading this is Christian. But let me offer a kind of “proof,” if you will — even though the only proof was what the disciples saw on Easter Sunday.

The Gospels were written for the early church, and the Gospel writers would certainly not go out of their way to make the apostles — the leaders of the early church, after all — look bad. Nonetheless, notice that the Gospels portray the apostles as abject cowards during the crucifixion: most of them abandon Jesus; one of them, Peter, denies knowing him; and after his death they are depicted as cowering behind closed doors. That’s hardly something that the Gospel writers would make up.

But after the Resurrection, they are utterly transformed. The disciples move from being terrified victims to men and women ready to die for what they believe. Only something dramatic, something visible, something tangible, something real, could affect this kind of change.

Jesus really and truly rose to the dead. For me, that’s the most important thing to know about Jesus

James Martin SJ
Written by

  • Peter Bird

    Thank you, Father.

    • L.W. Dicker

      You’re welcome, goober.

      —-Jesus

  • John Mezzacappa

    I am curious of the validity of point #5 stating that Jesus didn’t say anything about gays and lesbians. He did attest to the authority of all Scripture and even the Apostle John said all that Jesus did could not be contained in books. When we look at the whole counsel of God (all Scripture) Jesus, who is the Word (Logos) who is God (John 1) tells us that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination. As a Christian I am to love the sinner but rebuke the sin. The lay person may not know Scripture well enough and may be deceived into thinking that being gay or lesbian is ok when Scripture clearly speaks against such a lifestyle. I rather remain Biblical correct than politiclly correct.

    • likes2lurk

      Who am I to judge?

    • Tpr1976

      The Catechism says that being gay or lesbian is ok. It’s homosexual sex acts hat are condemned. I am sure many people in the 19th century also wanted to avoid seeming politically correct on slavery.

      • Ken

        Jesus made it clear that God considers sinful thoughts to be the same as sinful acts. While I admit it’s easier to not do a thing than to think about doing a thing, if a person is having impure thoughts, they have sinned in God’s eyes.

        • Tpr1976

          So is the Catechism wrong when it says that gays and lesbians should not be face discrimination?

          • Ken

            The Catholic Catechism is clearly in error on this. The Bible is the ultimate authority on God’s teachings, no Catechism trumps it. Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus makes it clear that God sees sinful thoughts and acts as the same. It’s not enough that a person with homosexual desires simply live a chaste life, they have to accept that their desires are not right and ask God’s forgiveness and help to remove those desires.

            Unrepentant homosexuals, whether or not they act on their desires, should not be accepted into a true Christian Church. That’s not prejudice, it’s not gay-bashing, it’s compassionate Christian discipline, which God also calls true Christian Churches to exercise on wayward members.

          • Tpr1976

            Why did God create them with such desires? Let’s say there’s someone who just wants to find a special someone to be with monogamously forever and it’s someone of the same sex. That person is not interested in sleeping around and fornicating. Why would God make that person that way?
            What do you say about people with homosexual attraction suppressing that and marrying opposite sex partners? That never turns out well.

          • Ken

            God didn’t create homosexual desires, those exist as a result of Man’s original sin corrupting all subsequent generations.

          • Cesar Chavira

            I’m not sure your understanding of ‘original sin’ is fully informed. Eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge did not, by any intelligent, well-studied interpretation of the Gospel result in homosexuality.

          • Ken

            Don’t talk down to me and try to sound like some kind of intellectual. Original sin refers to the sinful nature of all humanity that resulted because of Adam and Eve’s “original sin” of disobeying God’s command not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And because all humans are now sinful by nature, all kinds of depraved thoughts and behavior resulted, including homosexuality. So yes, eating the fruit did result in homosexuality.

          • Cesar Chavira

            It is not talking down to someone to point out a flaw in their reasoning. You seem defensive. Too bad you don’t seem equipped for or interested in having a thoughtful exchange. Instead, you bravely defend a nest of mediocrity.

          • Ken

            Wow, I have never in my life read such a well-written non-argument.

          • Tpr1976

            What about heterosexual desires? Do those exist because of original sin? Do you believe in that arcane concept that sex within marriage is merely for procreation and the relief of concupiscence? Not all homosexuals are horn dogs and not all heterosexuals are chaste by virtue of being heterosexual.

          • Ken

            Now you are just being deliberately obtuse. I’m not going to debate this issue with you if all you are going to do is intentionally misunderstand me.

          • Tpr1976

            Is everyone meant to be celibate? Can a homosexual have a healthy spiritual life and relationship with God while being who they are?

          • Ken

            No and no. Being unrepentant about one’s homosexual desires is the same as committing homosexual acts, in God’s eyes. I addressed this when I quoted Matthew 5:27-28, in a previous post. If you are just going to keep dragging out the same arguments over and over, then we are done here. Goodbye.

          • Tpr1976

            So God screwed up when he made people who have homosexual desires.
            Or all sexual desire is bad and God merely permits it for procreation.
            Or God created homosexuals so that they would have to deny their inclination even if it be towards monogamy and family (yes I know they can’t biologically reproduce….adoption etc…)
            Or homosexual desires are mental diseases made manifest in which case they need to be given medical attention and counseling.
            To you, there is no such thing as a healthy homosexual, is that right?

          • Ken

            What part of “deliberately obtuse”, didn’t you understand? Now you are implying that homosexual desires are God’s doing (which would also imply that God is responsible for mankind’s sinful behavior). You can’t debate properly. All you can do is try and discredit my opinions as intolerant, without actually refuting my points. You haven’t quoted a single Bible verse to support your position, all you can do is ask leading questions and attempt to put words in my mouth. I’ve said all that needs to be said on the subject. Goodbye.

          • Tpr1976

            Genesis 2, aren’t heterosexual desires God’s doing according to Scripture? So why would people be created with desires contrary to the way God made us? Either God screwed up or he wants to make lots of people who need to repress their sexually and remain celibate or homosexuality is a mental defect. Which one is your opinion?
            I am not debating, I am asking you what your opinion is and if you don’t want your opinions to be judged as intolerant then stop having opinions. If however you want to continue to have your opinions and beliefs, get used to some people finding them intolerant. What else can you do?

          • Ken

            You are right, you aren’t debating. Stop having opinions if I don’t want to be judged as intolerant? That statement alone is both ignorant of Christianity and intolerant of its views. That’s a worldly view, not a Christian one. It’s not my opinion that sinful thoughts and actions are both in need of God’s forgiveness, that’s GOD’s LAW, as written in the Bible. If you can’t accept that simple fact, then you need to do some research and decide if your views on sin are based more on God’s law of repentance and struggle against sin, or the world’s view of unconditional acceptance of sinfulness. If it’s that latter (which it looks like from my perspective), then you have some soul searching to do.

          • Tpr1976

            Snob

          • jumpstart

            Did screw up when he made Satan?

          • Tpr1976

            No, God didn’t screw up when He made Satan. The Devil is an angelic being that freely chose rebellion against God. God still loves the Devil and didn’t make the Devil so that he would rebel, but God also gives the gift of free will.

        • Tpr1976

          it says they must be accepted with “compassion, respect and sensitivity”

    • Cesar Chavira

      I tend to agree that to remain “Bibically correct” sounds like a good thing to be. But is it not a challenge to claim “Biblical correctness” and to, simultaneously, ignore what Fr. Jim makes explicit in #4? That is, are we not judging, are we not condemning every homosexual when we ‘hate the sin’? Is the sin, in this example, able to be divorced from the individual, the sinner, in question? Can we remain “Bibically correct” and assume the role of judge and arbiter of what is right when Our Lord Jesus, himself, told us in no uncertain terms that, “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17 NASB)? This is from where the friction comes.

      I can only assume that your position comes from the desire for our Church to be more holy, for all of us Christians to be better Christians. But I think your suggestion that “those who are ‘deceived into thinking that being gay or lesbian is ok” do so in an effort to be “politically correct” is not a conviction born of charity, that is, love. Could it no be that our informed consciences tend to lean more heavily toward mercy and loving embrace and yours tends more toward righteousness? Neither is better or worse, if both are born from the yearning to be closer to Jesus.

      Could we not engage in debate, presupposing the best of each others opinions, without assuming or accusing the other of the worst?

      I think we can.

      • http://www.sfbc.edu John Mezzacappa

        Great points Cesar, I am in agreement with you 🙂

      • Ken

        So, I suppose we shouldn’t tell murderers that they’ve done anything wrong either, or thieves, or rapists, because Heaven forbid we’d ever been perceived as judging someone. There’s another thing that I wish everyone knew about Jesus too, he never hesitated to make clear to people their failings or sins. He never glossed over sin, he made it plain, whether through parables, or direct action. It is true that Jesus did not speak often of judgment for sins, but that’s not because he was revoking it, but because he didn’t have to say anything about it. The law of God clearly spells out what the punishments for sin are.
        There’s a difference between telling people that they are sinning, and judging them for it. Pointing out a failing, with love and compassion for the person sinning, is not the same as saying, “You are damned for your sin.” If someone wants to be part of the Christian Church, they can’t just live their lives however they please. If they slip, it is up to fellow Christians to point out their error and help them to stop sinning. But that doesn’t mean you stop pointing out sin because it’s not “polite”.

        • Cesar Chavira

          I see your point, Ken and I can only speak for myself when I say that I hesitate to call out other people’s sin primarily because I know that that urge is born, usually if not always, from pride rather than from a humble heart inviting the sinner to a holier life. It also runs the risk of devolving into a shouting match about who’s committed more sins or who’s sins are more awful.

          I tend to think that conversion in someone’s life must be born from within, from an awareness of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives and the humility to allow the Holy Spirit to make us more holy. I have yet to witness an example where one person calling out another’s sins moves the sinner to repentance and conversion. Is that not the job of Jesus? Can I, with any credibility, call out my neighbor’s sins knowing full well that I, too, regularly sin? Can I pretend to assume the role of Jesus in making clear other’s sins?

          That’s the rub. It is not an effort to be polite. I am not glossing over sin. Neither am I leaving my neighbor to his own abilities and washing my hands clean. St. Peter Faber said it is not enough to do good. We must do good with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That is, we must do good when motivated by good. So, my question is: when I call out another’s sin, am I doing so out of love and charity for the sinner in question or am I doing it out of hate for the sin? In other words, am I calling out sin out of love or out of hate?

          • Ken

            I already addressed that in my previous comment, second paragraph.

          • Brian Nguyen

            I totally agree with you Cesar.

        • EqualTime

          I distinguish between “sins” or crimes against another person or society – murder, theft, rape – which must be judged secularly so a society can thrive – vs personal life choices – believing or not believing, choosing who we want to love – which judgment is non-secular and almost entirely Biblically based. The pro-life/pro-choice issue lies in both worlds. Obviously a unborn child has rights, and can’t speak for him/herself. But we, thus far as a society, have balanced those rights with those of the mother, and generally, legally, believe the mother’s rights to be superior.

        • Brian Nguyen

          Hi Ken,

          Your analogy to murderers, thieves, and rapists doesn’t apply here. A person’s sexual orientation (gay, straight, bi-sexual, etc.) is an intrinsic part of their identity. Murdering and raping are personal choices that people make, unfortunately. But it doesn’t become a part of your identity until you make the personal choice to murder or rape. I only become a murderer if I murder someone. If I’ve never murdered anyone, I cannot be called a murderer. In that case, the “sin” is easily distinguished from the “sinner.” As Cesar said above, how can the so-called “sin” be divorced from the “sinner” in the case of sexual orientation? A homosexual person is homosexual, regardless of whether they choose to be homosexual or not. Even if a gay person has never had sex in their life, it does not change the fact that they are gay and were born gay. They are born with a natural sexual attraction to the same sex. It does not require them to make a personal choice like in the case or murderers, rapists, and thieves. I also find it extremely malicious that you are even analogizing homosexuality to murder and rape. It’s extremely uncalled for and it definitely shows that you also hate gays as people, not just their lifestyle. I doubt you have any gay friends. Otherwise, you’d never make such a horrendous analogy that clearly shows your personal malice towards gay people, as persons, as opposed to their lifestyle choices. Even if your analogy doesn’t stem from hatred or prejudice, it clearly shows intellectual laziness on your part.

          So your analogy does not fit in my opinion. I also think it’s unfortunate that Catholics and Christians alike cannot just leave the LGBT community alone. They’re accused of trying to promote some sort of insidious gay agenda. But at the end of the day, they just want to be left alone to do what makes them happy. I don’t see an agenda behind that.

          I don’t see the LGBT community, as a whole, trying forcing the church to perform Catholic weddings for gay couples. They could care less about that. A lot of sympathetic straight people are calling for that change on behalf of the LGBT community, but the LGBT community, for the most part, just wants to be left alone. So just leave them alone. Besides inflaming your hate and prejudice, I respectfully ask you to give me one example of how another person’s gayness has ever personally hurt you or a loved one.

          That’s why the Pope recently said “if a gay man humbly prays before God, who am I to judge?” He said that as a direct reaction to people like you who proudly compare gays to murderers and rapists. I am absolutely shaking my head.

          If you truly call yourself a Catholic, get off your high anti-gay horse, and start feeding the poor and providing for the less fortunate. Loving the poor and those in the margins was a central part of Jesus’ ministry. That’s why he dedicated so many parables to it. Do you remember any parables about gay people? No, I do not. So stop focusing on making gay people unhappy. Instead focus on how you can better love God, your friends and family and give back to your community, without judging. That is the true meaning of being Catholic.

          • Ken

            1. I’m not a Catholic.

            2. Homosexuality may not be considered a crime as most nations define it, but it is still a sin as God defines it, as is murder, rape, and theft. God judges all sins as worthy of death, whether you killed your neighbor or just stole his newspaper.

            3. The Pope is correct in that a repentant homosexual is forgiven his sins, but that still means he must struggle against homosexual desires, and asking for God’s forgiveness when he gives in, no matter how often it happens.
            4. People used to believe that murderers were born “bad”. They believed that some people just couldn’t help killing other people. Now society believes that some people are just “born gay”, even though the scientific community hasn’t produced any substantial evidence to back up that claim. The jury is still very much out on that. But whether people are born murderers or not, or born gay or not, it doesn’t change the fact that both are sinful behaviors, and even thinking of either one is a sin in God’s eyes, requiring repentance and God’s forgiveness.

            5. I don’t know what rock you are living under, but the LGBT community is not content with just being “left alone”. Major networks tend not to cover the stories of LGBT activism stepping on freedom of religion, especially when it comes to Christianity, but it is happening on a regular basis. I suggest looking up the story of 70 major corporations banding together to stop Trinity Western University from creating a law school, on the ground that Trinity Western requires students to sign a Christian covenant that states sexual relations are to be confined within the bounds of a marriage between a man and a woman. BMO bank of Montreal started a pre-boycott of the still-non-existent law school’s potential future graduates, and got a large group of corporations to join them, in the name of promoting “tolerance”. BMO now requires the law firms with whom they do business to disclose the diversity statistics of their associates, partners and management committee, which include questions about sexual orientation, religious background, and ethnicity. The questions about sexual orientation and ethnicity are just a smoke screen for their real targets, people with Christian religious sympathies, never mind that they cannot legally use the sexuality, ethnicity or religious beliefs of another company’s employees as criteria for doing business with them. It’s blatant discrimination.

          • Amy S Daspit

            Then I guess you will be condemned to hell as well….you are a sinner! Get off your high horse!

          • Ken

            Wow. Worldly “moral” outrage and ignorance of Christianity rears its ugly head again. Did I ever say I was perfect? No one is, not even the most pious Christians. That’s the whole point of Christianity, that all humanity is damned from birth and in need of God’s forgiveness in order to avoid eternal punishment.

      • klockheed

        > are we not judging, are we not condemning every homosexual when we ‘hate the sin’

        Are we not judging, condemning every idolater when we ‘hate the sin’?

    • Douglas Trevett

      If this issue was of great concern to Jesus as it is for Catholics today I am sure he would have spoken of it and it would appear in the NT scriptures. Today it seems as if it is the benchmark being a true Catholic to be anti gay. We are all Loved equally by God and who are we to exclude anyone from the Love of the Church!

      • BobRN

        First, the Church did not make homosexuality the “great concern” that it is today. That would be the secular culture, especially the efforts of some in the secular culture to impose on the rights of churches and individual Christians to live according to their faith.
        Second, there are a lot of issues that don’t appear in the NT Scriptures, I’m sure for a variety of reasons. Never the less, Jesus does condemn fornication and adultery, so it’s reasonable to think He wouldn’t be on the side of today’s sexual libertines.
        Third, your statement that, “Today it seems as if it is the benchmark [of] being a true Catholic to be anti gay” is an unnecessary provocation and insult to those who embrace the fullness of Catholic teaching on sexuality as an expression of the love and creative powers of God. Just because someone doesn’t think the same as you doesn’t mean he or she is “anti” anything or, as you imply, a bigot.
        Finally, the genuine faith of those who hold to the Church’s teaching on sexuality is not in any way, shape, or form the expression of a desire to exclude anyone from the love of the Church, or to suggest that anyone is not loved by God. Presumably, those who think differently than you on this matter are also loved by God. God only loves, so it would seem that being loved by God, while being the foundation of human dignity, is not the measure of moral activity.

        • Michael McCleary

          If the Church was “Anti-gay”, than all it would have to do is be silent and let the poor misguided souls fall into hell; but instead the Church loves all people and would rather be mocked and condemned and spit on for teaching Truth in the hopes of saving as many as possible.

    • Douglas Trevett

      I dissagree with you where you claim that Jesus ‘did attest to the authority of all Scripture’. Jesus purposely omitted some scripture in his teachings where it was divisive or spoke of the wrath of God, To claim that He somehow did say something about homosexuals because it is contained in “all Scripture” is to me the same judgement you put on ‘the deceived Lay person’ – a deception. Me thinks you seek to deceive not only us lay people but yourself – who are you trying to convince here John – us – or yourself. If you have doubtrs on your belief about this then search your heart not attack what you fear 🙂 Food for thought brother!!!

    • StevieB

      I have a big issue with those holier than thou Christians. I agree 100% with Fr Jim.
      If today Jesus were to return to earth, do you really think he would be having the kind
      of judgmental behavior that you attribute to Him.
      God loves, Jesus forgives all, and the “who am I to judge,” quote of Pope Francis
      is right on.
      For those bible quoting literal believers, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first
      stone.” Surely not I. Yet I am marries 48 years, and a grandmother to a few great
      children. God does not make junk people, so if you start believing that, maybe you
      will stop trying yo castigate & stone another group of people.

      • http://www.sfbc.edu John Mezzacappa

        2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate,equipped for every good work.

        • Jason

          What exactly are you trying to get at here?

    • ve6

      Fr. Martin is pro-homosexual in most articles he writes. This 1.7% (according to the CDC) is a special group to him that the Church should accept, and we should, but their actions, like any extra-marital affairs need to be addressed. Fr. Martin’s continual support for this “cause” has me wondering.

    • Leftthecoast4Texas

      In agreement with your notation, John. Jesus came as fulfillment of the law, not to change it. Talmudic references to the sin of homosexuality was not specifically discussed by Him because it was a non-issue, ie not open for debate or re-interpretation.. Homosexual practices were strictly forbidden and punishment enforced, and non-controversial. He did address the matter of divorce and adultery which many cafeteria-Christians find discomfiting enough to ignore.

  • Peter Pearson

    I guess John M. believes that being right really is more important than anything else. But if that’s correct, what about all the other stuff that gets ignored? Shrimp for instance? Fr. Jim, preach Jesus to us. I think you’ve got it.

    • John Mezzacappa

      Peter, I believe what I said was to be Biblically correct which is clearly taught in Scripture.

      • Andrew Galvin

        Biblically correct. That is a very problematic phrase.

      • Tpr1976

        I agree that “Biblically correct” is a very unclear and even dangerous phrase.
        Does it mean that if it says so in the Bible then we are justified in doing exactly what the Bible says to do?
        If that’s the case then parents can execute their children when they are disrespectful.
        If that’s the case then any woman who speaks in Church is sinning by doing so.
        (Old and New Testament respectively)
        Lots of stuff that’s in the Bible is not practiced today and THANK GOD for that!

  • MisterDavid

    The inclusion of pt. 7 is key, and should probably go first, since every person’s “10 Things…” list about Jesus tends to be more a list about themselves, and what aspects of themselves they see reflected or validated in Jesus. Hence the Thomas Jefferson thing, and hence Albert Schweitzer’s critique of the Quest for the Historical Jesus.

  • Tpr1976

    There needs to be a better effort at outreach and ministry to our gay brothers and sisters.
    Jesus reached out to everyone from Pharisees to prostitutes. All were welcome and all were capable of great sin as well. We are all to eager to label the prostitute or tax collector as a sinner, but not the Pharisee or Priest.
    Jesus shows us how wrong that impression is.

  • http://www.acton.org/ Elise Hilton

    Re’ #5. We could fill volumes with “Things Jesus Didn’t Talk About.” That’s why we trust the Magisterium.

    • bakabomb

      We trust the Magisterium? Please define “we”.

      • Martin Hughes

        I don’t at all, for my part, trust claims to magisterium: I really wonder what rational basis they could have, as I mentioned when the Ahmadis made claims for their Caliph in On Faith which I thought were a bit strong. I’ve just been to a talk about Galileo and looked up the apology offered by the Pope in 1992. This is, despite rather stilted language, an admission that magisterium, particularly in the claim to interpret scripture, can be used erroneously to the point of scandal. But that misinterpretation was not in complete bad faith: there are many passages in scripture that genuinely seem to imply geocentrism. Which just shows that scripture can be misleading even when a sincere effort to understand it is made. So we should be particularly careful and cautious about proclaiming scriptural authority, most of all when scripture seems to say something we are already inclined to think. This point much influences my ideas about homosexuality and Christianity.

        • Martin Hughes

          Well, Jesus didn’t say – better, is not recorded in the Gospels as saying – anything about homosexuality. The ancient world did not use that term, though I think it clear enough that behaviour by men considered womanish or ‘soft’ (malakia) was very unpopular with some people. Paul abandons his usual dignified style for rather slangy words (arsenokoitai) in discussing some aspects of this matter, which indicates how he expected his readers to respond. But the boundary between manly and womanish behaviour did not run exactly between what we think of as heterosexual and homosexual – and of course women who behaved in a man-like fashion, like Penthesilea in myth and Artemisia in reality, were rather admired. However, Jesus left us no recorded comment on any of this to any effect. But perhaps he left it to others to say.
          Yet if Jesus came to earth to instruct us in moral matters it would seem that he would not have recorded instruction on comparatively minor things while leaving to others things that are very important, with profound implications for life and happiness for many, many people. He corrected excessive Sabbath observance, which may be a regrettable thing but is hardly abominable, hardly even an indication of disordered mind or passion, which people say gay sex is.
          Moreover we find in John’s account of Jesus’ last days (though there is no Last Supper exactly in John) the statement that there was a disciple whom Jesus loved and with whom he was in continued physical contact during an important gathering. Neither of these points demonstrates that Jesus was either womanish by ancient standards or homosexual by ours but if Jesus wished us to think – and he could have foreseen our states of mind – that homosexual acts were sinfully disordered he would, I think, not have behaved in ways that would have caused questions to be asked about the relationship either then or now. It would have been especially important not to convey misunderstanding in respect of someone undeniably loved. If I saw someone leaning on someone’s breast throughout a meeting – same sex or opposite – I would be a little disturbed: so would you, surely? It wouldn’t have left observers in the ancient world indifferent, as if nothing were being conveyed.

          • Martin Hughes

            I suppose I should make it clear that I am absolutely not saying that Jesus was gay!

          • L.W. Dicker

            Martin, Jesus is a silly fairy story dreamed up by a bunch of ignorant, pre scientific goat sacrificing religious lunatics.

            Please take that into account before your next post.

          • Martin Hughes

            Well, I wasn’t committing myself to any position about the reality of Jesus or to any attempt to analyse the record to differentiate history and myth. That was why I preferred ‘not recorded as saying’ to ‘did not say’. The discussion started by James M was on the basis of taking the Gospel record more or less at face value, so I didn’t want to start a new hare running, still less a new goat.

  • Martin Hughes

    This is all overconfident. You really shouldn’t be so definite on such questionable, and in some cases plainly contrary, evidence. Jesus may have come from a poor background but that doesn’t prove that he was poor at all times. Indeed he was, on one account, a gluttonous man and a winebibber, (Mt.11, Lk.7) whose apparent possession of money and readiness to spend it caused remark, which seems to suggest a status well above the minimum wage. Even the poor background is questionable. A brief look at Liddell and Scott’s standard Greek dictionary will show that ‘tekton’ was used of people with different kinds of social status, including that of ‘master in any art’: I think it’s like ‘builder’ now, which can refer to anyone from a casual labourer to a businessman running a firm.
    Sepphoris is never mentioned in any account of Jesus and there is no warrant for his being scandalised by inequality there or anywhere. Calling for charity on the part of the rich has never been incompatible with – indeed to some extent presupposes – acceptance of major social inequalities. Maybe Jesus never talked about gay sex: by the same token he never talked about inequality or social justice. Mind you, the story of the Widow’s Mite can be taken as condemning grasping religious institutions.

    Jesus makes many judgemental remarks. The rhythmic ‘scribes, pharisees, hypocrites’ has echoed, perhaps with some regrettable results, down the centuries. He doesn’t seem so keen on divorcees either.
    His conversation with the Syrophoenician or Canaanite woman includes some remarks about non-Jewish people which are worrying rather than disturbing, certainly not compatible with ‘always reaching out’: she’s the one who has to insist on making contact. It’s interesting that she is the only character in the story who defeats Jesus in argument.
    I’m not sure what is meant by ‘Jesus cannot be tamed’. If it means that the story of Jesus is always provocative and disturbing to the point that believers in Jesus are never, or never to any large degree, complacent or smug or unreasonably insistent on doctrine i think your view is quite demonstrably rose-tinted. I find that by looking in the mirror or looking back on some things that I have said in the past I can come to see that my lifelong belief in Jesus has not been quite that good for me.
    It is not only unorthodox people like Jefferson who make Jesus in their own image. The image presented by the Church also makes Jesus somewhat like us rather than like the sinners and heretics, surely?
    One thing I wish that people could accept is that the picture of Jesus presented in the New Testament is not easy to comprehend, a shimmering image rather than a steady one.

  • Tripp

    #5(b) Jesus didn’t say anything about pedophiIia
    #5(c) Jesus didn’t say anything about insider trading
    #5(d) Jesus didn’t say anything about cocaine
    #5(e) Jesus didn’t say anything about pornography

    So does that mean Jesus is okay with all of that stuff? I’m just not sure what the author is trying to say (or hoping to prove) with #5.

    #4 would also be better in its fullest context, rather than parsing out part of the scripture in a very proof-textish kind of way.

    • http://GracefullyTrans.wordpress.com/ Brettany Renée Blatchley

      I think the author’s point is that we as Christians have made such an incredibly, overwhelming “thing” of our position on the homosexuality issue that it dwarfs even our faith in God. Many of us may think it’s “the ultimate sin,” but clearly Jesus had other things in mind (like divorce, hypocrisy, and idolizing things like wealth and power). Put another way, if Jesus had the emphasis on this controversy that much of the Church does, the scriptures would reflect this, and they don’t.

      One point that many overlook (which the author plainly made) was that homosexuality as we understand it is not related to “homosexuality” as it is described in the Bible. BUT when we have too much of an emotional attachment to a particular view, a fact like this is dismissed as irrelevant (at best) and heretical (at worst).

      I also think that the author’s wider point, which echos our Lord’s, is that we need to be more focused on our on “stuff” than on the “stuff” of others, and sadly, the opposite is what happens most often. God’s Spirit is sufficient to draw others to Jesus, and is sufficient to keep us, teach us, and re-create us in the image of Christ – when we meddle in His Spirit’s work in other’s lives, we make God’s task more difficult and even drive people away from Him.

      Another way to look at all this is:

      If God’s priority was judgement, then NONE of us would be here. Instead God’s priority is love, and we know this because the Father sent Jesus to die in our place. Jesus took our crap, all of it, because He know we could not bear the consequences and survive the experience. Our task, our only real task, The Work Of God, is to trust that He has done this for us, and then cooperate (as best we can) with His Spirit as we are re-made. Supervising God’s work in other people, and passing judgement on how well they are doing, (or worse) acting like *we* get to decide who is and isn’t on God’s “guest list.” is “above our pay-grade” – way above it.

      One of the neat things about *really struggling* with God over things in my life, is that I have come to trust that God will not let me fall into ruin, even if I might stumble and bruise myself. God has promised to keep me; has promised to love me (no matter what); has promised to love others *through* me; has promised to be God over the outcomes (so I don’t have to try to be); has promised to make me more like Jesus. And I take God seriously when I am told not to judge others, and to not even condemn myself – such is left to God who is judge, and I cast myself upon Jesus as my Savior and abandon myself, and I am assured by His Spirit within me. What is the result? I live my life in quiet expectation that God will love others through me, and accomplish His purposes in our sphere of influence. I live knowing that every day, I am being renewed and I am being made more Christlike with every experience. I am freed from having to act as “god” and “judge” over other people; I am free to love and accept people unconditionally in full confidence that what my Abba wants changed will be changed and what He does not will not be. These are gifts and freedoms that a LOT of my fellow Believers do not experience, and part of that is because their focus is on the issues of others.

      (His) Blessings & Joy!!

    • http://GracefullyTrans.wordpress.com/ Brettany Renée Blatchley

      I think the author’s point is that we as Christians have made such an incredibly, overwhelming “thing” of our position on the homosexuality issue that it dwarfs even our faith in God. Many of us may think it’s “the ultimate sin,” but clearly Jesus had other things in mind (like divorce, hypocrisy, and idolizing things like wealth and power). Put another way, if Jesus had the emphasis on this controversy that much of the Church does, the scriptures would reflect this, and they don’t.

      One point that many overlook (which the author plainly made) was that homosexuality as we understand it is not related to “homosexuality” as it is described in the Bible. BUT when we have too much of an emotional attachment to a particular view, a fact like this is dismissed as irrelevant (at best) and heretical (at worst).

      I also think that the author’s wider point, which echos our Lord’s, is that we need to be more focused on our on “stuff” than on the “stuff” of others, and sadly, the opposite is what happens most often. God’s Spirit is sufficient to draw others to Jesus, and is sufficient to keep us, teach us, and re-create us in the image of Christ – when we meddle in His Spirit’s work in other’s lives, we make God’s task more difficult and even drive people away from Him.

      Another way to look at all this is:

      If God’s priority was judgement, then NONE of us would be here. Instead God’s priority is love, and we know this because the Father sent Jesus to die in our place. Jesus took our crap, all of it, because He know we could not bear the consequences and survive the experience. Our task, our only real task, The Work Of God, is to trust that He has done this for us, and then cooperate (as best we can) with His Spirit as we are re-made. Supervising God’s work in other people, and passing judgement on how well they are doing, (or worse) acting like *we* get to decide who is and isn’t on God’s “guest list.” is “above our pay-grade” – way above it.

      One of the neat things about *really struggling* with God over things in my life, is that I have come to trust that God will not let me fall into ruin, even if I might stumble and bruise myself. God has promised to keep me; has promised to love me (no matter what); has promised to love others *through* me; has promised to be God over the outcomes (so I don’t have to try to be); has promised to make me more like Jesus. And I take God seriously when I am told not to judge others, and to not even condemn myself – such is left to God who is judge, and I cast myself upon Jesus as my Savior and abandon myself, and I am assured by His Spirit within me. What is the result? I live my life in quiet expectation that God will love others through me, and accomplish His purposes in our sphere of influence. I live knowing that every day, I am being renewed and I am being made more Christlike with every experience. I am freed from having to act as “god” and “judge” over other people; I am free to love and accept people unconditionally in full confidence that what my Abba wants changed will be changed and what He does not will not be. These are gifts and freedoms that a LOT of my fellow Believers do not experience, and part of that is because their focus is on the issues of others.

      (His) Blessings & Joy!!

      • Tripp

        I agree to the point that Christians fumbled the ball early and often with respect to their response to the homosexual community. I guess my post came from the fact that I’ve seen the argument in #5 used ad nauseum to somehow suggest that since Jesus didn’t speak against homosexuality, he must somehow be okay with it. Such an argument is not only fallacious on face, it ignores what the rest of the biblical narrative has to say about the issue.

        • http://GracefullyTrans.wordpress.com/ Brettany Renée Blatchley

          Of course argument #5 is not the only argument people have; “the rest of the biblical narrative” actually has very little to say about the subject. This narrative is comprised of about six verses that *may* speak to *some* form of homosexual activity (what exactly they say, and what sort of homosexual activity is not as firmly settled as many assume). That number is very small compared to what the bible has to say about treating people lovingly and fairly, not divorcing, not letting money rule over you, and other such things.

          While I believe that God is behind the scriptures, I do not believe that every part of the bible is equally important. God’s greatest and clearest revelation of Himself is in Jesus. How does one come into a reconciled relationship with God? If you could only have a small amount of the bible, then the Gospels would be the most important part because no other part really gives you the crucial information with context. One implication of this is that what Jesus says about our hearts is more important to me than what Paul says about how I should wear my hair, or whether I should stay single, or what is “natural” or “unnatural.” All scripture may be “God breathed,” but that does not mean that it’s all equally important or universally applicable or culturally relevant. Now I understand that that many of my fellow believers think differently (and would even judge my relationship with God because of what I have just expressed), but in my several decade personal journey with Christ, that is what I have come to believe; and where people are concerned, if I must err, I will err on the side of love rather than judgement: love saves; judgement destroys – both eternally and temporally.

          • Tripp

            If you’re only counting explicit references to homosexuality, then there is a (somewhat convoluted) argument to be made that scripture has very little to say about the subject (as if the church has been patently wrong in its interpretation of a specific word that we suddenly figured out 1950 years later). However, when approached through a lens that takes into account God’s creation and order, it’s hardly a head scratcher.

  • bakabomb

    I always appreciate and enjoy anything Fr. Martin writes. The Jesuits rank with the Franciscans as my favorite religious orders, and I’m not even RC! But in the interest of that paramount Jesuit spiritual virtue — discernment — I can’t resist a few comments.

    With respect to #7, despite what Jefferson scissored out of the Gospels (and it was extensive), what did remain was the bulk of the “red-letter sayings”, those attributed specifically to Jesus. Note: Many of these sayings, sometimes in slightly different forms, can also be found in the “apocryphal” Gospel of Thomas.) Given the last couple of centuries of research into the Gospels, Jefferson’s excisions take on a decidedly different light.

    And the fact that “New Testament scholar E.P. Sanders concluded” that the Gospel of Jefferson portrayed Jesus as a learned man and sage is not dispositive (as a Jesuit lawyer might say). Fact: E.P. Sanders never knew Jefferson. He was born in 1937 and is still with us. He’s a modern theologian, and a well-balanced if sometimes controversial one (and I wonder if Fr. Martin agrees will everything Sanders has to say about Paul). I have no quarrel with his conclusion, but in this instance Fr. Martin commits an egregious logical faux pas when he asserts that therefore “Jefferson’s Jesus was . . . Thomas Jefferson.” Of all people, he should recognize the futility of trying to slip that kind of thing past us.

    Regarding #8, I don’t dispute that Jesus “worked miracles”. It appears that, for whatever reason, during this period there were a number of “miracle workers” in and around Judea — Simon Magus comes to mind. While it’s true that the source of Jesus’ powers is a crucial consideration, his “miracle-working” is not central to my faith; Jesus, for me, would not be diminished even if all his reported miracles were exaggerations or could be explained scientifically (or sociologically, e.g. the “sharing” rather than the “multiplication” of the loaves and fishes).

    And as to #10, the real question to me is a bodily vs. a nonphysical resurrection. I believe the RC Church, and many orthodox Protestant churches, insist on a literal bodily resurrection. I see no necessity for that, and I feel the whole eschatologic dispute about the notion of “bodily resurrection of the dead in the end times” is likewise unfruitful. I see neither Jesus, nor all of us, as “physical bodies that happen to possess souls”. On the contrary, we’re “souls that currently happen to possess physical bodies”. In that light, I’d challenge Fr. Martin to consider carefully what he means by the term “real”.

    Overall, though, a commendable summary from a fellow I’ve always liked and admired.

  • bakabomb

    I always appreciate and enjoy anything Fr. Martin writes. The Jesuits rank with the Franciscans as my favorite religious orders, and I’m not even RC! But in the interest of that paramount Jesuit spiritual virtue — discernment — I can’t resist a few comments.

    With respect to #7, despite what Jefferson scissored out of the Gospels (and it was extensive), what did remain was the bulk of the “red-letter sayings”, those attributed specifically to Jesus. Note: Many of these sayings, sometimes in slightly different forms, can also be found in the “apocryphal” Gospel of Thomas.) Given the last couple of centuries of research into the Gospels, Jefferson’s excisions take on a decidedly different light.

    And the fact that “New Testament scholar E.P. Sanders concluded” that the Gospel of Jefferson portrayed Jesus as a learned man and sage is not dispositive (as a Jesuit lawyer might say). Fact: E.P. Sanders never knew Jefferson. He was born in 1937 and is still with us. He’s a modern theologian, and a well-balanced if sometimes controversial one (and I wonder if Fr. Martin agrees will everything Sanders has to say about Paul). I have no quarrel with his conclusion, but in this instance Fr. Martin commits an egregious logical faux pas when he asserts that therefore “Jefferson’s Jesus was . . . Thomas Jefferson.” Of all people, he should recognize the futility of trying to slip that kind of thing past us.

    Regarding #8, I don’t dispute that Jesus “worked miracles”. It appears that, for whatever reason, during this period there were a number of “miracle workers” in and around Judea — Simon Magus comes to mind. While it’s true that the source of Jesus’ powers is a crucial consideration, his “miracle-working” is not central to my faith; Jesus, for me, would not be diminished even if all his reported miracles were exaggerations or could be explained scientifically (or sociologically, e.g. the “sharing” rather than the “multiplication” of the loaves and fishes).

    And as to #10, the real question to me is a bodily vs. a nonphysical resurrection. I believe the RC Church, and many orthodox Protestant churches, insist on a literal bodily resurrection. I see no necessity for that, and I feel the whole eschatologic dispute about the notion of “bodily resurrection of the dead in the end times” is likewise unfruitful. I see neither Jesus, nor all of us, as “physical bodies that happen to possess souls”. On the contrary, we’re “souls that currently happen to possess physical bodies”. In that light, I’d challenge Fr. Martin to consider carefully what he means by the term “real”.

    Overall, though, a commendable summary from a fellow I’ve always liked and admired.

  • naturgesetz

    The authentic Christian response to “Jesus didn’t say anything about gays and lesbians,” is , “So what?” One could also express it, “Okay then, let’s see if Sacred Scripture has anything to say about it elsewhere.” Of course, Fr. Martin is honest enough to note that it does, but since he doesn’t like what it seems to say, he gives it a facile and unconvincing dismissal.

    At any rate, “Jesus didn’t say anything,” is irrelevant, and Fr. Martin has shown that he knows it.

    Accepting homosexuals with respect, compassion, and sensitivity does not require denying the Church’s clear teaching on the morality of homosexual acts. And if Fr. Martin is attempting to make that distinction, he’s not being clear about it, and he seems to be adopting a variant of “Red Letter Christianity.”

  • molmw

    Jesus didn’t say anything about pedophiles also…

  • Stephen Abbott

    “the Gospel writers would certainly not go out of their way to make the apostles — the leaders of the early church, after all — look bad.”

    Not quite. The Gospels were written from a distinctly Pauline perspective (while keeping much of the original Logia/sayings of Jesus and the traditions about Jesus’ ministry and travels, which were apparently too well known among Christians in the First and Second Centuries to leave out.)

    But Paul himself greatly disparaged those who knew Jesus personally – the Jerusalem Apostles – calling them basically self-important and “so-called pillars” that he, himself, was not in any way inferior to, saying “what they are means nothing to me.” In fact, his visions of a resurrected Jesus were seen by the Gospel writers (and by himself, who was far from modest) as even more important than theirs, despite their intimate knowledge of him.

    So, yes, the Gospel writers (writing 40-90 years after the ministry of Jesus) had a great deal of motivation to go “out of their way” to make the Apostles look silly, stupid and yes, “bad.”

    • nwcolorist

      Seems to me that your conclusion is a bit extreme. Can you supply more information to strengthen it?

  • Jim

    I just don’t understand why religions are so hung up on homosexuality. We now know that men and women do not choose to be homosexualsor lesbians. It is something that is built into them. If you believe that godhas a hand in creating us, then you must believe that he had a hand in creatinghomosexuals. To say that it is all right to be a homosexual as long as you donot engage in sexual activity is ridiculous. We imagine that homosexuals are havingsex night and day, 24/7. The day to day lives of homosexual couples in a lovingrelationship are no different than the lives of married heterosexual couples. As all married heterosexual couples know, sex plays a minor role in their relationship and becomes more and more minor as time passes. The two women who won
    the first lawsuit to protect their rights were well past the age of sexual desire.
    Jefferson was not trying to make Jesus more like him. Hemerely cut out of the Bible the stories that were the most unbelievable to him,as they are to many Christians. The Christmas story, which he cut out, is anexample. The last Roman census was taken in 22 BCE. There was no census whenJesus was born. If you believe the part of the biblical story about the Romancensus, then you would have to believe that Jesus was six or seven years oldwhen the census was supposedly taken, because the Bible tells us that it wasconducted by Quirinius right after he became governor of Assyria and annexedJudea in 6 CE. You would also have to believe that the magi did not follow astar in the east to get to Bethlehem, because if they came from the nearestkingdoms in the east (Assyria, Persia and Mesopotamia) they would have traveledeast, away from Bethlehem, when the star rose in the east, then south later inthe night and finally west toward Bethlehem as it descended. The same thing would have happened every night, and they never would have reached Bethlehem. Alook at a map tells us that.
    It’s the belief by many Christians that the New Testamentwas inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore contains no error that causes all the confusion and debate. The four Evangelists never made that claim. It was proclaimed by Catholic bishops at the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century.

    • Joseph Keliny

      1) Religions are not hung up on homosexuality. It is merely those that practice homosexuality who believe that through rejection of the recognition that homosexuality is a sin by men, it is no longer fault in the eyes of God. Therefore, this creates such an unnecessary commotion about homosexuality not being a sin.

      2) There is absolutely no scientific proof which states that homosexuality is present in an individual from birth, or that a homosexual person is ‘born that way’. This is fallacy and a poor understanding of chromosomal genetics. If you can find a scientific proof, please do share, I myself would be very interested.

      3) “We imagine that homosexuals are having sex night and day, 24/7.” — How is the frequency of sexual practice directly proportional to sin or fault committed? Whether someone commits a sin once or one hundred times, it is still sin, and just as wrong in the eyes of God. Sin is merely separation from God, and is definitely not a quantitative value.

  • Joseph Keliny

    In response to the fifth point, it is absolutely unjust to be able to claim that Jesus did not say anything about homosexuality. The Lord did not use the phrase, or even any specific term in addressing this type of sexual immorality. However, He definitely did address it indirectly,

    “And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mark 7:20-23, NKJV

    Above, The Lord Jesus states clearly that fornication is one of the things that defile a man. Now to discover whether or not homosexuality falls under the category of fornication, we must then understand that the act fornication is defined as the voluntary participation in sexual relations outside of marriage. Finally, the real question now becomes, what is a true Christian marriage?

    “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Mark 10:6-8, NKJV

    Overall, marriage in the Chruch is strictly between male and female. Therefore, if Christ condemned fornication, then He also condemned homosexuality by default.

    • http://www.sfbc.edu John Mezzacappa

      Bravo!!!!

    • klockheed

      Right, and if Fr. Martin acknowledges the deity of Christ, he has to accept that it was Jesus himself who wrote the Law given to Moses at Sinai… which includes condemnation for such things.

  • Logic

    You are basing all of these points (especially 8 and 10) on nothing.

  • Thomas Palmieri

    Jesus was quite clear about sexual morality. He taught that God created our species male and female–not male and male, nor female and female–for the purpose of becoming one flesh (Mt 19:4-6). He taught that divorce is adultery against one’s spouse, and against one’s covenant with God (Mt 5:32). He taught that in the Day of Judgment, he would judge the sodomites (Mt 11:24). We know also that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9), and that his Spirit it is which inspires the prophets and apostles (1 Pet 1:11). So when St. Paul writes in condemnation of homosexual activity (Rom 1:26-28), he is speaking with the Spirit of Christ, which lives within him (Gal 2:20). He who denies these things denies the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and their communion with the saints, and denies thereby the inspiration of Sacred Scripture. As such, it is clear that Fr. James Martin views God as made in man’s image, and not the reverse, for he seems to believe that condemnation of homosexuality is a product of human prejudice, which has been superimposed upon the gospel message. He believes indeed that somehow or another men misunderstood the gospel for 2000 years, which is only now being revealed in its fullness with same sex marital blessings. Such has been the view of heretics, i.e. Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, who taught that the gospel as always understood by the Church was in error. But “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor 14:33). He does not approve of that which he has promised to judge. Fr. Martin has created a gospel in his own image, and has conformed himself to the world and its values, and not to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29, 12:12).

  • Jeffrey A Jones

    Wow, where do I start. Who is this author? I wonder if he has ever even opned a Bible or is just going with popular press. Actually it is apparent from the ansers in this column he is the poster child for Marxist theology. Virtually everything he says of substance is wrong. Jesuse wasn’t poor – the Magi (from the lost 10 Tribes of Israel) who brought Him gifts at the age of two didn’t bring a few condiments. They gave gifts of a King, enough to finance his later minestry ; nowhere does it say He was a carpenter; He of course was ressurected, performed miracles, etc.; he soundly condemned sexual deviancy which includes homosexuality and adultry, the Apostle Paul simply reiterated the principle that is throughout the Bible; the author totally misunderstands the principle of judgement and discernment. The Bible is very clear we should avoid joining with sinners and that takes discernment; Jesus was NOT a tortured prayer – he was praying prayers that fulfill prophesies that proved he was the Messiah and God of the Old Testament; Of course he had friends – the Apostel John ws ‘the Apostle He loved’ – His closest friend; I have no clue what this guy means by Jesus cannot be tamed – that is about the most ignorant statement I have ever heard about Christ. He was the one who CREATED THE UNIVERSE, of course he can’t be ‘tamed’!

  • steve

    “The statement that Jesus was seen as a miracle worker in his time has as much reliability as almost any other statement we can make about him.”

    Can’t argue with that.

    Like a stopped clock, James Martin manages to say something true every once in a while.

    Like the proverbial monkeys pounding away on typewriters, if enough random words come out of the mouth of James Martin there is bound to be a juicy nugget of truth in the steaming pile of shit that he vomits forth.

  • BobRN

    #1 Jesus was a craftsman, so, while He certainly wasn’t rich, there’s no need to think of him as poor, either, in the sense of being dependent on the charity of others. He almost certainly had plenty of work from those passing through Galilee, and living so near Sepphorus. He had a roof over His head, clothes on His back, food on His table. This put Him in a class considerably above the poor whom He loved who were forced to beg for a living.
    #2 Jesus condemned income disparities and the greed of those who had the power to alleviate the sufferings of others but refused to do so. This does not necessarily translate into a welfare state, but it does translate into a people who, by personal initiative or organized efforts of charity and government, seek to care for the least among us.
    #3 I’m not sure why it should surprise anyone that Jesus had friends. He was the most human of all people, deeply caring and loving to all.
    #4 There are places where Jesus specifically tells us to judge the actions of others (Mt 5:5, 6; Mt 18:15-17; Jn 20:23). If we cannot judge the action of another as wrong, how can we forgive him? What sense would it make for Jesus to recommend to Peter that he forgive “seventy times seven times” if Peter could not even judge that another had sinned against him? What Jesus condemns is arrogance, a refusal to see our own great sins while being quick to point out the tiny failings of others. As well, we are never to judge where another stands before God.
    #5 Jesus didn’t say anything about a lot of things. The exegesis Fr. Martin offers for Paul’s condemnation of homosexual activity is not universally agreed on. The bottom line is, it would be remarkable for Jews of Jesus’ time to regard homosexual and lesbian activity as anything other than a moral wrong, and certainly not as a positive good.
    #6 Jesus reached out to everyone, including those on the margins, outside the margins, well within the margins and in every other possible relationship with the margins.
    #7 No, Jesus cannot be tamed. It would do Fr. Martin well to stop trying to tame Him or, like Jefferson, form Him in his own image.
    #8 Jesus really did perform miracles. Yes, He did. The greatest miracle, I think, is the transformation of each believer’s heart toward greater fidelity to His holy will.
    #9 Jesus did struggle in prayer. It is well that Fr. Martin emphasize the humanity of Jesus, like us in all things except sin (Heb 4:15)
    #10 Yes, Jesus did rise from the dead. In that is our salvation. Come, Lord Jesus!

    • L.W. Dicker

      The Creator of the Universe spent 14 billion years watching the stunning complexities of our cosmos and then decided that what would really make a great encore to creating the Universe, and every living thing in existence, would be to bring a three day old corpse back to life.

      Wow!!

      What an absolutely amazingly ridiculous, absurd and silly pile of primitive nonsense that is!!!

      God said “Hey, you think the Cosmos is amazing? Well, you goat sacrificing peasants just sit back and watch me reanimate this here bag of bones!!! That’ll prove something to ya!!”

      Christianity.

      It only lacks sanity.

      • BobRN

        Again with the insanity plea. OK. We get it. You think Christians are insane. Let’s hope you’re not the one in charge of the New World Order so that you commit us all to mental institutions. You’ll need to build a lot more.

        Until then, do you have anything meaningful and intelligent to offer? Because I doubt that any of us have time to waste responding to a record that keeps playing the same note.

        • L.W. Dicker

          Just calling a spade a spade, Bobby.

          It’s funny that when someone accurately describes the staggering absurdity of the Christian religion’s most fundamental doctrines—blood atonements, God/human hybrids trotting around the Middle East desert, virgin births, etc,-that Christians get their panties in a big wad.

          It must be frustrating for Christians to not be able to offer a sane rebuttal to the insane donkey crap that anchors the heart of their religion.

          • _lawrenc1

            No, apparently, it does not….but it certainly bothers you.

          • klockheed

            You haven’t provided any “sane rebuttal” of anything, you’ve only pontificated without basis or reason on a topic that ultimately, according to your worldview, doesn’t matter. Yet you call us insane?

        • klockheed

          Yeah, what does it matter if we are ‘insane’? We’re just bits of cosmic dust temporarily sharing sentience with the almighty LW Dicker who will, like us, blow away in some future wind and none of it matters… and yet, they feel compelled to demand you believe them. And they call US insane. 😉

  • nwcolorist

    It’s refreshing to find an article on this website that speaks to the fundamental issues that resonate with Bible believers. Seems like the majority of articles about Christian doctrine here try to undermine the traditional beliefs.

  • echarles1

    This admonition not to judge is taken very much to heart by the early desert fathers. I read a book of their sayings recently and remember one particularly. A monk in passing another man saw the man acting in a sinful way and condemned him for it. Later that night an Angel of the Lord appeared to the monk and ask “Now that you have condemn this man, Almighty God wants to know where you plan to house his soul for eternity?” And yet it is worth remembering that while we can never judge or condemn another we can and should condemn sinful behavior in general. The early desert fathers definitely did observe and preach against sinful behavior. Augustine mentions in his sermons the need to observe sins in the specific but preach against the sin in general and not the specific sinner.

  • L.W. Dicker

    And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, “Brethren, I’ve heard it said among you that I am the Son of God and was sent to die for your sins.

    Brethren, may I asketh, who among you is the lunatic who came up with this Neanderthal bullshit!!!???

    Blood sacrifice!!!!???? Brethren, have you completely lost your fucking minds!!!!????

    Surely I say to you, I’d sooner lick Judas’ ass crack than subject myself to the Stone Age insanity of human sacrifice!!!

    And the disciple whom Jesus loved the most said,

    “Well, shit man!!!! What the hell are we supposed to do now!!!!????

    Hey, is that fat bastard over there the Buddha!!?

    Tell that some’ bitch I need to have a word with him!!!

    —-The Gospel of Sane Thought

  • phein39

    But, have any of you considered what Frodo or Gandolf would say? How about Paul Atreides?, or any of Beowulf’s companions? Surely they are just as valid and important as a make-believe character out of Christian foundation mythology.

    • BobRN

      Golly, you and Mr. Dicker ought to combine your talents to training others in how to reason and argue well. Your astute insights and impenetrable arguments are an inspiration. Call me converted!

      • L.W. Dicker

        Golly Bob!!

        Can we just call you deluded instead!!?

        • BobRN

          Of course! But, that would be no better an argument that what you’ve already presented. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to simply dismiss people who think differently than you as “deluded.” Honestly, who came up with this strategy, anyway? “Hey, we don’t want to be bothered actually addressing the arguments of those who hold to the existence of God, so we’ll just call them deluded, and everyone will be so impressed with such an erudite and profound response that they’ll certainly agree with us!”

          Insults are an attempt to shut down the argument, not contribute to it.

          • L.W. Dicker

            “Ridicule is the only weapon that can be used against intelligible propositions. An idea must be distinct before reason can act upon it. And no man ever had a distinct idea of the Trinity”

            —–Thomas Jefferson

            You see, Bobby, it’s not my fault that the Christian religion is founded upon the Stone Age lunacy of a bunch of goat sacrificing peasants.

            I’m just trying to inject a little sanity into the deluded minds of you religious folk in the off chance that you might like to live at least part of your lives in the warm glow of reason.

          • BobRN

            But, it is your fault that you refuse to engage in meaningful, intelligent conversation.

            You almost had a good start there, offering Jefferson’s opinion. But, then you regress into shooting insults again. You’re not trying to make points. Your trying to score them. But, why? You say you’re trying to inject a little sanity into religious folks, but you can’t really believe that an anonymous poster in a combox is going to make a dent in the thinking of believers by hurling insults at them.

            Let’s be frank. I don’t know you from a hole in the wall. As far as I know, you’re a high school kid trying to stretch his wings by taking on Christians on the internet. So, give it a serious shot. Impress me. Offer a serious argument that I can consider and counter with a serious thought of my own. Having a meaningful, intelligent and, I might add, respectful conversation with another person, especially one who thinks differently than you, can be intellectually stimulating, as well as a great deal of fun. As of now, honestly, you’re boring me.

            I’m willing to give you another shot at it. But, I have a life and plenty of things to do with my time. I have no intention of giving you one more second of thought if you insist on continuing with silly schoolyard insults. If that’s your plan, don’t bother. I won’t be responding.

          • L.W. Dicker

            Hey Bobby, if you have any interest in trying to enlighten your deluded Christian mind, please avail yourself to a few of these books:

            “Christianity is not Great”, edited by John Loftus

            “The Christian Delusion”, edited by John Loftus

            “Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary”, Kenneth Daniels (Available for free online the last time I checked)

            “God:The Failed Hypothesis”, Victor Stenger

            “On the Historicity of Jesus Christ”, Richard Carrier

            “Farewell to God”, Charles Twmpleton

            Bobby, this should be enough to get you started on your journey of sane, rational thought.

            Be brave Bobby!!! The preposterous bullshit of the Christian religion has been unshackled by many before you!!!

          • BobRN

            So, what you’re telling me is that you have no serious thoughts of your own. I was interested in your thoughts on the matter, but you’re telling me you have nothing? You have nothing to contribute to the conversation? When it comes to serious arguments for people to consider, mull over, reflect on, and respond to, you can only recommend what other people have written, what other people have said, what other people have argued. All you know how to do is hurl childish insults. When it comes to offering meaningful, intelligent, respectful, rational arguments, you’re left with recommending other people’s books. I will look into some of the books you recommend. However, you should have read these books and, if you have, you ought to be able to make some valid points from them, or you ought to have been inspired by now to have re-worked some of them with your own original thoughts. No one is going to take you seriously if, first, you adopt a strategy of repeatedly spewing vulgar, childish insults and, second, when you’re challenged to put up or shut up, you have nothing more to offer but, “Hey, read this guy’s book!”

            For what it’s worth, let me recommend to you: take some time off from internet comboxes. Read some of the books you recommend, plus some others from perspectives different from your own. Or, if you already have, ruminate on them a bit and absorb what they have to say. You will then be equipped to discuss serious issues seriously. And those with whom you engage in conversation will take you seriously. You’re still young. You have time. When you’re ready, come back and offer something to the conversation.

            And try to keep what you write at a level that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to have your mother or your ten year old daughter read it. For Pete’s sake, you’re an adult, aren’t you? Learn how to represent yourself as someone who’s no longer stuck in middle school.

            I’m gone.

          • L.W. Dicker

            Hey Bob, while its great that you let Kirk Cameron write a post for you, you really might want to consider trying to compose an actual intelligent post next time.

            You obviously have no answer to the Cro Magnon donkey shit that defines your religion.

            That’s O.K. Bob. No sane person could be expected to reasonably defend the ignorant insanity of goat sacrificing idiots from two thousand years ago.

            So, Bob, please don’t give up!!!!! Many before you have survived the asinine bullshit of the Christian religion and come out as truly enlightened human beings!!!

            So, Bob, before you sell your next daughter into slavery, please smoke a really good joint.

            As least while you’re high , your deluded brain will be unable to do too much actual harm.

          • BobRN

            I just googled, “God: The Failed Hypothesis (How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist)” It looks like an interesting companion to a book I’m currently reading, “Why Science Does Not Disprove God” by Amir Aczel, mathematician, science writer and author of “Fermat’s Last Theorum.” You might want to check it out.

          • L.W. Dicker

            Hey Bob, I just googled Amil Aczel. He is a religious nutbag who thinks that Noah had dinosaurs on his ark.

            Try reading an actual real scientist with actual real credentials in cosmology or physics next time.

          • BobRN

            So. where’s the link to your source? You ought to know by now that you can’t just throw out accusations against a person without backing them up. I googled “amir aczel and noah’s ark” and got nothing.

            The Amir Aczel I’m referring to is a former Harvard professor who is currently teaching at Boston University. He’s written a number of books and is the recipient of prestigious awards in mathematics. Also, based on statements he’s made in the book, he’s certainly not a Christian, so what kind of religious nut is he?

          • BobRN

            So, where’s the link, L. W.?

            BTW, I just purchased Stenger’s “God, the Failed Hypothesis” on amazon. Got it for $4 even. Still enjoying Aczel’s book. Patiently awaiting your link about his being a religious nut who thinks dinos rode on Noah’s ark.

          • BobRN

            No worries, L. W. We all make mistakes. Most of us are mature enough to accept and correct it. Perhaps in a few more years you’ll be mature enough to do so.

            I’ll look forward to reading Stenger’s book. I expect he’ll actually have a few coherent points to make, and will be able to do so without insulting his readers and without relying on language that’s pointlessly vulgar.

  • Michael McCleary

    Fr. Martin does tend to lean to the left, and seems sometimes to enjoy celebrity at times more than Truth.

    On judging, there are actually two common sins of judgement that Christians make; with the first being a “you’re going to hell”, but also equally wrong is the judgement ” you said Jesus is lord at youth camp so yer salvation is a done deal”.

  • Henry Dandria

    I am not judging but only referring tote topic mentioned in the fifth thing you wanted us to know about Jesus,namely that Jesus never said one word about homosexual persons. “For neither does the Father judge any man, but all judgement He has given to the Son ” (John 5.22) -That is true , however the apostle Paul, as you say,speaks about this topic not as you say probably speaking”about the evils of male prostitution

  • Henry Dandria

    ……but he refers to homosexuality “…for the women,having exchanged the natural use for that which against nature…….and in like manner the men also ,having abandoned the natural use of woman ,have burnt in their lusts one towards another…… “ROMANS 1-26 -27”. “By this we know the spirits of truth and the spirits of error”I John 4 .6”

  • Louis Bertrand

    Absolutely correct EXCEPT Paul was not talking about male homosexuality; the Book of Leviticus unreservedly condemns sodomy, no reference to sex for sale and also condemns fornicators adulterers to death. Obviously that Babylonian cultural code from which the OT derived has been modified spiritually and civilly bu no ne has ever said fornication , adultery or sodomy are MORALLLY CORRECT. I amamazed that this respected Jesuit Father Martin would be a patsy for the a-moral PC justifiers of abortion and backside penetrators and call the first a “choice” and the second an expression of “love.”

    • L.W. Dicker

      Hey Louis, your so called bible is saturated with the Stone Age bullshit of an ignorant, goat sacrificing bunch of religious lunatics.

      So please try to keep your expectations of divinity a little lower.

      You’ll be much more pleased with your ancient book of primitive bullshit if you temper your expectations.

      • Louis Bertrand

        I look forward to the Last Judgment Mr LW Dicker to see what the Author of the NATURAL LAW that friends me from strangling idiots, Boka Haron from raping Nigerian females, governments from favouring the wealthy and crushing the poor- and how HE handles misuse of human sexuality and scalding, poisoning and slicing babies who can feel pain in the womb. Your denying that

        • L.W. Dicker

          Louis, your post is so pathetically absurd that I have to wonder if you allowed a 6 year old child to compose it.

          Your so called bible is indeed saturated with the Stone Age lunacy of an ancient group of goat sacrificing religious lunatics. And therefore you are a deluded moron for believing that it was actually inspired by the Creator of the universe.

          Louis, have you burned the carcas of a dead goat or sold your daughter into slavery lately? Because that’s exactly the kind of Cro Magnon bullshit that your ancient holy book promotes.

          Louis, please consider pulling your head out if your ass long enough to allow the brilliant light of reason to permeate your ignorant, deluded brain.

          You’ll be so grateful!!!!!

  • Rhacker

    If your brother sins, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matt. 18:15-17)

  • klockheed

    > Jesus never said one word about homosexual persons.

    Jesus said absolutely nothing about idols in any of the four Gospels. Therefore, idolatry is ok… right?

  • Brian Nguyen

    I’m not sure if you are aware, but the classification of people into different sexual orientations originated in the 1860s, almost 1800 years after Jesus lived and died. During Jesus’ time, a man seen with another man was simply a man who liked men. He was not gay, straight, bi-sexual, etc. Those labels did not exist then. So I firmly disagree with all the commentators who are accusing Father Martin of imposing his own interpretation of Jesus regarding homosexuality. The opposite is true. Society has imposed its own interpretation of homosexuality onto Jesus and the Bible ever since the 1860s when sexual orientations were first defined and created as psychological and political labels. Homophobia originated in the 1800s, well after Jesus’ time. Sexual orientation and homophobia as entities, simply did not exist during Jesus’ time. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit that one HUGE reason why sexual orientation and all of its labels were created was in order to legally discriminate against gays and lesbians. Father Martin isn’t misinterpreting anything. Anyone who is homophobic or anti-gay marriage is doing the misinterpretation.

    Since Jesus said nothing about sexual orientation or homosexuality, we must assume the best, not the worst. In other words, we must assume that Jesus intended for us to treat homosexuals with the same respect and dignity that we treat everyone else. Hence, his reminder to us to “love your neighbor as yourself” as the greatest commandment next to “love God with your whole heart.” And yes, this includes allowing gays and lesbians to marry.

    • BobRN

      Mr. Nguyen,

      You assume too much.

      First, regardless of whether the labels “gay”, “straight”, “bi-sexual’, etc… existed in Jesus’ time, there certainly existed individuals who engaged in homosexual, heterosexual, and bi-sexual activity. We know this from a variety of sources and, insofar as is related to the Scriptures, from St. Paul’s epistles, some of which pre-date the first gospel by at least a decade. St. Paul clearly references those who participate in homosexual activity, and most Scripture scholars interpret his words as a condemnation of homosexual activity. As I said in another comment, it would be remarkable for a first-century Jew to regard homosexual activity as anything other than contrary to God’s will for sexual love.

      That Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality doesn’t demand of us that we assume what you call “the best”. Neither does it demand that we assume what you call “the worst”. As has been pointed out, Jesus didn’t say anything about a lot of things, some of which (such as nuclear war, capital punishment, or slavery), I suspect, you would agree ought to be condemned. Rather, Jesus’ silence on these and other matters demands of us that we consider them in the context of God’s entire revelation. The Catholic faith tradition, which Fr. Martin and I share, holds that the Church is the instrument by which the mystery of God in Christ is made known (Ephesians 3:8-12; 1 Timothy 3:15). The Catholic Church has taught for centuries that homosexual activity is a grave moral wrong. Recently, gratefully, the Church has emphasized the Christian obligation to treat homosexuals with the dignity they merit as persons made in the image of God. As such, you’re correct in saying that “Jesus intended for us to treat homosexuals with the same respect and dignity that we treat everyone else.” But, this doesn’t mean that we’re to regard homosexual activity as anything other than a grave moral wrong, much less that we are to recognize the legitimacy of same-sex “marriage”. It’s an important distinction.

      • Brian Nguyen

        “The Catholic faith tradition, which Fr. Martin and I share, holds that.” I share it with you too so please don’t try to distinguish yourself as a representative of the Catholic Church and painting me as outside the church. Who’s making assumptions now? Please convince me with your arguments; not by arrogantly showing me your catholic i.d. badge, which I also share. And I will show you the same level of respect. Back to the actual arguments….

        “Tradition,” as you call it, is not set in stone. The Second Vatican council is proof that the Church is constantly changing its viewpoints on various issues. Before that council happened, no one thought that the Latin mass would give way to multi-lingual masses in English, Spanish, etc. Those against allowing for Mass in other languages thought that a multi-lingual mass was against sacred tradition. But lo and behold, nowadays, you have to look it up on Google if you wanted to attend a mass that is performed in Latin. The same goes for female altar servers. Many in the Church will see the Second Vatican council as the holy spirit guiding the church into the 21st century. But I think a more realistic view is that the Second Vatican council (SVC) is an example of the Holy Spirit illuminating how ignorant the Church was for not allowing female altar servers and non-Latin masses. Those who are not religious will view the SVC as the Church’s attempt to deliberately conform with current social mores. You stated, “recently, gratefully, the Church has emphasized the Christian obligation to treat homosexuals with the dignity they merit as persons made in the image of God.” Proof that the Church has evolved and will continue to evolve.

        No matter how you look at it, the Church has and will continue to evolve. And I believe it will do the same with regards to its views on same-sex marriage. During the recent meeting of bishops that Pope Francis conducted to address questions of the Faith, a great many bishops clashed over how to view acts of homosexuality and distinguish the act from the person. I will remind you that many of the African bishops who vehemently opposed any inclusion for gays in the Church come from countries where gays and lesbians can be stoned to death for being gay. Although I am sure you are against such extreme measures, your agreement with these bishops that “homosexual activity” is a “grave moral wrong,” only supports their self-righteousness and condemnation of gay people. If you truly care about gays and lesbians as people (as opposed to condemning the homosexual act), perhaps you’d do something to stop certain african countries from stoning gays and lesbians to death. Put your money where your mouth is.

        The fact that there was such disagreement between the Church’s arch-bishops shows that the issue of whether “same-sex marriage” is a “grave moral wrong” is under debate in the Church. I would not be surprised if a Third Vatican Council approves of gay marriage one day.

        Catholics who are against same-sex marriage often times say that they only condemn the sin, not the sinner. But the so-called “sin” is fundamentally a part of the sinner. Gays and lesbians are born with their sexual orientations. Why would God allow them to be born with such pre-dispositions and then condemn them for wanting to love and be loved in a way that is consistent with their pre-dispositions? Why would God allow them to be born a certain way and then allow them to be persecuted against for wanting the same thing that straight couples want? So how do you separate the sin from the sinner, exactly? These Catholics have their theories and when confronted with these questions, have no idea how to answer them but then try to answer on God’s behalf when confronted with the question of gay marriage. These are all convenient theories. But explain to me how these theories works in real life, which is the domain in which the Holy Spirit operates?

        I wonder how you’d view same-sex marriage if you were born gay, yourself.

        • BobRN

          First, there was nothing in your original post that indicated your identity as a Catholic or a non-Catholic. There was nothing in my identifying myself as Catholic that constituted an attempt to paint you as outside the Church. Rather, it was to make clear that I shared Fr. Martin’s Catholic tradition, since it was Fr. Martin who wrote the article. If we’re going to have a discussion, it must be based on mutual respect. There’s no need to assume that I’m attacking you. It’s possible to discuss difficult matters as two brothers in Christ who share the Catholic tradition.

          As a Catholic, you’re aware of the distinction between Tradition (with a capital “T”) and tradition (with a lower case “t”). Capital T tradition, of course, is one of the means by which God reveals His truth to us for the sake of our salvation. Lower t tradition is the way Catholics, over the centuries, have come to express their faith, especially in prayer, both personal (rosary) and communal (liturgy). The examples you offer of how the Church has changed, i.e.: liturgy in the vernacular, and the use of altar girls, are examples of tradition. For instance, the “official” liturgical language of the Church was Greek until the fourth or fifth century. Then it changed to Latin. There are numerous other examples throughout Church history where particular communities were allowed to continue worshipping in the ancient language of their tradition, even after the liturgical reforms introduced by the Council of Trent. Altar girls is another tradition. “Acolyte” was once a step toward priestly formation. Because of this, it was limited to boys. Once the Church no longer recognized acolyte as a step toward priestly formation, there was no logical/traditional reason to keep girls out. The Church’s traditions may change, and often do. The Church’s Tradition doesn’t change, though our understanding of it may deepen, as will matters of how that Tradition is lived out according to varying circumstances and eras.

          As far as I know, there’s no debate among the bishops of the Church on whether or not homosexual activity or same-sex “marriage” is a grave moral wrong. If you’re aware of such, I would appreciate the links to your sources. There is considerable debate on the question of how to address homosexual persons pastorally, including those who regard themselves as married. These marriages cannot be recognized by the Church, and I don’t think it likely that they will be. This isn’t to say, however, that the Church needn’t debate, discuss, and struggle over the question of how best to approach the question of those homosexual persons who desire a relationship with the Church.

          The question of the origins of homosexual orientation is not settled. Practically, however, it’s a moot point. Those who identify themselves as homosexual (with some exceptions) identify their orientation as deeply a part of them, and something that goes far beyond any question of “choice”. Even still, as regards our human weaknesses and tendency to sin, we’re all “born that way”. We all struggle with those areas of our life that have a deep hold on us. I am sexually attracted to more women than just the one to whom I’m married. Priests, I’m sure, are sexually attracted to any number of women, and some to men. Some men fall into the grave moral wrong of adultery. Some priests fall into the grave moral wrong of committing unchaste acts. In a very real way, none of these chose to be attracted to the women with whom they committed grave moral acts. Nevertheless, they did have a choice on how they were going to act. Being sexually attracted to a woman who is not your wife is not a choice. Sexually acting with that woman is a choice. One could legitimately ask why God would allow anyone to be attracted to more women or men than the one to whom they are married, then condemn them for wanting to be loved by one to whom they’re attracted. We often find ourselves tempted to justify our acts by insisting that God wants us to be happy/fulfilled. This act would make me happy/fulfilled, so it must be okay. True happiness is the divine life shared with God. It has little to do, necessarily, with what makes us happy in the immediate, and sometimes requires a great deal of struggle.

          Separating the sin from the sinner doesn’t only apply to those who engage in homosexual activity. It applies to all of us, because we’ve all engaged in activity that offends God’s moral order. The sinner is more than his sin. He is also one who is made in the image of God and, if baptized, redeemed to His likeness. He is, perhaps, a father, brother, son, husband, co-worker, team mate, etc… He is one who struggles to be faithful, falls and picks himself back up again and, with God’s grace, continues on his journey toward transforming his will according to God’s. What is more, the sinner is also me. I am a sinner. But, I am more than my sins. I am also a brother, husband, father, etc… How do I effectively address my own sins, while recognizing that I am more than my sins? Hating the sin, but loving the sinner is directed at myself, even more so than anyone else. I truly hate my sins, but I don’t hate myself. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “The sinner does not love himself enough.”

          But, we don’t effectively address sin, whether in others or ourselves, by pretending that it’s not sin. Don’t ask me to call what is a grave moral wrong morally neutral or, even worse, a positive good. That I won’t do, whether in another, or in myself. I don’t do anyone any favors by doing so, especially in regards to my own sins. I can’t effectively repent of my sins by deciding that they’re not sins at all. That doesn’t work for anyone.

  • lowtechcyclist

    Thanks for a very thoughtful list! I especially appreciate the truth of #6, and know I need to have more of that in my own heart.

    One thing implicit in this list is that Jesus was a person as well as a Person, and “what was/is Jesus like?” is something that is quite possible to talk about. From the Gospel accounts, we can get a pretty fair idea of what mattered to him and what didn’t, how he treated people and related to them. What he was like as a person.

    The only quibble I have is not with #10, but one nonessential point inside it: wasn’t it Pentecost that transformed the disciples? Jesus’ Resurrection may have taken away their fear and given them new reason to hope (though there is a strangeness to Jesus’ post-Resurrection presence that comes through in the Gospel accounts, as if he wasn’t as firmly tethered to this world as he had been before his crucifixion, that must’ve been discomfiting to his followers), but they don’t become bold until the Spirit descends on them.

    (FWIW, I’m not saying this as a Pentecostal or any other variety of Spirit-filled Christian; I’m an agnostic about speaking in tongues, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and all that. But it just seems to me to be the natural reading of the Resurrection chapters of the Gospels and the first two chapters of Acts.)

  • Michael Ramirez

    With regard to number 5, it is true that we do not find in the bible Jesus saying anything about gays and lesbians, but neither do we find him saying anything about abortion, euthanasia, suicide, capital punishment, purgatory, One God in 3 Divine Persons, the Immaculate Conception, the 7 angels that stand before God, Holy Orders, the sign of the cross, and a host of others. However, the Catholic Church, headed by the Pope who is considered the Vicar of Christ or his representative, derives its understanding of the will of God basically from both oral and written tradition (not just the Bible or just the Gospels) and further from the magisterium which is the teaching authority of the church

  • Sage

    Ugh…so much of this is completely out of context. He also told his disciples to judge. (Jn 7:24)
    He never commanded the confiscation of income for what confiscators considered a noble cause. He demanded people give of themselves.
    Jesus said as much about child molesters as he did gays. Know why? Because He believed in the Torah. It’s not something that was up for debate. Also, the notion of gay identity is a modern invention. When He says not one jot or tittle of the Law shall pass away, He included the verse in Leviticus. The problem with this is that they attempt to redefine Christianity via modern culture & not vice versa.

  • Amy S Daspit

    Those that preach the loudest about sin….normally have the most to hide. That is what I observe. Focus on your own sins before judging others!

  • CoolCrazy Dan

    K SERIOUSLY, I LOVE your dedication to the Bible, and to the study You have done, towards the greatest subject on earth, Jesus Christ and EVERLASTING Life.
    Now It is UNFORTUNATE and a bit depressing realizing
    that Only ONE, christian here, has used the verses from
    the new testament that REFUTES any and ALL homosexuality.

    That Being said, and before I bring these verses to attention,
    note that the Bible itself is ONE and Whole and PERFECT, and
    has PLENTY to say about the subject……..

    FURTHERMORE and MORE IMPORTANTLY,
    ALL HAVE SINNED AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY,
    SO the REAL problem isn’t homosexuality per se, BUT SIN ITSELF,
    which gives NO excuses to commit sin, The truth is that if you want to
    be all you can be for Christ, and if you commit your life to Christ,
    and MOST importantly IF YOU BELIEVE THAT THE CHRIST DIED FOR YOU,
    and that his rules are ONLY there to protect You, NOT to punish you,
    then You will KNOW, that Homosexuality is a sin.

    Why did God say it was one of the worst sins, is not the reason most think,
    the reason he told us it was one of the worst, is because it isn’t something you can
    just walk away from……….though you can walk away from it……it WILL
    always be in your thoughts and visions in your head.

    As a smoker might be able to see himself as a non smoker, and stay away from
    the environment of smoking, a person that fornicates, or commits sexual
    immoralities, has a WAY HARDER time, getting it out of their heart.

    K so that being said, JESUS came to FULFILL the Law NOT ABOLISH IT!
    FURTHERMORE,

    1 Corinthians 6:8-10 talks SPECIFICALLY about SODOMY,
    so I REALLY don’t know where these people are coming up
    with this GARBAGE that JESUS doesn’t talk about Homosexuality,

    HE DOES. HE IS GOD, and if you don’t believe in the trinity,
    that’s fine, it is still a fact of what I report here and now,
    (BTW THERE IS A TRINITY, DO MORE HOMEWORK!!)

    Matthew 19:3-6 says BY JESUS……… hasn’t it been said…….
    Romans 1:25-28—-God gave them over to their degrading passions——-Unless gay people actually don’t Sodomize.LOL
    1 Timothy 1:8-10—-Talks specifically about homosexuals——
    Matthew 15:19——-JESUS Specifically talks about fornication—–SAME THING!!!
    1 corinthians 6:8-10——ALL SIN is covered in this text

    CONCLUSION: It cracks me up how many people do not think they break ANY sin: think again……your wrong.
    Jesus is God and ALL HAVE FALLEN SHORT BY SINNING ALL, ALL, ALL.

    This does NOT give us a Free pass as believers.

    Actually it makes US MORE ACCOUNTABLE.
    Believe it.

    There will be MUCH WEEPING IN HEAVEN, those that thought they would “make it won’t”
    Listen, the biggest subject is not who sins and who doesnt and which sin is worse.
    The real subject is, when it comes down to it, AM I GONNA GO TO HEAVEN AND HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE,
    This subject has been debated for 2014 years and will continue.

    God WILL JUDGE ALL, PERIOD.
    Christians, Quit thinking You have this Free pass to heaven
    and NON Christians QUIT thinking that since You don’t believe You will not be accountable

    I would have way more respect for you, if You TRY to prove the bible as JUNK,
    SEE how LEE STROBEL did with that.

    Love You Guys ALL OF YOU GUYS,

    PEACE

    Daniel

    P.S> we are talking about ETERNAL LIFE here aren’t we…….