Would Jesus have Approved of Same Sex Marriage?

Would Jesus have Approved of Same Sex Marriage?

I saw this question posted on a forum the other day. There were a lot of answers that we orthodox Lutherans would say were way off the mark. But the fact that this question is even being asked reminds me of a banner that one of my favorite bible scholars had in his study. It read, “The error of the masses is to confuse religion with adherence to the prevailing moral code.”

The ideas a society has of what is right or wrong are constantly in flux. Slavery is okay, slavery is not okay. Women should keep silent in the presence of men, women should serve as judges and legislators. Abortion is okay, abortion is murder, abortion might or might not be murder, but it is a woman’s right alone to make that decision.

Everytime the rules of society shift, we try and reinterpret scripture to fit. Lutherans used to know with certainty that the Bible clearly teaches us that it is wrong to have women teachers over male students. When there became a shortage of men in WWI, it was decided that scripture would allow women to teach the primary grades and the lower grades of Sunday School. Then, when we had a shortage of men in WWII, a close examination of scripture revealed that it was okay for women to teach all Sunday School classes, but not Adult Bible Study.

Today we have seen more than two decades of organized and concerted effort to gain social acceptability of homosexuality. It has been hugely successful. Very soon, the U S Supreme Court will likely rule that states may not deny marriage to couples simply because they are of the same sex. At the same time, we see a great many Christian denominations making declarations accepting homosexuality as an alternate but nevertheless God pleasing lifestyle. The Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop.

So what would Jesus say to a person who asked him if he approved of same sex marriage? I think it is a long stretch for anyone to claim that Jesus would answer anything but no. But at the same time, he could just as easily have asked a question in return. “Why does this concern you?” That is to ask, ‘what is in your heart and why do you ask?’

Jesus loved sinners. He surrounded himself with them. Rather than cut himself off from them, he sought them out. Jesus could easily have made the statement, “Some of my best friends are sinners.” Remember how ticked off the Pharisees were when Jesus went in to eat with the “tax collectors and sinners”? It even seems like he had a good time with them judging from how his critics reacted. (Luke 7:34)

So does that mean that we be accepting of unrepentant sinners and welcome them open arms? No more than we do other unrepentant sinners like the habitual gossip, the tax evader, those who cannot control their anger, or those couples who live together without marriage. All of us are sinners. All of us are repeat offenders. All of us have a personal struggle when it comes to walking in the path of Christ.

Remember what Jesus said when asked which is the most important commandment? “He said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and most important commandment.  The second is exactly like it: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.

This is the policy that God has given us. These two rules are to be the measure of everything we do. All the rest is secondary.


David Brugge is a longtime member of Trinity where he serves as Elder. He is an author, teacher, and frequent contributor to Trinitymemphis.org. The opinions expressed here are solely his own and as such are not the official opinions of Trinity Lutheran Church, its staff, or the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

  1. One of many questions I plan to ask Him. Maybe it will be covered in orientation or handouts outside the pearly gates.
    My issue is re-defining words/terms. Don’t redefine marriage. Get a new term. Civil union works for me.
    And exactly why would you have to be gay? Marriage would be excluded for brothers and sisters, but a civil union for siblings could be resolve some major life dilemmas (taxes or insurance) and revokable.
    The sin issue: decided at a mature age, some calls were indeed none of my business – Let go. Let God.
    I have yet to disprove the theory, love is never too abundant. However, can seem misguided at times.

    • > I have yet to disprove the theory, love is never too abundant. However, can seem misguided at times.

      Indeed you are correct that love can be misguided at times. Both our church and our society have put boundaries on what is and what is not appropriate love. You already mentioned love (and we’re talking ‘Éros ‘ here, not ‘Philia’ ) between a brother and sister. In Leviticus 20 God lists the details of whom a man is not allowed to have sex.

      – another man’s wife
      – with his mother or step-mother
      – with his daughter-in-law
      – with another man
      – his mother-in-law
      – with an animal
      – with his sister, step-sister, or sister-in-law
      – with his aunt
      – with a slave that is engaged to another

      In the thousand-plus years since, society has agreed with this arrangement. In the last twenty years, we have seen the move to ignore one, but only one from this list. While it is true that since Christ’s crucifixion, we are no longer bound to the law (for instance, we no longer put those who break these commandments to death), they are still a good guide as to the things God considers sinful.

      I are several homosexuals which I am proud to count as close personal friends. They know my opinion and we leave it at that. I liken it to my friends that smoke. I am against smoking and I think is is wrong. My friends know my opinion but I don’t feel the need to preach to them. Occasionally the subject make come up for discussion and I will press my point, but I do not let it become a stumbling block against our friendship. I think Jesus would do likewise (but he would do a much better job pressing his case.)

  2. Just to make it clear: I was not suggesting or promoting sexual intimacy among siblings. I have known a brother and sister that came to be housemates as seniors. He must have been a childless widower and she an old maid/spinster. Some wrongly assumed they were a married couple because of the same last name. In a ‘civil union’ perhaps there could be benefits (taxes or insurance).
    Also, because my daughter (and others) has no sibling, I would be comforted to feel she could have an out-side-the-box legal partner option. I am aware you can be a legal guardian with the right paper work but that does not give certain other perks (taxes or insurance).
    Mom had an elderly spinster friend get legally adopted by a cousin at the suggestion of an attorney in the family to solidify her future needs, care and custody.
    Long term roommate of mine was a military widow. Because we were not blood-kin-sisters, I was not allowed a pass to go with her to any commissary she visited but could be her ‘visitor’ every else on a military base. It just felt wrong; not inconvenient, but just wrong.

  3. The “civil union” ship sailed and we missed that boat. Hindsight is always 20/20! A better late than never option would be to consider marriage licensing a government function, and “Holy Matrimony” as a more sacramental or religious status. Think of the difference between a birth certificate and a baptism, or a death certificate and a funeral mass. If churches decided to stop being an arm of the state they would also be free to bless whatever unions they support with their interpretation of Scripture.

  4. Yes, God tells us all to love one another, but that does not mean turn you back on sin. The sin of homosexuality is an affront to the Lord and can never be accepted by the church. It is not just an alternative lifestyle. It is a sin against God. The movement to embrace homosexuals is just more proof that the end times are near.

    God is not fooled. He sees into our hearts and condemns us for our sins. For a church to conduct a wedding service for two people of the same sex is a slap in the face to God. The Bible is full of instances where God’s people turned their back on God and worships that which was not holy. The end always turned out the same.

    I think God is being patient with us right now, but his patience is not forever. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.