Jesus was no stranger to controversy. He disagreed with the Pharisees about divorce, the Sabbath, and Jewish traditions. He contended with the Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead. He answered the Herodians when they posed the religious and political issue of taxes. The Lord didn’t go around picking fights just to be arguing, but He also didn’t hesitate to refute something that was unscriptural. Alexander Campbell correctly said Jesus unsheathed the sword of the Spirit on the banks of the Jordan and threw away the scabbard.

But there were objections Jesus never heard in the New Testament. When He talked about God, no one ever said, “Which god are you talking about?” or “How do you know there is a God?” When He quoted the Scriptures to Jewish rabbis, none of them ever said, “You can’t prove those writings are inspired” or “How do you know which books belong in the Scriptures?” We don’t read about Jesus trying to convince anyone that abortion and homosexuality are wrong. He argued with the Jews about many things, but there were core beliefs in Jewish culture about God, the Scriptures, and morality that were not open to debate. 

The Gentile world was different. Paul had to deal with people who believed in other gods like Zeus and Hermes and the goddess Diana (Acts 14:11-12; 19:35). Several times he addressed the sin of homosexuality (Rom. 1:26-27; I Cor. 6:9-11; I Tim. 1:10). Most people outside of Judaism knew little about the Old Testament, so Paul taught it to Gentile Christians and proved that what he wrote was Scripture that was inspired of God (I Cor. 14:37; II Cor. 12:12). He continued to teach Jews, but while some issues were the same for both groups, others were different.

I have heard people today say that we shouldn’t make an issue about homosexuality because Jesus didn’t say anything about it. That is not true. The word fornication, which Jesus used numerous times, is from porneia which means unlawful sexual intercourse in general and includes adultery, premarital sex, homosexuality, and incest. A person might as well argue that Jesus never said anything about pedophilia as to make this statement.

The Lord said that He didn’t specifically address everything that was needed. That’s why He sent the Holy Spirit upon the apostles to guide them into all truth (John 16:12-13). They taught those truths and recorded them in the books of the New Testament. Now we have “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (II Pet. 1:3) in those writings. All the Scriptures, not just the red letters, are inspired of God (II Tim. 3:16-17).

Questions and issues are the same everywhere and yet some are more common at certain times and in particular places. In former days in the American Bible Belt it was rare for anyone to deny God or the Bible. Now it is not unusual. Homosexuality certainly was not tolerated in those days, but now it is displayed openly and defended by politicians and even some churches. Jesus and Paul didn’t have to contend with the Quran of Islam and almost two billion followers of Muhammed, but we do. 

The Bible has all we need to answer the important issues and questions of our time. But we must respect and consider all of it. Times change and audiences vary, but the Word of God is always the same (I Pet. 1:25).

-Kerry Duke, VP of Academics and Academic Affairs