Should we take what Jimmy Carter said seriously? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I have seen this meme going around the past few months or so and saw it again yesterday on Facebook. Chances are, you have as well. I always give the same reply. As far as I know, the quote is authentically from Jimmy Carter, but even if it isn’t, the message is still one that many Christians will find difficult to respond to and many others will treat as an unassailable argument.
Maybe you’re a Christian wondering how you should respond to that. After all, Jesus never said anything explicitly about homosexuality in the Bible. Also, it was very well known in the ancient world and this long before Jesus was born. Is it time to surrender this point? No.
Here’s what I initially post every time I see this.
Pederasty was well-known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born, and Jesus never said a word about pederasty. In all of his teachings about multiple things, he never said that pederasts should be condemned.
For those who don’t know, this was a practice where an older man would take a younger boy in and mentor him. That mentoring would often involve making the younger boy a lover. The boy would traditionally play the female role. This was a common practice in the ancient world at the time of Jesus and Jesus never said a word about it.
Now if the person posting this meme is going to be consistent, then they will need to approve of a practice that most of us would call child abuse or sexual abuse today. If they don’t, then they are just cherry picking. This shows the problem with the argument because if you just submit another term in that can apply equally, the argument doesn’t work.
If anything, Jesus’s silence should be seen as tacit approval of what the Torah said about homosexual practice. Jesus had no problem dealing with interpretations of the Law that He found to be problematic. On this one, He is incredibly silent on the matter. Could it because like pederasty, this wasn’t an issue in ancient Israel?
As for Jesus’s stance on sex and marriage, it was much harder than those around Him. Jesus looked at both of the schools of His day on divorce and at the Essenes in Matthew 19 and went beyond both of them. His response many Christians today might think perfectly natural, but His own disciples were shocked by it.
Jesus also spoke hard on lust, something that many of us guys would probably love to have taken out of the Bible. Committing adultery was wrong, but it is definitely just as bad to even look at a woman with the desire to fornicate with her. Why? Because on a cost-benefit analysis, if you can get away with doing it, you will do it.
Don’t let someone fool you with this kind of argumentation from Carter. Regardless of what I think of his politics, I can say he does not know what he’s talking about with the Bible. Contrary to what the meme says, the Bible is something I think real Christians should stand up for.