This article is part 4 of a 5-part series entitled Revisiting Revoice
Another way of calling into question whether or not SSA is morally culpable sin is by re-envisioning how Jesus Christ must have experienced temptation to sin. Did Jesus ever desire something contrary to the will of God? What of the time Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:42, when he prayed, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done”? Nowhere in this request is there the slightest indication that Jesus is ever tempted to go against or to go outside of God’s will, much less does this request come anywhere close to providing a proof text to support the erroneous contention that Jesus could have been same-sex attracted. Jesus requests a change in God’s will, if that be possible, which request is not in itself sinful. But Jesus never goes against God’s will, as that is simply not his desire. Jesus explicitly expresses his desire, “not My will, but Yours be done.”
Jesus wished to escape his suffering if he could do so according to the Father’s will, but certainly not outside of it. A desire to escape suffering is not, in and of itself, sinful. So Christ’s desire was not an inward enticement toward sin. We are reminded in Acts 2:23, “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” Christ’s death would constitute the gravest injustice ever carried out in the history of mankind, and yet, it was the Father’s will. Far from fighting against the Father’s will, Jesus was appalled by the people’s will. In all of this mystery, his will was in perfect submission to the will of God which was for him to die. Jesus did not experience internal temptation to sin, he experienced internal submission to God’s will, just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did in Daniel 3:17-18 when they prayed, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” That is, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Thus, the ‘temptation’ in the Garden of Gethsemane is altogether different from our own internal temptations to sin.
Moreover, Christ’s temptation was wrought from without, for it is still true that the enemies of Christ in the Garden and on Golgotha came at him from the outside, not from the humanity of Christ, and not from God. As we read in Psalm 22:12-13, “Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a roaring lion.” Attempting to use Gethsemane as an excuse for homosexual desire is ad hoc at best. In Gethsemane we do not see Jesus Christ desiring sin, but desiring the will of God.
As mentioned above, many of us were wrongly taught to believe that temptation is never sin, particularly because Jesus was tempted yet did not sin. Some attempt to argue that Jesus himself wrestled with questions of his sexual identity and even SSA upon the basis of Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” On this view, Jesus is able to sympathize with those who experience SSA in the very specific way of experiencing it himself, yet without sin. Was Jesus Christ same-sex attracted? John Owen certainly did not think so. Nor the Medievals. And certainly not the Reformers, either. In fact, the idea that internal temptation is not sin is thoroughly outside of Protestant theology, and squarely within Roman Catholic teachings. So also, the suggestion that Christ suffered from an internal struggle against sinful temptation is outside Protestant theology, though it finds a home among some of Revoice’s most ardent defenders. But what does Hebrews 4:15 say?
Did Jesus really experience every temptation to sin that we experience? How did Jesus face the throes of temptation through addiction to a particular sin without having ever actually sinned? Was Jesus really pestered by an inward pull toward pederasty in order to sympathize with pedophiles? As ridiculous a suggestion as that is, the aforementioned reading of Hebrews 4:15 would require it. Were the racial prejudices of Jesus welcome to the Father so long as he kept them under wraps? Can he know what it is to wrestle against false guilt from forgiven sins? Is one really forced to view any suggestion to the contrary with incredulous suspicion? A closer look at the context of Hebrews 3 and 4 suggests we understand the temptation of Christ to include, not every single temptation known to man, for what man ever faces every temptation known to man anyway? Experiencing temptation to every sin under the sun is not consistent with ordinary human experience. That would be a particularly abnormal experience for the God-man who is said to sympathize with us in our weaknesses. What is consistent with ordinary human experience following the Fall is the type of temptation the children of Israel experienced for forty years in the wilderness, and Hebrews 3 and 4 address that very temptation, speaking of Moses and Israel in the wilderness and entering into God’s rest. Jesus sympathizes with us in being human and enduring trials and temptations from without.
The context of Hebrews 4:13 thus causes us to think back on the wilderness temptation of Jesus, who recapitulates the life of Israel as described in Matthew 4. Matthew 4 follows its earlier chapters in proving that Jesus is the new Israel who is able to accomplish what Israel could not. Jesus is able to overcome the tempter in the wilderness, whereas Israel had failed. Our hope comes, not from Jesus being tempted internally as we are, but from the fact that he is not tempted internally as we are. Our rest comes, not from having overcome our inward temptation by redefinition, but through faith in Jesus Christ the righteous. So the temptation of Jesus was different from ours. His temptation did not come from within, but from without. Whereas we fail, he was successful. That’s why we need a sinless Savior outside of our fleshly desires, that is, a righteous Christ in whom we place our faith, rather than supposed sinful similarities between the flesh of Christ and our own. The temptation spoken of in Hebrews 4 and Matthew 4 is hence not an internal temptation from within Jesus, but from without. The crafty serpent who successfully tempted the first Adam from the outside in Genesis 3 likewise tried to tempt the Second Adam in Matthew 4, but as both that chapter and Hebrews 4 state, he was, “yet without sin.”
This article is part 4 of a 5-part series entitled Revisiting Revoice
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