It is often supposed that Jesus was more permissive with regard to sexual ethics than the Old Testament. The reverse is, in fact the case.
Robert Gagnon invites us, in response, to consider the following:
1. The three stories of sexual sinners
Jesus reached out to sexual sinners. The key stories are: the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50; 50; the woman caught in adultery in John 7:53-8:11; and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. They no more suggest that Jesus was soft on sexual sin than do the stories about Jesus’ fraternization with tax collectors insinuate an accommodation to economic exploitation. The subtext for all three stories is that the sexual lives of the women were turned around by Jesus’ unexpected outreach…
2. Seeking the sexually lost with repentance in view
Jesus did not promote a repentance-less inclusion in God’s kingdom. Rather, the distinctive features of his ministry were: (1) an intensive effort to search for the lost; (2) exultation at their joyous return, with full and immediate inclusion; and (3) grace for those who repeatedly “backslide” but repent each time (Luke 17:3-4; Matt 18:21-22)…
3. The parable of the Good Samaritan
Some pro-homosex scholars misuse this parable (Luke 10:28-35) to advocate support for homosexual practice…The parable illustrates the Golden Rule: whatever you want people to do for you, do for them (Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31). Loving the homosexual neighbor does not mean affirming homoerotic behavior. It means discouraging it in the context of a loving outreach.
4. Narrowing further the permissible range of sexual activity
One of the most remarkable things about Jesus’ mission was that in the context of an aggressive outreach to the lost he deepened God’s demand for sexual purity. Instead of advocating that divorce and remarriage be as easy for women as for men, he declared that “whoever divorces his wife” both “commits adultery” tery” when he marries another and becomes partly responsible for his wife’s adultery when she remarries; moreover, that a man who “marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matt 5:32; Luke 16:18; Mark 10:11-12; 1 Cor 7:10-11). Jesus was virtually without peer in his radical insistence on limiting the number of lifetime sex partners to one. His saying about adultery of the heart severely constrained not only behavior but also thoughts (Matt 5:27-28). So seriously did he take sexual immorality that he told people that it was better to cut off the offending body part than to have the whole person thrown into hell (Matt 5:29-30; 30; Mark 9:43-48). Most pro-homosex advocates feel certain that Jesus would never have denied a sexual relationship to two exclusive sive homosexuals in love with one another. In view of Jesus’ unprecedented narrowing of the range of legitimate sexual intercourse, course, it is hard to think of someone for whom the consideration of “sexual starvation” as a basis for violating a biblical sex norm would have had less impact.
Robert A. J. Gagnon. Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views.