There are a lot of topics that Jesus never addressed. If Jesus never mentioned a certain thing, does that mean it’s a moral gray area?
The Silent Jesus Argument has often been used to support same-sex marriage and abortion, but insert whatever issue you like. It’s a very strange argument to make. It’s usually made at Christians and it implies a respect for the authority of Jesus. Or maybe it’s a way of playing on the Christian’s respect for His authority. In which case what’s really being said is, “You say you’re a Christian but Jesus never said anything about this. So you’re making it up.”
In addition to being a logical fallacy (The Argument from Silence) it ignores the context of Jesus’ life and worldview. It’s like describing your environment with earplugs in and your hands over your eyes. Let’s take Jesus’ view on same-sex marriage, since that’s a hot topic these days.
FACT: Jesus never said anything about same-sex marriage.
True. But did he say anything on marriage at all? Yes, he did:
2And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,[a]8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:2-8 ESV)
The Pharisees ask a question about divorce. And Jesus answers them by going way back to the beginning when God instituted the marriage relationship. So, he answers the divorce question by explaining marriage. He says “God made them male and female… therefore [since they are male and female] a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife.”
Jesus, as a Jew, would have held to the law, which forbid homosexual relations. But on this question about marriage, he uncovers the roots of marriage. And they are deeper than Judaism and the law of Moses. They are rooted in the natural, biological order at creation.
So, while it’s true Jesus never mentions gay marriage, he does mention marriage and anchors it in the created natural order of biology.
My main point here is not to argue against same-sex marriage, polygamy, or whatever else we have to fill in the moral blank. The point is that the Silent Jesus Argument is misleading and betrays a very immature way of not only reading the gospel, but of reading in general. Just because something may not be explicit doesn’t mean it can’t be known.
Jesus did not come to make a commentary on what was moral and what was immoral. That was, in part, the purpose of the Mosaic Law. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matt 5:17) And he did that by living, flawlessly, according to the letter of the law and then dying in place of those who violated it.
Which is all of us. Myself included.
Don’t fall for the Silent Jesus Argument. And if you disagree with Christians on the issues, fine. Make your case.
But the Silent Jesus won’t defend your view.