“Would Jesus Wash a Homosexual’s Feet?”


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Image: hegetsus.com, He Gets Us, LLC.

I had never before been asked for a pastor’s opinion concerning a Superbowl commercial. This year was different. The most talked about Superbowl ad had as its theme “He Gets Us.” It features Christians washing the feet of those with whom they disagree. It ends with the powerful words: “Jesus didn’t teach hate. He washed feet.”

Some conservative critics claim the commercial does not represent Jesus since there is no call for repentance. Tom Ascol, the head of Founders Ministries, blasted the ad: “That kind of empathy leads people to Hell. And I don’t know that we can say that strongly enough… . The message of ‘He gets us,’ I have not seen the first indicator that it will lead anybody to Christ, but it will lead people to Hell” (“The Sword and the Trowel” on YouTube by Founders Ministries, 2/13/2024).

On the other hand, other conservative Christians see the commercial as a providential opportunity to tell people about Jesus. SI member Ron Bean posted on Facebook: “I sent for one of the free ‘He Gets Us’ T shirts (because I like free things) and every time I’ve worn it I’ve had some good Gospel conversations with strangers.”

Certainly, Jesus proclaimed, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel!” (Mark 1:15) He regularly called out sins and called upon sinners to repent. However, I agree with Ron on this issue. God has seemingly opened up a unique window to witness, and those of us who know the Truth should thank a sovereign God for providing it for us.

The people doing the foot-washing in the ad are followers of Jesus. As ambassadors for Christ, Christians represent Him in, and to, this world (2 Corinthians 5:20). As such, we must always ask ourselves (to use a familiar phrase), “What would Jesus do?”

The only place we find Jesus washing feet is John 13. After washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus instructs them in verses 14 and 15, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you.” Yet, this incident does not stand alone.

Following this event, Jesus makes clear in verse 21, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” Naturally, the disciples ask Jesus who He is talking about. He explains in verse 26, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.” Jesus then dips the bread (“sop”) in the gravy and gives it to Judas.

Rejecting Jesus’ overture of love, verses 27 and 30 report, “After the sop Satan entered into [Judas]… . He then having received the sop went immediately out.” Although many lessons can be learned from this passage, one truth is clear: Jesus washed Judas’ feet.

Judas is presented in the Scriptures as the epitome of evil. Hence, we follow Jesus’ example when we love and serve those with whom we disagree or view as sinful.

That being said, Jesus also lovingly confronts Judas about his sin. The Apostle Paul calls this “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). If sin separates us from God, and Jesus Himself explains that this separation involves an awful place called Hell (Mark 9:43-48), then the only loving response a Christian can have is to warn those who are headed to that awful place to change course—repent.

“He Gets Us” never utters the words, “Turn or burn!” However, the ad did accomplish its purposes. It was never designed to be a thorough theological treatise. It was put out there to start religious conversations and to remind Christians of the spirit of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.”

The last portrait in the ad shows a minister washing the feet of someone in the LGBTQ community. This was the most controversial frame to many.

I think of the adage, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Romans 1:26, 27 labels homosexuality as “against nature.” Jesus Himself says in Mark 10:6, “From the beginning of the creation God made [people] male and female.” Yet, we must balance these words of warning with Jesus’ instruction to Christians in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

If the commercial encourages sinners to talk and Christians to love, it is good. Let us embrace the opportunities it presents rather than picking apart its deficiencies.


There are a lot of perspectives out there on the He Gets Us campaign and the Superbowl ad. I seem to mostly disagree with most of them.

The Ascol perspective seems to be representative of one approach to the issue: one that confuses culture war with the great commission. Also, people are not “led to Hell.” We are all already “children of wrath” until rescued. John 3:18, Eph 2:3.

It’s also long past time we got past the idea that if you raise the topic of the gospel at all, you have to lay out all of it every time. Many seem to have forgotten: some plant, some water, God gives the increase. 1 Cor 3:6-7.

I get that the emphasis of He Knows Us is love and acceptance and humility. These are very much out of fashion among those of the “we’re at war” mindset, so, to them, it sounds like the enemy. But I think the “we’re at war” camp has mostly lost sight of what sort of war we are in—and where the strongholds really are.

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God…(2 Co 10:3–5)

It’s a battle of persuasion and the ‘targets’ are beliefs and values.

And the warfare often looks like this…

27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (ESV, Lk 5:27–32)

Jesus corrects the grumblers by reasoning that His friendliness toward sinners is calling them to repentance (see also Rom 2:4).

Many involved in the battles of our day seem to be “waging war according to the flesh.”

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Since my good friend Clifton has quoted me, I'll throw in my opinion. I think He Gets Us hit a nerve with a lot of people because it quietly rebuked them (us) for our frequent lack of compassion and kindness to the worst sinners. That in turn hinders our evangelism. We see very few adult conversions, most of our baptisms are children, and our church growth is from people who come to us from other churches. Considering our frequent conflicts and disagreements with each other, I think a considerable number of us wouldn't stoop to wash the feet of some of our fellow Christians.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Questions about "What would Jesus do" are misguided. We don't know if Jesus would wash a homosexual's feet because the Scripture doesn't tell us. All answers are subjective. "I think He would." "Well, I don't think He would." We can know what Jesus did, insofar as Scripture tells us. We can't really know otherwise. "Would Jesus attend the Superbowl?" Who knows, and how could we be sure? The only ones whose feet were washed by Jesus, as far as we know, were the Apostles. I think we can be pretty sure that none of them were gay. Is there really anything else we can say with certainty beyond that?

G. N. Barkman

I think the point being made is that He didn't just wash the disciples feet, but that He washed the feet of the "son of perdition", a man better off to have never been born. A very heinous title given not by just a man, but by God.

I do agree that it is mere speculation and one that is not helpful in trying to determine what would Jesus do. Because just as the saints in the OT were caught off guard as to what Jesus did, and the apostles were caught off guard as to what Jesus did, it would serve us wisely that we too would not comprehend what Jesus would do today if He was here. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways.

In fact, it potentially denigrates Christ by thinking that we as mortal men could forsee and articulate what Christ would do today. And to use it to condemn men is even worse. It would be far better energy spent if we looked to what we are commanded to do from Scripture.

Questions about “What would Jesus do” are misguided. We don’t know if Jesus would wash a homosexual’s feet because the Scripture doesn’t tell us.

When we apply Scripture, we just about always do some categorical reasoning. It goes like this:

  • Scripture says this about things in category A
  • This modern belief, attitude, behavior is in category A
  • Therefore Scripture says this about this modern belief/attitude/behavior

We know Jesus washed Judas’ feet and ate regularly with “publicans and sinners.” The category is “people many see as exceptionally wicked.” We do know how Jesus interacted with folks in this category.

Granted, though, Judas was also in some other categories: one of the 12, for example. Arguably, that makes him even worse: “exceptionally wicked person who pretended to be a spiritual leader.” Jesus even washed the feet of those guys!

But lately we’re accepting too many culture war categories (socio-politically trendy categories) vs. biblical ones, and that gets us to thinking the Scriptures apply in a different way than they would in Jesus’ day.

Aren’t we better off using more timeless categories, though? (…timeless since the Fall, anyway. They will eventually cease to be categories in the future, too—I pause to rejoice!)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

What is also interesting in terms of the timeless categories, is that God interacts with His creation very differently at different stages. How He interacted with Adam is very different than the prophets or the patriarchs. How He reacted on earth was very different than the prophets. We know with certainty when He returns He will not be washing the feet of certain groups. In fact, if we were truly to state, What Would Jesus do if He were here today, we could confidently say what that looks like.

Revelations 19:11 Then I saw jheaven opened, and behold, ka white horse! The one sitting on it is called lFaithful and True, and min righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 nHis eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are omany diadems, and he has pa name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in qa robe dipped in4 blood, and the name by which he is called is rThe Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, sarrayed in fine linen, white and pure, twere following him on white horses. 15 uFrom his mouth comes a sharp sword vwith which to strike down the nations, and whe will rule3 them with a rod of iron. xHe will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh yhe has a name written, zKing of kings and Lord of lords.

Not seeing much feet washing here. We need to be careful when we say, "What would Jesus do".

The feet Jesus washed were those of the Apostles, and the ones Jesus commanded the Apostles to wash were "one another's feet." (John 13:14) Doesn't that limit the application to fellow believers? Does that include unrepenting homosexuals? Judas, as an Apostle, was thought by all the others to be a fellow believer. Can we logically apply the command to those known to be unbelievers? Indeed, there are many ways to logically extend the intended application, some of which do not apply to unbelievers. In the end, I think my previous statement stands. No one can say with certainty that Jesus would wash the feet of homosexuals because the Bible does not record that he did. It really does boil down to subjective opinion. "I think Jesus would wash the feet of homosexuals." "Well, I think He wouldn't." Since the Bible doesn't tell us one way or another, how can we answer this question with any degree of certainty?

G. N. Barkman

Much has been written and said over the past weeks since the "He Gets Us" ads aired during the SuperBowl. Those who have pointed out inherent problems with the campaign have been castigated as pharisaical, arrogant, extremist, ideological, negative, insincere, noxious, pretentious and "going on tirades." Typically, ad hominem attacks indicate flawed arguments, but since they're coming from those who would consider themselves more loving and empathetic, apparently, they're a good thing and an indication of a spiritually superior position.

Beyond the personal attacks, the main argument in support of the He Gets Us campaign appears to be that they're saying positive things about Jesus and if that engenders curiosity in an unbeliever, that can only be a good thing. This is an argument born out of humanistic pragmatism. I'd like to address this claim on multiple fronts.

1. God can use anything to accomplish His purpose. No argument from me here. Scripture is replete with examples: Cyrus' declaration that the Jews should return to Jerusalem, Balaam blessing Israel, Joseph's brothers' hate and jealousy, Babylon's destruction of Judah. I hearken back to one of the lessons I thankfully learned from Pastor Carlton Helgerson: "God's blessing does not necessarily indicate His approval."

Ultimately, God is sovereign and He can use anything to accomplish His will. That does not necessarily mean He is honored by it. It does not necessarily mean that He approves it. But let's move on.

2. If all it takes to gain a positive reaction is to say something positive about Jesus, that's an extremely low bar. The musical Jesus Christ Superstar portrayed Jesus as teaching the idea of loving one's enemy. That's true and positive, right? So, according to the enlightened standard, judgmental Christians should have been grateful for the free publicity and refrained from any criticism of the pop musical.

The demons in Jesus’ day uttered some true and positive statements about Him. If I recall correctly, Jesus was not grateful for the publicity (Luke 4:40-41).

The Mormon church also airs some very positive press about Jesus. Here's a link from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with the message "Jesus Christ is Your Savior."


Wow! Now that's a message we can get behind, right? Shouldn't we be celebrating it? Welllll, maybe not...because the Jesus that the Mormon church preaches is not the Jesus of the Bible. They don’t believe in the divinity of Christ. Placing one's faith in a false Christ does not lead to an eternity in Heaven. We'll come back to that.

3. The message of the He Gets Us campaign focuses on Jesus’ humanity and empathy. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but, that’s where their message stops. The phrase, "He gets us" quietly communicates an unbiblical picture of fallen humanity, which in reality isn't just unfortunate and downtrodden by society, but is actively in rebellion against a holy God.

In fact, He Gets Us says this with regard to man (apologies to those sensitive to ending a sentence with a preposition): “Throughout our shared history, Jesus has represented the ultimate good that humankind is capable of aspiring to.” Is humankind capable of aspiring to the “ultimate good”? Not according to the Bible in most translations of which I’m aware. Paul might have something to say about this – in fact, he did in Romans 3:10-23. He Gets Us portrays man not as needing a Savior, but of needing an Empathizer.

They also state in one of their “devotionals”: "The video ‘The Struggle’ drew me in with its imagery and then presented me with the idea that Jesus struggled financially. And he’s just like us. Huh. It stops even someone like me in my tracks thinking about it. No request for money. No expectation for me to change. No expectation to do anything except consider that Jesus struggled just like me. Just like most of us.

It’s not the typical message, and it is anything but ordinary. The idea that Jesus is just like me, as opposed to the message that I need to change to become more like him, is extraordinary to me."

I understand that sanctification occurs after salvation. The message that people need to clean up their lives before they can come to salvation is works-based and contradictory to Scripture. But the claim that Jesus is “just like me,” is blasphemous. The claim that God doesn’t expect us to change contradicts the message of repentance and faith necessary for salvation.

In their statement on “Who do you believe Jesus is, they state the following:

“We believe there is something in the story of Jesus for everyone. That’s why fans of the campaign and those working on it include people who are curious about this man and his story and want to explore it for themselves, those reconstructing their faith, and those who believe in their hearts that Jesus Christ is the son (sic) of God. All of us work together relentlessly to share the transformative power that unconditional love, forgiveness, and sacrificial generosity have to change us, our families, our communities, and our country. (editorial note: that last part sounds like they embrace Christian nationalism, but I digress…)

It wouldn’t be hard to guess that many of those backing the campaign believe that Jesus is who the Bible says he is. He Gets Us is an initiative of Come Near Inc., a nonprofit organization committed to sharing the life and love of Jesus, that believes Jesus was human and divine, he rose from the dead, and more. No matter who you are and what you believe, we’re glad you’re here.”

Note that the people working on the campaign includes some people who believe that Jesus is human and divine. By default, there are also people working on the campaign who don’t believe that. Do they believe Jesus is human? Undoubtedly (unless they believe that Jesus is a figment of the imagination). Do they believe that Jesus is divine? Well, that’s another story.

Also, did you see anything missing in the statement of Christ’s person and work? Scour the He Gets Us website. You’ll have to look long and hard to find anything about why Jesus actually came to earth, man’s sinful condition, and what’s Christ’s work on the cross accomplished.

The upshot of it is this. Much like the link referenced above to the Mormon church’s teaching on Christ and His person and work, the He Gets Us campaign endorses and espouses false doctrine regarding the person and work of Christ and mankind’s need of a Savior. They present and represent a false Jesus and a false gospel. Despite the myriad of devotionals and their deep financial resources, they somehow haven't found a way to gently and tenderly lead a lost soul to an even basic knowledge of why Jesus came.

Could God sovereignly use He Gets Us to lead someone to saving knowledge in Christ? With God, anything is possible, but it would be in spite of their teaching, not because of it. Could He Gets Us lead people to eternal condemnation because of their false teaching? Unquestionably, yes.

In short, the message of He Gets Us is false doctrine communicated by false teachers. It is not worthy of promotion. It is worthy of exposure and rejection.

We know with certainty when He returns He will not be washing the feet of certain groups. In fact, if we were truly to state, What Would Jesus do if He were here today, we could confidently say what that looks like.

When He returns, He is not washing anybody’s feet—because He returns as the conquering King.

Let’s rephrase the original question: How do we interact with sinners in a Christlike way in this present age? To unpack “Christlike,” we arrive at “What would Jesus do?” which is a way of saying “When Jesus was living among us in His first advent, partly with the purpose of setting an example for us, how did He interact with sinners?”

So the question is not “What would Jesus do if He were returning to conquer?” It’s “What would Jesus do when He was showing us how to live as His disciples?” (1 Pet 2:21-23 comes to mind also.)

So, the question is actually very simple. Let’s not needlessly complicate it.

What did Jesus do in relation to sinners when He was showing us how to live as His disciples? (aka “What would Jesus do?”)

He ate with them. Washed their feet. He also confronted them in a variety of really brilliant ways. When He got harsh with sinners it was always with the religious, powerful, self-righteous sort. (Well, almost always. He got pretty harsh with Peter at least once Matt 16:23. But put that in context. He is even gentle with Peter after he publicly denied Jesus.)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

To list "He ate with them" alongside "Washed their feet" is to imply these two activities of Christ belong in the same category. They don't. He washed feet one time only when He washed the Apostles feet in John 13. It was the only recorded time He did this, and from the Apostles reaction, we discern that they had never seen Him so this before. What was the point of this action? Humility to wash one another's feet is one lesson. The other was an object lesson about sanctification. Peter did not need to be bathed, because He was already washed when he was justified in the past. However, he needed foot washing, confession and forgiveness of daily sins. How can we appropriately apply this to unrepentant homosexuals, or any unrepentant unbelievers? We can't, if we are being careful to in our handling of Scripture.

G. N. Barkman

Humility to wash one another’s feet is one lesson. The other was an object lesson about sanctification. Peter did not need to be bathed, because He was already washed when he was justified in the past.

The multiple lessons observation is true, which is why the categories I’ve referred to still hold. Near the end, Jesus tells them to wash one another’s feet (John 13:14). So, just as we have multiple compatible lessons, we have multiple compatible categories here.

Jesus washed the feet of the worst of sinners. It’s well known that in that day, foot washing was a needed service and performed routinely. It was as ordinary as, in our day, offering someone a bottle of water on hot day. But rabbis didn’t usually wash disciple’s feet. It would be the other way around.

So Jesus is definitely telling them to get past their assumptions about who deserves to cared for by whom, who should be served, who should be shown compassion. Ultimately, His answer is, even the worst of people.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.