- Does the Bible Condemn Homosexuality?
- Was Sodom the First All-Gay City?
- Sex at Sodom: Was it “Homosexual”?
- Does Leviticus Actually Condemn Same-Sex Intercourse?
- Leviticus 18: A Text Dripping with Blood
- Leviticus 18 & 20 Revisited…for Real
- Are Leviticus 18 & 20 Still Relevant for Christians?
- Homosexuality in Ancient Rome & Why It Matters
- Was “Homosexuality” Unknown to Paul?
- Biological Influences on Same Sex Attraction According to Rome
- Jesus & Homosexuality
- Jesus, Sexuality, & Same-Sex Love
- Jesus, Unconditional Love, & LGBT
- Celibate Gay Christians
- Homosexuality & Romans 1
- Does Romans 1 Only Prohibit Illicit Same Sex Activity?
- Maybe Romans 1:24-27 Is About Purity But Not Sin?
- Is Romans 1 About Straight People Having Gay Sex?
- Does Romans 1 Address Specific Idolatrous Forms of Homosexuality?
- Paul Prohibits Homosexual Sex–But Why?
In my previous post in this series, I summed up five arguments against the so-called traditional reading of Romans 1, which
prohibits homosexual relations. I’m going to spend 5 blogs addressing these arguments beginning with the first one, which reads:
Romans 1 does not consider homosexual acts to be inherently sinful. Rather, Paul has in mind excessive lust and illicit same-sex activity (sex outside of marriage, sex with boys, orgies, etc.). Paul does not have in mind loving, consensual, monogamous sex between partners of the same gender.
Of the five arguments against the traditional reading, this one is the weakest to my mind. Here’s why.
First, the passage can’t be limited to pederasty (sex with boys), because Paul begins with sex among females and pederasty between a woman and a boy, or a woman and a girl, was unknown in the ancient world. It wasn’t an available category for Paul to assume. And since he connects lesbian sex with gay sex by using the word “likewise” in 1:27 he seems to have similar practices in view. In other words, pederasty or other forms of male-male exploitative sex couldn’t have been in view in 1:26 (lesbian sex), and it therefore probably isn’t in view in 1:27 (gay sex). (Please note: a small minority of scholars don’t think 1:26 refers to lesbian sex [most recently, James Brownson]. If they’re right, then this counterargument falls apart.)
Second, there were many words and phrases available to Paul if he was only thinking of illicit sexual activity. If he had pederasty in mind, there were specific words he could have used, but he didn’t. If he had orgies or prostitution in mind, other words were available, but he didn’t use these. In fact, Paul uses the most general words and phrases that he could: “Women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature” and “men…gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another” (1:26-27).
Third, if Paul had in mind both the victim and victimizer (pederasty, rape, etc.), he wouldn’t have condemned both partners. But he says that they both receive “in themselves the due penalty for their error” (1:27). Now, I’m not sure what Paul means by “due penalty;” it’s probably not AIDS or other venereal diseases as is sometimes thought. But the fact that Paul says their (plural) shows that both partners are committing some error. Since both, according to Paul, are guilty, he’s probably not thinking of exploitative sex.
Fourth, Paul uses a common Jewish and Greco-Roman designation for homosexual sex: “against nature” (or “unnatural”—para physin). This phrase was used quite frequently by certain moral philosophers and Hellenistic Jews to refer to various types of homosexual sex: pederasty, lesbian sex, consensual homosexual acts, etc. When ancient writers had a specific type of homosexual sex in mind, they’d usually state this explicitly.
For instance, Plutarch describes male homosexual sex as “contrary to nature” and the love between men and women as “natural” (te physei). Why? Because the passive male partner forfeits his male status by acting like a female (Dialogue on Love, 751C, E).
Plato says that homosexual sex of all forms is “contrary to nature” and even uses the same phrases as Paul in Romans 1:26 (Laws 636c, 841d). Why? Because homosexual sex is the result of excessive passion and it cannot procreate (Laws 772de, 838d-839d).
Josephus agrees: “The Law recognizes no sexual connections except for the natural (kata physin) union of man and wife, and that only for the procreation of children” (Against Apion 2.199).
Philo singles out pederasty as “an unnatural pleasure” (ten para physin hedonen) (Spec. Leg. 3.37-42; cf. Abr. 133-141), but also condemns lesbianism on the same grounds: acting contrary to nature (QG. 2.49; Virt. 20-21; Her. 274).
Another Hellenistic Jew says that male homosexual acts “transgress with unlawful sex the limits set by nature.” His reasoning? “For even animals are not pleased by intercourse of male with male” (Ps. Phoc. 190-91).
What’s the point of all this? To show that within Paul’s world, “against nature” was an umbrella term that applied to all types of homosexual sex. When an author had a more specific type in view (pederasty, lesbian sex, etc.), or a specific reason in view (inability to procreate, animals don’t do it, it feminizes the passive partner, etc.), they made this clear.
But Paul doesn’t. There is nothing in the text of Romans 1 that limits the type of homosexual sex in view, and Paul doesn’t clearly give us a specific reason other than that it’s “against nature.” Why does Paul believe it’s against nature? Is it because gay sex doesn’t procreate, or because animals engage in heterosexual sex (which is actually false)? Paul doesn’t say.
Paul simply condemns homosexual sex by using the broad umbrella phrase para physin (“against nature”) without further qualification. All attempts to smuggle in such qualifications are unconvincing.
But alas, there are 4 more arguments against the traditional view! So if you’re convinced by my counterargument in this post, you’d better grab another cup of coffee because we’ve still got a lot of work to do.
But if you’re not convinced, I’d love to hear why. Again, as always, these blogs represent my “working thoughts” not some dogma etched in stone. Show me where I’m off (or highlight where I’m right); I want to keep interacting with this important text. I genuinely want to be biblical, not support my tradition at all cost.
It certainly seems that same-sex sex was viewed as unnatural in the world Paul
inhabited, a view that he obviously shared as you’ve shown. Are Pauls views to be taken as law though? Still working that one out.
It all depends on you view of Scripture, inspiration, authority, etc. I would say yes, Paul, being inspired by the Holy Spirit says things that are authoritative for the church. A related question, though, is whether there are some cultural particularities that drive Paul’s words here, which may result in a different application today (e.g. head coverings, holy kisses).
The rest of the stuff in 1:18-32 seems universal though.
I would add women pastors/vicars to that list as well.
Paul being inspired inevitably raises the question about everyone else; is anyone else inspired by the holy spirit, does the holy spirit still inspire today, should we be looking for a trajectory (to quote Derek Flood and Peter Enns)?
Thanks again for the careful examination. One question I have about quoting other moralist/phosphors contemporary to Paul is that the reasons they gave for their negative view of homosexuality are mostly not relevant to what we know of modern day same sex relations–anti-procreative, effeminating, excessive lust, idolatry with the body etc… If Paul’s prohibition stems from similar reasoning, will it be correct to say that Rom.1:26,27 may not be applied directly to our discussions today?
Peter, great question! This is, to my mind, THE question (or questions). What is the REASON for Paul’s statements about same sex intercourse here.
Of the options you listed, I don’t think procreation is a real option. Paul never elevates procreation and doesn’t mention it here.
Effeminate is weak too, because again he doesn’t say this here and elsewhere Paul has a strikingly high view of women.
Excessive lust is probably the reason that carries the most merit. However, does Paul think that same sex relations are wrong because they result from excessive lust–but if they didn’t result from excessive lust they would be totally fine? I don’t think we can make that conclusion, since contrary to some scholars, there were many examples of gay relationships in the first century that weren’t the result of excessive lust. Also, his term “unnatural” may mean that there was something more fundamental going on.
But I’ll talk about these options in more detail in a future blog. Again, you put your finger on what I see to be THE most important question about Romans 1!
Thanks very much again. Here are some more thoughts:
Even though Paul is not giving too much value to procreation, he might still think that, in order to strengthen his point here that the potential for procreation is the God ordained “natural” function. However, maybe the read will be in the same lens as Women are saved by child birth, but there were plenty of charitable attitudes to barren women in the Bible.
Paul was concerned about the effeminates when it comes to homosexual behavior e.g. 1 Cor. 6, and if we parallel Paul’s words with Philo’s. On a side note, Philo condemns both active and passive parties even when it is pederasty, where the active partner suffers least feminizing and the relation may be viewed as loving/consensual…but those were young boys.
The excessive lust/unnatural desire read may be bolstered by that Paul puts lesbianism first, which is almost everywhere condemned in his time and thus eclipses all arguments that give merits to male, or other forms of homosexual relations.
I think it is not that God would have slipped and forgot about homosexuality may be good when he touched Paul but that the purpose of Paul’s writing was to excite an alert in his audience so that they will not choose to ignore traditional morality, in view of what he is going to say later on. Nevertheless, what traditional morals to uphold and when/where is the question. After all, disobedience to parents is always on his list…borrowing strength from Mosaic teachings I assume.
Thank you for your patience and look forward to future posts. I am praying for the series.
Hey Preston, I have a question for you. (Great Blog, by the way.) Umm, when Paul says “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts” (v. 24) and to “dishonorable passions” (v. 26), could this not refer to lustful, excessive, illicit homosexual activity? I know that in the Greco-Roman world, and in Hellenistic Judaism, certain writers viewed homosexual sex as the RESULT of excessive lust and passion. And it seems like this may be what Paul is referring to. And if he is, then he would NOT have in mind non-lustful, consensual, monogamous gay sex. Paul probably didn’t have a category for such a modern concept. What do you think about this reading?
Thanks again for your blog!
(Yes, I might be loosing it…)
I look forward to Preston’s reply!
I really appreciate your patience, but precisely this confusion is where the circular logic loop begins. The point is that in the confine of Romans 1, there is very little that may be used to discern the reason for Paul’s prohibition. When Romans is viewed as a exhortation or liturgical piece, homosexuality is merely an example of some underlying offenses and therefore no further discussions beyond an umbrella “unnatural”. The negative connotation for lesbianism is “plainly”, “likewise” carried to gay sex( all forms), since even consensual, loving relations were from distorted value systems(like marrying for money…but is it true?). Even Gagnon has to resort to gender complementarity to give a foot hold to his claims–homoerotic behavior is intrinsically sinful like murder, adultery… The crux is that without a clear knowledge of where Paul’s underlying reason for his writing locates, there is not a clear direction to help people with SSA. All efforts will lead to similar failures of the Ex-gay therapies.
Yes, I believe, we all need to trust in God’s words and His grace that leads to our transformation and salvation. The scripture is an important guide but in this matter, is it a clear guide? Or we will need to seek answers elsewhere in the Bible, or that experience, reason will have to stand above scripture(in the literal sense) and tradition on this one.
Please believe that my gratitude is genuine. Thank you again for the time and effort.
I agree, since the initial statement is about being given over to lusts and sinful desires, I don’t think you’ve countered the suggestion that it is the lustful activity that is against nature, rather than the activity within a more sanctioned ‘righteous’ context.
The other line of thought that came to mind, is that Paul spends a good portion of his letter advocating behaviours counter to our “natural” behaviour (that is, counter to our natural sinful state), and that ‘normal’ heterosexual marital sex is also against nature and our ‘natural’ inclination to lust, fornication and adultery.
A very good question, Preston.
Hi Preston –
I tend to agree with your overall assessment that Paul was speaking generally and not specifically. He was trying to be repulsive; erotic homosexual acts would have offended the Jews in his audience. I don’t think Paul was qualifying them.
That doesn’t really address the question of promiscuity versus committed relationships. Does “against nature” necessarily mean immoral, or could it mean non-normative? Is gay sex “shameless” in all contexts, or is this intentionally broad rhetoric? By way of example, someone decrying the immorality of college campuses might refer to “today’s shamelessly oversexed co-eds”; that doesn’t mean that all co-eds are oversexed, all sex is immoral, or that married students are acting shamelessly.
There are two points I hope you’ll get to in this discussion of Romans 1 (and hopefully Romans 2).
First, homosexuality is described as the expression of God’s wrath rather than the reason for it; it is the symptom not the cause. What are the implications of that regarding people who are gay?
Second, Paul clearly distinguishes between “shameless acts” of homosexuality carrying their own “penalty” for the “error”, and “things that should not be done” for which people “deserve to die” according to the law. What is the significance of this carve out?
You say Paul uses “against nature” (i.e. unnatural) without qualification. However, Paul contrasts “natural function” with “against nature” thereby limiting the definition of “against nature” to the antithesis of “natural function.” The natural function of the woman is the procreative function of the woman (this function requires penetration to become effective). Anal sex with a woman (which also requires penetration) would be the most obvious antithesis to that which makes use of the procreative function since anal sex cannot lead to procreation. Of course, this act is not “homosexual.” When Paul moves into his next statement in verse 27, he has already narrowed down what he means by “against nature” by deliberately contrasting it with “natural function.” Thus when Paul writes, “and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function…,” we know that these heterosexual men, too, are committing anal sex with one another.
Furthermore, we shouldn’t overlook the parallel of verse 25 with verse 26 (see my unaddressed post [maybe you missed it] in your previous blog #15 for more detail, if needed). The physical exchange of “the natural” (truth) for “the unnatural” (lie) in the LIVES of these idolaters is a manifestation of the spiritual exchange of “the Creator” (truth) for “the creature” or idol (lie) in the HEARTS of these idolaters. It’s not “cause/effect”; it’s a (particular) physical expression of a spiritual reality which solidified God’s judgment in giving them over to a depraved mind to do all the things listed in Paul’s sin list in verse 29. I suggest that the physical expression of the spiritual reality of rejecting God can manifest in a variety of ways, but Paul chose this particular manifestation because, I suspect, it was well-known in his day, especially in Rome; and the parallel happened to fit with his overall point—there’s nothing quite like the beauty of procreation that unequivocally announces, “Behold, there is a Creator responsible for all this!” (cf. Rom. 1:20).
In our culture today, we don’t generally see idolaters manifesting their exchange of the Creator for the creature (i.e. idolatry) in this particular way (i.e. heterosexuals having anal sex as an outward expression of rejecting the truth / God). If Paul were here today, perhaps he’d illustrate the abandonment of God in a different way, but, again, in his day, the parallel served as a remarkable illustration.
I believe we miss Paul’s point when we chalk this up to God condemning homosexuality, in general, or even anal sex for that matter. (Of course, Paul doesn’t put anal sex in a positive light but instead uses it to demonstrate the ultimate abandonment & rejection of God). But there’s much more going on in Paul’s picture than homosexuality as we think of it today (two condoning gays having sex). It’s a picture of heterosexual men and women (who knew God, v. 21) abandoning the CREATOR (represented by their abandonment of the proCREATIVE function) and instead embracing the creature/idol (represented by embracing the unnatural). Such a deliberate exchange by these heterosexual idolaters is an outward expression of rejecting God as truth.
I don’t see how we can compare this type of scenario to gay Christians in covenant unions. They are not heterosexuals who deliberately abandon the truth (Creator/procreation) for a lie. Paul isn’t condemning “an act” (i.e. anal sex), let alone homosexuality, in general; he’s condemning a deliberate exchange of truth for a lie and uses a known practice of his day (hetero men & women engaging in anal sex) to illustrate the ultimate abandonment of God. That doesn’t mean that anal sex is okay, but I don’t see how this passage can be used to condemn homosexuality or even anal sex outright.
I hate to make a boring comment on such a carefully thought-out discussion…. but it would be really helpful if someone would update the table of contents page for this series. If I click on “Homosexuality in the Bible” (tiny blue text beneath the title of each post) the page only links to about 5 of the posts. I have to use the series navigation to get to the latest post in the series, and it’s kind of a pain.
I’m disappointed that for two blogs now you haven’t responded to me. What’s up? 🙁
Thanks for your question, Peter! And I sense nothing but genuineness in your reply.
I’ve read through your reply a few times and I’m having a tough time sorting out exactly what you’re saying. So, here’s my summary of your response; correct me if I’m wrong. You say:
– Paul doesn’t give the moral logic to his prohibition of same sex intercourse
– Therefore, Rom 1 can’t help people with SSA.
– The Bible might not be a clear guide to this issue.
Would this be accurate?
– I think you may be right, though I wonder if unlocking the meaning of “against nature” could be a general clue to Paul’s moral logic. Of course, we’d have to dig into what he means by “unnatural.” Still working on that one.
– I’m having trouble with the “Therefore.” Does Rom 1 offer nothing for people struggling with SSA?
– I think the Bible, while not addressing every facet of all of our struggles, does lay down fundamental ethical principles that should shape our sexual ethics.
Let me know if I’m at all addressing your questions/claims.
Thank you again for responding and the careful read. To be precise, I think Rom1 does not provide enough moral logic to whether Paul’s prohibition applies to loving, committed same sex relations. Rom1 does contain what he associate homoerotic behaviors with, which is unchecked passion. I do agree that it is critically important that we are able to unpack what Paul
means by unnatural. However, when we have determined that we will also
have to see whether the reason behind the prohibition can be forged into
applicable theology in order to help people with SSA. The job is not
done when we have only determined whether Paul is condemning all
homosexual relations. I have put some thoughts to what you said about the non-procreative nature and excessive lust not being the reason behind the ” unnatural” in an earlier comment, which seems to have disappeared into ether. Please let me know if you never saw it. I will write again on that. Thank you very much again.
David A, David F., and Joe,
Welcome back, fellas! Let me first say that you guys always challenge me to think more critically about the text. Now, thanks to you, whenever I’m wrestling with these issues, I often ask myself: “What would David say about this?” Or, “how would Joe respond to this traditional argument.”
As always, thanks for dropping in!
In the ancient world, many moral philosophers and Jewish writers believed that homosexual acts were the result of excessive lust, passion gone to far, etc. Men got bored with heterosexual sex, so, being overcome by their sexual passions, they expanded their horizons by having sex with members of the same gender.
In light of this, and in light of Paul’s language, some have argued that this is the “moral logic” underlying Paul’s words (most recently, James Brownson). If this is the case, then Paul does NOT have committed, consensual, mutual, monogamous homosexual relationships that AREN’T the result of excessive lust in view.
This is, I think, what all three of you would say, right?
Honestly, it’s a really good argument, much better than other revisionists arguments I’m reading. And I don’t think I can definitely refute it with where I’m at in my study. Much more work to do.
But with any issue that I’m wrestling with, I always try to raise questions. I do this regardless of whether the view I’m wrestling is one which I grew up believing or not. So, with this argument, I do have a few questions/observations:
1. It’s not clear that Paul says that same sex intercourse is the RESULT of excessive heterosexual lust. The “desires/passions of their hearts” (v. 24), “dishonorable passions” (v. 26), and “burned with desire/passion” (v. 27) could simply be a description of same sex eroticism as such, rather than explaining the ordo-sexus (not a real phrase 🙂 of how the desire for homosexual sex comes about. At the very least, when you read Philo and others about the whole “homosexual sex = heterosexual passions gone wild” trajectory, these writers are very explicit about this relationship. When you look at Paul’s words compared to these, he’s not nearly as clear.
2. Most people who make this argument (again, I’m thinking of Brownson since he’s freshest in my mind) assume that Paul had no categories of homosexuality, healthy same-sex relationships, sexual orientation, etc. But this simply isn’t true. Brownson ignores a whole host of historical references to same sex couples that would be considered–if we were going to use modern categories–consensual, non-hierarchical, homosexual relationships. Paul still may be thinking of a particular KIND of homosexual eroticism, but I don’t buy the argument that says: since he ONLY had lustful/sinful/nonconsenual examples before him, he COULD NOT have condemned all forms of homosexual erotic relationships.
3. The only underlying moral logic that Paul seems to give here is that gay and lesbian sex is “against nature.” He doesn’t say that it’s wrong because it doesn’t procreate, or because it feminizes the passive partner. The main, or clearest, REASON he gives is that it’s “against nature.” Of course, this doesn’t help us to much since the concept of “nature” in Paul is another massive debate!
And traditionalists think this is an easy passage…!
Hi Preston – I am not a scholar or theologian…I would just add from my layperson POV…
It’s a mistake to take Paul’s obviously soaring rhetoric as a blanket condemnation of homosexuality. Hyperbole (which he is clearly employing to incite the Jewish faction of his audience) is built on sweeping generalities. Just because he didn’t explicitly exempt a group doesn’t mean it was his intent to indict them [see the example in my earlier comment].
Maybe Paul did view all expressions of homosexuality as shameless and immoral; but it’s also entirely possible that Paul was referencing some egregiously vile acts by specific people. The reality is we just don’t know who/ what Paul was talking about.
We DO know for certain that he described sex acts and not relationships.
This is why it’s impossible to have a discussion about the sinfulness of covenant homosexual relationships which is confined to the clobber passages. Sexuality is about so much more than the sex acts that you have examined in this blog to date. The undeniable relational aspects of the human condition must also be considered.
The way it is worded certainly does cause headaches for us two millennia later to analyse it! I suppose, taking contemporary writers’ use of similar language one could on the surface draw the traditional interpretation of the passage. To further play (ahem) devil’s advocate, is it possible that Paul is echoing Leviticus and contemporary language about the issue, or is he co-opting the language “against nature” is a similar way to scripture writers co-opting the word “gospel,” metaphors of family and body etc.coutner to traditional Graeco-Roman meanings.
Yes, I would say something along those lines. Also, for what it is worth I do agree with you that it’s not clear that for Paul same sex intercourse is the RESULT of excessive lust.
Also, I am not surprised that he doesn’t explain himself. I mean it isn’t his point here, Paul is not writing to answer the question we are asking this text. Paul is using this as part of his larger argument, so there really is no reason for him to break this down. So I am not troubled by the fact that he doesn’t make his reason explicit.
Like you said in another comment, I think the important questions is, why did Paul has a negative view of same sex intercourse. I am not really convinced that we can say that for sure though. I mean we may be convinced one way or the other, but is it enough to really merit a doctrine, or “thus saith the lord?” I just don’t think it is. Anyhow, I could say more but I have a meeting so it will have to wait…
Brilliant, brilliant observations. Sheesh, you’re giving me a run for my money! Thanks for your always incisive push backs! You’re helping me to keep my face plastered to the text to see what Paul is actually saying.
And for those listening in, Julie’s interpretation of Rom 1:26 as referring to non-procreative forms of HETEROsexual sex (oral, anal, etc.), rather than lesbian sex, was THE main (perhaps only) interpretation of this verse for the first 300 years of the church, including Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, and others. This view has been more recently advocated by James Miller, “The Practices of Romans 1:26: Homosexual or Heterosexual?” NovT (1995): 1-11, Jamie A Banister, “Homoios and the Use of Parallelism in Romans 1:26-27,” JBL (2009); and James Brownson, Bible, Gender, Sexuality, pp. 207-208, 223-224.
Anywho, enough of the scholarly mumbo jumbo. Julie, this view carries much more merit than I originally thought: merit historically, linguistically, and syntactically. However, I still have some thoughts that prevent me from being persuaded.
First, neither Jesus nor Paul put much stock in procreation. This is one of the shocking features of Christianity in contrast to the Old Testament and Early Judaism: sex can be enjoyed regardless of whether there are procreative ends. In all of Paul’s treatments of sex, marriage, children, etc. he never mentions procreation (1 Cor 7; Eph 5; Col 3). Same with Jesus.
Second, and related, even though the OT as a whole seems to elevate procreation (e.g. levirate laws), the two main passages/books on sex and marriage are Genesis 2 and Song of Songs, yet neither of them mention procreation as the goal of sex and marriage. In fact, he who has ears to hear will detect references to oral sex in Song of songs (cf. Tremper Longman’s magisterial commentary).
Third, I’m not convinced that the phrase “natural use” means “sex for procreation.” I would need to see parallel uses of this phrase in Paul (which I’m pretty sure their aren’t), or in ancient literature–I haven’t doubled checked this, but from what I recall, nothing stands out–to be persuaded.
Julie, I’ll keep looking into this–and I appreciate your thorough argument in this blog and will keep coming back to it as I continue to study–but I’m still not persuaded that “unnatural” means non-procreative forms of sex.
Really quick (I’m running out of time!), yes, “against nature” could me “non-normative” as it does in 1 Cor 11 and Rom 11. The question, of course, is does it mean that here.
Most revisionists (Helminiak, Brownson, and others) argue that it means non-normative in Rom 1; however, I think that weight should be given to historical references to “against nature” (para physin) in contexts where homosexual sex is discussed, not just the general use of para physin. When I look at these references (primarily in Stoic and Hellenistic Jewish writers), the emphasis seems to be NOT on “what society deems normal” but the moral order of creation (for lack of better terms). I still think that Richard Hays’ treatment of this phrase hasn’t been sufficiently refuted.
Your “First” – I think you’re right and all I would say is that gay desires/orientation would be a project of living in a broken creation. I know that this sounds like a classic, traditionalist assumption, but I’m glad to see that even Justin Lee acknowledges this. In any case, I’m in the same predicament, since God gave me over to a whole bunch of stuff in 1:28-32. I deserve death. But Jesus took that death for me (Rom 3:21-26). And for you.
Your “Second”- I think Paul may be alluding to Lev 20 here (so argued thoroughly by Brooten). So, he’s trying to trap his Jewish moralists by appealing to Lev 20, but this doesn’t mean that Paul disagrees with the Law’s assessment of homosexual acts in Lev 18/20.
Off the top of my head…sorry if my answers come out too brash or abrasive!
Hi Preston –
I hope I’m not working your nerves. Seriously…let me know at any time if you want me to disengage from this conversation. My only intent is to add to the discussion.
You seem a little stuck between two perspectives. On the one hand, you claim Paul isn’t making a natural law argument. On the other hand, you’re claiming he’s describing a moral order of creation based on…what exactly? When you eliminate the moral mandate for procreation, then the “natural” use of the body only considers the unitive property of sex; this would necessarily turn the discussion to a judgment against sexual promiscuity – not homosexuality per se.
As for your other comments…I won’t hold your traditionalist assumptions against you…(jk)
Seriously, I’ll give you an AMEN that Christ died for our sins and we’re all in that same boat. I struggle against too many items on Paul’s list. I, too, am in need of grace.
But saying homosexual orientation is the result of a broken creation is like saying the same thing about left-handedness. I totally agree with the idea that shameful lusts are a part of our sinful nature; but the notion that people who are gay are somehow uniquely flawed and sexually broken is a dangerous one that has, in and of itself, caused a tremendous amount of harm in this world. I have many, many sins; being gay is not one of them.
…Which was exactly my point about Romans 1. Gay people are no more flawed than the rest of humanity. My understanding of 18-31 is that the consequences of humankind’s rebellion against God are things that cause harm to others. People are not gay because we’ve rejected God. And covenant relationships do not, as a general proposition, harm others.
All my best to you,
RDC, the table of contents is automatically generated with each new post. When you click on the series navigation, it only shows five posts at a time. You have to scroll to the bottom and click “older” to see the previous posts.