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Homosexualilty–What Does Romans 1:24-27 Teach?

Although Romans 1:24-27 is not the only passage in the Scriptures which clearly condemns homosexual practice, it is the most demonstrative.  Paul wastes few words in showing his position on the subject.  (And since he is an apostle of Christ, it also would be the position of God).

24Therefore (A)God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be (B)dishonored among them.

25For they exchanged the truth of God for a (C)lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, (D)who is blessed forever. Amen.

26For this reason (E)God gave them over to (F)degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,

27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, (G)men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Contextually, Paul is detailing why God’s wrath has been revealed against mankind.  First, he will establish the sin of the Gentiles.  Then, he will establish the sin of the Jews.  The conclusion will be all have sinned, and therefore face God’s wrath.

Our verses here deal with the sin of the Gentiles.  The Gentiles had suppressed knowledge of the true God and instead made idols.  Turning to idolatry affects not only who you worship, but how you act.  Therefore, Paul lays out the sins the pagans committed.

It seems more than coincidental that both the first sin, and the one that is given the most attention, is homosexuality.  I say it is not coincidental, because in order to practice homosexuality you have to deny the Creation (or at least the implications of creation).  Creation teaches us that God made male and female and that marriage (which is the only place sex is to be found) is between a man and a woman (read more about that here).  So, in order to practice homosexuality, you have to overlook the teaching of Creation.

In the English text Paul describes homosexuality as impurity, dishonor, degrading, unnatural, indecent, error, and deserving of a penalty.  In our politically correct world, Paul would most likely be seen as a bigoted, unloving, homophobe.  However, the apostle desired to show in the clearest way the sin of homosexuality as being a primary example of what happens when a society rejects God’s standards.

A first century reader studying this passage would leave with only one conclusion: Homosexuality is a sin deserving of God’s wrath.

 

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13 Comments

  1. It is ‘A’ sin among many. Has is the case with other sins, when it is a personal sin of mine, I’ll find ways to justify myself or repent. My prayer is by God’s Grace I’ll always repent! May my attitude or response neither hinder true repentance or help anyone justify themselves instead of agreeing with God.

  2. My reading of the Bible is that before you kill homosexuals, you have to stone me. The sin brought up time and time again, especially in Leviticus and Deuteronomy and the NT is the sin of not honoring the Sabbath. This sin would seem to outrank homosexuality by a great amount, both in the times mentioned and the penalty. I’m not condoning homosexuality. I AM saying you are being hypocritical by excusing dishonor of the Sabbath and coming down hard on homosexuality, an easy target. And, nope, I’m not gay. Married happily for 55 years, one wife, three kids, 5 grandkids. I am trying to honor the Sabbath at this late time in my life.
    May your bigotry decrease. May you not work on the Sabbath. I don’t care what you do on Sunday.
    Blessings.
    RMay dick.may@verizon.net

  3. Tough, tough issue that is addressed here. This issue alone separates families, friends, co-workers, societies, and yes even churches (deeply regrettable stuff). Both the comments and individuals that wrote them make some pertinent points. So many attitudes course the hearts, minds, and souls of individuals on this subject. It has been mis-interpreted, mis-understood, and in some cases misused. Many times the homosexual individual is vilified and shunned. In a great way they are treated as the lepors were in Christ’s time (and other eras). As Mr. May points out we seemed to have ‘forgotten’ other sinful maladies and practices such as treating the poor with contempt, lying, embezzlement, laziness, gluttony (in all forms), adultery, cheating our neighbors and companies, just to name a few. Somewhere true compassion has been lost to some degree. Christ came to heal the broken, disenfranchised, and lost…those ‘needing a doctor’ as He Himself said in Matthew 9:12. Religious experts are trying desperately to come up with some concrete solutions and compromises to figure out what is the right stance on this volitale issue. Churches are splitting at the very seams within their body of believers on the homosexual issue. Yet, with all the hoopla and harranging and hostility this troublesome issue brings forth…truth is still truth. God is still God. He does not change (His nature and His thoughts and convictions on His precepts and principles). Malachi 3:6 bears that fact out. Yes, it turns my stomach to hear people say or see signs that bear the words…”God hates faggots”. He hates all sins including homosexuality. It crushes Him to see those that break forth out of the ‘natural’ He PERFECTLY designed only to see His created trash it and themselves by defiling what He ‘saw that was very good’…(Genesis 1:31) As long as we strive to live lives that convict others of their sins watching closely our own ‘closets’ we are keeping in step with what The Lord commanded us to set forth. Many have used the John 8 passage out of context to promote a ‘Jesus-friendly’ view of the sin of homosexuality (John 8:1-12). Yes, He made the statement, “…neither do I condemn you..), but they forget to finish what He also said at the tail end of that statement…”…go and sin no more”. What does that mean? Just this…any sin (including homosexuality) will lead to death at some point if it is not forgiven (by Jesus shed blood) and forsaken (by the sinning individual). That could very well mean physical death and it does mean that…but in all cases my friends it means definite spiritual death. Forever separation from the fellowship of God. I didn’t say that…God and His Son Jesus did. Jesus states in John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” Mr. May you did well to point out that we of the body of Christ must make sure we are focusing on condemning the sin and not the sinner and that there are many other spiritual maladies/sins that we must continue to address. Yet, what the writer of stated above is truth. Not some pop psychology theory or worldly philosophy! In stating the truth as God set forth and continues to uphold and was verified by His Son (Who was called ‘The Word’), we that stand against homosexuality (not homosexuals) we are neither bigots nor homophobes either! I do a great deal of ‘self-checking’ spiritually every day. So I have no ‘illusions’ to my mistake-proneness. Let’s just make sure we all share the Word of God as purely and truthfully (without lacking) to as many people as we can!!! Let God do the eternal judging and us to stand against sin and the wiles of the originator of sin…Satan!!! By the way, Mr. May the Sabbath wasn’t addressed as much in the NT as it was focused upon in the OT. In fact, that day changed when the ‘new testator’ (Jesus) died on the cross and then rose on the first day of the week crowning the new day to worship and focus on God and His son and provide a day of rest in every aspect. If you doubt that check New Testament church history and practices…

  4. Wesley

    April 13, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Richard,

    I have no bigotry. The topic was not picked simply to “an easy target.” Instead, I’m dealing with this subject because it came up recently in a prominent way at a Christian University.

    And I do not think I have to address every single sin in a single post. How do you know where I stand on the Sabbath and whether I condone dishonoring. I never dealt with the subject at all in this post. It appears to me that you had an agenda concerning your particular view of the Sabbath and decided to insert it.

  5. Wesley

    April 13, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Mark,

    Thanks for writing. I’m glad you pointed out that being against a sin, does not make one a hateful bigot. It seems you have a high view of truth and I appreciate that.

  6. Rodney Napoltes

    April 16, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I disagree with the premise that this text is clearly opposed to homosexuality. It may appear so in most English translations, but the original text is much more specific, more narrow, more precise in the wording chosen by Paul. It is not a broad denunciation of homosexuality.

  7. Wesley

    April 16, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Rodney,

    I studied the text from the original Greek. So I have to say your argument is very very weak. The text in both the original and in the English text, clearly opposes homosexuality.

  8. First I am completely baffled as to why you would lift these four verses of scripture completely out of their immediate context (chapter one in it’s entirity) and then out of it’s complete context (Chapters 1-3 in their entirity). Secondly, if you did look at those 4 verses, even in their immediate context, you would see that Paul is not speaking of homosexuality as we know it at all; rather he is speaking of the fertility cult worship of Cybele and Ishtar which were predominate in the pagan gentile culture of Rome at that time. He was addressing the identical thing that Moses addressed in Leviticus 18 and 20 … the ritual prostitutes who were an integral part of those pagan cults. Romans 1-3 is a comprehensive context that essentially addresses both the Pagan attempt for “Godliness”, and the Jewish attempt through works to obtain “Godliness” .. and finally in chapter three the fact the Jesus Christ is the hope for both Jew and Gentile. That is the theme of the entire letter to the Romans. The verses you cite have no relationship to homosexuality as we know it, whatsoever. I continue to be baffled at the utter recklessness with which you people misuse scripture.

  9. Wesley

    April 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Will,

    I read those four verse again. And again I did not find any mention of Cybele and Ishtar. I have heard your argument. The problem with it is it does not come from the text, but rather a context is forced from outside the text in order to prove a point. You seem to be uncomfortable with what the Scripture actually teaches on homosexuality so instead you develop contexts to get around the issue. I prefer to take the text as it is and allow it to speak. And it clearly teaches homosexuality is a sin of the Gentiles that results in God’s wrath being revealed against them.

    I am beginning to wonder if you read the post, because in the post I have a paragraph that describes the three chapter context, were Paul is showing that both Gentiles and Jews are unrighteous and in need of a savior, which sets up the end of chapter 3 through chapter 5 and the redemption found in Christ. The reason the Gentiles need a savior is because of sin. The main sin was the rejection of God, but this rejection resulted in several acts that God declares sinful. One of which is homosexuality.

  10. None of you have even batted an eye at the fact that in Leviticus it clearly says “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is an abomination”. And that scripture has no context, as the ones around it merely talk about sleeping with your sister, and then sleeping with animals. It is lumped in there together with those two as being equally disgusting to God, and with that you cannot argue. And don’t give me the old well the Old Testament law was done away with argument, because it wasn’t – it was COMPLETED.

  11. Thank you for willing to explore this subject. I am baffled at how those forget simple comprehension. Whether it be for a (sexual) practice in “pagan rituals” or not, The mere terms that shows these acts “unnatural”, “vile” and “unrighteous” seems to suggest homosexuality is an act set aside from – heterosexual. Apparently the acts are for pure pleasure -burning desire-lust- rather than ritualistic. I get it. It is also along the line of “unrighteous” and if not then Apostle Paul wouldn’t have forced the homosexual issue in this message to the Romans who were known to have homosexual partners and yes outside of rituals! It would appear those who are willing to twist the substance of this message are willing to go that far.Furthermore IF that be the case then gay marriages would have been permitted. I think the early church got this message of the laws to abide by just as its been for 2 millenniums. Since it was spoken and taught in the languages written! I see no gay priests of then?? Were there any gay marriages within the church??? When I look at the history of the church and its character of that which is right in Christ then the darkness has been brought into the light and the “it was meant only for fertility (idol) worship” alone just gets debunked in this matter. Homosexuality was a part of Roman life just face it Apostle Paul had to show them when you once were these “ways” now you are made new! All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I appreciate this lesson. Ephesians 5:8, Colossians 1:19-22…

  12. Very well said.
    I tweeted the entire study.

    Richard (The Sabbath Guy)
    God says the Sabbath was created for you, not you for it.
    Worship on the Sabbath. Rest on it. Relax on it, but if your house catches fire, feel free to put it out. God would want you to.

  13. I agree with and have strong faith in the word of God being the true Living Word it clearly proclaims AND reveals itself to be. Be not deceived though fellow believers (and non believers) for the enemy works in tactical, manipulative and deceitful ways NOT against humans but against God. Believers in Christ (One and Only Savior of the World) are not immune forevermore from moments of ignorance, arrogance and/or self-serving usage and understanding of the Word of God. Yes indeed as sinners- many of us have been guilty (INCLUDING ME as GOD AS MY HONEST WITNESS) in the past of reading the scriptures in a self-serving manner which is not what the Word is- was – or ever will be for. There’s a reason PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with Christ is what changes your heart. YOUR HEART…and not every thorn of the flesh bestowed upon all humanity from the fall. Not that there is ANY challenge to the authority of God’s word- because there is NONE. I knew of my same gender attraction and predisposition (when- where and how sexual orientation never bothered me as I knew I needed to be made whole again as a HUMAN not a mere “HOMO.” I grew up in a prominent large Baptist church with a CHRIST honoring mother and father and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior around 8 years of age. Sexually pure and with no personal “agenda” or pursuit of sexual desire of any sort at that time… I still had and was aware of a different emotional love and connection I had for men than I did with women. Not less or more- just different- and again- NOT SEXUAL. This idea that people with a lisp or predisposition (which I can say with confidence and full obedience in Christ
    IS something biological in terms of brain development.) The idea that the fall didn’t come with human and REAL consequences is neither an excuse to “do your own thing and sin away- but let it also not be a vessel the enemy strategically uses as he turns “nation against nation.” He had me fooled that I was God’s defect and I take fool accountability in running away from the Lord out of fearing rejection and quite simply feeling confused. Same sex attraction is NOT a sin (temptation is not a sin and it is completely and utterly unbiblical to teach or represent that no matter what “reasoning.”) Sexual purity is not about sticking to “God’s original plan” – the original plan was killed by our original sin and rectified by God’s original salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ our Lord. Can God change a person’s sexual orientation- of course. Can he also choose not to- YES. Many people have and will continue to view such a statement as evidence of my unwillingness to change my “lifestyle” for the Lord which is something I humbly accept and pray the Lord directs my path so that HE can be shown not ME. It’s not about me or any sort of “agenda” outside of the agenda of Christ when I plea to my brothers and sisters in Christ to adhere to the Word and stand firm against all sin while being aware that far too often we miss our own in our pursuit and misuse of certain scriptures in context of sexual orientation and hormonal development. Let’s not forget- you don’t have to be a non-follower of Christ to know hermaphrodites indeed exist (they’re not like unicorns) and should show evidence of sexual orientation and gender identity being more complex than “sexual lusts alone” such as the ones Paul spoke about. YES those deeds were ungodly and sinful in the eyes of God and for a completely different and HOLIER set of reasons than any of our own I can assure you that. Should it be any surprise that the obviously gluttonous pastor far to often than not is conveniently led to speak on homosexuality with less than disguised personal disgust disguised as “standing up for the Word against the evil doers . I have news for you all. God is not done with me and WE all have fallen short of his Glory. Be hasty not to lay out God’s plan as you deem fit.
    When it comes to the work of our Lord Jesus Christ he works in ways we cannot see and not for your needs and glory but his own. In other words- God is holy not a homophobic soccer dad. The Lord knows every strand of hair on my head before my conception. There is nothing new under the sun for our God but plenty he will show us ALL. God loved Adam and made him in his own image. He understands that yes sexual orientation (like the epilepsy I suffer with) is of not fault of my own but it does not negate FULL surrender to Christ with my life not with my expectation that the opposite sex will soon arouse me. There is only one entity Christ is interested in me being intimate with- and it’s not the intimacy humans understand it to be. In closing- I’m not asking anyone to question the Bible’s authority and truth. I am asking that you humble yourself before Christ in all areas (most uncomfortable ones are most missed it seems for myself included.) God will change me in HIS ways and not on any fallen man’s terms. That is not how God works. The elephant in the closet is- Being Gay is not a choice and nothing to be shamed for (either is being bi-polar.) Being God driven and centered IS a choice and one with eternal consequences or benefits. Be fishers of men in spreading the gospel and I pray that the Lord may humble my heart along with open the eyes of my brothers & sisters in Christ to show them their own arrogance and ignorance along the path of their faith. We’re renewed in Christ but not MADE a new fully at least until that one glad morning when we meet our Lord and Savior and look him in the eye. Will he say well done my good and faithful servant? Remember it’s not what convicts you about others in the Bible as much as it’s about what convicts you personally that leads people astray. Followers of Christ are not immune to this. Be not deceived. Pray for all humans and stop narrowing down predispositions to an active action of sin. You are wrong. Biblically wrong and are in danger of steering away multitudes of God’s children from coming to a personal understanding and relationship with their Lord Jesus through your irresponsible- self motivated intentions. Sexual purity is a must for the gay community so it’s certainly not about a cafeteria Christian outlook on life. As heterosexuals life’s or relationships aren’t narrowed down to one sexual activity- neither should homosexuals. Do not imply that God somehow made a mistake. All our sin made the struggles we deal with so be in this boat together lifting your brothers and sisters up with TRUE humility and not masked homophobia too many have and are convinced is simply “sticking to the Word.”
    Jeremiah 23:16
    This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.

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