Subject: Romans, Chapter 1 (listen
It's been argued that the first time homosexuals, or homosexual
acts are addressed in the New Testament is in Romans the 1st
chapter (mainly verses 26 and 27). That is if you disregard
the two occasions that eunuchs are mentioned (sorry, that's
another Bible Study). And like the scriptures we have addressed
in this forum, this one has been misinterpreted, taught in
error, and caused much spiritual and emotional harm to same
gender loving people.
The thing most people who erroneously teach this scripture
seem to forget is, when interpreting scripture, you cannot
just take one or two verses of a chapter, build a sermon,
teach it as "God's Word" and live it as a doctrine. You have
to carefully see what the scripture (and all others relating
to it) is saying. It's been advised that we read the chapter
before, and after the chapter we are studying so that we can
get some type of contextual view of what the author was talking
about. In this case, we are dealing with Apostle Paul's letter
to the Christians in Rome. In fact, the text in verse 7 says
it…"my dear friends in Rome" (New Living Translation). Since
that's who he was addressing, we have to infer that he was
dealing with their situation. Am I saying that he couldn't
have any relevant truth for 21st Century America? Not at all.
I AM saying that if we are going to correctly interpret what
is being said, we need to understand that first and foremost,
who Paul was addressing was 1st Century Rome. Let's take a
closer look and find out what that truth is.
The first thing we need to address is the cultural climate
of biblical Rome. It was a societal norm for people to be
bisexual. And with that being the "normal" sexuality that
society ascribed to, it was expected for everyone to be that
way. Since now we know that all people aren't bisexual (in
fact most are heterosexual), we can understand how pressured
a heterosexual or homosexual person would be to engage in
acts that weren't "natural" for him or her. The definition
of the word "natural" in this text comes from the Greek word
"phusikos", meaning instinctive or native disposition. If
a person is a native to some place, they were born there.
So, a native disposition would be how a person is born. The
word "nature" in this text likewise comes from the Greek word
"phusis", which means production or lined descent; growth
by germination, or native disposition. Just keep "instinctive/native
disposition" in mind.
When Paul talks about the "natural use" of the woman, he
is coming from several different places. First from a place
of male dominance that thought that the only use a woman has
is having babies to continue the man's lineage. That's all.
A woman was a man's property (paid for with a dowry)…his "baby
maker" per se. So any sexual deviation that would produce
offspring was not looked upon favorably. In fact, not until
this century did some in the church start teaching that sex
had more that just a procreative purpose.
Secondly, Paul was coming from a sexual orientation angle.
He was not making a blanket statement of what is and isn't
"natural". He couldn't have been. Science has proven that
in all species of animals, homosexuality is present (ref.
"Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity"
by Bruce Bagemihl). So, since homosexuality occurs in nature,
it cannot be considered unnatural. And since most people are
instinctively heterosexual and that is their native disposition,
it IS highly unnatural for one to do otherwise. In this scripture,
Paul is telling the Romans that it is unnatural for a person
to go against their "native disposition" or what is "instinct"
for them and do something else with their bodies to fit in.
Now, we can jump on the ex-gay and DL thing right here, but
we don't have the space or time. But do you get the point?
If your nature is heterosexual, be that. If you are born homosexual,
be that. If you indeed are bisexual, then that's you. Don't
try to change who you are to fit societal norms. It's like
telling God that He made you the wrong way.
Next, Paul was dealing with some religious issues as well.
Paul in fact is saying homosexual activity is not a sin, but
a punishment for idol worship and faithlessness. It is a result
of heterosexuals not worshipping God but His creation. Turning
the truth into a lie. Denying God. His argument is, if a man
(being straight) is SO confused and faithless that he cannot
discern who God is when creation even tells of His existence,
then it's not so far fetched that that same man (being straight)
would be confused sexually and do what is unnatural for him
to do. These verses couldn't be an blanket indictment against
homosexuality in that most of the most highly anointed, profound,
gifted, talented, and FAITHFUL Christians are homosexual people.
Finally, Paul was dealing with what was going on in Rome
from the standpoint of a Jew. There were just some things
that were not customary or "natural" for a good Jew to do.
Not to say that there are no homosexual Jews, there are. But
one must remember that Paul was a very well educated and respected
man in his time. He was a good Jew who knew and tried his
best to live by "the law" according to the Torah. So to be
in another land (not native to Israelites) and submerged into
another culture (Rome) trying to live according to how Jews
"customarily" or "normally" lived, it must have been hard
to do since the society was so different.
So, is Romans 1.26-27 a blanket indictment against homosexuals?
With the information we have, we can say no. Paul was more
than likely addressing cultural, religious, and orientation
issues in this scripture. Contrary to popular opinion, the
theme of this text isn't homosexuality. In fact it isn't about
sexuality at all. It's about people keeping in mind who God
is. It's about understanding that humanity is without excuse
when it comes to reverencing God in that creation itself tells
of His glory. It's about understanding the truth and the fact
that it comes from God. And lastly, it's about not being judgmental
or hypocritical. Remember when we said that one should study
the chapter before and after the text being focused upon?
Well, Romans Chapter 2.1-7 Paul gets on people who are pointing
at those who have forgotten God and saying how wicked they
are, yet are doing the same things. Bottom line, God judges
sin. It doesn't matter who you are. Make sure you are right
with God for yourself. Let God handle the rest in His own