Romans 1, often used to condemn Homosexuals, which is necessary to justify many of the Church’s positions GLBT issues. The verses are accepted with little fanfare as a condemnation. And, to be honest, the surface seems to be just that.
However, if we dig into it and explore possible interpretations, without getting real creative we have some options that I think are not explored and by some of the much more learned scholars out there, perhaps flat out ignored and not taught.
I am going to concede the easiest conclusion would be just what is taught. But I’m going to suggest the most obvious isn’t always the message and in fact is often affected by our presuppositions. While I tend to take scripture literal unless I can’t corroborate it, I think there is a more obvious than the affected obvious our presuppositions present. Another observation, the people who read Romans 1 as a straight up condemnation of GLBT lifestyles, will take other verses and dance through hoops to avoid the obvious. 1 John 3:9, 3:6, 5:18, 1:3-7, Gal 5:16, Romans 8:9A.
3:9 If you are born of God you won’t continue a sin lifestyle, and you can not sin because his seed is in you.
5:18 is mostly the same.
3:6 if you still sin you don’t know Him and haven’t met Him.
That’s what they say, but we can’t take them serious because the conclusions are not what we expect.
So, in the hope of more honest study, I contend if it’s justifiable to deny the obvious because it doesn’t make sense to you, then it should make sense to consider what makes sense to us, isn’t the obvious. What I propose, is to take the scripture, and outline the section on the topic.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in edge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. NASB
I. from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
….(There are two components in the subjects we are discussing.
“men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” This identifies men who, by unrighteousness suppress the truth.
“…wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness” The wrath of God is against the activities of ungodliness and unrighteousness.
Does this apply to sinners in general, or a specific group of men with an agenda. It could be either if we are honest in our study. The redundancy of unrighteousness could mean there are men with an unrighteous agenda who use ungodliness and unrighteousness to drive their agenda. OR, it could just mean God hates the sinful actions, (ungodliness/unrighteousness) of men who suppress the truth in those actions. I would like to determine if one is more likely than the other.
…..A. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks (The men we are discussing do not honor God; they aren’t acknowledging Him as God. Are these men purposefully ignoring Him and working against him, or are they coincidental sinners? The segment here claims they knew God at one point, and would have deliberately not honored him, perhaps.)
…..B. but they became futile in their speculations, (These men speculated thoughts against God, or reasoned other Gods. They stopped honoring and thanking God and tried to reason some other futile concept into existence.)
…..C. and their foolish heart was darkened. (Which resulted in a stubborn insistence that closed the door to honoring God.)
…..D. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, (their speculations, that they found smart, led them away.)
…..,…..1. 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image (It appears their speculation has led them to making idols of other Gods. Their purpose had an agenda. They have ignored GOD and not honored Him because they have switched to honoring images/idols. This would make the vs 18 reasonably read something like, “wrath of God is against all ungodliness and unrighteousness who work against/hide the true Gods/suppress the truth in unrighteous actions/hide God/ worship Idols…)
…..,…..2. in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (These images are not hard to find in the mythology of the times.)
II 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, (this is what happens to those described in I. They chose other “gods” so God leaves them to their worship. )
…..A. so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. (“Them” being those that forsook God for other Idols. Their bodies being dishonored is the unrighteousness and ungodliness they did in their worship of the idols.)
…..,…..1. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, (reminder why God left them and dishonored their bodies)
…..,…..2. and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, (They were worshipping the man and critters)
…..B. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; (Paul talks in circles often. a reminder..)
…..,…..1. for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is [r]unnatural,
…..,…..2. and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman …
…..,…..3. receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
………………..(NOTE God gave them over to lusts before this. God deliberately put them in the position, with His
………………..abandonment so they would dishonor their bodies. This is that dishonor.)
…..C. 28 And just as they did not see fit [u]to acknowledge God any longer, (another loop in logic with Paul.)
…..D. God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper
…..,…..1. 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they
………………..are gossips, 30 slanderers, [v]haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to
………………..parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful
…..,…..2. 32 and although they know the ordinance of God,
…..E. that those who practice such things are worthy of death
There are folk who abandoned God and worshiped images of man and critters. (sounds like idols to me)
So God let them go to follow their idols and the celebrations they had for their idols.
That was done SO THEIR BODIES would be dishonored. (God dishonored them. When he turned His back he caused the following. That’s how it reads.)
So, part of that is degrading passions. (the sexual sins…)
Since they forsook God…
He gave them over to a depraved mind also. (So, homosexual section, and the depraved mind are on the same level of offense)
You have all these other manifestations of a depraved mind, and not just homosexuality.
And their offense are worthy of death.
So, all of those 29-31 offenses are worthy to death. WHY? Because God gave them to a depraved mind.
And the homosexuality is part of this, and that happened because God gave them over to their lusts.
(The opposite of Isaiah where HE remakes your mind and heart to be like His, here he remade it to push them, like Pharaoh to bad things.)
Both of these came because God gave them over to their lusts…. (the heart).
And also because of their speculations…. (the mind).
And all of that is a result of their turning their back on the God they knew of and one step further, SUPPRESSED the truth.
Now if you have an agnostic atheist who isn’t trying to ridicule you for believing in God, they simply do not believe, since they aren’t trying to suppress the truth, they wouldn’t fit in here.
What if you had a homosexual who wasn’t suppressing the truth of the ONE GOD, and denying it for idol worships… That person isn’t even addressed in this passage.