It seems to be that the book of Romans is the most misunderstood passage in the Bible associated with homosexuality. I have talked to many gay and lesbian Christians that find Romans 1:26-28 one of the hardest to reconcile. Note that all the 6 verses that appear to condemn homosexuality are explained when we look at the original Hebrew and Greek language as well as the context and cultural atmosphere of Biblical times. I am devoting this page especially to Romans, but if you would like more information on the alternate view that shows that homosexuality as a whole is not condemned in the Bible, please visit my other website http://gaychristians.2freedom.com
Romans 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their lust toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”
The author Paul makes the meaning of this verse clear when reading it in context. First we must look at the verses before Romans 1:26 which clearly show that these particular people who were engaging in “unnatural behavior” had turned away from God and worshiped idols. Romans 1:22-25 states, “Professing to be wise, they (idol worshipers) were made fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of fowls, and of quadrupeds, and of reptiles. Wherefore also God did give them (idol worshipers) up, in the desires of their hearts, to uncleanness, to dishonor their (idol worshipers’) bodies among themselves; who did change the truth of God into a falsehood, and did honor and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed to the ages. Amen.”
*Note that this is speaking of a specific group of idol worshipers that were performing homosexual sex acts in rituals, NOT all homosexuals as a whole.
Secondly, note that these individuals “exchanged their natural function” or “abandoned their natural function.” The words “exchange” (Greek- Metallasso– “to change”) and “abandon” (Greek- aphiemi– “to give up”) may demonstrate that they previously had their own personal natural attraction towards the opposite sex, but went against their own natural feelings to engage in things against their innate feelings. This would indicate a choice to engage in new pursuits of lustful sexual exploration (for the sake of idol worship), and not those who have always experienced romantic love and attraction towards the same-sex.
Furthermore, old translations make it clear that this verse does not speak of lesbianism in any way. Some newer translations say “women with women” which is just textually inaccurate. All it states pertaining to woman is: “for even their woman did change their natural function for that which is unnatural.” Not only was it common for male shrine prostitutes to be the receiver of male seed for the idols, but it was also common for the women to be a vessel for these idol worshiping men. They exchanged their natural function (male/female intercourse) for that which is unnatural (male/female anal intercourse.) Likewise, the men did the same (anal intercourse) with each other, all for the sake of idol worship. Having sex within a ritual of worship is what was unnatural. Also note that they were inflamed with lust for one another, which does not describe committed love. Therefore, Romans does not condemn gay and lesbian people individually or gay and lesbian people in loving committed lifelong partnerships.
Within Romans 1:22 they speak of “degrading passions.” The word “passion” in this specific verse comes from the Greek word pathos which means “acalamity, mishap, affliction, a feeling which the mind suffers.” This word is more similar to the context of “the passion” in which Christ suffered on the cross, not passion as we see it today (i. e- not a feeling of desire or love or sexual attraction). Therefore, it is not saying that sex between two adults of the same gender is degrading, but that they experienced degrading afflictions. In addition, it must be noted that the Greek word Eros (romantic love) is NOT used within this verse or any other passages that appear to condemn homosexuality. Due to this notation, romantic love between the same gender is nowhere found in the Bible as sinful. With this knowledge, it seems that the book of Romans speaks against members of the same sex engaging in temple idol worship which often involved sexual rituals.
If you read the entire book of Romans, it is not a book of condemnation, but a book of grace and love. It says that these sins were “what you were,” because we are no longer “under the law.” This does not mean that no one sins after accepting Christ, but that Jesus died for our sins so that we may be saved since the commandments of the Old Testament were unable to be perfectly followed by man (everyone falls short). It also says if you live under the law you will die under the law (only living by commandments and not saved by Jesus) and that if you judge another you are judging yourself and will be condemned. Obeying God’s commandments is an expression of love and obedience to Him, not the means to get to Heaven. If it were, no one would be able to succeed because we all make mistakes. Jesus paid the price for our sins. He is like a good lawyer that goes in front of the judge (God) and gets us out of our criminal case (our sinful nature). We don’t deserve it; he just gives it to us for free if we believe because of His love for us.
If you are still having trouble dealing with this passage, I encourage you to read all of chapter 1 and ask yourself these questions:
- Although you know God, have you stopped glorifying Him and/or thanking Him?
- Has your heart become dark and your thinking futile (completely ineffective)?
- Have you claimed to be wise, but become a fool by exchanging your worship of God for worshiping idols instead?
- If any of these questions have been answered thus far with “yes,” then have you noticed that since you stopped glorifying and thanking God and since your heart became dark to worship idols rather than God, God has caused you to abandon your natural feelings for the opposite sex (that you had previously) for inflamed lust for the same sex (something new, because you abandoned your old way of straight feelings)? Have you then exchanged your feelings of attraction towards the opposite sex for lust of the same sex?
- Have you become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity?
- Lastly, do you approve, take pleasure, or think it is right and good to do these things? :
- Is it good to be full of envy?
- Is it good to be full of murder?
- Is it good to be full of strife?
- Is it good to be full of deceit?
- Is it good to be full of malice?
- Is it good to hate God?
- Is it good to be full of gossip?
- Is it good to slanderer others?
- Is it good to act insulting?
- Is it good to act arrogant?
- Is it good to invent ways of doing evil?
- Is it good to disobey your parents in the Lord?
- Is it good to act senseless?
- Is it good to have no faith?
- Is it good to show no love?
- Is it good to show no mercy to others?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are guilty of the charges. If you answered “no” to all of the questions, than you do not fit the profile of the people written about in this chapter of Romans. Chances are, you answered “no” to all of the questions. As you can see, when we really look at the charges, none of them are against homosexuality as a whole or loving committed gay and lesbian relationships. Rather it condemns heterosexuals who exchanged their natural sexual desires to engage in lustful sex acts with the same gender to praise their false gods.
Although we have ALL been guilty of sinning, as Christians we do not approve or think it is good to sin. This shows that we have the Spirit within us and love God. We delight in God’s way and we do not agree with or think it is right to do hurtful and unloving things. We have not given up on God, and He has not given up on us. We believe, and for this, we cannot be guilty of the charges above because Jesus’ blood and Gods grace is much stronger than any of it. For more clarification, watch the video below:
To watch more videos on the topic of homosexuality and the Bible, go to: https://moanti.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/videos-explaining-an-ancient-perspective-on-homosexuality-in-the-bible/