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Romans 1

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Romans 1 is one of 16 chapters in the Epistle to the Romans, penned by the apostle Paul, by the Divine inspiration of God. (2Tim. 3:16; 2Pet. 3:16) This book contains two basic sections, that of doctrine (1-11) and application (12-16). Beginning in chapter one, Jews and Gentiles are shown to be the object of Paul's gospel ministry, in which both will be shown to be in need of salvation by grace through faith, and believers enabled to understand their faith better.

Due to the recent phenomenon of prohomosexual polemics, Romans chapter 1 has been subject to varied and often contradictory attempts to negate its unconditional condemnation of male and female homosexual relations, and as such it often receives much attention.

Overview

Beginning in verse one, "St. Paul shows the Romans his Divine call to the apostleship, and for what end he was thus called, Rom_1:1-6. His salutation to the Church at Rome, and his commendation of their faith, Rom. 1:7, Rom. 1:8. His earnest desire to see them, that he might impart to them some spiritual gifts, Rom. 1:9-15. His description of the Gospel of Christ, Rom. 1:16, Rom_1:17. The crimes and profligacy of the Gentile world, which called aloud for the judgments of God, Rom. 1:18-32."[1]

1:1 Called to be an apostle - This word called means here not merely to be invited, but has the sense of appointed. It indicates that he had not assumed the office himself, but that he was set apart to it by the authority of Christ himself. It was important for Paul to state this,

  • (1) Because the other apostles had been called or chosen to this work Joh_15:16, Joh_15:19; Mat_10:1; Luk_6:13; and,
  • (2) Because Paul was not one of those originally appointed.[2]

This Gospel is commended from the author of it, who is God himself; and from the antiquity of it, Rom. 1:2, being as ancient as the writings of the prophets; and from the subject of it, being the Lord Jesus Christ; who is described by his relation to God, his Son, by his dominion over the saints, their Lord, by both his natures, human and divine; his human nature, as being of the seed of David, his divine nature, being the Son of God, Rom. 1:4[3]

Exegesis and Commentary: Rm. 1:14-32

Albert Barnes comments,

"I am a debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians" - It has been remarked before that all the nations of the earth, themselves excepted, were termed barbarians by the Greeks. Ammonius says that “all who were not Greeks were barbarians.” Barbaros, properly denotes one who speaks a foreign language, a foreigner, and the Greeks applied it to all who did not use their tongue; compare 1Cor. 14:11.

Paul declares both his commissioned obligation to preach to all classes and his readiness, as he has full confidence in the gospel which has been given him by Christ. (Acts 9:15; Rom. 11:13; 1Cor. 9:16) The essential salvation issue dealt with in Romans is that "the just shall live by faith" (Rm. 1:17; cf. Hab. 2:4; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38)), receiving by contrite, repentant faith the gift of righteousness, (Rm. 5:17; cf. Ps. 34:18; Acts 15:7-9), in contrast to being justified before God on the basis of salvific merit of one's own works, (Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8,9; 2Tim. 1:9; Titus. 3:5-7) and for which Abraham is invoked as an example (Rm. 3:25-5:1,2; Gn. 15:6) Yet to have and live by faith in the Lord Jesus is evidenced to mean that one will live a holy life, in obedience to the Object of saving faith,[4] which Abraham also serves as an example of, with saving faith being "confessed" in word and deed. (Ja. 2; Rm. 10:9,10; 12-15; 16:26; Acts 26:20; 2Cor. 4:14; 1Thes. 1:9; Titus. 3:8)

It is necessary that both Jews and Gentile see themselves as sinners in need of justification by faith, and Paul will proceed to indict both. This will serve to help both Gentile and Jewish believers to understand and be comforted in that faith, without controversy between the two classes.[5]

Verse 18 begins a section illustrating the opposite of being both saved by and living by faith, warning of the righteous wrath of God against all "ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." Paul therefore proceeds to detail how the Gentiles have done so, in going against the natural revelation given them by nature, resulting in progressive stages of moral declension, before Paul turns his attention to the Jews beginning in the next chapter.[6]

Paul proceeds to manifest a progression of degeneration, with punishment marked by "God gave them up"[7] which moral declension is shown to result from idolatry, which is the mother of sin, as one would not sin in obedience to the living and true God of the Bible,[8] with all sin being a transgression of the law. (1Jn. 3:4) Paul reveals here that as men did not respond to but rejected the light that they had, not seeking or acknowledging their Creator, then they thus "became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools", and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image more to their liking, like unto corruptible man and animals, (Rm. 1:19-23) elevating mere created creatures to a place of worship. "They wandered from God, till all traces of true religion must have been lost, had not the revelation of the gospel prevented it". (Matthew Henry)

This principle of darkness resulting from not responding to revealed truth from God, or conversely, of enlightenment in accordance with Scripture by obedience to truth, is seen in the next chapter (Rm. 2:7-10) as well as elsewhere. (Jn. 12:34-50; Heb. 11:6) While Paul may be referencing historical examples of manifest idolatry[9] the principle behind this declension is understood as universal, with the misconstruance of God transcending cultures and being manifest in various ways, and not restricted to formal expressions such as is seen in worshiping statues. (cf. Ezek. 14:3) As Wesley states, "Whatever is loved, feared, delighted in, or depended on, more than God, that we make a god of."[10]

This obstinate denial of basic truth resulted in the judgment of God in delivering them up to their own desires, loosing restraints unto immoral sensuality, "to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and changing the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (Rm. 1:24)

In the next stage (vs. 25-27) Paul goes on to state that God gave them up unto vile affections, resulting in them engaging in homoeroticism. Both female and male consensual homosex is condemned, with likewise indicating a same general form. While a multitude other sinful characteristics will also be detailed in the next section, homosex is dealt with here as a particularly notable aspect of the progressive moral degeneration of idolatry, of acting contrary to natural revelation, which testifies to the existence of God as the Supreme Designer, including the compatibility and complementarity of the male/female union. As idolatry corrupts God and His revelation, homosex itself is seen as being a manifestation of idolatry.

Dr. Robert Gagnon comments, "Gentiles were rendered liable because they sinned against the revelation about God and God’s will available to them in creation/nature."[11]

"As the Gentiles did not like to keep God in their knowledge, they committed crimes wholly against reason and their own welfare. The nature of man, whether pagan or Christian, is still the same; and the charges of the apostle apply more or less to the state and character of men at all times, till they are brought to full submission to the faith of Christ, and renewed by Divine power." (Matthew Henry's concise commentary)

Beginning in Rm. 1:28 the third stage of this moral declension is described, in which multiple sins are listed, with men “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others”, as Paul reminds Christians later they were. (Eph. 2:3)

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology comments,

The trifold structure of the passage is a rhetorical device to drive home the point: a general complaint (vv. 24-25), consideration of a specific vice (vv. 26-27), and a culminating list of various vices (vv. 28-32). The distinction between the second and third sections may follow another Greek-styled distinction of sins of passion and sins of the unfit mind.[12]

Beginning in chapter two, Paul will show the Jews by the law that they are sinners as well, and hypocritical in judging the pagan Gentiles, whose judgment he has shown to be just in the light of natural revelation. This use of two fold revelation for these two different respective classes of people is consistent with his preaching in Acts, where, in addition to the power of God seen in miracles, (Rm. 15:18,19) Paul appeals to the pagan Gentiles by invoking natural revelation, both that of creation and inward light, (Acts 14:15-17; 17:24-29), while in preaching to the Jews Paul much references the Scriptures. (Acts 13:16-41; 24:25; 26:22,23; 28:23) Having both indicted Gentiles and Jews according to the truth of God revealed to them, Paul will conclude, "we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin"...(Rm. 3:9)

Homosexuality and Romans 1

While Lv. 18:22; 20:13 is the primary injunction against homoeroticism (same gender sexual relations) in the Old Testament, Romans 1:26,27 is the main condemnation of such in New. But as with the former, it is part of a larger discourse.

Overview

As with the Levitical texts, proponents of pro-homosexual revisionists labor to restrict Romans 1 to a specific context, and or to otherwise disallow it from condemning all forms of homoeroticism. Scroggs confesses, that "It might seem that only a series of verbal pyrotechnics could eliminate the seemingly obvious reference to homosexuality in Romans 1. This has, however, occasionally been attempted."[13] Though Scroggs himself will attempt to restrict the homoeroticism of 1:26,27 to a certain form of it, other pro-homosexual revisionists go further in attempting to change the condemnation of homoeroticism to allowance.

  • Hanks and others disallow Romans 1 from being a moral indictment of homoeroticism, but attribute Paul's words to homophobia, insecurity, repressed anger, and like Heliminiak[14] render it to being a polemic in which Paul quotes Jewish prejudice against homoeroticism in order to reprove the arrogance of self righteous Jews or a Jew, and have Paul liberating homosexuals from such oppression, by making it part of the abrogated ceremonial purity code (like not eating bacon).[15][16][17]
  • Robin Scroggs sees Paul condemning homoeroticism, but supposes that Paul's condemnation of same gender relations only targets pederasty,[18] due to Paul being culturally ignorant of Greek homosexuality, he though he concedes he would have opposed any form of it.[19]
  • The late John Boswell and many others assert that an ignorant Paul condemned homosexual acts as being “contrary to nature” (Rm. 1:26,27) but was referring to heterosexuals acting as homosexuals (the “sin” being choosing one's orientation, as Daniel Via argues[20]). Boswell (a Catholic) also argued that the Catholic church did not condemn homoeroticism, especially female homoeroticism, until much later in history[21])
  • Gary Comstock holds that there is insufficient evidence for Scrogg's pederasty conclusion as well as the contrary to nature argument of Boswell, and recognizes Paul as condemning homosexuality, equating it to Godlessness. But which condemnation he rejects, and akin to Walter Wink,[22] seeks to use the Song of Songs as a basis for sexual ethics.[23]
  • Lesbian New Testament scholar Bernadette Brooten substantiates Boswell was wrong about the amount of early Catholic censure, and that homosexuality as an orientation was recognized (and treated as such). She also sees female homoeroticism as widespread among women of ancient times, and thinks Scrogg's theory is doubtful, while allowing that Paul was universally condemning female and male homoeroticism as a violation of the social order created by God. However, she rejects the prohibition of female homoeroticism due it its perceived basis upon male headship (while wrongly stating that an Israelite could have sexual relations with his own daughter without penalty).[24]

Countering such renderings is the traditional exegesis of Romans 1, in which both Jews and Gentiles are shown to be in need of salvation by grace through faith, by the gift of imputed righteousness, and not merited by works, but requiring heart repentance and resulting in obedience to God by faith, (Rm. 4ff; Acts 26:20)[25] including forsaking all sexual immorality. Paul works to show Gentiles as idolaters who rejected the “natural revelation” of God's creation given them, (Rm. 1:18-23) which testifies of His glory, wisdom, power and majesty, and reveals the “material shape of the created order,” which enlightens man as to “the nature of God and God's will.”[26]

This declension results in judgment by God in deliverance up unto progressive moral degeneration, which is particularly manifested in female and (“likewise”) male homoeroticism. Contextually, this is seen as a particular expression of acting contrary to natural revelation, which testifies to the existence of God as the Supreme Designer, including the compatibility and complementarity of the male/female union.[27][28]

While idolatry corrupts revelation, homoeroticism itself is seen as a manifestation of idolatry (or ignorance) as it is inconsistent with obedience to God, and which is revealed more precisely in His word. As souls exchanged the true and living God whom they uniquely were suited (unlike animals, but perhaps like angels) and ordained to have spiritual union with, (Jer. 3:14; 1Cor. 6:16,17; Eph. 5:31,32) for created gods made after their perverted desire, so they were (in time) delivered up to perverted sexual desire, by which they exchanged the opposite gender mates which they uniquely were suited for, by design and decree, for those of their own gender. In both cases their actions were the result of perverted "orientation," but which in no way negates the sinfulness of it. Rather, as in idolatry, while God may tolerate such, He "now commandeth all men every where to repent", and turn to the crucified and risen Jesus Christ for redemption. (Acts 17:30)

The Christian and Missionary Alliance discerns, "Worshipping the creation more than the Creator not only alienated human beings from God but also distorted their heterosexual identity as created by God."[29]

Pastor and writer John Piper stated that this passage presents a repetition of a three-fold pattern of human behavior, in which

  • 1. Men replace God in their lives with what God has made;
  • 2. God responds by turning men over to what they prefer;
  • 3. Men act out in their lives, according to Piper, "a dramatization of the internal, spiritual condition of the fallen human soul, namely, the horrendous exchange of God for man and the images of our power."[30]

Gagnon notes eight points of correspondence between Romans 1:23, 26-27 and Genesis 1:26-27, in a similar relative order, between Romans 1:23, 26-27 and Genesis 1:26-27: human, image, likeness; birds, cattle, reptiles; male, female.[31]

Another writer points out interesting similarities between Rm. 1:26-27 to Gen. 1:26,27, in which both use gender specific words for male and female, which are far more rare, and Romans presents the unnatural same-sex relationships of the female first, which is also unusual, but an order which could easily be a reminder of the order in which humanity sinned, which Paul later refers to. (1 Tim.2:14).[32]

Craig R. Koester also judges,

His [Paul's] statements do not finally depend on the notion - now often disputed - that homosexual relations are more lustful than heterosexual ones. Paul's comments reflect a scriptural understanding of who God created people to be as male and female. Second, Paul did not single out homosexual behavior for special condemnation, but extended his argument to proclaim a judgment on all humanity. By including covetousness, malice, envy, and other common forms of sin in his list, Paul showed that all are "without excuse" before God[33]

Bahnsen states that Rm. 1:26f reveals both "sin and punishment for sin", with it being opposed to all forms of homosexuality. He further writes, "Gay liberation is symptomatic of a culture abandoned by God to destruction, and a church provoking the Lord with abomination."[34]

In response to the argument that Paul was ignorant of a type of approved homosexuality, this is not only seen as unwarranted, but also results in negating the Divine authority of the Bible. Joseph P. Gudel states,

It is ludicrous to believe that the Creator of the universe, in guiding the biblical authors, was ignorant concerning the things we now know about homosexuality through modern biology, psychology, sociology, and so forth. To deny scriptural statements about homosexuality on these grounds is to completely deny God's superintendence in the authorship of Scripture.[35]

Having revealed homoeroticism as a fruit of departure from the revelation of God and His order, traditional exegesis recognizes further fruits of idolatry in moral declension being described, beginning in Rm. 1:28, similar to the fruits of the flesh seen in Gal. 5:19-21, in which Paul reminds Christians later they were manifesting, “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others”, (Eph. 2:3) the end of which is spiritual death. (cf. Rm. 8:13) Gagnon comments,

Those who disoriented themselves by a turn from the true God were more likely to be disoriented in their behavior...Gentiles were rendered liable because they sinned against the revelation about God and God’s will available to them in creation/nature.[36]

In addition, the premise that an approved form of homosexuality existed which was unknown to Paul is argued against as being unwarranted, or irrelevant, the first being due to the study of history of homosexuality evidencing that certain societies as ancient Greece knew of a form homosexual, and which Paul could be expected to be aware of as result of his upbringing, and the latter due to the plenary inspiration of Scripture by God, which transcends human revelation. (2Tim. 3:16; 1Pet. 1:11; 2Pet. 1:20,21)

After chapter 1, having shown the Gentiles as sinners according to the light given them, Paul can then move onto the Jews in chapter 2, indicting them also as capital sinners, disobedient to God in the light of the more precise and comprehensive relation of the Scriptures.[37] This twofold use of revelation (natural and written) is seen elsewhere in Paul's preaching to both groups respectively. (Acts 14:15-17; 17:24-29; cf. Acts 13:16-41; 24:25; 26:22,23; 28:23) Paul can thus conclude in the next chapter that “we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin”, (Rm. 3:9) before moving on in the proceeding chapters to establish how convicted sinners may be justified before the holy God of both creation and Scripture, and live accordingly.

Linguistics

"Uncleanness"

Uncleanness and nature are words in Rm. 1:24,26,27 are the subject of conflict between contradictory pro-homosexual interpretations, with their commonality being that they are contrary to the basic traditional position.

A complicated and radical attempt compiled by Hanks[38] and others is one which reasons that since God is said to have grafted the Gentiles into Israel contrary to nature, and as they see circumcising Jews as another example of God acting contrary to nature, then they conclude that Paul is actually sanctifying Gentiles who practice homoeroticism, as part of a psychologically driven polemic against Jews. This idea also depends upon categorizing the “uncleanness” in Rm. 1:24 to being that of ceremonial laws which Christians need not observe, (Col. 2:14-17)[39] This “uncleanness argument” is one which Countryman also attempts, and looks to Rm. 14:14 and the absence of sexual sins in the list of Rm. 1:28-32 as indications of Paul's "deconstruction" of his condemnation of Gentile homoeroticism, so as to allow such.

This polemic is seen to be contrary to the traditional exegesis on every level.

It is understood that both the idolatry that preceded vs. 24-27 and the proceeding verses (29-32) evidence a progression of moral degeneration, rather than simply seeking to enrage some Jew(s) by listing ceremonial sins which Paul would later sanctify, as the pro-homosexual polemic contends. Hilborn comments that "the fact that Paul declares such hypocrites to be guilty of ‘the very same things’ (gar auta, 2:1) as the sinners they attack only confirms that those ‘same things’ are nonetheless to be viewed as consistently and intrinsically wrong." He adds, "Countryman’s tortuous attempt to recast the vocabulary of Chapter 1 wholly in terms of a superseded Levitical holiness code hardly reflects Paul’s more complex handling of the Law in the rest of the letter (cf. 3:19; 7:7-25; 7:28 etc.), and, as Schmidt shows, would collapse immediately if [even] only one term in vv.24-8 did actually connect with ‘sin’, rather than mere ritual purity.[40]

Any idea that Paul was motivated by vengeance against Jews, and sought to justify homosexuality, is negated by Paul's confirmation of the esteem he shows toward being part of the circumcised, and his Moses-like heart toward Israel as expressed so deeply in the same letter. (Rm. 9:1-5; and 20:1ff.) In addition is his upholding of moral laws, and fornication in particular, while listing the types of laws which were ceremonial. (Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 9:10-10:24; (presuming Paul's authorship) Gal. 4:10; Rm. 14) In a more minor aspect, while some see "O man" in Rm. 2:1,3 as referring to a particular Jewish hypocrite, this is evidenced to be a rhetorical Pauline means of addressing a group as individuals. (Rm. 9:20; 1Cor. 7:16; 1Tim. 6:11)

The word uncleanness in v. 24 (akatharsia) is evidenced in the New Testament to always denote, not ceremonial, but moral uncleanness, (Mt. 23:37; Rom. 6:19, 2Cor. 12:21, Eph.4:19; 5:3; Col. 3:5, 1Ths. 2:3; 4:7) and which category sex with illicit sexual partners always falls into, with fornication being abundantly condemned. Some seek to invoke the apostolic decree from the first Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 as favoring of abrogating moral law for Gentiles, yet both the wording there (Acts 15:20,21; cf. 21:25) and the larger context of the New Testament reveals that the moral law was upheld, in particular against fornications and all uncleanness. (1Cor. 5:1,11; 6:9,13,18; 7:2; 2Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1Thes. 4:3; Heb. 12:16; 13:4; 1Pet. 4:3; Rev. 9:21, etc.) In contrast, the ceremonial law is presented as distinct and abrogated. (Col. 2:14-14; Heb. 9:10ff) Moreover, if homosexuality were allowed under the New Covenant, then this it is expected that this radical change would have been made clearly evident, both in doctrinal teaching (Acts 20:27) and by the reaction of the Jews who consistently forbade such.

In addition, in Rm. 1:26 it is stated that God gave them up unto “vile affections”, which word (vile) denotes dishonor and shame in all its uses, as does unseemly. In a brief statement but which is similar in principal to that seen in Rm. 1, Paul lists lasciviousness and uncleanness in Eph 4:17-19, both of which terms infer sexual sins, as being a result of a darkened mind. (cf. 1Pet. 4:3,4) By such evidence both the tenor and the grammar of 1:24 is seen to show that “to dishonor their own bodies between themselves” is moral iniquity, are the iniquities that follow (vs. 28-31) are.

"Nature"

The word nature is focused upon here, as it occurs in “even their women did change the natural [phusikos] use into that which is against [para] nature [phusis (physin or phusin)]. And again, “likewise also the men, leaving the natural [phusikos] use of the woman,...” Boswell disallows a Pauline use of natural law here, claiming this was a later theological development, and instead has "nature" here to be mean that certain souls were acting contrary to their heterosexual nature by engaging in homosexual relations.

Boswell here renders “against nature” to mean heterosexuals acting as homosexuals, and asserts that Paul could not have operated out the concept of natural law, as he sees that being a much later theological development, but only condemned certain souls who were acting contrary to their heterosexual nature by engaging in homosexual relations.

Countering this is the traditionalist response which sees the evidence refuting the idea that souls are being condemned for acting contrary to their personal "orientation", with this argument being no more tenable than holding that their idolatry was condemned because they were in fact Biblical monotheists. In both cases, acting in accordance with their personal but perverted spiritual and then sexual desires is what is presented as condemned, this being contrary to nature as God manifestly designed and decreed it should be. In addition, traditionalists also evidence that contemporaries of Paul also invoked natural law (below). It is also understood by some that as use of "natural law" by Paul can be seen in 1 Cor. 11:1-12, in which an ontological distinction is made between the male and the female, and which references back to the Genesis man/female union, and which Rm. 1:26,27 is also seen to do.

The word at issue here, phusikos, comes from phusis, and outside Rm. 1:27,27 is only used once again in the New Testament, in 2Pet. 2:12, to denote men who are like “natural brute beasts” who are made to be taken and destroyed.” As used there, the word indicates natural as in accordance with animal instinct, denoting cruel animals fit to be killed, in contrast with men, unless they acted as such animals. This penalty relates to Paul's conclusion in Rm. 1:32.

“Phusis” as used in the New Testament can denote nature as relates to innate disposition, depraved (Eph. 2:3) or good, in the latter case to denoted Gentiles who acted according to the light given them, (Rm. 2:14) or even the holiness of the nature of God (2Pt. 1:4). In addition, physin can denote that of a class, such as Gentles, (Rm. 2:27) or Jews in contrast to sinners (Gal. 2:15), or species of animals. (Ja. 3:7) Or more precisely, nature as that of ordained design, manifested in normality. (Rm. 11:21,24; 1Cor. 11:14) It is thus evidenced that the word itself depends upon context for any moral meaning. ” Contrary to Boswell's argument that against nature (para phusin means "beyond nature," in the sense of "beyond one's natural orientation", Guenther Haas invokes Hays to point out that against naturein all its use throughout Hellenistic philosophy and literature means "contrary to nature." Hayes defines its contextual use here as appealing to “an intuitive knowledge of what ought to be, of the world as designed by God. Those who indulge in sexual practices “para physin” are defying the Creator and demonstrating their own alienation from Him. Guenther Haas further states that, para physin is frequently used in Greco-Roman moral philosophy and literary texts, as well as in Hellenistic Jewish writers (Josephus and Philo), to categorize homosexual practices as worthy of condemnation.[41]

Moreover, refuting Boswell's idea that attributing the use of a "natural law" argument to Paul is anachronistic. Hays evidences that,

There are abundant instances, both in the Greco-Roman moral philosophers and in literary texts, of the opposition between "natural" (kata physin) and "unnatural" (para physin) behavior.... In particular, the opposition between "natural" and "unnatural" is very frequently used (in the absence of convenient Greek words for "heterosexual" and "homosexual") as a way of distinguishing between heterosexual and homosexual behavior.... For example,...Plutarch has Daphnaeus, one of the speakers in his Dialogue on Love, disparage "union contrary to nature with males" (he para physin homilia pros arrenas), as contrasted to "the love between men and women," which is characterized as "natural" (te physei). A few sentences later, Daphnaeus complains that those who "consort with males" willingly are guilty of "weakness and effeminacy," because "contrary to nature (para physin)," they "allow themselves in Plato's words 'to be covered and mounted like cattle'" (Dialogue on Love 751C, E).[42][43]

The prohomosexual polemic at issue also attempts to use Rm. 2:27 and Rm. 11:24 to claim that as God acted contrary to nature there by physically circumcising the Jews (as uncircumcision is by nature), and then by grafting Gentiles into the true vine of Israel, so He also sanctified the Gentiles practice of homoeroticism (thereby shocking the Jews). Countering this is the traditionalist response which sees these attempts as misappropriations due to a misunderstanding of the text. The prohomsoex polemic first has “circumcision” in Rm. 2:27 referring to the act as unnatural, while in reality it is simply a term for those who are Jews by birth, just as they are referred to be so in Gal. 2:15, versus being Gentiles by birth, or by nature. The second text does refer to God acting contrary to nature, that of grafting the “branch” of Gentles into the “vine” of Israel. However, this analogous argued to be specious in multiple ways.

  • 1. Analogies can work both ways. God violates normal rules of nature every time He works a miracle, but such does not sanctify demonic miracles. (Ex. 7:11,22; 8:7; 2Ths. 2:9)
  • 2. Rm. 11:24 is not a negative “delivering up” to iniquity, but a grafting in of believing Gentiles into Israel, and requires repentance from such “Gentile” practices as fornication. (1Cor. 6:9-20)
  • 3. This grafting in is done in the spiritual realm, as are things like “eating” God's words (Jer. 15:16) and the abolition of marriage, (Mt. 22:30) which does not translate into a change in physical laws relating to such. Like the essential spiritual equality of all believers (Gal. 3:28) does not alter the basic positional/functions distinction between the man and the women (1Cor. 11:3), so the grafting in of Gentiles does not relate to or change injunctions against sex with same genders, or the foundational basis against such and for heterosexual marriage, and which is clearly affirmed. (Mt. 19:4-6; Eph. 5:31)

The following is a summation of and supplementation to traditional responses regarding Boswell's polemic.

  • 1. . The theme leading up to the two verses at issue is not that of acting contrary one's own "orientation," but contrary to what is ordained of God, as a result of perverted desire. The Gentile idolaters are not condemned because they were worshiping idols while being actually being monotheists, but because idolatry is wrong in and of itself. Likewise homoeroticism is presented as a perverted practice, acting contrary to to what God revealed, by design and decree, as ordained by Him, and thus is unconditionally condemned, as are the other iniquities which are also listed as a fruit of this spiritual declension. (Rm. 1:29-32) Regarding the latter, Kyle Butt states, "No scholar would remotely contend that “unloving,” “unforgiving,” and “unmerciful” were cultural traits that do not transcend the passage of earthly time and culture.[44]
  • 2. What Paul describes is not simply worship as a product of ignorance, but of changing what they did know, referring to an original monotheism (for which there is even more evidence of late), to idolatry. Responding to pro-homosexual Anglican Primate Alan Harper of Ireland, Gagnon states,
Nothing in the language of Rom 1:24-27 suggests "homosexuality" is a chosen condition of constitutional heterosexuals. The "exchange" that Paul portrays is not the "willful" exchange of felt heterosexual desires for manufactured homosexual feelings, as Harper contends. Rather, the exchange is that of (1) the truth which God has revealed in creation concerning what is natural intercourse for (2) the gratification of preexisting desires for unnatural intercourse between members of the same sex.[45]
  • 3. Paul was indeed using a form of “natural law,” that of what God has revealed by design and originally by innate knowledge. The invisible God was manifest by His visible creation (Rm. 1:20) and it was obvious by such that mere corruptible men (by nature, as opposed to the incarnated Christ) or animals did not create the cosmos, and that such were worthy to be worshiped. But what Paul further describes is not simply worship as a product of ignorance, but of changing what they did know, referring to an original monotheism (for which there is even more evidence of late), to idolatry. As creation does not represent the moral authority the Creator is, it is seen today that such an exchange of worship of God for worship of nature is taking place, in order to escape moral conviction of personal sin, which is also manifest in making God into an image more in conformity to contemporary immorality in order to justify it. Write comments, "while Paul may be describing something in the remote past in presenting a Decline of Civilization narrative, the pattern may be repeated: whenever humans opt for idolatry they are abandoned to their lusts."[46]
  • 4. In addition, evidence indicates that the concept of "natural law" existed among the Greeks in Paul's time. Stoic-Cynic philosopher Dio Chrysotom referred to Aphrodite as one "whose name stands for the natural intercourse and union of the male and female."[47] Also in Plutarch, Daphnaues contrasts a "union contrary to nature with males" with the natural love between a man and a women," and goes on to disparage homosexuals as "acting contrary to nature" when they "allow themselves to be covered and mounted like cattle."[48] furthermore, Plato is seen using "according to" and "contrary to" nature argumentation, and describes sexual aberrations as the latter.[49]
  • 5. It is almost certain that Paul would have indeed been culturally enlightened regarding Greek culture, having been born and educated in Tarsus in the region of Cilicia, one of the three centers of Greek culture in his day (Acts 21:39). E. M. Blaiklock states that Tarsus "became the Athens of the eastern Mediterranean, the ancient equivalent of a university city, the resort of men of learning, the home town of Athenodorus (74 B.C.-A.D. 7), the respected teacher of Augustus himself, the seat of a school of Stoic philosophers, a place of learning and disputation, and the very climate in which a brilliant mind might grow up in the midst of stimulus and challenge and learn to think and to contend."[50] And that Paul manifested extensive awareness of Greek culture, as "He could talk and think like a Gr. and quote his native Cilician poets to the intellectuals of Athens. He could write strong Gr. in closely argued documents."[51] Malick notes that Paul was hardly an isolated Jew in a Greek world, and would thus be well aware of the homosexual activities of his time without depending on "Jewish rumor mills."[52] Luke, Paul companions, describes the Athenians in Acts 17.
  • 6. Among other prohomosexual authors, the ignorance/nature argument is opposed by O.T. Finnish scholar Martti Nissinen, whom many of that school selectively reference, who acknowledges that, “Paul does not mention tribades or kinaidoi, that is, female and male persons who were habitually involved in homoerotic relationships, but if he knew about them (and there is every reason to believe that he did), it is difficult to think that, because of their apparent ‘orientation,’ he would not have included them in Romans 1:24-27. . . . For him, there is no individual inversion or inclination that would make this conduct less culpable. . . . Presumably nothing would have made Paul approve homoerotic behavior” [53]

Likewise, homosexual researcher Louis Crompton, whose work is also advocated by homosexuals, states, “According to [one] interpretation, Paul’s words were not directed at “bona fide” homosexuals in committed relationships. But such a reading, however well-intentioned, seems strained and unhistorical. Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstance. The idea that homosexuals might be redeemed by mutual devotion would have been wholly foreign to Paul or any other Jew or early Christian.”[54]

  • 7. In no place does the New Testament deal with laws regarding sex between illicit partners as part of the ceremonial law, and as Paul does in other places, he would be affirming such laws in condemning homosex. All forms of homosexual activity were considered sin by Jewish writers in Paul’s day. Josephus wrote to his Roman readers, “The law [of Moses] recognizes only sexual intercourse that is according to nature, that which is with a woman…. But it abhors the intercourse of males with males” (Against Apion 2.199).
  • 8. Further refuting the idea that Paul was condemning only one kind of homosexual relationship,even Louis Crompton, a modern homosexual scholar, acknowledges that “However well-intentioned", the interpretation that "Paul’s words were not directed at 'bona fide'homosexuals in committed relationships…. seems strained and unhistorical. Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstance. The idea that homosexuals might be redeemed by mutual devotion would have been wholly foreign to Paul or any other Jew or early Christian."[55][56] Gagnon adds, "Committed homoerotic relationships lay within the conceptual field of the ancient world (even Via concedes this), as did the idea of some congenitally connected and relatively exclusive homoerotic desire. These contextual factors did not make any difference to some Greco-Roman moralists and physicians. Why, then, should they have made any difference to Paul, who incidentally was aware of the malakoi (often lifelong participants in homoerotic practice), rejected same-sex intercourse on the basis of the structural incongruity of homoerotic unions, and viewed sin generally as a powerful, innate impulse?"[57]
  • 9. As we are all born with sinful nature and its affections, but are called to resist sin, (Gn. 4:7; Col. 3:15) we cannot justify actions that are contrary to the Bible based upon our desires. As Schmidt notes, Boswell's solution “shifts the meaning of 'natural' from Paul's notion of 'that which is in accord with creation' to the popular notion of 'that which one has a desire to do.' But deeply ingrained anger does not justify murder, nor does deeply ingrained greed justify theft or materialism, nor does the deeply ingrained desire of many heterosexuals for multiple partners justify promiscuity.”[58] This recourse in pro-homosexual polemics to making one's own inclinations the basis for morality, is seen as being exactly contrary to the commands of God, and to actually be a form of idolatry, making man the ultimate arbiter of what is right rather than the almighty who commands, "that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring" (Num. 15:19; cf. Dt. 12:8; Jdg. 17:6,25; Is. 5:21; Jer. 17:9)

"Nature" and lesbian sex

As regards rather lesbian sex in v. 26, in which "their women change the natural use into that which is against nature", Derek Sherwin Bailey and Vern Bullough[59] seek to attribute that to women who adopt the dominant position in heterosexual intercourse, as being contrary to women being in subordination to men (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:8; Tit. 2:5). Others propose it refers to a perverse means of intercourse which was notable among the Greeks.

However, the word “likewise” in the beginning of v. 27 denotes a like contravention of the natural order by men as with women. There is also evidence that what is referred to as homosexuality existed among women,[60] such as expressed in such works as Amores of Lucian, in which Charicles argue in support of heterosexism, “you will have to sanction carnal intercourse between them; monstrous instruments of lust will have to be permitted, in order that their sexual congress may be carried out; that obscene vocable, tribad [lesbianism], which so rarely offends our ears--I blush to utter it--will become rampant, and Philænis will spread androgynous orgies throughout our harems."

Hilborn[61] states,

Few serious scholars doubt that when Paul here condemns the use of human bodies ‘against nature’ (para phusin)", and the he has in mind sexual acts performed by men with men, and by women with women", and points to the this "the clear rhetorical and grammatical parallels which the apostle is drawing between women and men, the latter of whom are explicitly said to have abandoned heterosexual practices (krēsin tēs thleias) for homosexual ones (orexei autōn eis allēlous). Moreover, both this and the first reading disregard the universal sweep of Paul’s natural theology, focused as it is on sexual relations as such, rather than on specific sexual techniques. Indeed, the fact that Paul uses the more generalised vocabulary of ‘male’ and ‘female’ here (arsenes; thēleias), rather than the terminology of ‘men’ or ‘women’ (gunē; anēr), may well bear this out.[62]

"Dishonor"

An attempt to use atimazō (dishonor) in Rm. 1:24 to liken homosexuality to something that is socially disapproved but not sin, and therefore may be sanctioned by God, is countered by the argument that, like judicial penalties, terms such as dishonour, shame, blush, etc., describe a consequence of something, and depend upon context to define a moral connection, with the word atimazō being contextually used to denote morality. Its next use is in Rm. 2:23, in which one dishonors God by breaking His moral laws, including those against sexual sins. Likewise the word atimia (dishonors) in 1Cor. 11:14. Its next use is in 1Cor. 11:22, to denote evil treatment being done to people by not sharing food with poor and hungry fellow members of the body of Christ, while the accused feasted. As used in Rm. 1:24 the dishonoring is done toward each other by perverse sexual (implied) practices, while vs, 26,27 are specifically sexual and perverse.

"Error"

Similar to the above, and based upon the Boswellian argument, it is asserted[63] that Paul refers to the sexual exchange of Rm. 1:26,27 as an "error", conveying a mistake, not a sin. However, this denotation is seen as inconsistent with the context and grammar. As traditionalists comprehend,”[64] the exchange of the opposite sexual partner for that of one's own gender proceeds from the exchange of the one true God as the object of worship for a false God, and was not simply a mistake, but sin. Strong's defines the word for error, planē, as "objectively fraudulence; subjectively a straying from orthodoxy or piety: - deceit, to deceive, delusion, error", and in its other uses in the New Testament it never conveys simply a mistake, but something which is considered iniquity or the result of such, and which one is culpable for. (Mt. 27:64; Rm. 1:27; Eph. 4:14; 1Thes. 2:3; 2Thes. 2:11; Ja.5:20; 2Pet. 2:18; 2Pet. 3:17; 1Jn. 4:6, Jude 1:11)

Pederasty

While acknowledging homosex is condemned, Scroggs denies that Paul is providing an moral list of sins in Rm 1, and sees Paul's description of the Gentiles abandoning natural relations [phusiken chresin] for unnatural ones para physin] as being similar to the argument "from nature" found repeatedly in Greco-Roman attacks on pederasty.[Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,1983, , p. 114, 117] Thus, Scroggs concludes that, while Paul uses more general prohibitions in Rom. 1, he must have had pederasty in mind, and perhaps the most degraded form of it, when he attacked homosexuality in Rom. 1.

Scroggs surmises that Paul's concluding verse in his lists of sins (Rm. 1:29-32), “that they which commit such things are worthy of death”, only refers to idolatry, due to the absence of “thou shalt not” type statements, as well as a lack of explicit Old Testament correspondence to them, especially as capital offenses.

In response it is first argued that it is not necessary (or likely) to have explicit Old Testament references for sins of the heart in order for them to be considered morally prohibited, or requiring an explicit “don't do this” type statement. Jesus' list in Mk. 7:21,22 contains some sins of the heart which are the same or similar to Paul's expanded list, and the negative conveyance there is similar to Paul's, but is certainty prohibitory even without a “thou shalt not.” Likewise, Jesus list did not mention capital punishment for those iniquities, but some are O.T. capital crimes, as are some in Paul's list. In addition, in Romans 6:23 death is said to be the consequence of sins in general. Also, just as Paul lists the fruit of idolatry in Rm. 1:28-32, in Gal. 5:19-21 he similarly lists the fruit of the flesh (god), and practicing such leads to death. (Rm. 8:13) Additionally, the wrath of God is stated to come upon “the children of disobedience” for sins of the flesh and the heart in Col. 3:6)

In supposing that Paul is only referencing idolatry as a capital sin, Scroggs also misses a reason seen by traditional exegetes for the injunction against idolatry. Which is not that God needs anything, (Acts 17:25), much less a "loyal base", but that it is right to worship Him who is omnipotent, etc., and wholly good, and that is also what is best for man, while idolatry works the opposite. It is not seen that God judged pagan nations simply for worshiping “them which by nature are no gods”, (Gal. 4:8) or perhaps even for practicing things which are proscribed as part of ceremonial law. Rather these nations were judged for practicing the immoral effects of idolatry. (Lv. 18:30; 20:22,23; Dt. 9:4,5; 12:30,31; 18:12; 1Kg. 14:24; 16:3, 2Ki. 17:34; Jer. 10:3)

Secondly, though Scroggs does see the similarity between “men with men” (Rm. 1:27) and Lev. 18:22; 20:13, Scroggs sees Paul as expressing “Jewish propaganda" against Gentiles in censuring homosexual relations, and believes Paul was only condemning pederasty (which he states Philo did), due to what Scroggs assumes would be a lack of familiarity with Greek homosexuality by Paul, though he does concedes Paul would also be against such.

The latter aspect here is seen as unwarranted due to Paul's upbringing and educational, and substantiation of homosexual orientation being recognized in the Greek world.[65]

Regarding pederasty, while this might have been the predominant form of homosexuality in the Greek world, the idea that Paul only had this form of homosex in mind in condemning sex between males with males is seen as very unlikely. Not only does Paul first list female homosex as part of the degeneration of mankind, and then likewise “also the men,” but elsewhere the Bible is seen to use the term “young men” or “younger" to make necessary distinctions between ages of males, (Mk. 14:51; Lk. 15:12,13; Acts 2:17; 5:6,10; 1Ti. 5:1; Tts. 2:6; 1Jn. 2:13,14) The word for men in "men with men working that which is unseemly" (or shameful) is not the generic word anthrōpos (cf. Lk. 13:4), nor the word neaniskos which is used to specify young men,[66] but the gender specific word arrhēn arsēn, which always denotes males[67]

The intent of the attempt by Scroggs and others to restrict Romans 1 to a certain category is to allow for “loving monogamous” homosexual relationships, but it is incongruous that Paul would not make such a distinction here. Moreover, laws regarding forbidden sexual partners throughout the Bible are never based upon motive (only divorce once was). In the light of the abundant moral and covenantal material in the N.T, it is untenable is any supposition that a form of homosex could be sanctioned without the Bible making that evident, being clearly sanctioned by marriage and doctrinally stated, especially as such is all the more necessary due to homosex being condemned without any apparent conditions, and being intrinsically contrary to the heterosexual union instituted by God, and which is clearly and consistently but uniquely sanctioned by marriage between the male and female.

Scroggs himself admits to being amazed that Paul refers to female homosexuality here, since it is never referred to in any Jewish and Greco-Roman discussions.[67] [68]

Gagnon submits that Paul's culturally surprising inclusion of lesbian sexual practice in verse 26 "casts a wider net than abusive, male, pederastic relationships, inasmuch as lesbianism in the ancient Mediterranean world was not confined to pederastic models or rigid active versus passive roles." And that, "the fact that Paul segues from lesbianism in 1:26 to male homosexual behaviour in 1:27 with the words, 'and likewise also' (homoios te kai) suggests that he rejects both forms of homosexual behaviour for the same reasons; that is, not the grounds other than their exploitative or oppressive character." He thus concludes that the contrast here "is not between exploitative homosexual relationships and loving homosexual relationships but between heterosexual and homosexual conduct."[69]

Conscience clause

A final pro-homosexual argument is one that is similar to the attempt to relegate laws against homosexual relations (and as a consequence, all sexual laws) to ceremonial laws, and the argument here contends that one is to obey his conscience at all costs. Roman Catholic priest Daniel Helminiak presents the official teaching of Catholicism[70] as one that obliges persons to "form their conscience carefully and responsibly and to follow it as the bottom line in every moral decision." Helminiak thus justifies those who judge homosexual relation to be right for them.

Both the attempt to relegate prohibitions against illicit sex and Helminiak's conscience clause polemic are largely based upon Romans 14 and related texts, (1Cor. 8:7-12; 10:25-29) which states that engaging in lawful practices would be wrong for the person whose conscience believes it is wrong. However, the reverse is not the same, as examination of this issue reveals that what these texts always deal with are areas of personal liberty, that of typological ceremonial laws, for which literal obedience is abrogated, (Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 9:10; Gal. 4:10) in clear distinction to moral laws, the morality of which is manifestly upheld, include those against illicit sexual partners. (Mat. 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; Mk. 7:21; Jn. 8:41; Acts 15:20; 15:29; 21:25; Rom. 1:29; 1Co_5:1; 1Co. 6:9,13, 18; 7:2; 2Co. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1Ths. 4:3; Heb. 12:16; 13:4; 1Pet. 4:3; Rev. 9:21; 14:8, 17:2, 4; 18:3; 19:2)

While conscience may determine how a person should act regarding an act that is neither unlawful or commanded, such as eating meat, conscience cannot justify engaging in an act which is unlawful, or failing to do what is commanded.

In addition, Helminiak also ignores the importance of a properly formed conscience, versus one that is ignorant or deceived. It is clearly manifest Biblically that immoral practices are often committed as a result of the later:

Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. (Titus 1:15)

Noted evangelical pastor and teacher MacArthur states,

The answer to a wrongly informed conscience is not to violate it, but rather to correct and rightly inform one's conscience with biblical truth. [71]

Examining Helminiak's contentions, Derrick K. Olliff and Dewey H. Hodges respond,

The first part of the second quote is true, but the italicized parts are vintage autonomous man. If the individual's conscience tells him that what he is doing is not sin, then he does not sin. Thus, if Marquis de Sade truly believed that torturing women was not a sin, then for de Sade, torturing women was not a sin. His conscience is the bottom line. Thus, ethics is completely relative and utterly arbitrary. There is no objective standard; there is only opinion.
The Bible, of course, refutes this position. That which defines "good" and "evil" is God's law (Rom. 3:19-20; 7:7-12). Thus, His Word, not our conscience, is our final guide for "instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, also Ps. 119; Matt. 7:21-27; Rom. 13:8-10; Jas. 2:8-11; 1 John 5:2-3). His Word is our "bottom line in every moral decision."
It is the sinful, autonomous man who judges his actions with himself as the final "measuring stick" (Judg. 17:5-6; Prov. 12:15; 28:26; Jer. 7:23-24; 16:12; 18:12; 2 Cor. 10:12). In other words, he strives to exalt himself (Ex. 9:17; Pss. 66:7; 140:8), and he boasts in his autonomy (Ps. 12:2-4). He cannot be subject to God's law (Rom. 8:7), because he is an enemy of God in his mind (Rom. 8:7; Col. 1:21). Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10), the autonomous man's rejection of God as the final authority means that he is a fool (Ps. 14:1; 1 Cor. 1:19-20). (Notice that this is an ethical, as well as an intellectual, judgment.) There is some irony here. Romans 1:18-32, a passage that Helminiak works hard to reinterpret (i.e., neutralize), tells us that God sometimes gives sinners over to their own depraved consciences. They live according to the lusts of their hearts and see nothing wrong with this, because God has given them up to their own darkened hearts and reprobate minds.[72]

While knowledge, ability and motive do a play a part in determining the degree of one's guilt and punishment, (Lk. 12:48; Acts 17:23,30; Prov. 6:29-32; 1Tim. 1:13) yet to disobey a moral command is always wrong.

Temple Prostitution Polemic

Less common is the position that since homoeroticism is listed as a consequence of idolatry, then Paul was only referring to homosexual relations as part of pagan temple practice, thus making the condemnation thereof conditional, and allowing a "loving" sanctioned form of it.[73]

Countering this is the traditional response which point outs that idolatry is the mother of all sins, and which takes many forms. And as that religious pagan behavior was an integral part of the culture, including the Roman gladiator and chariot contests,[74] and can be linked to multitudes of iniquities which are condemned, (Exo. 20:2; 23:24; Lev. 18:27-30; 20:23; Dt. 12:4; 12:30-31; Jer. 10:2-3; Exo. 20:2; 23:24; Lev. 18:27-30; 20:23; Dt. 12:3,4; 12:30-31; Jer. 10:2-3; 1Co_5:1; Eph_2:2-3; 4:17,18; 1Thes. 4:5; Titus 3:3; 1Pe_1:14; 4:3,4) but which do not restrict the prohibitions of such things as fornication to a religious context, nor are they sanctified by a proper motive.

Also responding this pro-homosex contention is Gagnon, with 15 reasons for the traditional position.[75]

Autonomous position

A final pro-homosexual argument is one that is similar to the attempt to relegate laws against homosexual relations (and as a consequence, all sexual laws) to ceremonial laws, and the argument here contends that one is to obey his conscience at all costs. Roman Catholic priest Daniel Helminiak presents the official teaching of Catholicism[76] as one that obliges persons to "form their conscience carefully and responsibly and to follow it as the bottom line in every moral decision." Helminiak thus justifies those who judge homosexual relation to be right for them.

Examining Helminiak's contentions, Derrick K. Olliff and Dewey H. Hodges respond,

The first part of the second quote is true, but the italicized parts are vintage autonomous man. If the individual's conscience tells him that what he is doing is not sin, then he does not sin. Thus, if Marquis de Sade truly believed that torturing women was not a sin, then for de Sade, torturing women was not a sin. His conscience is the bottom line. Thus, ethics is completely relative and utterly arbitrary. There is no objective standard; there is only opinion.
The Bible, of course, refutes this position. That which defines "good" and "evil" is God's law (Rom. 3:19-20; 7:7-12). Thus, His Word, not our conscience, is our final guide for "instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, also Ps. 119; Matt. 7:21-27; Rom. 13:8-10; Jas. 2:8-11; 1 John 5:2-3). His Word is our "bottom line in every moral decision."

It is the sinful, autonomous man who judges his actions with himself as the final "measuring stick" (Judg. 17:5-6; Prov. 12:15; 28:26; Jer. 7:23-24; 16:12; 18:12; 2 Cor. 10:12). In other words, he strives to exalt himself (Ex. 9:17; Pss. 66:7; 140:8), and he boasts in his autonomy (Ps. 12:2-4). He cannot be subject to God's law (Rom. 8:7), because he is an enemy of God in his mind (Rom. 8:7; Col. 1:21). Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10), the autonomous man's rejection of God as the final authority means that he is a fool (Ps. 14:1; 1 Cor. 1:19-20). (Notice that this is an ethical, as well as an intellectual, judgment.) There is some irony here. Romans 1:18-32, a passage that Helminiak works hard to reinterpret (i.e., neutralize), tells us that God sometimes gives sinners over to their own depraved consciences. They live according to the lusts of their hearts and see nothing wrong with this, because God has given them up to their own darkened hearts and reprobate minds.[77]

Both the attempt to relegate prohibitions against illicit sex and Helminiak's "conscience clause" polemic are largely based upon Romans 14 and related texts, (1Cor. 8:7-12; 10:25-29) which allows that engaging in lawful practices would be wrong for the person whose conscience believes it is wrong. However, examination of this issue reveals that this conscience clause never allows for doing unlawful practices if one believes them to be right. In contrast, what these texts always deal with are areas of personal liberty, that of typological ceremonial laws, for which literal obedience is abrogated, (Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 9:10; Gal. 4:10) in clear distinction to moral laws, the morality of which is manifestly upheld, include those against illicit sexual partners. (Mat. 5:32; 15:19; 19:9; Mk. 7:21; Jn. 8:41; Acts 15:20; 15:29; 21:25; Rom. 1:29; 1Co_5:1; 1Co. 6:9,13, 18; 7:2; 2Co. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1Ths. 4:3; Heb. 12:16; 13:4; 1Pet. 4:3; Rev. 9:21; 14:8, 17:2, 4; 18:3; 19:2)

In addition, Helminiak ignores the importance of a properly formed conscience, versus one that is ignorant or deceived. It is clearly manifest Biblically that immoral practices are often committed as a result of the later:

Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. (Titus 1:15)

Noted evangelical pastor and teacher MacArthur states,

The answer to a wrongly informed conscience is not to violate it, but rather to correct and rightly inform one's conscience with biblical truth. [78]

While knowledge, ability and motive do a play a part in determining the degree of one's guilt and punishment, (Lk. 12:48; Acts 17:23,30; Prov. 6:29-32; 1Tim. 1:13) yet to disobey a moral command is always wrong.

Conclusion

While revisionists make various and contradictory attempts to disallow Romans 1 from being a general condemnation of male and female homosexual relations, traditionalists evidence that such prohomosex arguments are invalid. As Gagnon states,

"Every piece of evidence that can be culled from the text’s literary and historical context confirms that the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual practice, like its prohibition of adult incestuous unions, is absolute, rejecting all forms of homosexual practice regardless of consent and commitment.[79]

See also

References

  1. Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., (1715-1832) Commentary on the Bible. Romans 1
  2. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) Notes on the Bible
  3. Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)INTRODUCTION TO ROMANS 1
  4. Adam Clarke, Rm. 1:17
  5. Clarke, Preface to the Epistle to the Romans
  6. Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
  7. John Wesley, Rm. 1:23
  8. Matthew Henry, Exodus 20:1-11
  9. Adam Clarke, Rm. 1:23
  10. John Wesley, Ex. 20:3
  11. Dr. Robert Gagnon The Apostle Paul on Sexuality: A Response
  12. Romans 1:26-27
  13. Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality, p. 14
  14. Heliminiak, What the Bible really says homosexuality (pro gay), p. 76
  15. Hanks, Thomas D.; A Gay Apostle’s Queer Epistle for a Peculiar People: Romans 1:16-2:16; (compilation)
  16. Countrymen, Dirt, Greed and Sex, pp. 98-123
  17. Edwards, "Gay/Leban Liberation, pp. 85-102
  18. Pederasty involves a voluntary relationship between an adult male and a pre-puberty boy
  19. Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality, pp. 115-18
  20. Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views
  21. Boswell, ibid. pp. 108-113
  22. [http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/Homosexuality_and_the_Bible_Wink.html HOMOSEXUALITY and the BIBLE (Walter Wink refuted)
  23. Gary David Comstock, "Gay theology without apology." (1993) pp. 27-48
  24. Brooten, Love between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism, pp. 253 n. 106, 248-252, 257, 302, 361
  25. Adam Clarke, Rm. 1:17; Acts 26:20
  26. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, pp. 256-67
  27. Richard B. Hays, "Awaiting the redemption of our bodies." pp. 6, 7-21
  28. Hays, "Natural and unnatural: A response to John Boswell's exegesis of Romans 1." Journal of Religious Ethics 14 (1986), pp. 184-215
  29. CMS on homosexuality
  30. http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/10/32003b.asp
  31. Gagnon, How Bad Is Homosexual Practice According to Scripture
  32. http://www.ovrlnd.com/FalseDoctrine/Gay_Christians.html A Response to the 'Gay Christian' Movement, Vincent McCann, Spotlight Ministries]
  33. The Bible and Sexual Boundaries, by Craig R. Koester. On Paul's use of a rhetorical strategy that effectively condemns all humanity see Hays, "Relations Natural and Unnatural," 195
  34. Greg L. Bahnsen, Homosexuality" A Biblical View, pp. 47-61
  35. Christian Research Institute Journal; Christian Research Institute Journal
  36. Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Apostle Paul on Sexuality: A Response
  37. Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
  38. Hanks, Thomas D.; A Gay Apostle’s Queer Epistle for a Peculiar People: Romans 1:16-2:16; (compilation)
  39. Hanks, ibid.
  40. [Hilborn on Rowan Williams and Homosexuality http://www.eauk.org/articles/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=29093]
  41. http://www.phc.edu/gj_haas_hermen.php Guenther Haas, HERMENEUTICAL ISSUES IN THE USE OF THE BIBLE TO JUSTIFY THE ACCEPTANCE OF HOMOSEXUAL PRACTICE
  42. Richard B. Hays, "Relations natural and unnatural", Journal of Religious Ethics, vol. 14, no. 1, Spr. 1986, pp. 192-94
  43. http://www.reformed.org/social/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/social/response_to_helminiak_2.html
  44. Apologetics Press, Scripturally Speaking: Homosexuality—Sin, or a Cultural Bad Habit?
  45. http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/print.php?storyid=8562
  46. Wright, N.T. “The Letter to the Romans,” The New Interpreter’s Bible. Leander E. Keck, ed. Vol X. Nashville: Abingdon, 393-770.
  47. Discourse 7:135
  48. Dialogue on Love, 751C, E
  49. Plato, On Abraham, 135-36
  50. Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, s.v. Tarsus, by E. M. Blaiklock, 5:602). Also see P. Michael Ukleja, "The Bible and Homosexuality; Part 2: Homosexuality in the New Testament," Bibliotheca Sacra 140 (October-December 1983): 354.
  51. Blaiklock ibid.
  52. David E. Malick, "The Condemnation of Homosexuality in Romans 1:26-27," Bibliotheca Sacra 150: 599 (1993): 327-340.
  53. Homoeroticism in the Biblical World (Fortress, 1998)
  54. Homosexuality and Civilization, 114
  55. Crompton, Homosexuality and Civilization
  56. More than “Mutual Joy”: Lisa Miller of Newsweek against Scripture and Jesus
  57. http://www.robgagnon.net/2VRejoinder.htm
  58. http://www.studylight.org/dic/bed/view.cgi?number=T348 Thomas E. Schmidt, Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology Homosexuality, Romans 1:26-27]
  59. Bailey, Derrick Sherwin, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition. London: Longman, 1955, p.40; Bullough, Vern,, Sexual Variance in Society and History. New York: Wiley, p.180
  60. Seneca the Elder [55 BC - 40 AD]; Martial, [40-103/4 AD]; Dorotheos of Sidon (25-75 CE) (implied); Pseudo-Phoc/kylides, 30 BC-40 AD; Brooten, pp. 43-47, 19-123, 63-64, 248, note 99
  61. Hilborn vs. Rowan Williams and Homosexuality
  62. A point made by Cranfield, C.E.B., Romans I-VIII. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1975, p.125 and Morris, Leon, The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1995, p.92
  63. National Gay Pentecostal Alliance
  64. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, pp. 256-67
  65. David E. Malick, "The Condemnation of Homosexuality in Romans 1:26-27," Bibliotheca Sacra 150: 599 (1993): 327-340.
  66. Mat_19:20, Mat_19:22, Mar_14:51 (2), Mar_16:5, Luk_7:14, Act_2:17, Act_5:10, 1Jo_2:13-14 (2), Mat_19:20, Mat_19:22-24 (3), Mar_14:51, Mar_16:5, Luk_7:14, Mar_14:51, Act_2:17, Act_5:10, 1Jo_2:13-14 (2)
  67. Mat_19:4, Mar_10:6, Luk_2:23, Gal_3:28, Rom_1:27 (3), Rev_12:5, Rev_12:13
  68. http://www.phc.edu/gj_haas_hermen.php
  69. Gagnon, homosexuality and the Bible, p.348
  70. perhaps such as Vatican II, Declaration on Religious Freedom, # 3, 1965
  71. (2006-10-12), Grace to You, author=John F. MacArthur
  72. A Further Look at Pro-Homosexual Theology
  73. "Rogers, How I Changed My Mind on Homosexuality”
  74. Anthony J. Blasi, Paul-André Turcotte, Jean Duhaime; Handbook of early Christianity, p. 562
  75. Bad Reasons for Changing One’s Mind
  76. perhaps such as Vatican II, Declaration on Religious Freedom, # 3, 1965
  77. A Further Look at Pro-Homosexual Theology
  78. Template:Cite web
  79. Gagnon, What the Evidence Really Says about Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues

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