This is the fifth in a series of videos that challenges the assumption that the Bible condemns gay and lesbian relationships. Notes from the lectures can be found under the video clips.
- Romans 1:18-2
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
(According to Paul, even gentiles have an awareness of God and should be able to live their lives in relationship to God. Unfortunately they give their allegiance to idols - false gods that promise happiness but don’t deliver. Don’t we all.)
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about 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 up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.
(Idolatry, following false gods (think materialism, addiction, etc.) leads to debased actions from sexual immorality, murder, envy, gossip, etc. Notice the list of bad actions includes actions that we all have done, and likely still do, such as gossip.)
2 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2 You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” 3 Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God?
(So don’t judge. Looking at the misdeeds of others is part of the problem. It is an act of idolatry, as if you were the god you were putting your trust in.)
So this is a passage about 1) not living in idolatry, which is something we all do and 2) not judging the behavior of others; judging is in itself an act of idolatry.
This passage is not about the list of bad behaviors.
Does the list of bad behaviors include same-sex relationships
v. 26 Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural. What does this mean? It could mean women taking the dominant role in sex with a man.
v. 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. We don’t know what this means either. Since male prostitution and pederasty were prominent ways men had sex with other men, then it is likely that was what Paul was referring to. And what “shameless acts” in first century Rome would cause men to “receive in their bodies the due penalty for their error.” It is not likely Paul is referring to committed, mutual same-sex relationships.