Homosexuality: Why Does God Declare Homosexual Conduct Sinful? Part 2 (Romans 1)

gaysurveyHow can it be loving for God to prohibit homosexuals from engaging in homosexual sex?

Well, the reasons given in the scriptures are largely theological and often quite profound, but the question is never, to my knowledge, answered in this way — with one exception. Listen carefully to what Paul is saying in Romans 1 —

 (Rom 1:18-20 ESV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

First point: Even when God has not revealed his will through special revelation, such as the Law of Moses, the Creation itself reveals enough about God to make certain things very clear — clear enough that even those who’ve never heard of God or his Law can be fairly held accountable for their sins (as Paul explains further in Rom 5).

(Rom 1:21-23 ESV) 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,  23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Paul’s first particular accusation against the Gentiles is that they left him, who made them, and preferred to worship idols. They preferred to worship “man and birds and animals and creeping things,” that is, the things that God himself made in Gen 1. They confused the created things with the Creator. And isn’t it obvious that these are created things? And doesn’t creation imply a Creator?

(Rom 1:24-25 ESV) Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring 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. 

Paul declares that God eventually abandoned mankind so that fallen, broken mankind would reveal their fallen condition through their behavior. That is, we become like what we worship. Worship a transcendent, holy God, and you’ll become more and more holy. Worship Pan and you’ll become more and more like a goat — even engaging in bestiality to please your goat god (as the Greeks quite literally did).

Paul has not yet defined “dishonoring their bodies,” but already we see that our bodies are part of who we are, and the way we treat our bodies reflects that nature of the god/God we worship. Worship the wrong god, and your treatment of your own body will reveal that fact because, contrary to many an assumption, our body is a part of who we are.

(Rom 1:26-27 ESV) For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 

“God gave them up” is taken from the OT, when God finally gave up begging Israel and Judah repent, eventually allowing the Assyrians and Babylonians to destroy their nations and carry them off into captivity.

It’s not that God caused them to sin or to suffer, but that God withdrew his protection, and so their sin led to its natural conclusion.

This passage is obviously referring to homosexual conduct, and Paul finds homosexual activity to reveal hearts far removed from God because God’s will for sexuality is revealed in our bodies. We are plainly designed to marry and to reproduce male with female.

Remember, Paul began by declaring that God reveals himself as Creator through his Creation — part of which is our bodies, including our sexuality.

N.T. Wright (an Anglican bishop at the time) comments —

The point of Romans 1 as a whole is that when humans refuse to worship or honour God, the God in whose image they are made, their humanness goes into self-destruct mode; and Paul clearly sees homosexual behaviour as ultimately a form of human deconstruction. He is not saying that everyone who discovers homosexual instincts has chosen to commit idolatry and has chosen homosexual behaviour as a part of that; rather, he is saying that in a world where men and women have refused to honour God this is the kind of thing you will find.

The fascinating thing is what Paul then does with this analysis of the plight of humankind. In Romans 4:18–22, when describing the way in which Abraham believed God and so was reckoned as righteous, Paul carefully reverses what has happened in Romans 1:18–23. Abraham believed that God had power to give life to the dead; he honoured God and did not waver in unbelief. That is why he is reckoned within the covenant, as ‘righteous’. And the result, of course, is that Abraham and Sarah become fruitful. Romans 1 is not a detached denunciation of wickedness in general. It is carefully integrated into the flow of thought of the letter. (See too 7:4–6 for the contrast between sinful lives which do not bear fruit, and life under the new covenant which does.) In particular, we may note the strong ethical imperatives of chapters 6, 8 and 12, in each of which, but particularly in 6:1–11 and 12:1–2, there are echoes both of Romans 1 and Genesis 1–3 which underlies it. Paul clearly believes that the application of the gospel to human lives produces new behaviour, renewed human behaviour, newly image-bearing behaviour. It is not using Romans 1 as a proof text, but as part of the tightly woven fabric of Paul’s greatest letter, to say that he certainly regards same-sex genital behaviour as dehumanized and dehumanizing.

A footnote on sexual behaviour in Paul’s world. If one looks at the ancient world there is of course evidence of same-sex behaviour in many contexts and settings. But it is noticeable that the best-known evidence comes from the high imperial days of Athens on the one hand and the high imperial days of Rome on the other (think of Nero, and indeed Paul may have been thinking of Nero).

I have argued elsewhere against the view that Paul was quiescent politically, that he held a strong implicit and sometimes explicit critique of pagan empire in general and of Rome in particular; and clearly denunciation of pagan sexual behaviour was part of that (e.g. Philippians 3:19–21). I just wonder if there is any mileage in cultural analysis of homosexual behaviour as a feature of cultures which themselves multiply and degenerate in the way that great empires are multiply degenerate, with money flowing in, arrogance and power flowing out, systemic violence on the borders and systematic luxury at the centre. Part of that imperial arrogance in our own day, I believe, is the insistence that we, the empire, the West, America, or wherever, are in a position to tell the societies that we are already exploiting in a thousand different ways that they should alter their deep-rooted moralities to accommodate our newly invented ones. There is something worryingly imperial about the practice itself and about the insistence on everybody else endorsing it. It is often said that the poor want justice while the rich want peace. We now have a situation where two-thirds of the world wants debt relief and one-third wants sex. That is, I think, a tell-tale sign that something is wrong at a deep structural level.

N. T. Wright, Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978–2013, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013), 266–267.

And so, Paul clearly sees homosexual activity as not just against God’s mean-spirited, moralizing rulebook. Rather, he sees it as a mark of something deeply unhealthy and dangerous to society — indeed, a sign that society has become profoundly rebellious against God.

Obviously, passing a law making homosexual activity illegal is not going to solve that problem. The solution is a return to Jesus, salvation by faith in/faithfulness to Jesus, an ethic built on the cross and resurrection, and receipt of the indwelling Spirit — which is Rom 3 – 8.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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41 Responses to Homosexuality: Why Does God Declare Homosexual Conduct Sinful? Part 2 (Romans 1)

  1. buckeyechuck says:

    Jay, I appreciate your analysis. I especially appreciate the conclusion in the last paragraph. The answer is converting hearts to Jesus, not political activism which perhaps the latter may seem to many to be the easier path. Churches have for the most part remained silent for the last decade during a time when Christians are being bombarded by the press, TV, movies, our jobs, the military, everywhere you look. And perhaps we may be headed toward government policies requiring acceptance and endorsement to be imposed on the church as well. Our children are being taught by our public schools that being gay is not only to be accepted but to be celebrated.

    Jay, how can our ministers and youth leaders make a Biblical impact for truth as you plainly stated in combating this message from society while reaffirming acceptance of our children (and adults) who are living this struggle right now? If not them personally, then it involves people they know and love. If we accept that 2-3% of the general population is gay, then the same holds true for our own local church family. If you don’t see them in your congregation, it’s because they feel compelled to hide in order to survive and avoid assumed condemnation. Or, perhaps they have already left because they felt compelled to do so by the messages they have been given by Christians, whether overtly verbal or just daily behavior on the subject of homosexuality.

    Jay said and I agree, “The solution is a return to Jesus, salvation by faith in/faithfulness to Jesus, an ethic built on the cross and resurrection, and receipt of the indwelling Spirit — which is Rom 3 – 8.”

    Jay, how do we actually practice and accomplish this within our own church families without driving away our Christian family members who struggle with same sex attraction but who also truly want to live in the Spirit?

  2. Richard constant says:

    Here’s a simple question. why does a male dog mount another male dog?.
    It sure isn’t because of love.
    Or the NEED for relationship.
    Kinda simple.
    Really

  3. Dwight says:

    We also need to reintroduce the bible to our homes and teach ourselves and our children and then we teach others. This isn’t the churches responsibility to teach, but ours. Teaching was done within assemblies (sometimes), but not by assemblies.
    We must teach Christ and the things of Christ.

  4. Dwight says:

    Richard, adding on to that: Why does a male or even a female dog mount a persons leg? Is it “legsexual”. It is trying to fulfill a need, even if unrationally.

  5. buckeyechuck says:

    Richard, if we were talking about dogs, then your question would make sense. Since we are not, I find your comment very troubling and flat out ignorant of what the same sex struggle is all about. It may involve sexuality, but it is NOT only about sex. Do you think that highly promiscuous heterosexuals are only thinking about sex or do they have another emotional deficiency? Read a book and get educated on the subject please before you drive all the Christian strugglers away with such insensitive and hateful nonsense. Or better yet, please don’t comment on things you know nothing about.

  6. buckeyechuck says:

    Dwight, I agree that the home is THE primary place for teaching about all things life and spirituality. However, what is the answer for people who have no positive home environment to receive such teaching? Perhaps no father or the parents aren’t equipped or able to do the teaching. Does the church have a place in this conversation?

  7. Richard constant says:

    @Dwight
    need might not be the operative word there.
    Although.
    Oh well I best not go there.
    🙂
    has to do with that word I learn the other day.
    Discernment.
    even if it’s a play on words.
    Blessings Dwight

  8. Dwight says:

    From a purely technical aspect- Yes and No! The church is the people of God, so we are to teach each other, as we are to support to each other, as we are to give to each other, as we are to worship with each other, as we are to lean on each other. These things we are to do from one person to another. And we are to teach others and aid others not saved in the world, as well, to make them saints and out of love in the mold of Jesus.
    And then we move into us with others in a group where we are to aid, give, support, etc. each other. But the limitations is that the group or assembly itself is never loaded with any responsibility to do these things. About the only thing that the group does that is unique is to partake of the Lord’s Supper and even that is for OUR remembrance of the Christ who died for US.
    So if you know of someone who comes from a ill equipped or unfavorable household, then you need to help them and then get others to help him. This is not the “churches” responsibilty…it is ours. The more personal we can get in doing these things is the more we fulfill our Godliness.

  9. buckeyechuck says:

    Dwight, your distinction between the “church” and ourselves confuses me. How is there a difference?

  10. John says:

    Dwight and Richard, these people you are comparing to dogs, most are loving, committed, compassionate, and yes, spiritual human beings. Maybe your arguments should find another vein.

  11. Richard constant says:

    if we’ve learned anything through this study.
    It should be relationship, what does that word mean, how does it work, how do we attract people, how do people look at us, How do people see all of those good, things like that there.
    do we model animals in exchange for the creator.
    Do we exchange Gods good and deviate. Suppress it.
    children will model on an instinctual level what they see in their parents.
    what are we supposed to model.
    we’re supposed to model someone that loved us. and really restored us into relationship. for no good In us.
    it is because of the innate need 4 That 1 relationship and loving kindness, the very good of a god expressed in Scripture being faithful to that good To that very good His creation.
    separating good from evil teaching us by example by model in his son how to overcome and how to be very good through relationship with him Through relationship with others.
    the peace love and freedom to be wrong and learning to be good with the help of our brothers.

  12. Richard constant says:

    @buckeyechuck
    like most people and I try not to be that kind anymore.
    You have jumped to a conclusion Buckeye that is invalid in every way whatsoever except that I’m not bisexual.
    buD I live in Southern California they don’t call this the left coast for nothing if you would really like to hear what I have to say I would say it but I think that it would hurt your ears.
    so I’ll put it in a pleasant way to one degree or another everyone of us are emotionally retarded.
    and at some point in time the model of the people that are engaged in this sort of activity were victimized by other people that are like different.
    I look at homosexuals as just another form of a predatory animal.
    You want to change that’s fine that’s good then how you change that’s the same way we all do.
    unfortunately God is explicitly clear.
    you don’t have an argument with me you have an argument with I was at one time a drunk.
    I quite honestly new one I was emotionally retarded.
    But I didn’t look for an excuse I saw it for what it really was.
    it’s unfortunate when truth slaps you up the side of the head.I knew that was my fault that I was drinking I knew that if I died that way I would suffer the wrath of God. unfortunately believing all the way.
    That’s why it says somewhere even the devils and the demons believe and tremble.
    Unfortunately we want to water down everything and not tell people the truth.
    So my advice to you is if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen

  13. Gary says:

    Either one or both of two understandings of Paul’s seeming condemnation of gays in Romans 1 is true. Take your pick or take them both.

    The first is that Paul’s words apply only to those who have exchanged or given up their heterosexuality for homosexuality and not to those who are by their own pre-accountable age nature naturally attracted to their own sex from puberty onwards. This view honors the inspiration of Scripture and takes Paul’s words at face value.

    The second understanding is that Paul did not understand the concept of an immutable sexual orientation firmly in place by puberty any more than he understood the concept of drunkenness as a disease. While Paul may have known of a few homosexual men in the Hellenistic world who were solely attracted to men and never married women he seems in Romans 1 to generally assume that almost all men are capable of functioning heterosexually if only they will honor God and choose to be heterosexual. Since even Greeks expected men who enjoyed homosexuality to also marry and reproduce this would not have been a far fetched assumption for Paul in the context of his day. This understanding is buttressed by the absence of any discussion in Scripture of a class of people who were required to live celibately. When Paul says that it is better to marry than to burn he gives no indication of any exceptions.

    Jay, your and N.T. Wright’s analysis rests upon placing all active homosexuals today in the class of evil people Paul goes to great lengths to describe in Romans 1. The problem is that most gays today don’t fall anywhere near the ballpark of those folks described in Romans 1. Go point by point through the characteristics of that group in Romans 1 and the description simply does not fit homosexuals in general anymore than it would fit heterosexuals. Look especially at Romans 1:29-31 and see what Paul says those folks were full of. Has anyone reading this ever met any gays who fit Paul’s description in those verses?

    I was having a conversation a few days ago with a now older heterosexual male neighbor. I was surprised when he volunteered that most gays folks he has known in his lifetime were nicer and more generous and compassionate to others than straight folks. I have often thought that myself but I was surprised that a straight man had also observed that tendency of gays. Here in the inner city of Baltimore gays are an important source of compassion and community for impoverished neighborhoods. If Baltimore suddenly lost our gay community it would be a much harsher city than it already is for the least of these among us.

    Jay, you face an increasingly uphill climb to convince Christians today that gays are part of that terrible group of people described in Romans 1. Fewer and fewer Christians are buying it as the graph you presented shows. I hope that at some point you can at least become an agnostic on this issue and leave homosexuality as a personal matter between the individual Christian and God. You have no problem doing that with the divorced and remarried. It’s only a small step to adopt the same humility towards gays who like their straight brethren are doing the best they can each day to be a disciple of Jesus in their communities.

  14. Richard constant says:

    @gary
    one thing to have androgynous behavioral characteristics, it’s another thing to be actively Participating in a homo sexual lifestyle.
    Staying on topic.

  15. Dwight says:

    I wasn’t really comparing people to dogs, as dogs, but rather pointing out that sexual desires are sexual desires and that these can drive us and others to do things that are beyond natural. There are people who have sex and form relationships with plastic dolls. Back to the dogs: The difference is that dogs don’t have Godly moral filters when it comes to sex, but we should, but we are excusing these Godly moral filters as wrong in themselves.
    Buckeye, there isn’t a difference between the congregation and ourselves, as they are one in the same, but there is when we jump to the church as an institutional entity or a self contained group, then we have moved beyond me to the concept of a group action. At the end of service we encourage people to that have sinned to come before the church, right? Strangely, we never encourage people to pray to God first, then tell each other individually second, then…I dont’ know where we are told to come before the assembly. We often argue for the five acts of corporate worship, but four of them are basically worship that we can and should do all of the time.
    My point is that we as Christians have Christian things to do, of which assembly is one of them, but assembly is not the totallity of them or the expression of them, but an extension of them. Going back to the original question of what do we do with those who are living in a rotten family enviroment. Well, bringing them to assembly a couple of times a week, won’t bring them out of it and they won’t get the personal attention they need, although they might be uplifted. But it would be horribly wrong, but I see it all of the time, is to bring them to assembly and then say I have done my job. We haven’t even begun to do our job.

  16. Richard constant says:

    Every one understand s that u live your way into
    Different behavior. One day at a time….
    although it helps to know and to understand what the model of a man has to be.
    that being said and the acceptance of that, a predisposition to stay in old behavior is very lacking and that is the reason why a peer group structure of liKe peers is extremely important.
    not as an opportunity to condone that behavior quote unquote but to support the change.
    just like everybody else.
    I might want to drink for one reason or another I might feel compulsed to drink for one reason or another.
    what kind of rationality am I using if I go out and drink.
    for me to know to do the right thing and refused to do it would be irrational.
    I go to therapy I go to AA I go to church I stay busy doing good things.
    and why is that because primarily I know that nothing good comes out of me unless it has been put in there by what I consider to be very good or modeling somebody that I have found to be an ideal to try to measure up to.
    And friends that support me in that endeavor.

  17. Richard constant says:

    Oh and as a big PS.
    I don’t lower the bar so that a crippled rat can climb over the top of it.

  18. John says:

    Gary, the second understanding of Paul in Romans 1 is very similar to the view of Peter J Gomes, who was the minister of Memorial Church at Harvard University. Of course, others who are familiar with him would argue that he easily took that position since he was a confessed Gay man, though he lived celibate. That was his choice without being judgmental of others.

    Also, I do believe that many Christians are, as you described, becoming agnostic on this issue. They are becoming so as they live and work around people they know are Gay, coming to see them as human beings like themselves, with dreams, convictions, commitments and a soul.

    Of course, there will always be those church members who will seethe with anger, mostly in private like some church members I know, some of them preachers, who are still angry with the Civil Rights Movement, choosing carefully as to whom they make their hateful remarks, though not always successful.

  19. Richard constant says:

    And.
    just to keep it straight anyone that knowingly practices sin is an unbeliever and disobedient.
    the operative word being practice. to engage in without being sorry to God for that.
    just like I said we’re all emotionally retarded it’s to the degree And the orientation that is different.
    just as Paul says in Ephesians chapter 2 & 3 and I could go on and on but we all have our issues and we all need everybody’s help to say nothing of the help of God through the Spirit that He has given us.
    to say anything else would be to demean the sacrifice

  20. Ellen says:

    Good post! Last line is great! One of the main problems people have with the question of affirming gay people is that many don’t believe in the indwelling of the Spirit. If the Spirit does not indwell and empower, then it’s unfair for God to tell us to do anything that’s too hard for us to do. If the Spirit does indwell the believer, then nothing is impossible, which is what we’re called to believe. I’ve heard some arguing for the gay affirming side that seem to think of God as a slightly senile old man sitting in the clouds and who just isn’t that smart. For me, it’s made a huge difference to understand that God is Spirit and God is Love and that God can flow. He is Living Water that fills and spills over. He is the sustainer of every breath and every heartbeat because in Him we live and move and have our very being.

  21. Richard constant says:

    🙂 thank you
    sometimes I just don’t think a lot of us understand exactly what the Spirit in Romans 1:18 is saying.
    To me,
    just what does” Suppress the TRUTH of GOD IN THEIR UNRIGHTEOUSNESS “…
    just exactly what is deception?
    But the half truth.
    You won’t die
    you will become like God.
    and
    know Good and Evil.

  22. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    You set up a false dichotomy. Richard Hays, a Methodist and highly respected NT scholar, says regarding your first theory,

    The language of “exchange” plays a central role in this passage, emphasizing the direct parallelism between the rejection of God and the rejection of created sexual roles. The “exchange” imagery first appears in 1: 23, where Paul charges that rebellious humans have “exchanged [llaxan] the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.” The accusation is recapitulated in 1: 25, where it is for the first time connected directly to sexual impurity: because “they exchanged [metllaxan] the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,” God handed them over to “the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.” Up to this point, Paul’s condemnation could apply equally well to all sexual offenses, heterosexual as well as homosexual.

    In 1: 26– 27, however, he introduces a further development in his account of humanity’s tragic rebellious trade-off: “Their women exchanged [metllaxan] natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another.” The deliberate repetition of the verb metllaxan forges a powerful rhetorical link between the rebellion against God and the “shameless acts” (1: 27) that are themselves both evidence and consequence of that rebellion. In describing what it is that straying humans have “exchanged,” Paul for the first time introduces the concept of “nature” (physis) into the argument (1: 26): they have exchanged (translating literally) “the natural use for that which is contrary to nature” (tn physikn chrsin eis tn para physin).

    Hays, Richard (2013-07-30). The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New CreationA Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethic (pp. 386-387). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

    Paul singles out homosexual intercourse for special attention because he regards it as providing a particularly graphic image of the way in which human fallenness distorts God’s created order. God the Creator made man and woman for each other, to cleave together, to be fruitful and multiply. When human beings “exchange” these created roles for homosexual intercourse, they embody the spiritual condition of those who have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie.”

    Hays, Richard (2013-07-30). The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New CreationA Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethic (p. 388). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

    To introduce this concept into the passage (by suggesting that Paul disapproves only those who act contrary to their individual sexual orientations) is to lapse into anachronism. The fact is that Paul treats all homosexual activity as prima facie evidence of humanity’s tragic confusion and alienation from God the Creator.

    Hays, Richard (2013-07-30). The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethic (p. 389). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

    Notice that not only does Hays specifically reject the first possibility, but its rejection is well founded in the repeated idea of “exchange.” The exchanges Paul criticizes are exchanging God and his Creation for something else, with God and his Creation being as described in Genesis 1 and 2.

    Moreover,

    Thus, the Bible’s sober anthropology rejects the apparently commonsense assumption that only freely chosen acts are morally culpable. Quite the reverse: the very nature of sin is that it is not freely chosen. That is what it means to live “in the flesh” in a fallen creation. We are in bondage to sin but still accountable to God’s righteous judgment of our actions. In light of this theological anthropology, it cannot be maintained that a homosexual orientation is morally neutral because it is involuntary.

    Hays, Richard (2013-07-30). The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New CreationA Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethic (p. 390). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

    Hence, while Hays is a much less conservative writer than N. T. Wright and comes from a different denominational background, which is plenty sympathetic to gay marriage, he nonetheless finds the argument unsupported by scripture. It’s just not what the text is saying.

  23. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Regarding the suggestion that Paul was ignorant of homosexuality as an inherent trait in some individuals, Hays says,

    The argument from statistical incidence of homosexual behavior is even less useful in normative ethical deliberation. Even if 10 percent of the people in the United States should declare themselves to be of homosexual orientation (and that figure is a doubtful one), 35 that would not settle the normative issue; it is impossible to argue simply from an “is” to an “ought.” If Paul were shown the poll results, he would reply sadly, “Indeed, the power of sin is rampant in the world.”

    Hays, Richard (2013-07-30). The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethic (p. 398). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

    It’s a nicely circular argument:

    1. Paul didn’t know of people who were by nature homosexual (only heterosexual men who indulged in homosexual sex).

    2. This is shown by the absence of a Greek word meaning “homosexual.”

    3. Paul coined a word “arsenokoites” — literally “coitus with a man” taken from the Septuagint for Lev 18:22 (condemning having sex with another man as with a woman). This refers either to homosexuals generally (as the allusion to Lev 18:22 would suggest) or to the active partner (in contrast to malakos). But these meanings are impossible because Paul was unaware of men who were inherently attracted to men and so the words must mean something else.

    4. Therefore, Paul was unaware of men who were attracted to other men.

    Obviously, the presence of a word likely coined by Paul to refer to homosexual men tells us that Paul was aware of homosexual men and, therefore, argument 2 fails.

  24. buckeyechuck says:

    Jay, a point of clarification on your last comment… You quoted the work of Richard Hayes who said “In light of this theological anthropology, it cannot be maintained that a homosexual orientation is morally neutral because it is involuntary.” The words used in this sentence are “homosexual orientation” which simply reflects an individual’s focus of attraction, an orientation. That is significantly and morally different than actual sexual activity.

    Do you believe the writer is, in fact, suggesting that a homosexual orientation itself is morally depraved even prior to physically acting on that orientation? Is that also your position?

  25. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    BC,

    (I cannot bring myself to type the letters that precede “chuck” in your name.)

    The quotation is cut and paste and therefore exact, but the quotation is a misstatement of Hays’ position. He is generally very careful to distinguish orientation from activity and sees no sin in the orientation itself. He quite a lengthy chapter in his book, and he makes that distinction repeatedly and usually very carefully. It’s surely an editing error – which I should have noticed myself.

  26. buckeyechuck says:

    Jay, the only thing I have to say in response is…. GO BUCKS!!!

    BTW, I believe some who have commented on this thread do believe the orientation itself is sinful based on comments made. That is representative of the difficulty many gay (using a definition meaning same sex oriented and not always necessarily sexually active) Christians face in pursuit of finding a place to be at home and accepted within a church community.

  27. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    BC,

    I refer to my ancient series “Letter from a Gay Man in the Churches of Christ.” http://oneinjesus.info/category/index/sexuality/homosexuality-sexuality/letter-to-a-gay-man-in-the-churches-of-christ/

    I posted this series in 2008, about 1 year after starting the blog, in response to an actual, very thoughtful letter from a gay man in the CoC. I quote the letter and respond in a series of posts — and it was this series that forced me to think through this issue for the first time.

    The series deals with the arguments about the verses a little but is much more pastoral — because of the questions asked.

    Thereafter, in response to questions from a number of readers, I posted arguments in response to the arguments that seek the defend gay marriage from the scriptures. I continue to do so, but the posts on homosexuality in the church began in a much more pastoral tone — and I think those early posts will be responsive to your questions.

    It’s been a while since I read those old posts, and so at the risk of repeating myself, let me say this:

    1. Until the Churches of Christ escape the legalism of the 20th Century, it’s going to be difficult to be perceived as a loving, affirming community of any kind.
    2. This requires a vibrant, rich doctrine of the Holy Spirit — not mere tolerance of the teaching. We have to become comfortable with the Spirit’s work in our lives and churches. And that will free us to pray as a church should pray.
    3. And this will allow us to be people of grace. But we’ll never be truly gracious while we’re damning those who disagree with us over instruments or even baptism. To become people of grace, we have to let grace cover doctrinal sins as well as moral sins. As long as we insist on one, we’ll never be believed on the other. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to truly be gracious in one respect and not the other.
    4. All this will allow us — free us — to become more like Jesus in his service, sacrifice, submission, and suffering. And this will allow us to preach a truer gospel that calls us to become better people — by the power of the Spirit and not mere self-help. God will help us if we’ll let him.
    5. A gospel that embraces those things is a gospel that can love and sympathize with gay people. Nothing else can. If we’re going to call on gay men and women to give up their sexuality for Jesus, we must be a sacrificial people who are acquainted with suffering for the sake of Jesus. Nothing else will do.
    6. Gay men and women are going to sin sexually – just as do straight men and women. We need to learn to encourage and support each other in our struggles to be true to Jesus while showing the grace of God to each other when we fail despite wanting so very much not to fail.
    7. It’s entirely possible. I’ve seen it happen.

  28. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    BC,

    You are very insensitive and cause me great discomfort and offense. I suggest a more inclusive, less aggressive name, such as “footballfanchuck” or “Big10Advocatechuck.”

  29. laymond says:

    “And so, Paul clearly sees homosexual activity as not just against God’s mean-spirited, moralizing rulebook. Rather, he sees it as a mark of something deeply unhealthy and dangerous to society — indeed, a sign that society has become profoundly rebellious against God”

    Jay, which does the bible condemn more severely , homosexual sex, or adulterous sex. ?

  30. buckeyechuck says:

    Jay, thank you so much for making those bold statements. It’s just so critical to the lives of gay Christians. Many Christians, mostly Evangelical in nature, prefer to embrace the political realm to fight legalized gay marriage because they believe it threatens their Christianity and, therefore, the best way to remove the threat. That is nonsense. Gay marriage no more threatens their Christianity than divorce or abortion which are far more common.

    Rather, paraphrasing what you stated in the OP, an embracing of the Spiritual Jesus and modeling His life and person to a fallen world will do much more to help those who want freedom from their homosexual nature. We do that by the spoken word, but more so by the act of inclusion and extension of personal fellowship to those who are imperfect and, particularly, before they may have their life and behaviors under complete control (does that ever happen?) That’s why our church leaders and spoken messages from the pulpit and class discussions must begin to teach from the beginning and reframe the minds of our church family who simply do not understand this issue. It’s complicated and very emotionally charged for most. It will take time just as it has for them to begin to understand the true nature of grace as you have described in your comments. In fact, we have just barely begun that journey. We must begin so that many who seek can find fellowship. True fellowship is an even greater need yet far more difficult to experience for gay Christians than for most other Christians.

  31. buckeyechuck says:

    And Jay, there just might be a rematch on the way. Let us see what happens.

    But…. GO BUCKS!

  32. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Gary wrote:

    “The second understanding is that Paul did not understand the concept of an immutable sexual orientation firmly in place by puberty any more than he understood the concept of drunkenness as a disease. While Paul may have known of a few homosexual men in the Hellenistic world who were solely attracted to men and never married women he seems in Romans 1 to generally assume that almost all men are capable of functioning heterosexually if only they will honor God and choose to be heterosexual.”

    This statement completely ignores the nature of biblical inspiration and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. While it may be interesting to discuss just how much Paul personally understood about orientation, it is wholly irrelevant. At the end of the day, Paul didn’t write anything in his letter to the Romans that conflicted with the Holy Spirit, thus to challenge Paul’s understanding here is to challenge God’s.

  33. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Gary wrote:

    “I was having a conversation a few days ago with a now older heterosexual male neighbor. I was surprised when he volunteered that most gays folks he has known in his lifetime were nicer and more generous and compassionate to others than straight folks. I have often thought that myself but I was surprised that a straight man had also observed that tendency of gays. Here in the inner city of Baltimore gays are an important source of compassion and community for impoverished neighborhoods. If Baltimore suddenly lost our gay community it would be a much harsher city than it already is for the least of these among us.”

    Again, this is wholly irrelevant. Cornelius may be one of the “best” people to have walked the earth…devout, God-fearing, generous to the needy, compassionate, devoted to prayer…and lost. Our “goodness” will not save us. We do not merit salvation because of our compassion and generous deeds to others. That’s legalism.

    “Jay, you face an increasingly uphill climb to convince Christians today that gays are part of that terrible group of people described in Romans 1. Fewer and fewer Christians are buying it as the graph you presented shows. I hope that at some point you can at least become an agnostic on this issue and leave homosexuality as a personal matter between the individual Christian and God.”

    Gary, did you seriously consider this before you wrote it? Basically, let’s allow public opinion and sentiment to determine what we do and say in matters of religion. Is Christianity to be that shallow? This is not the first time that you have suggested that we cave to political correctness and peer-pressure (“You are on the wrong side of history” or words to that effect). Peter and the other Apostles flatly rejected this notion in Acts 5:29b, “We must obey God rather than men.” Amen.

  34. rich says:

    Jay
    as a side note..,.
    from 1981 – 2010
    i might of drank 25 times..
    after 2009
    my wife of 25 years and i separated and after a year of separation and divorce and her engagement to a multimillionaire that HAD A DRINKING Problem….
    i went to a psychiatrist and after 10 sessions was told i needed new friends… so off to the bar i went…to shutdown the complete pit of emotional despair i found myself in…i absolutely was lost in the trauma …and thank god for my kids…
    and of course they got married. oct.2010…
    dealing with the alcohol is is easy compared to that pain…
    all i have to do is not drink and repent…

  35. David Newhouse says:

    Jay

    Would it be correct to say that homosexual sex and sex with a temple prostitute are sin for the same reason? Sins against the body?

  36. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    David N,

    They overlap. It one point I counted 6 reasons in 1 Cor 6 that Paul opposed sex with temple prostitutes. I bet he could have come up with 30 if papyrus weren’t so expensive.

    He doesn’t give as extensive a discussion in Rom 1 regarding homosexuality, but he argues from Gen 2 in both places. Both are contrary to God’s design.

    However, the multiple reasons he uses to oppose prostitution in 1 Cor 6 are built on the list of sins that includes homosexual conduct in 1 Cor 6:9-10. So while he’s not directly addressing homosexuality later in 1 Cor 6, it’s sui generis, that is, of the same type. The one important difference is that cult prostitution involves the worship of an idol, whereas homosexuality does not necessarily. Rather, in Rom 1, Paul sees idolatry leading to a rejection of the Creator and then then created order, leading to such sins as homosexuality. So it’s a different argument although occupying some common ground, if that makes any sense.

  37. Gary says:

    Jay, you’re not reading me very closely. I said both views of Romans 1 on homosexuality could be true. That is by definition not a false dichotomy in which either one option or another must be chosen.

    Nothing in your quotation from Hays changes the fact that Paul speaks of homosexuals having given up or exchanged heterosexuality for homosexuality. I understand that Paul was making a broader point but if you insist on applying Romans 1 to gays today then Paul’s actual words must guide such a current application. Hays assumes that Paul is condemning all homosexual activity in every context but it is only an assumption. He certainly doesn’t prove it. It is important to remember that we are bound by the canon of Scripture, in other words the actual words of Scripture, and not by our assumptions of what the author was thinking when he wrote the words even if our assumptions should be true. I have no doubt but that Paul was opposed to homosexuality in every shape, form, fashion and context. But that doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. Paul was a man of the first century. The only thing about Paul that matters today is the actual words he wrote that are in the canon of Scripture. That those words may have applications today that Paul would never have thought of is completely irrelevant.

    By the way, the United Methodist Church at the time I believe Hays wrote what you quoted was not at all a gay friendly church. Also Dale Martin of Yale Divinity School, Church of Christ born, raised and educated, has responded at length to Richard Hays. I don’t believe you have ever acknowledged Dale Martin’s writing on arsenokoites and malakos. He is worth checking out on all of these aspects of homosexuality and Scripture.

  38. Gary says:

    Jay, you persist in citing Nero as a likely factor in Paul’s words on homosexuality. As far as I can determine practically everyone dates Romans and 1 Corinthians to the mid 50’s. Nero’s same-sex marriages did not occur until the next decade. If you’re going to keep on bringing up Nero you either need to make a case for a later dating of Romans and 1 Corinthians or for evidence that Nero’s bisexual tendencies were commonly known in the 50’s. Otherwise Nero is a distraction in these exchanges.

  39. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    I will shortly post on Matthew Vine’s book God and the Gay Christian. He makes many of the same arguments re 1 Cor 6:9-10 as Dale Martin.

    Hays recently retired from Duke. Shortly before his departure he was asked by a freshman how Duke could eliminate heteronormativity. Hays responded by reading from the Methodist Manual of Discipline, which declares gay sex incompatible with Christianity. He was widely criticized for daring to bring Methodist doctrine into a Methodist-affiliated institution. He did not back down. So I’m confident Hays’ position has not changed.

  40. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    Regarding Nero and the dating of his weddings, I’ll respond in a post regarding one of Vines’ chapters. It’s too long for the comments.

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