Monday, May 25, 2015

Does Romans One Condemn Homosexual Acts?

Does Romans One Condemn Homosexual Acts? 
By Sean Killackey 

What Does Romans Say? 
Romans chapter is often used to condemn homosexual acts. However some assert it only condemns homosexual acts in certain situations, so let us examine what Romans chapter one says and see if pro-homosexual interpretations hold fast. 

Romans 1:21-32 
"For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God nor did they thank him, but they became empty-headed in their reasonings and their senseless hearts became darkened. Although claiming they were wise, they became foolish and turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man and birds and four-footed creatures and reptiles. 
"Therefore, God, in keeping with the desires of their hearts, gave them up to uncleanness, so that their bodies might be dishonored among them. They exchanged the truth of God for the lie and venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. That is why God gave them over to uncontrolled sexual passion, for their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; likewise also the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full penalty, which was due for their error. 
"Just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting. And they were filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and badness, being full of envy, murder, strife, deceitand malice, being whisperers,  backbiters, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, schemers of what is harmful, disobedient to parents, without understanding, false to agreements, having no natural affection, and merciless. Although these know full well the righteous decree of God—that those practicing such things are deserving of death —they not only keep on doing them but also approve of those practicing them." 

Pro-Homosexuality Interpretation 
The most popular explanation presented by homosexual apolgists is that that Paul only condemned homosexual acts when done in connection with idolatry and pagan rituals. They typically cite the fact that Paul starts off by addressing idolaters. So they reason that though Paul did not explicitly state that homosexual acts are obscene when practiced in pagan rituals he meant that. 
How does their logic hold up? Let us follow their logic to the rest of the chapter. If because homosexuality was mentioned after idolatry it only condemns homosexual acts in connection with idolatry then the sins mentioned afterward (e.g., greed, envy, murder, haughtiness and disobedience) are only sinful when in connection with idolatry. We know that such sins are sinful regardless of where they are committed or in connection to anything else, so why would homosexuality be the special sin? It would be special pleading. 
Some might say that the latter sins are not committed by the same group of people who commit homosexuality, yet Paul introduces homosexuality by saying that "God gave them up" and when he introduces the other sins he says, "just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over" which indicates that they are the same group of people mentioned earlier.  
We also note that Paul didn't say that these homosexual acts were part of idolatry, but that they were a result of rejecting God. What does this mean? 

Correct Interpretation 
Paul here condemned all sin as a result of rejecting God. Sinners, who ought to have known better, rejected God, so God let them sin as much as they wanted. They now had "a disapproved mental state" and all their sins were a result of that. Since it could not be stated that the later sins are only condemned as part of idolatry, so too homosexual acts by their nature are sinful - part of idolatry or not. 

Now Paul was writing not simply to state that such sins were wrong, but to remind us that we are all sinful. Some make it seem that God is only concerned with homosexuality, or that homosexual sins are worse than others. Now of course God hates sins, yet all willful sin results in death and anyone - homosexual or not - who does not repent will have not be saved. Let us therefore remember the seriousness of the sin of homosexuality and rely upon God's undeserved kindness. Jehovah is just as able to save the homosexual as he is able to save the drunkard, provided they repent. And remember that anyone who is not in Jehovah's congregation is not judge by us, for we only judge those on the inside. 

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