Why Romans Doesn’t Condemn Homosexuality

What is Paul really talking about in the first chapter of Romans?

Let’s start with Romans 1:18 to try to understand what Paul is really talking about here. I think it helps to actually start “from the top”, as it were.

In verse 18, Paul starts to talk about a group of people and this is how he identifies them:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness..”

Who is he talking about here? He’s talking about “godless” and “wicked” people, in general.

In v. 21 he says those same people’s thinking, “became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened”.

Then he says in v. 22 that those same people “claimed to be wise but became fools”.

And in v. 23 he says that they: “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”

That is idol worship.

In summary, these wicked and godless people denied the knowledge of God and began to worship idols.

Because of this:

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.” [v.24]

So, because they denied God and worshipped idols God’s response was to give them over to “shameful desires of their hearts…for the degrading of their bodies with one another.”

Please Note: Sexual intercourse in pagan temples was quite common in the worship of idols. This is what Paul is referring to here, and he continues to describe this in verse 25:

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.”

This is all about idol worship and it involved sexual intercourse. What Paul is condemning here is the use of sexual intercourse as part of the worship of created things, or idols.

Lust is lust. Ritual pagan sex qualifies as “degrading their bodies with one another” – whether gay or straight.

Now, Paul continues his progressive thought by saying, in verse 26:

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.”

Ok, wait…because of what? Because these people – who were engaged in worshipping pagan idols – started degrading their bodies with one another in ritual sexual intercourse: “God gave them over to shameful lusts.”

So far, this would be bad no matter if the sex were gay or straight.

There’s a lot more to point out, but let me pause here a just a moment to say this:

I don’t know anyone who is gay due to the effects of worshipping idols through sexual intercourse.

Do you?

Maybe those people exist, but I would venture to say that the majority of people who identify as being gay today did not end up that way because they used to engage in pagan sexual practices in the temples of Zeus or Artemis.

I don’t even know any gay people who feel attracted to people of the same sex due to denying that God exists. In fact, just the opposite, I know many people who identify as gay who profess saving faith in Christ and who even demonstrate the heart and character of Christ. They do not engage in “shameful desires of their hearts” any more than my straight Christian friends do. They also do not “worship and serve created things rather than the Creator”.

Having said that, let’s go back to Paul and continue the study.

After this Paul says,

“Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

Please try to follow the flow of Paul’s statements here:

There were people who denied God. They started to worship idols. That worship involved sexual intercourse. That intercourse aroused unnatural lusts. The end result was a judgment within their bodies for denying God and engaging in pagan ritual sex rites.

Keep in mind: anyone who is “inflamed with lust” is in sin – whether gay or straight. But Paul’s entire flow of thought begins with a discussion about those who deny God, worship created things rather than the creator, engage in ritual sexual intercourse as part of that worship, and then…BECAUSE OF THESE THINGS, God has judged them and given them over to their lusts.

Let me ask you: What if Paul’s descriptions here went like this:

*People denied God

*Those people worshipped idols

*They worshipped idols by engaging in male/female sex acts

Would you conclude that God hated male/female intercourse?

Why not? Isn’t that what people do when he goes on to describe their acts of homosexual intercourse?

If we don’t read Romans 1 as a de facto condemnation of straight sex [and the majority of the chapter is about straight sex], then why do we read it as a condemnation of gay sex acts?

Could it be because we have a bias against gay sex that we don’t have against straight sex?

If we lay aside our inherent bias against gay sex, we can see that Paul’s entire point is that the denial of God and the worship of idols through sexual intercourse [gay or straight] is what is “shameful” and not the type of sexual intercourse itself.

Sexual intercourse in the worship of idols is evil. This is Paul’s entire point.

Straight sex is not evil. What matters is the context. Is it between two people who love one another and who also love and trust in God? Then it isn’t what Paul is speaking of here in Romans 1.

My point is simply this: Romans 1 doesn’t try to provide any commentary on whether or not gay sexual intercourse is “good” or “evil”.

Paul’s purpose in Romans 1 isn’t to explain why homo/hetero sex itself is wrong/right. His point would be exactly the same if he were describing straight sexual intercourse used in pagan ritual worship.

Does that make sense?

That same judgment they received would come equally to those who engaged in gay or straight sexual intercourse if it was for the purpose of pagan idol worship.

Believe it or not, there really are Christians who ARE gay, and they DO worship God and they DO love Jesus and they do NOT engage in fornication and they are NOT consumed by their lusts.

So, this passage does not apply to them.

In conclusion, I wish that I could introduce you to the gay and transgender Christians I know. If I could, you might find that these are not “perverts” or “abominations”. Instead, you might see what I have seen, which is an exceptional grace for people who shun them and marginalize them.

They are quick to even forgive family members who shame them. They are obedient to Jesus to pray for those Christians who slander them and call them names [like “pervert” for example] with tears in their eyes and pain in their heart.

I’ve seen Jesus in the lives of my gay and transgender brothers and sisters over the last few years in deeper and more profound ways than I believe I have ever seen in many of my straight Christian friends.

I hope to learn from them how to love and forgive and walk in grace and mercy towards everyone, even those brothers and sisters who cannot accept them for who they really are.

**

Keith Giles is the author of several books, including “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”. He is also the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

Unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more on my Patreon page.

*

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  • trinielf

    Great discourse. I think the hint staring people right in the face that Paul was not talking about homosexuals but people who were in their usual life heterosexual in their relations, is right here, “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women”. The men he was referring to usually slept with WOMEN. Also, Paul used the past tense to refer to their lust and performing lewd acts with men. So this was not a continuous habitual lifestyle but a one-off or incidental action caused by extraordinary circumstances, namely being intoxicated and inflamed in pagan ritual.

    So to misuse this passage as if it is about people with a homosexual orientation from ever since they knew themselves, is just extrapolation in the extreme. Even more so to use it as an indictment against female homosexuals as Paul NEVER SAID women were sleeping with women. The earliest interpretations of this passage by early Church fathers never understood this to be about lesbians (who went undercover and unnoticed for most of human history because female sexuality and relationships were ignored in a male and penis-centered society) either but about non-reproductive male-female sex.

    It is just another example of the lengths that anti-gay Christians go to to extrapolate and stretch the meaning of a scripture beyond its original context but ONLY WHEN IT BENEFITS OR PLAYS INTO THEIR EXISTING PREJUDICES, PRAGMATIC/PROFITABLE PREFERENCES.

    When scripture inconveniences them, they ignore it, even if it is far more explicit and a direct command from Christ.

  • A J MacDonald Jr

    “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

  • Marshall

    most peculiar reasoning from this article, such-as for how “God gave them over…for the degrading of their bodies with one another,” while we’re to wonder if this was to virtue (good) or worthlessness (evil)?

  • Mary

    Please…”Why Romans DON’T condemn homosexuality” or “Why Romans DIDN’T condemn homosexuality…proof read

  • Mary

    Whoops…my error in re reading…Romans as a single chapter in the Bible…
    Sorry about that.

  • FrogsAtNight

    Are you saying that Paul classifies these people’s sexual actions as “unnatural” only because they took place in the context of pagan idol worship?

  • jeffnkr

    This article is part of the error that perpetuates the lie that we can be holy and acceptable to God simply by doing only what is not a sin and not doing anything that is a sin. First of all, I do not know, for the life of me, what is wrong with 2 people of the same gender showing love and affection for one another. My brother and his partner have been together for over 25 years. My brother believes he is gay, and neither my wife nor I ever refused to let either of our 3 children have unsupervised time with him, or with him and his partner.

    The problem with this article is that exactly what is and what is not a sin should not be our focus. We’ve all sinned, in many different ways. We’re already sinners. Maybe we didn’t go into a temple for a false god, and indulge in sexual acts with anyone and everyone also there, but if we have put God in second place, or lower, and have pursued something else, with all our heart and soul, then we are just as guilty of idol worship as someone who had sex with a person they had never seen before and will never see again.

    The love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of God are exceedingly abundantly above all we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). But let’s look at the Ten Commandments. Commandment number 1: “You shall have no other gods before me.” I’m done for. I’ve broken that one. I’ve never actually literally constructed an idol out of wood or stone, and bowed down before it (Commandment #2), but I’ve ignored God and pursued other things ahead of him. I’ve said the Name of the LORD when I *wasn’t* worshipping Him, and certainly not praising Him (Commandment #3). I haven’t kept the Sabbath as it is supposed to be kept (Commandment #4). My dad was an abusive alcoholic, but that did not give me permission to rebel against his authority and show him disrespect (Commandment #5). We’re only halfway through, and so far sexual activity has not been mentioned. However, I’m still just as guilty of breaking God’s Law as the worst of the worst sinners. However, I’m going to Heaven when I die, NOT because all the good things I’ve done outweigh the bad (which is deception, because the bad is still present) but ONLY because of God’s exceedingly abundant love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness, the Blood of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Let’s assume that homosexuality is not a sin, in any way. Now do what I did. Look at the Ten Commandments, and see if you’re guilty of breaking at least one of the first 5. If you have (and you know you have) and you haven’t asked God to do in your heart, what only He can do, and very much wants to do, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, then you’re lost, and on your way to Hell. Remember that many people in Hell or who will eventually be there are people who “went to church every time the doors were open” or who do so, today. It’s not good to sin, but we’ve all sinned. What keeps someone out of Heaven and sends them to Hell ISN’T what they have done; it’s what they HAVEN’T done: they haven’t cried out to God.

  • terri mertz

    I do not think the article intends to address Sin in all of its facets.I think it is an attempt to discuss what Romans 1 says about homosexuality and the sin of lust and what is or is not sexual sin.

  • terri mertz

    “If we lay aside our inherent bias against gay sex, we can see that Paul’s entire point is that the denial of God and the worship of idols through sexual intercourse [gay or straight] is what is “shameful” and not the type of sexual intercourse itself.”
    Can you please explain what this looks like? “…the denial of God and the worship of idols through sexual intercourse…” Examples please? Thank you.

  • Oy. I understand why gay Evangelicals look for alternative interpretations of the Bible’s clobber verses on homosexuality. They want to serve God and live like Christ. They want to have a relationship with God. I get that. And they see the Bible as central to achieving this. Without the Bible, how are we to know how to live? How do we know what God wants from us?

    Read rightly, the Bible — that is, God — endorses homosexuality, the progressive Christians say. The idea, they say, is that God is in favor of loving, monogamous homosexual relationships.

    No, the truth is the Bible is a heterosexual book, cover to cover.

    That’s because hateful men, not God, wrote it.

    The men who wrote the Bible were ancient people with ancient worldviews. In fact, what I believe we have in the Bible is not the word of God but rather men trying to rationalize their ancient status quo. For example, it wasn’t like the ancient Israelites had been innocently practicing homosexuality until the Law came around and set them straight. They hated homosexuals long before—mainly because they were different.

    My beef with progressive Christians is that in the most important way they are in fact regressive—or at least terribly conservative: trying to use an ancient book to live in the modern world.

    Why not just admit the Bible is wrong. Is that so hard?

    God doesn’t talk clearly to anybody or through anybody.

  • Barrie Beaumont

    Please Mr Giles check your interpretation out with theologians such as NT (Tom) Wright and other competent New Testament theologians to hear what they to say.

    Can you translate biblical Greek to English? because if you can’t it raises considerable doubt on your interpretation.

    How much do you really know about living styles in Paul’s time?

    What are your reference points for your assumptions and assertations?

    I believe you are on very dangerous ground with all the assumed content of your article.

  • Nice argument, Keith. Too bad you have to expend so much energy convincing the biased of what should be plain. Still, they’re gonna read the last part from Paul regarding homosexuality as self-evidently proscriptive. I enjoy your thoughtfulness.

  • Yessir. We waste mountains of time trying to shoehorn divine infallibility into a very human document already overflowing with provably false nonsense.

  • Couldn’t have said it better!

  • John Samuel Craig

    This is pretty typical of revisionist thinking. This guy is a lapsed pastor, not a Biblical scholar. He is just twisting the Bible. He has no authority as a Biblical scholar so why would I listen to him? Legitimate Biblical scholars think Romans 1 clearly condemns homosexual practice. Why would I believe this unqualified writer?

  • Yeah. I’m always looking for something that will really convince/show people, and have even written my own thing. But i’m reading this and saying to myself “they’re still not gonna get it.” At least he tried and raised good points; maybe God will let it sink in for a few on the fence, we can hope…

  • That is well thought and i hope it will reach some people. This issue is like a test for people. If they REALLY have love for people and put it ahead of judgment, as Jesus tells us to, they would end up with the same conclusions you (and i and others) have. I supposed it also takes being able to think a little outside the box, and some people just don’t seem capable, or maybe just not interested, possibly out of fear and/or a need for simplicity and control.
    There is also that this verse:
    “27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.”
    would not apply to men for whom relations with women is not natural. (“Natural” only means it occurs in nature, nothing more.) It just struck me as i read it again, i can’t really describe it but the verse doesn’t say that those natural relations are absolute or apply to all men; it’s just stating a simple fact of what those particular men did. It could just as easily read:
    “27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with men and were inflamed with lust for women.”
    What about “men abandoned natural consumption of meat and ate only vegetables” or “men abandoned natural relations with women and became celibate” or many other choices and inclinations that exist?

  • Brandon Roberts

    nice article

  • terri mertz

    Why do you say that sir? (Your last comment)

  • Thomas Moore

    Unnatural because they were almost certainly heterosexuals engaged in homosexual sex in the worship of idols. Not engaged in homosexual sex because of love.

  • Thomas Moore

    This analysis comes from Biblical experts, it’s not unique to this article and it reflects what we know of Pagan Fertility Worship from other sources. This analysis does however leave off Romans 2, which is very clear about not using Romans 1 to judge others.

  • John

    Thanks for posting this, completely agree. Straight/gay sex in pagan worship=bad, and the Paul goes to to CLARIFY in additional to straight or gay sex in pagan worship, gay sex=unnatural/wrong period. It says it plainly right there as a separate point. Paul makes it a point to clarify this is unnatural and wrong behavior in GENERAL. It doesn’t even take a biblical scholar to understand this.

  • glenn crowder

    Why not switch to Gnostic Christianity?

    Gnostic Christianity was the original Christianity before the Pauline version stamped it out by Roman authority in 367 AD and therefore has it’s own gospels.

    These gospels were then ordered banned and burned but rediscovered in their entirety in 1945.

    The Pauline epistles are considered heretical in Gnosticism with salvation based on elimination of ignorance, not an idol figure dying for anyones sins.

    http://www.gnosis.org

  • John

    “is just extrapolation in the extreme” “ONLY WHEN IT BENEFITS OR PLAYS INTO THEIR EXISTING PREJUDICES, PRAGMATIC/PROFITABLE PREFERENCES.”

    SMH….this is exactly what you are doing… read it again.

  • terri mertz

    So, the “idol” was lust? Sex for the sake of sex?

  • Let’s examine the real topic:sex. Sex for married couples is fine. Sex for unmarried couples is sin. Because people choose to have sex before marriage does not make it ok. Sex with another than one’s spouse during marriage is sin and most (normal) people understand that this sex is wrong.

    Marriage for same sex couples has now been “legalized.” Theoretically same sex couples that are married can have sex without sin. The question is whether God accepts same sex marriage. He does not. So this sex is still sin.

  • Thanks, John!

  • Why do I say God doesn’t talk clearly ti anybody or through anybody?

  • terri mertz

    yes.

  • Corinne M. Cavanagh

    He’s not talking about Roman people but talking about “the letter to the Romans” and so the singular is appropriate.

  • Well, Terri, I think believers from all religions SAY God speaks to them. But if you press them, what it always turns out to be is something like “I think God MAY be telling me to X” or “I think God is closing/opening a door for me” or “Pastor, God really spoke to me through your sermon!” At best, it’s fuzzy. Nobody gets clear, specific directions. Do this, then this, then turn left here, then give $50 to this specific organization.

    Everyone is experiencing the same thing: Life.

    The true believers say God tells them what to do with their lives. The nonreligious just call that intuition and synchronicity.

    True believers are inspired by the Bible—mainly because they were told it’s special, not because of any merit inherent in the text. The nonreligious can gain insights from just about any book.

    As a result, believers and nonbelievers are all about equally content, which is to say they live lives of quiet desperation. Religious faith doesn’t give one a “leg up,” I feel.

    Let me give you an example from my life.

    First, some background. I was a driven believer for 35 years. For 30 of those years, I considered myself a “charismatic.” That is, I felt I had received the “baptism in the Holy Spirit.” I spoke in tongues. The churches I preferred were Episcopal charismatic churches. I received all sorts of “words of knowledge” and prophecies from people telling me what God wanted me to know. I mantra of my life was the line from the song Day by Day: Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray. To see thee more clearly. To love the more nearly. To follow thee more nearly. I prayed ardently to know God’s will for my life.

    If you had asked me I would have said, yes, God speaks to me.

    Then, through a series of experiences, I “lost my religion.” Eventually, I had a group of non-believing friends. Well, I behaved badly with a couple of the people and I was in the dumps about it for a week or two. Then, one morning walking to work, I said, “I should really say I’m sorry.” And then it hit me—five years ago, I would have said that was God telling me that.

    But it wasn’t. It was me telling me that.

    Why I don’t understand is why people feel so passionate about justifying their beliefs on biblical grounds, as this blogger did. That is, in order to be valid, their opinion has to be God-approved.

    Why can’t we just lead our own lives—use our brains?

  • terri mertz

    So if I were to say, “I talk to God and He talks to me,” your response wpould be ,”BALONEY!” ? based on your personal experiences and beliefs, and your interactions with other Christians?

  • Well, I wouldn’t say baloney! I would say what you are experiencing is just a common human experience. You just choose to put the label of “God” on it. Atheists get insights into their lives and “promptings,” even, you could say.

  • Delwin D Fandrich

    As I read through these comments I keep coming back to the question, “Why should we care how any particular Greek word is interpreted into English?” I mean, yes, it is certainly interesting from a historical perspective, but Paul’s letter to the Romans tells us only how he, as a Jew and a Pharisee (but converted to “following Jesus”) saw life. Should we, today, be structuring our lives on this nonsense? I’m sorry if this sounds heretical, but I don’t place the rantings of Paul on the same level as I do what we know of the teaching of Jesus.

    And, as we (should) know, Jesus is not reported to have said anything at all about homosexuality. Even though, unless he was a complete idiot and totally removed from society, he must have known that there were many homosexual individuals — both men and women — around him most every day.

    Or, unless the ultimate writers of the Gospels simply chose to ignore the issue. In which case, maybe we should also ignore it.

    So, what we have in his letter to the Roman church, are Paul’s thoughts on the matter. But Paul was a very conflicted individual when it came to relationships between men and women. John Shelby Spong has gone so far as to suggest that Paul, himself, may have been gay, but because of his Jewish upbringing and religious training, could not bring himself to acknowledge his own sexual reality.

    This whole controversy revolves around the notion that what Paul wrote is actually the literal and inerrant “Word of God.” It is not. Paul’s beliefs were based on his belief that the Torah was the literal and inerrant “Word of God.” That also was not true. Neither are the literal “Word of God” and neither are inerrant. Even if we had the original manuscripts to go by — which we do not — this letter is simply Paul’s interpretation of the Torah, the Prophets, and the Wisdom as he saw it relating to the teachings of Jesus. And Jesus, as we know, expressed no opinion on the subject. So Paul might have been wrong.

    So, in the end, it comes down to just what we each, individually, wants to believe. And for this, if we actually want to call ourselves followers of Jesus, we’d best go back to what we know of what he really did teach. And this whole topic was not on his list. So why should it be on ours?

    Sadly, most of the stuff Jesus actually did teach cannot be found in the Evangelical message being propagated today.

  • NZ Kiwi

    Keith Giles is absolutely and completely wrong. Robert J. Gagnon (among other scholars) has rebutted this argument over and over again.
    You can find his response here:
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/robert-a-j-gagnon/dont-be-silly-pauls-indictment-of-homosexual-practice-is-not-limited-to-idolatro/1942064442531325/

  • bill wald

    Temple prostitution is an ancient religious practice. As long as it is between consulting adults why is it more evil than unmarried adults living together and participating in the rites of married life?

  • Or, God does accept all married sex as sacred [because the marriage bed is undefiled], and then it’s not sin.

  • Rockon

    from Theologian Robert Gagnon…

    “Don’t Be Silly: Paul’s Indictment of Homosexual Practice Is Not Limited to Idolatrous Contexts

    How long must we continue to put up with ridiculous claims that Paul and other writers of Scripture did not indict every form of homosexual practice? If you don’t like the overwhelming consensus of Scripture (not to mention millennia of interpretive history following these writings), why not just say that the writers of Scripture and Jesus were wrong and go your own way without carrying on the facade of being a disciple of Jesus?

    A fellow by the name of Keith Giles has posted online an article entitled “Why Romans Doesn’t Condemn Homosexuality.” Normally I wouldn’t respond to such things because Keith Giles, to my knowledge, has no standing in the guild of biblical scholars. However, since many people have forwarded me his article, I’m making an exception. All that I know of Keith Giles comes from his byline: “Keith Giles is the author of several books, including ‘Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb’. He is also the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast.”

    Well, the last-mentioned activity is appropriately named because in pushing the acceptance of homosexual unions, when Jesus viewed a male-female prerequisite for marriage (and thus all sexual relations) as foundational for sexual ethics, from which Jesus derived a limitation of two persons to a sexual union, Keith Giles adopts a heretical position.

    Now as to his argument….

    Giles contends that Paul is limiting his indictment of homosexual behavior in Rom 1:24-27 to actions conducted in the context of pagan ritual worship. My friends, this is dumb. Now in my first book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Abingdon), first published 17 years ago, I have four-and-a-half full pages in a section entitled, “Did Paul Think Only Idol Worshipers Could Engage in Same-Sex Intercourse” (pp. 284-89) devoted to showing why this is a bad argument. Does Giles even bother to read that or any other substantive rebuttal before he comes out in support of a view that represents a radical departure from the historic Christian witness? Is it too much to ask him to read 4½ pages and attempt to respond to the arguments therein?

    For example, did it ever occur to him that none of the other vices that Paul goes on to mention in vv. 28-31 (like arrogance, greed, murder) are wrong only in the context of idolatrous associations? Paul’s point is not that these vices occur only in idolatrous contexts but rather that in ignoring the evidence of “the things God made” to worship statues in the image of humans or (worse still) animals, humans are more likely to ignore the evidence of male-female complementarity in human sexual structures.

    Or did it ever occur to Giles that the general term for sexual “impurity” or “uncleanness” (akatharsia) in Rom 1:24 includes not only homosexual practice but also adultery, incest, bestiality, and fornication? Are these behaviors also wrong only in the context of idolatrous associations? Or that Paul’s mention again of “impurity” or “uncleanness” in 6:19 to characterize a past pattern of behavior to which Christians must not return does not presuppose conduct only in the context of idolatrous worship?

    Or did it ever occur to Giles that, had Paul wished to single out sex in the context of idolatrous cults, there was no reason to limit his indictment to same-sex relations? Or that nothing in the description of Rom 1:26-27 presupposes idolatrous associations but only the fact of females having sex with females and males having sex with males?

    Or did it not occur to Giles that Paul’s indictment of lesbianism doesn’t fit the claim since we know of no cultic acts involving lesbian sex?

    Or did Giles stop to think that the reference to “men who lie with a male” (arsenokoitai), a distinctly Jewish term formulated from the absolute Levitical prohibitions of man-male intercourse (18:22; 20:13), in the offender list in 1 Cor 6:9-10 (so too 1 Tim 1:9-10) is an offender group distinct from idolaters?

    Or did Giles not ponder that no Jew in the ancient world (including two prominent first-century Jews, Philo of Alexandria and Josephus) limited their indictment of homosexual practice to same-sex relations in idolatrous contexts?

    Is Giles even aware that there is a clear intertextual echo between Rom 1:23-27 and Genesis 1:26-27 that establishes that Paul rejects all homosexual practice because of what it is not: a relationship that conforms to God’s design of a complementary sexual pair, “male and female [God] made them”?

    Even William Loader, a NT scholar who is thoroughly supportive of homosexual relationships and who has written more on sexual ethics in early Judaism and Christianity than anyone in modern times acknowledges that “It is inconceivable that [Paul] would approve of any same-sex acts” and that Rom 1:26-27 “included, but [was] by no means limited to exploitative pederasty,” “sexual abuse of male slaves,” or “same-sex acts … performed within idolatrous ritual contexts” (The New Testament on Sexuality [Eerdmans, 2012], 322, 325).

    Similarly, Bernadette Brooten, a self-identified lesbian and a NT scholar who wrote a major work on lesbianism in antiquity, has stated: “I see Paul as condemning all forms of homoeroticism as the unnatural acts of people who had turned away from God” (Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism [University of Chicago Press, 1996], 244).

    So too “gay” historian Louis Crompton, though expressing sympathy for the claim that “Paul’s words were not directed at ‘bona fide’ homosexuals in committed relationships,” soberly acknowledges that “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” (Homosexuality and Civilization [Harvard University Press, 2003], 114).

    In short, is it too much to ask Keith Giles to read and grapple with the strongest arguments against the position that he wants to reach to satisfy his own prior ideology?”
    – Professor Robert Gagnon

  • LastManOnEarth

    Legalized. No scare quotes necessary.

  • terri mertz

    In your OP you stated very forcefully that, “God does not talk clearly to anybody or through anybody.” RFK used to talk to God; you would say no, he did not converse with God because all such conversations are nothing more than people talking to themselves. I read an autobiography not long ago, written by an older gentleman, one who is a very prominent celebrity and acclaimed actor, whose name you would recognize immediately; in this book the man states very assertively, that, “No one knows for sure if God exists.” With all due respect sir, I absolutely without a doubt know that I speak to my Creator and He talks to me. I would be more comfortable if you would modify your comments by saying that it is your OPINION that God does not talk clearly to anybody or through anybody, because as a mater of fact, you do not KNOW what I or anyone else, experience on a spiritual level. All you have is your belief.

  • Legalized in the system of government established by man; has not been so for 6000 years. Has nothing to do with whether God accepts this marriage. He did not and does not. You know that but you want it to be true. That does not make it so.

    Remember Sodom and Gomorrah! People scoffed then and they were destroyed literally. People scoff now because they know nothing about God but they will learn and they will repent either now in this life or after the resurrection when they will get another chance.

  • God could but He does not and has said so many times in many ways. While you are touting married sex as the convention to change 6000 years of history please enlighten us as to the fidelity of same sex partners and the divorce rate of same sex partners.

  • The Mouse Avenger

    Incorrect.

  • Linguagroover

    I’m sorry but misogynistic theist ancients with possible chronic mental health issues are not my preferred category of moral guide about anything.

  • Absolutely

  • Hi, Terri. I can appreciate your sentiment. What you experience is real to you. But let me ask you a question to try to make my point. From your posts above, am I right in thinking that you feel scripture endorses loving, monogamous homosexual relations? Has that been “confirmed by God” in your heart?

  • terri mertz

    I do “feel” (your words, not mine) that God endorses loving, monogamous homosexual realtions. I do not necessarily “feel” this endorsement is necessarily endorsed in Scripture.

  • Linguagroover

    Thanks.

  • Oh, okay! Well, I can still make my point. Whatever word you want to use — feeling, prompting, assurance — why is your experience that tells you God blesses homosexuality relationships any more valid than the feeling/prompting/assurance of a conservative Evangelical who would say they are “certain” God has told them that homosexuality is wrong? Whose “feeling” wins?

  • terri mertz

    Your question somewhat misses the point, as I am not basing my belief (That God supports homosexual marriage) on scripture, and to my knowledge that is exactly how evangelicals substantiate their beliefs.

  • Terri, yes, I think conservatives would say they were following the Bible. I think they would also say that they would have a “testimony” or assurance in their hearts that that was God will. I think they would say that God “confirmed” it to them. That’s what I was trying to get at. You said God speaks to you (admittedly, not your phrase) and tells you that homosexuality is okay. The conservative Christians said God speaks to them and tells them homosexuality is wrong. My point is the “voice of God” that one hears in his/her heart is a very unreliable guide. That voice ends up being your own.

  • LastManOnEarth

    Yes, legalized by man. Not “legalized”. This god, if it even existed, doesn’t get a vote.

    And what’s with this 6000 years business? Human cultural systems for bonding likely go back further than that, and in much of that time, even today, many cultures do not adhere to strictly one man one woman systems. Even the bible depicts having multiple wives as normative.

  • LastManOnEarth

    Are you sure you want to set heterosexual fidelity and divorce rates as a measure?

    So far it seems the statistics show male-male divorce rates are lower than male-female divorce rates, which is lower than female-female divorce rates. But the difference in rates isn’t so great and there are lot of other factors that contribute to divorce rates such as age of marriage, education, etc.

  • What do you mean ‘lapsed pastor”? Are you suggested I “defrocked”? This is not the case. I left the professional vocation of ministry so that we could start a church where 100% of the offering could be given away to the poor in our community and I got a real job to pay my bills and support my family.

  • Enlightening! Thanks.

  • terri mertz

    Well, we were only speaking specifically about homosexuality, but I assure you God and I have conversations about other topics as well, and not all of these conversations are as controversial, so I can distinguish between His voice and my own internal doialogue. I am cerrainly not the smartest person on the planet, by far, but I have a modicum of intelligence, and I do know that God speaks to me in a way that is different and discernible. And I can assure you that those who think they are hearing the voice of God telling them it is right and good and prudent and loving and Godly to rip off senior citizens by removing Meals on Wheels, and that it is a sin to be poor and/or disabled are in fact deluding themselves, and truly, deep in their hearts, they know this too. Will they ever admit it? no. That does not make it any the less true.

  • Statistics don’t really tell us anything as same sex marriage is new. From what I see gay men and fidelity is a problem.

  • Gay and Godless is a particularly sad situation. Multiple wives and same sex marriage are not comparable. “Bonding” is a term for glues not people.

  • ocrttol

    I think that the key to understanding of Romans 1 is contained in Romans 1:26-27. The chapter deals with a bunch of heterosexual people who had abandoned Christianity and engaged in Pagan sexual orgies. They violated their natural sexual orientation and started engaging in same-gender sexual behavior. This is condemned.

    By the same logic, a lesbian a or gay person with a homosexual orientation who goes against their natural sexual orientation and engages in opposite-sex sexual activities would be similarly condemned.

    See: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibc.htm

  • Okay

  • LastManOnEarth

    How nice to throw out any statistics you simply don’t like. But you keep on keepin’ on with your pre-existing biases.

  • LastManOnEarth

    Bigoted and superstitious is even sadder.

  • trinielf

    Read it again. Yeah, stills says the same thing. These were not homosexuals in everyday life and they left or abandoned their usual heterosexual sex to engage in “uncleanness” or idol worship.

  • Your study is wrong…in two ways…
    ‘Same-sex divorce rate not as low as it seemed” By Andrew Gelman December 15, 2014
    “Earlier today I reported on a study by M. V. Lee Badgett and Christy Mallory, who analyzed dissolution rates from same-sex marriages in New Hampshire and Vermont and reported a same-sex divorce rate of approximately 1% per year, which is quite a bit below the divorce rate of conventional marriages.”
    “Take the observed four-year divorce rate of approximately 4%, divide by 4 because we have 4 years of data, and you get an annualized rate of about 1%.”
    Notice you only have four years of data. Why wouldn’t the divorce rate be low?
    ” Once you correct for that factor of 2, you get a rate of 2% per year, same as for traditional marriages.”

  • Most of the people in every country believe in God; some do not. That number is in the billions. Billions of people believe in God. It is not good enough to decide you know better because you are without proof; it is just a minority hypothesis.

    The great thing about our great country is that we are free to choose and nothing or no Progressive movement will prevail against that freedom to the end. You are entitled to your opinion but it is just that; a feeling based opinion. “I don’t feel like obeying a God I can’t see so I will deny Him.” Well, deny Him to you peril now in this life; in the next life you will change your mind.

    Sad is your condition of loneliness, despair and self-loathing. Wake up it doesn’t have to be this way!. Stop denying God and go look for Him. He will let you find Him…

  • Jon Markle

    I’m not convinced that marriage has anything to do with sex as sin/not sin, Biblically.

  • terri mertz

    What about adultery?

  • Those who believe and follow the Ten Commandments do. From Catholicism:
    “The Sixth Commandment “you shall not commit adultery” pertains not only to sexual infidelity but encompasses the whole of human sexuality (2336), and is thus perhaps the most controversial commandment among the Decalogue for a contemporary audience.

  • Delwin D Fandrich

    What am I missing here? The Genesis story does not tell us just what the sin(s) were that brought God down to rain destruction down on Sodom and Gomorrah. The prophet Ezekiel does, however; it was about pride, gluttony, wealth inequality, and a failure to aid the poor and needy.

    Ezekiel 16:48-50: “As I live, says the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.”

    Perhaps we should spend a little more time worrying about the sins God spells out thousands of times throughout the Scripture and a little less about what goes on in someone’s bedroom and which does not affect me in any way.

  • terri mertz

    Some (not me) would argue that it does affect you–all of us–because “what goes on in someone’s bedroom,” if it is “sinful” contributes to the breakdown of society.

  • What do you mean ‘…explain that this [denial of God and worship of idols through sexual intercourse] looks like?” Really? You need examples? I’d say there are none today to speak of. But in the First Century; in the Roman Empire; there were plenty of examples. Hence, the reason Paul had to write about this in his letter to the Romans.

  • terri mertz

    Dear Mr. Giles,
    Yes, please excuse my ignorance, but I am not sure what “…the denial of God and the worship of idols through sexual intercourse…” means. It is not clear to me, so yes, I need examples to have a morr complete understanding. Please indulge me. I am sorry my intelligence factor does not not meet with your approval, and I very much appreciate your sarcasm and dismissive tone to my inquiry. Yes, please–I DO NEED EXAMPLES, and you have not provided any other than to say that you don’t know of any in today’s world but there were “plenty” in the Roman Empire, but you fail to give specifics beyond that. Additional information is ncessary for me to adequarely process this information. Thank you for your kind response. In Agape, terri

  • terri mertz

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    I do not agree that pagan sex practices and/or pagan rituals around sex and/or “unorthodox” sex positions, ideas, or thoughts constitute “the worship of idols through sexual intercourse,” so my inquiry remains unanswered. Other than a talisman, I see no “idols.” “an image of a deity other than God.” Do you mean to say that sex itself was an object of worship? Then say that please.

  • Steve Gallagher

    You are in error “from the top” of your argument, because you’ve identified the wrong group to which Paul was referring in Rom 1:18. The wicked godlessness that God’s wrath is being poured out against belongs to EVERYONE born on this earth other than Jesus himself. The whole book of Romans is about salvation by extension of God’s wondrous grace to ALL people, which they appropriate through faith in Christ. If we narrow the problem of sin down to just the pagan idolaters, then you’re saying that they’re the only ones about whom the rest of the book is designed to help. Not so, my friend. ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    What about intersex people Keith?

  • Genesis 19:4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

    Sounds like this was one of the “abominable things” in Ezekiel 16.

  • Delwin D Fandrich

    This is not why God (allegedly) came down to destroy the area. We don’t know what brought God to this point — we can conjecture but the Bible doesn’t say. The incident described in Genesis 19:4 (and following) happened after the two angels (?) entered the city and Lot’s house. What the men of the city were doing (or, at least, wanting to do) was certainly wrong — rape always is no matter who is doing it to whom. But this whole situation was a mess. Lot was also offering his two virgin daughters to the crowd to do with as they wish. Some father! And these same two daughters later get Lot drunk so they can have incestuous sex with him, become pregnant and have children, Moab and Ben-ammi, as it turns out. And we know where that ended up. I’m not sure I’d want to hold this story up as a teaching in moral integrity of any kind.

    None of which tells us what actually brought God down to check out the situation for himself.

    And that brings us back to what Ezekiel had to say. You know, the part everyone wants to ignore.

  • Delwin D Fandrich

    Society today certainly has a lot of problems. But this is not one of them.

    We end up debating an issue that is barely mentioned in either Hebrew or Christian scripture as if all eternity rested on this one thing. Who knows why the Israelites came up with this tradition. The Israelites came up with laws and rules for a lot of things we completely ignore today. And yet we want to blame homosexuality for the “breakdown of society.” Poppycock. Jesus did not mention it. Paul did, but Paul was a very conflicted man who, some have suggested, may himself have been gay. I don’t have an opinion on this, but it would certainly explain a lot. As that may be, he was rendering his public opinion as a single Jew/Pharisee/Christian on the subject; he certainly did not think he was writing holy scripture. That was an assignation that would be made by a group of men living several centuries in the future.

    Yet we ignore the very plain teachings of Jesus. To refresh our memories I suggest going back and reading Matthew 25:31-46. Or Mark 10:19-22. These concisely sums up what Jesus thought would uphold a society. And, if these are not enough, there are many more.

    Or, if you insist on pulling stuff out of the Hebrew scripture, might I suggest a study on the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25). And think about how that would solve a lot of societies problems.

  • Thomas Moore

    No, the “Idols” were birds and fish, the sex was for the sake of making sure crops grew and livestock reproduced properly.

  • terri mertz

    Did not know I was “pulling stuff out of the Hebrew scripture.” Caan you pinpoint where I did that please? Also, I explcitly stated that the “breakdown of society” argument is not one I personally advance but is proposed by a significant number of otheres and therefore socially relevant regarless of whether you or I personally think it is problematic.

  • Delwin D Fandrich

    Sorry, I didn’t mean that to be a personal comment. Perhaps it would have been better worded (by me) to say, “If ‘one’ insists ….”

    I am regularly frustrated by just how often this argument comes up. The evangelical/fundamentalist argument always comes back to a very few proof texts to make their point even though all of them are problematic. It has to, there is nothing else to support it. And yet the overwhelmingly obvious message of social justice found in both the Hebrew scriptures and in the teaching of Jesus is set aside.

  • Jeff Fischer

    Keith, while I believe much of your interpretation of Romans 1, I also think you are being naively narrow in it’s application. While idol worshiping sex rituals are (in the main) what Paul is dealing writing against–it is a leap to say therefore homosexual sex is just as valid as heterosexual sex. There is much more in Scripture that deals with such matters. I too have gay friends and three transgender people who believe in Jesus are are amazing people. They have made decisions to live celibate lives to honor God’s creative purposes and will for human sexual expression. There is much that can be said and debated about sexual identity, sexual dysphoria and homosexuality etc. It is a complex issue for many reasons. Over-simplification is not helpful. Scripture does not address homosexual sex and heterosexual sex the same way. It is not just the absence of idol worship that governs the proper expression of human sex. There is a larger complex and context to biblical sex acts, i.e. the creative (natural) laws that govern so much of the Judea-Christian world view. Loving gay or straight or Trans. people is what we are called to do. My experience is that God gives wisdom and grace to live in the appropriate way that He determines for people who struggle with sexual attractions, drives and gender dysphoria if they are truly willing to submit to the Lordship of Jesus. We all have massive challenges (that include very strong desires) that we must learn to submit to Christ and His will. How we express our sexuality in particular sex acts is one of them. The normative narrative of Scripture promotes marriage between a man and a woman as the God designed context for sex. Sex acts outside of that arrangement are viewed as sin.