New Podcast Explores Paul, Gender in the Roman World, and Homophobia

Paul and love

In this special edition of The Paulcast, I explore a topic that is on the hearts and minds of many people in the aftermath of the horrific shooting that took place in Orlando. 50 lives were lost. 49 lives were lost because of one thing: their identity. LGBTQ persons continue to struggle to find equal footing in our society, and this tragedy is another reminder of how far our culture has to go to make a safer and more humanizing world.

I discuss the need for *nuance* when talking about Paul and LGBTQ folks. The center for Paul and Jesus is always love, no matter where one lands on the traditional–progressive interpretation spectrum of the controversial passages. Love trumps our theological preferences: every single time.

Questions are often raised, during times like this, about how the Scriptures speak to issues pertaining to sexuality. In this episode of The Paulcast, I examine the Roman vision of sexuality and virtue and how Paul confronted such ideals of hierarchy with a better way: the way of love. Is Paul homophobic? Doubtful. Was Paul speaking to issues of same-sex practices that are the same as what LGBTQ folks advocate for today as blessed before God in the context of covenantal marriage? That is a “debatable matter.”

What isn’t up for debate, however, is Paul’s insistence that Christ-followers of differing convictions belong at the same table. Without solving the “who is right?” question, I offer some observations about gender in the ancient world that ‘traditionalists’ and ‘progressives’ tend to interpret differently.

Episode Sponsor

This episode is sponsored by Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. They are excited to announce the launch of the new Master of Arts in Ministry, Leadership and Culture. This online program, designed for practicing pastors and ministry entrepreneurs, will help you understand and integrate sub-cultures, theology, and leadership into practice. Guest faculty like Bruxy CaveyGreg Boyd and Brian Zahnd model practical integration of Anabaptist theology and 21st century kingdom work. Learn more at

*Show sponsors do not endorse every word or idea discussed on The Paulcast.

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  • Richard Worden Wilson

    The assertion that all are welcome at the table (of the Lord of all creation) regardless of whether they are engaged in practices or in relationships considered sinful by him is actually not up for debate. What is being debated is whether scriptural truths as historically acknowledged are authoritative in the lives of believers in Christ. And that shouldn’t be up for debate but is because so many are unwilling to submit their thoughts and beliefs to the authority of God through scripture. What isn’t being acknowledged in posts like this is that the love of God should have supreme significance in our lives over love for those in our human family whether LGBTQN or those we know or are in our actual family. Matt 10:37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever
    loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” We play with love as though God could be mocked.

  • Good post. I have a question, though. Why do you says it’s “doubtful” that Paul was a homophobe? I think everything tells us it’s highly likely he WAS homophobic. He was a conservative 1st century Jew. He thought men having sex with men was an “abomination.” If you had explained the concept of “orientation” to him, he would have said, “I don’t care. It’s STILL an abomination.”

    • Craig Morrison

      The difficulty with your statement is assuming that all these words mean the same things today as in the time of the NT. In reality, many of the words used today are not found in the Scriptures. We therefore have an “historical dissonance”. The same applies to “sarx”/flesh, “kingdom”, slavery, “air”, “judgement”, “eschaton”, “hell”, etc. Clearly, Paul’s problem was cultic temple worship, which is quite a different thing to consensual mutual relationship. Thus, “homophobic” isn’t a NT word nor is it a NT concept. So, no, Paul DIDN’T think of “men having sex with men”, he was rather against same-sex relations as took place within cultic worship, which is quite a different matter completely. It is more than mere semantics – what he was describing was something totally different to a ‘same-sex marriage’ (or as I like to call it, “marriage”.)

      What you are proposing is Jesus standing over a thrashing young boy and commenting, “I don’t care that you call it ‘epilepsy’, it’s still a demon!”

      • Hi, Craig. I think a good way to determine what Paul thought about homosexuality is to look at how conservative Jews and First Century Christians thought of homosexuality. Both of those groups had a negative view of Christianity.

        I’m not saying Paul was wrong and I’m not saying he was right. I’m just saying he was a product of his times and his culture and his two cultures, Jewish and Christian, were very anti-homosexuality. Isn’t it likely that Paul mirrored those sentiments?

        Paul’s writings are just Paul talking. They’re not God talking through Paul. Nobody knows what God thinks of homosexuality.