Page 7 continued...
Read the chapter
This entire chapter refers to idolatrous religious practices that were common in the time of Paul.
Paul's writings have been taken out of context and twisted to punish and oppress every identifiable minority in the world: Jew, children, women, blacks, slaves, politicians, divorced people, convicts, pro-choice people, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transexuals, religious reformers, the mentally ill, and the list could go on and on and on.
The theme of the first three chapters of Romans is expressed in 1:16: "The gospel is the power of God for spiritual freedom for all who believe."
Paul's gospel is inclusive, as expressed in Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."Page 8
Romans 1:26-27 is part of Paul's vigorous denunciation of idolatrous religious worship and rituals. These verses also contain some words used only by Paul. Familiar words are used here in unusual ways. The passage is very difficult to translate. The argument is directed against some form of idolatry that would have been known to Paul's readers.
Verse 25 is clearly a denunciation of idol worship. "For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature and not the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."
Paul wrote Romans from Corinth, the second largest city in the empire and the crossroads of world trade and culture. Pausanius observed at about the same time as Paul that there were over 1,000 religions in Corinth. The most prominent were the fertility cult of Adrodite, worship of Apollo, and the Delphi Oracle, which was across the bay of Corinth. Paul's readers would have been aware of the religious climate from which he wrote Romans and would have understood his letter better than we do.
The word "passions" in 1:26 is the same word used to speak of the suffering and death of Jesus in Acts 1:3 and does not mean what we mean by "passion" today. Eros
is the Greek word for romantic love, but eros
is never used even once in the New Testament.
"passions" in 1:26 probably refers to the frenzied state of mind that many ancient mystery cults induced in worshipers by means of wind, drugs, and music.Page 9
We do not know the meaning of "burn" in 1:27; because Paul never used this particular word anywhere else, and it's origin is uncertain. The term "against nature" is also strange here, since exactly the same term is used by Paul in Romans 11:21-24 to speak of God acting "against nature" by including the Gentiles with the Jews in the family of God. "Against nature" was used to speak of something that was not done in the usual way, but did not necessarily mean that it was evil, since God also "acted against nature."
"Committing indecent acts" in 1:27 needs special attention too. The King James Version translates it as "working that which is unseemly". The Greek word is askemonsunun and is formed of the word for "outer appearance" plus the negative particle. It speaks of the inner or hidden part or parts of the individual that are not ordinarily seen or known in public. "Indecent" in I Corinthians 12:23 referred to the parts of the body that remain hidden but are necessary and receive honor. I Corinthians 13:5 used the word to say that love does not behave "indecently."
The word for "indecency" was used to translate Deuteronomy 21:1 into Greek to say that a man could divorce his wife if he "found some indecency in her." The religious teachers argued endlessly about what "some indecency" meant. Some said it was anything that displeased the husband. Others were more strict and said it could only refer to adultery. In Matthew 19:1-12, Jesus commented on Deuteronomy 24:1-4, but he did not define the term.Page 10
Paul was certainly aware of the variety of ways that the teachers interpreted the word "indecency," and he used it in a variety of ways himself.
If Paul had intended to condemn homosexuals as the worst of all sinners, he certainly had the language skills to do a clearer job of it. The fact is that Paul nowhere condemned or mentioned romantic love and sexual relations between people of the same sex who love each other. Paul never commented on sexual orientation.
Paul clearly taught throughout Romans, Galatians and his other letters that God's freely given and all-inclusive love is for every person on earth. Notice what Paul said about judging others in Romans 2:1: "Therefore you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things."
(Okay. Lets look at this.)
This will take some time because there is a lot to cover.
The first instruction the pamphlet makes is to read the entire chapter (Romans 1) and see that Paul is talking about the idolatrous religious practices which were common in that time.
Romans 1:1-7 is basically Paul greeting "all those loved by God in Rome"
Romans 1:8-15 is basically Paul saying he's been praying for the Romans for some time and has longed to visit and preach there but has not been able to do so.
Romans 1:16-17 starts to get meaty and expresses (according the pamphlet) the first three chapters of Romans.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, "The righteous by faith will live."
The next paragraph in the pamphlet somewhat confuses me. It refers to Galatians 3:28 saying Paul's gospel is inclusive.
Galatians 3:28 says...
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female - for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Paul is talking to the Galatians (who were Gentiles) who seemed to be deviating from the faith. They were focusing on works and not faith... specifically the law. Probably the Jewish law (like circumcision or diet) which conflicted with their own customs.
Galatians 3:28 and the whole point of Galatians 3 is that we are justified and united and adopted into the family of God... by faith in Jesus Christ.
I think that is something everyone on each side of the gay/ex-gay movement needs to remember.
Who am I to say the lady who prays at the gay Church, "Thanks for this Church God, because I am accepted here", who am I to say the lady does not have faith in God? I am no one to say that.
It is God who searches mens' hearts and minds, and I think everyone on both sides of this argument have to remember that. But alas... were debating the morality of homosexuality.
I think there's something to be said for someone who loves God, has faith in God, prays to God, accepts Jesus as His son, yet believes there is nothing wrong with their sexual orientation. I'm not describing myself... but I know there are people out there who fit that bill. Jesus will judge that person... as He will judge me. I'm not the judge nor is any one else.
Okay... back to the topic at hand.
The faith of the Galatians stumbled on works and that is the context of Galatians 3:28.
If it applies to what's in Romans, it applies to those who love God.
The next paragraph goes straight to Romans 1:26-27... but I want to look at the scripture in between first so we are completely clear on context.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes - his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
(Paul is clearly talking about people who are ungodly and unrighteous because they knew God but did not glorify him as God or give him thanks. They exchanged God for an image resembling mortal human beings
, birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
Paul is talking about idolatry.
The pamphlet says Paul is denunciating idol worship.
So we agree on this point. But there is something here that is not mentioned.
They "exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings". Speaking as one who struggles with homosexuality, I lust after the male form... an image resembling a perfect - hot - guy.
The same can be said of a straight person who is sex crazed... lusting after the human form.
Could homosexuality be a form of idol worship? To answer that I must ask myself one question. What is more important... my homosexuality, or God?
If God told me not to act on my homosexual feelings... would I obey him?
If I would obey him than the answer of homosexual idolatry would be answered to say that no... it is not an idol I hold before God.
Actually this is really the meat and potatoes of my (personal) struggle. I feel like God is asking me to disobey my natural attraction to men and follow him. The question is will I follow. The answer thus far has been to try... poorly at times (I might add).
If I say my homosexuality is more important than God, and even if he asks me to try and deny myself I wont, then my homosexuality indeed becomes an idol before God and indeed applies to this passage. )
Therefore God gave them over (1)
in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor (2)
their bodies among themselves (3)
. They (4)
exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation (5)
rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.1)
Possible an allusion to Ps 81:12
Psalms 81:12 (God speaking of the Israelites)
I gave them over to their stubborn desires; They did what seemed right to them.2)
The genitive articular infinitive (touatimazesthai, "to dishonor") has been taken as A) an infinitive of purpose; B) an infinitive of result; or C) an epexegetical (i.e., explanatory) infinitive, expanding the precious clause.3)
"who" The relative prououn was converted to a personal pronoun and , because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.5)
or "creature, created things."
The pamphlet makes the point that this is clearly a denunciation of idol worship, and as I said I agree with that... but again I pose the question... when does homosexuality become an idol we hold before God? It's when we say that our homosexuality is too important to us... it means too much to us... that even if God asked us to denounce it for a lifestyle we wouldn't. That's when.
The more important question is this.
Is God asking me what is more important... Him or homosexuality?
The pamphlet suggests that those on the "gay is wrong" side of the argument misinterpret what Paul is saying... that he's only talking about idolaters.
I agree Paul is talking about idolators. And while idolatry is not something we in today's society think we do all that much of, I say it's practiced just as much today as it was back then... if not more.
Just what constitutes idol worship? As I said twice before... (to me) it's when you put something... anything before God. But let me think a little out side the box.
Someone who would sit in front of a box for hours and hours while clearing their mind except for what vibes they got from the box... would that be idol worship? Cause I spend a lot of time (and so does the rest of America) in front of the TV. In fact... when I skip Church... I'm either watching TV or farting around on the computer.
What about those who put more faith in their bank accounts then they do God?
Or food. How many hours a day do you spend thinking about eating?
Holy porno Batman! I struggle with this one. I think it's safe to assume God does not want us filling our minds with images (or videos) of people having hardcore sex. And yet I still struggle with it.
Alcohol... drugs... the list can go on and on.
idolatry is everywhere in today's world and everybody worships something. The difference between today and yesterday is we're not dancing around Golden calves... but we still worship images all the same.
The question keeps coming back to this. Is homosexuality an idol?
I can't answer that for you. But I can for myself.
The pamphlet makes a relentless attack on specific words of the next few verses in an attempt to prove that Paul is not referring to gay people.
For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for the unnatural ones (1)
, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women (2)
and were inflamed in their passions (3)
for one another. Men (4)
committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.1)
"for their females exchanged the natural function for that which is contrary to nature." The term crh'si"
) has the force of "sexual relations" here.2)
"likewise so also the males abandoning the natural function of the female."3)
"burned with intense desire"4)
"another, men committing... and receiving." continuing the description of their deeds. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
The pamphlet says these verses contain words used only by Paul. Uuuh... yea. It contains words used by Paul.
It further says this passage is very difficult to translate, that Paul is describing a form of idolatry that only Paul's audience (at that time) would have understood.
But this is strictly an interpretation... in my opinion a bad one.
In order to submit to homosexuality as being blessed by God... ordained by God... condoned by God... you must go against nature.
What exactly does that mean?
Each sex, male and female, needs the other in order to procreate. This is very basic stuff. This is natural. The survival of the species depends on this natural combination of gender.
To go against that, is the essence of homosexuality.
That's not to say this does not appeal to some people. Me being one of them. But I have to admit, simple biology says God intended men to be with women. If he intended it another way, we would be genderless... able to pair up with any other genderless being.
But then why do women really turn me off? Why do men really turn me on? Is it because I've got it in my head that God's natural was are offensive and I prefer to be an abomination before Him by burning in dishonorable passions?
Answering these questions are not easy. But the Bible does say all men are born dead in their sin
So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned.
But Christ says we are to deny our natural selves.
Then he said to them all, "If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me."
This act of denying ourselves comes about by being born again.
Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3, "Unless a person is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God." He goes on to say in 3:5, "Unless a person is born of water and spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of Spirit is spirit."
Some might say I'm a hypocrite. Here I am denouncing homosexuality... something I had no choice in... something that is very natural to me and has been since childhood. But Christ says I am to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Christ. (Luke 9:23, Matthew 16:24, & Mark 8:34)
So if I'm a hypocrite... I am one so for the kingdom of heaven and because Christ tells me to.
The pamphlet says there were over 1,000 religions in Corinth at the time... the most prominent were fertility cults. I think it's making the argument that the homosexual acts Paul speaks of were religious fertility practices... not consensual gay sex which is what we are discussing now.
And while this may be the case, though I cannot say, nor am I able to verify the history the pamphlet mentions, what Paul says still applies to life today. If it didn't, Paul would have said so. He was a well spoken, highly educated, man of God. The pamphlet even points out how well spoken he was. If God condoned homosexuality, why does Paul come so harshly against homosexuals who worship idols and participate in fertility rituals without making a clause for the good kind of gays?
I just think there's so much scripture that goes against it... even with in depth interpretation... it's much harder to say homosexuality is okay than it is to say homosexuality is not okay.
But even if homosexuality is not okay, even if it's a sin, God gave us an answer for sin and it's Christ Jesus.
What I'm about to say will probably be upsetting for some people to read but I believe it to be the truth.
I think a practicing homosexual can still make it to heaven.
Depending on your definition of "practicing" I may be considered a practicing homosexual.
One makes it to heaven through repentance and a personal relationship with Christ. Not heterosexuality... or any sexuality for that matter.
The pamphlet says the word "passions" in 1:26 is the same word used to speak of the suffering and death of Jesus in Acts 1:3.
To the same apostles also, after his suffering, he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God.
There is a side note on the word suffering... which is not a translator note... meaning the word means suffering but goes on to say, "After his suffering is a reference to Jesus' crucifixion and the abuse which preceded it." It does not say anything about "passion".
So I can't prove or disprove what the pamphlet says.
But I still thinks it's argument is flawed. No other questionable lifestyle seeks so passionately affirmation from God then does homosexuality. The Gay Church is evidence of that.
I don't need God to tell me my sexuality is okay. I look at the abuse Christ suffered... His "passion" as the pamphlet describes it... and I think to myself... if He can endure that for my sake... I can endure what ever He asks for His... even if it's not to be one "inflamed" in my own passion.
This point is hard to argue because it's not lining up with what I have in my Bible and it doesn't make a lot of sense. Maybe I'm not seeing things correctly.
It further says "Passions" probably means a frenzied state of mind that many ancient mystery cults induced in worshipers by means of wine, drugs, and music.
But if you go by that argument, that "passion" describes the suffering Christ endured... are we to think Jesus was frenzied in the head brought on by wine, drugs, and music when he was crucified on the cross?
Of course not. Jesus was of sound mind when he was crucified, saving mankind by his obedience unto God even unto death.
The pamphlet says we do not know the meaning of the word "burn" in Romans 1:27 because Paul never used this particular word anywhere else and it's origin is uncertain.
I feel like this is a cop out. I guess we are to totally throw out it's clear meaning because Paul only uses the word once and it's origin is "uncertain"?
There is a danger in dismissing what the Bible says simply because there's no way to explain it to mean something else.
In the same paragraph the pamphlet says the term "against nature" is also strange because the exact term was used by Paul in Romans 11:21-24 to speak of God acting "against nature" by including the Gentiles along with the Jews in the family of God.
Let's take a look at that scripture.
For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you. Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God - harshness toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And even they - if they do not continue in their unbelief - will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature
, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree?
I'm thinking the term contrary to nature is what the pamphlet is talking about.
What I need is a Lexicon... a book that goes into great detail about the original words that make up the Bible. They are expensive and it's pretty clear the writers of this pamphlet had access to one.
In any event, Paul is talking figuratively... likening God's inclusion of Gentiles into His family to the grafting of an olive tree.
In Romans 1 Paul is talking literally about what men were doing with men and women doing with women.
I don't think God inclusion of Gentiles into His family can correctly be compared to homosexuality... even if both issues are considered against nature... not that I consider God accepting Gentiles to be against nature... but grafting of different kinds of branches into an olive tree... that could be described as going against nature.
Next the pamphlet tackles the phrase "committing indecent acts". My Bible uses the term dishonorable passions and does not elaborate. The pamphlet says the Greek word is askemonsunun
and is formed from the word for "outer appearance" with the negative particle.
I looked up askemonsunun
in the Greek to English translator and the Ancient Greek to English translator with no luck. It pulled nothing up both times.
But if I'm to subscribe to what the pamphlet says, (which is that askemonsunun
speaks of the inner or hidden part or parts of the individual that are not ordinarily seen or known in public) I have to ask myself what the heck was Paul really talking about?
Paul was well educated. If the pamphlet is right, what Paul says in 1:27 makes no grammatical sense what so ever.
This is another example of the authors negating the words with analytical mumbo jumbo.
Next the pamphlet discusses in great detail the word indencency
and makes the argument, indecency
is the word Paul, a well spoken highly educated Pharisee, should have used if he were arguing that homosexual behavior was wrong in the eyes of God.
The pamphlet says nowhere did Paul condemn or mention romantic love and sexual relations between people of the same sex who love each other. Nor did he comment on sexual orientation.
I'll buy the orientation argument. No - Paul does not come out and discuss sexual orientation as we understand it today.
But to say Paul doesn't mention romantic love and sexual relations between people of the same sex is absurd. Yes he does. That's what he's talking about in Romans 1:26-27... the very passages we are discussing now.
The final paragraph of this section quotes Romans 2:1
Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else. For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things.
Indeed there is danger in judgment. Jesus spoke against it and Paul is speaking against it here.
I hope I've made it clear that my purpose in this is not to judge anyone, but rather judge the morality of homosexuality, and the argument the gay Church is making to justify their doctrine.
One scripture that keeps coming into my head is this.
Now receive the one who is weak in the faith, and do not have disputes over differing opinions. One person believes in eating everything, but the weak person eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not despise the one who does not, and the one who abstains must not judge the one who eats everything, for God has accepted him. Who are you to pass judgment on another's servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
This scripture is most relevant regarding these issues which we discuss.
Who are you to pass judgment on another's servant? Before his own master he stands or falls.
So to those who are offended by the gay Church... I say get over it. They will personally stand before God as will you. Let God be God and you be you.
In my walk with God, I'm constantly learning new things. I cannot be expected to grasp spiritual concepts in a time frame that is not inline with my own personal walk with God through Jesus Christ.
I think we should focus more on the concrete details of the Gospel, i.e. Christ being the son of God, crucified on the cross, and rose again, and less on the divisive details of sexuality.
Ultimately Jesus will judge us. He will not judge you based on my walk.
I probably wont go back to this Church. But that doesn't mean what they do there is any less important to God than what they do at some other Church elsewhere.