It’s been argued that the first time homosexuals, or homosexual acts are addressed in the New Testament is in Romans the 1st chapter (mainly verses 26 and 27). That is if you disregard the two occasions that eunuchs are mentioned (sorry, that’s another Bible Study). And like other scriptures, this one has been misinterpreted, taught in error, and caused much spiritual and emotional harm to same gender loving people.
The thing most people who erroneously teach this scripture seem to forget is, when interpreting scripture, you cannot just take one or two verses of a chapter, build a sermon, teach it as “God’s Word” and live it as a doctrine. You have to carefully see what the scripture (and all others relating to it) is saying. It’s been advised that we read the chapter before, and after the chapter we are studying so that we can get some type of contextual view of what the author was talking about. In this case, we are dealing with Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome. In fact, the text in verse 7 says it…”my dear friends in Rome” (New Living Translation). Since that’s who he was addressing, we have to infer that he was dealing with their situation. Am I saying that he couldn’t have any relevant truth for 21st Century America? Not at all. I AM saying that if we are going to correctly interpret what is being said, we need to understand that first and foremost, who Paul was addressing was 1st Century Rome. Let’s take a closer look and find out what that truth is.
The first thing we need to address is the cultural climate of biblical Rome. It was a societal norm for people to be bisexual. And with that being the “normal” sexuality that society ascribed to, it was expected for everyone to be that way. Since now we know that all people aren’t bisexual (in fact most are heterosexual), we can understand how pressured a heterosexual or homosexual person would be to engage in acts that weren’t “natural” for him or her. The definition of the word “natural” in this text comes from the Greek word “phusikos”, meaning instinctive or native disposition. If a person is a native to some place, they were born there. So, a native disposition would be how a person is born. The word “nature” in this text likewise comes from the Greek word “phusis”, which means production or lined descent; growth by germination, or native disposition. Just keep “instinctive/native disposition” in mind.
When Paul talks about the “natural use” of the woman, he is coming from several different places. First from a place of male dominance that thought that the only use a woman has is having babies to continue the man’s lineage. That’s all. A woman was a man’s property (paid for with a dowry)…his “baby maker” per se. So any sexual deviation that would produce offspring was not looked upon favorably. In fact, not until this century did some in the church start teaching that sex had more that just a procreative purpose.
Secondly, Paul was coming from a sexual orientation angle. He was not making a blanket statement of what is and isn’t “natural”. He couldn’t have been. Science has proven that in all species of animals, homosexuality is present (ref. “Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity” by Bruce Bagemihl). So, since homosexuality occurs in nature, it cannot be considered unnatural. And since most people are instinctively heterosexual and that is their native disposition, it IS highly unnatural for one to do otherwise. In this scripture, Paul is telling the Romans that it is unnatural for a person to go against their “native disposition” or what is “instinct” for them and do something else with their bodies to fit in. Now, we can jump on the ex-gay and DL thing right here, but we don’t have the space or time. But do you get the point? If your nature is heterosexual, be that. If you are born homosexual, be that. If you indeed are bisexual, then that’s you. Don’t try to change who you are to fit societal norms. It’s like telling God that He made you the wrong way.
Next, Paul was dealing with some religious issues as well. Paul in fact is saying homosexual activity is not a sin, but a punishment for idol worship and faithlessness. It is a result of heterosexuals not worshipping God but His creation. Turning the truth into a lie. Denying God. His argument is, if a man (being straight) is SO confused and faithless that he cannot discern who God is when creation even tells of His existence, then it’s not so far fetched that that same man (being straight) would be confused sexually and do what is unnatural for him to do. These verses couldn’t be an blanket indictment against homosexuality in that most of the most highly anointed, profound, gifted, talented, and FAITHFUL Christians are homosexual people.
Finally, Paul was dealing with what was going on in Rome from the standpoint of a Jew. There were just some things that were not customary or “natural” for a good Jew to do. Not to say that there are no homosexual Jews, there are. But one must remember that Paul was a very well educated and respected man in his time. He was a good Jew who knew and tried his best to live by “the law” according to the Torah. So to be in another land (not native to Israelites) and submerged into another culture (Rome) trying to live according to how Jews “customarily” or “normally” lived, it must have been hard to do since the society was so different.
So, is Romans 1.26-27 a blanket indictment against homosexuals? With the information we have, we can say no. Paul was more than likely addressing cultural, religious, and orientation issues in this scripture. Contrary to popular opinion, the theme of this text isn’t homosexuality. In fact it isn’t about sexuality at all. It’s about people keeping in mind who God is. It’s about understanding that humanity is without excuse when it comes to reverencing God in that creation itself tells of His glory. It’s about understanding the truth and the fact that it comes from God. And lastly, it’s about not being judgmental or hypocritical. Remember when we said that one should study the chapter before and after the text being focused upon? Well, Romans Chapter 2.1-7 Paul gets on people who are pointing at those who have forgotten God and saying how wicked they are, yet are doing the same things. Bottom line, God judges sin. It doesn’t matter who you are. Make sure you are right with God for yourself. Let God handle the rest in His own way.
It’s amazing to think that with all the education and information available to us, there are people who still doubt their salvation.
There are people who wonder if they are or aren’t saved because of their sexuality. It’s almost unfathomable that in a day where faith is being preached ad nauseum for “things” people still don’t believe or have faith that they are safe in the arms of the Creator. But with all the bashing and preaching of hate going on in the churches today it’s no wonder.
One friend of mine asked “when are we gonna get past this ‘can I really be saved and gay thing?’ I mean, isn’t it time?” And that’s a valid question when there is so much to do and so much further to travel along this journey for social justice. It’s like we can’t go forward because we are still stuck on this point. This reality leads me to wonder…When will we get over this? And how will
we get past it? There is teaching that has been going forth for years on this issue. Books have been written, documentaries made, sermons preached, songs sung, and the list goes on and on. What is necessary to get people to move forward? Will be able to go toward the necessary healing and empowerment to stop spiritual violence?
The first thing people need to understand is, what the Bible says is true as it relates to faith and salvation. Romans 10.9 tells us “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” That formula for salvation is sure and applicable to all people. This spiritual truth being taken in context with the scripture in Ephesians 2.8, if you don’t have faith, no matter what you confess, you can’t even be saved. The Bible puts it this way, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”. So the formula for salvation has been given, and it must be believed To drive the point home even further, Hebrews 11.6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. The writer urges us in his teaching that it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God without faith. There is no way to please God if you don’t have faith. So I guess for the SGL Christian, the question isn’t “can you be saved and gay”, but rather “do you BELIEVE that you can be saved and gay?”. And based on that answer, which must come from within, we can go from there.
If faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God it is necessary for one to discern whether what they are hearing is indeed the word of God. What does the Bible say about those who have relationship with God? It says NOTHING can separate them from the love of God. Nothing means “NOT A THING”. Not sexuality. Not a preacher. Not a book. Not a Bible verse. NOTHING can separate you from the love of God. And if that’s the case, why not believe it in spite of what people think, believe or say about your relationship with God. The Bible says it like this in Romans 8.38-39, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I tell people who try to speak into my relationship with God that they are committing spiritual adultery. They are trying to get into a marriage that has nothing to do with them. My love affair with God is one that is personal and off limits to EVERYONE except me and God. And if God lets me know that He loves me and nobody or nothing can separate me from His love…I BELIEVE IT without question.
Another thing that has to be explored is the difference in “perception” and “truth”. The best way I can describe this is by talking about the universe. There was once a time that people believed the earth was the center of the universe. And because of their perception, they came up with the theory that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Again, because of their perception,
this was accepted as the truth. But is it “the truth”? NO! Science has taught us through sending satellites with cameras into space that the sun is the center of the universe and the earth is revolving around it, tilted on its axis. See the difference in truth and perception?
Don’t let anyone’s “perception” of you and your relationship with God make you question the truth. The truth of the matter is you are God’s child. You were created in God’s wonderful image and likeness. God loves you with an unconditional love. He created you and knew who you are and would become before you were in your mother’s womb. And when it comes to God’s love for you, NOTHING can separate you from it. Remember, faith is the key to pleasing God. Faith is the key to being saved. Determine for yourself, are you gonna believe “the truth” as God reveals it to you in your life, or somebody else’s “perception” of it?