How Homosexuality Factors into Rejecting God and Exalting Self
Examining Romans 1:26-27.
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Romans 1:26-27)
The Gentile world was in a mess.
Though they thought themselves to be wise, they suppressed the truth and exchanged it for a lie. They knew the truth of God, yet they worshipped themselves and the creation rather than the Creator.
So, God gave them up to pursue their own passions and lusts to their heart’s content. Their self-service and self-worship would lead them further into their darkest passions.
There was no question that the Gentile world desperately needed the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God gave them up to dishonorable passions.
Because they “exchanged the truth of God for the lie” and because they “worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator,” - God gave them up to “vile” or “dishonorable passions.” They were free to live however they pleased - but oh, what a deceptive freedom it was!
When the creature takes the place of God there is no up or down. When the creature begins to worship the creature the world grows slowly colder and darker because the earth has been unchained from its sun. The gods who take the place of the “incorruptible” (not liable to decomposition or decay) God begin to smell. The stench of their decomposition is the sweetness of the drugs, the aroma of the booze, the perfume of the pampered and pandered to creature. For those who preach the morality of perversion there is the judgment of ROMANS 1:32! Their church buildings are the tombstones of their gods and their liturgies are “the last rights” of their deities. - McGuiggan, Romans, 84-85
Their women exchanged what was natural for what was against nature. The men likewise left the natural use of the woman because they burned up in their lust for each other.
There is absolutely no evidence that Paul was making distinctions between different types of homosexual behavior. From start to finish, Paul’s argument lined up with the Jewish conviction that homosexuality in any form is sinful and a perversion (Genesis 19:1-28; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17-18). - Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 64-65
While homosexuality was commonly practiced and accepted in many social circles in Rome, the Holy Spirit through Paul clearly showed that this behavior was “unnatural” and motivated by unhinged lust and passion. This sort of behavior is clearly shown to be sinful.
In Stoic and Hellenistic Jewish traditions, homosexual practices were seen as “violations of the created order” and “contrary to nature.” - Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 63
It’s pretty ironic: a society that professed to be led by reason and wisdom (Romans 1:22) was motivated by nothing more than passion.
They wanted to be free from God and the “restraints” of truth. No doubt, they thought new freedom unlike anything ever experienced awaited them. And they were right - but not in the sense they thought.
How should Christians think about those who practice homosexuality?
It’s important to keep in mind the point that Paul is making in Romans 1:18-32. He is building up to saying, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and that all - Jew and Gentile - need the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I think sometimes Christians read passages like the ones we have studied today and think, “Ew, gross! I could never spend time around people who do things like this!” If we aren’t careful, we could get to feeling high and mighty because we don’t practice or haven’t committed some of the “more serious” sins.
Or sometimes, Christians are more concerned about what our society’s acceptance of homosexuality may mean for the country than they are concerned about what it means for people’s souls.
Shame on us if this represents our thinking!
The point Paul is making is that these people need the gospel. Yes, what they are doing is sinful. What did anyone expect? They rejected God and exalted themselves. Paul is going to mention a whole host of other things that are also sinful in the following verses.
The point is not that Christians should never be around people like this - for if that were the case, we would have to go out of the world (1 Corinthians 5:9-10). We should realize that a homosexual needs the gospel of Christ the same as you and me - because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Paul's point is very interesting because he points out that people consumed by lust treat each other like animals or objects - but the Christian should love them and see them as a person with an infinitely valuable soul (Matthew 16:26) who needs Jesus Christ.
Paul likely helped convert some former homosexuals to Christ in Corinth (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Do you think he did that by avoiding them? By mocking them? By thinking of himself as better than them?
Or do you think he lovingly showed them the truth about their sin and pointed them to the Savior? Perhaps he shared with them his own checkered past (1 Timothy 1:12-17) and spoke of the mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This world has gotten itself into an awful mess with sin.
The gospel of Christ is what we all need - no matter what sin we have committed or how dark our past may be.
The gospel of Christ is God’s power to save (Romans 1:16-17). As Christians, let’s be about the business of taking that message to others - no matter what they have done.
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