Romans 1: judging, sex, passion

What follows is part of a discussion I had with someone concerning Romans 1.

“Romans 1:26-27 is part of Paul’s vigorous denunciation of idolatrous religious worship and rituals. Read all of Romans 1:18 to 2:4 for the context of the versus. Romans 1:26-27 contains some words used only here by Paul. Familiar words are used here in unusual ways. The passage is very difficult to translate. “

Actually, its quite clear, when you look at the Greek.

“The argument is directed against some form of idolatry that would have been known to Paul’s readers. To us, 2000 years later and in a totally different culture, the argument is very vague and indirect. Verse 25 is clearly a denunciation of idol worship, “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature and not the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” Paul at no point in his writing dealt with same-sex orientation or the expression of love and affection between to people of the same sex who love each other. “

I agree the main thrust Romans 1 is speaking out against people who suppress the truth of God by their wickedness. The key to the passage is in verse 18.

1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

Paul gave an example in Romans of idol worship. But in doing so, he made it quite clear the problem is exchanging the truth of God for a lie. Then he showed what happens when people exchange the truth of God for a lie. They get given over to shameful things.

If you will notice in Romans 2, Paul is not merely condemning pagan practices. He is actually writing to say that judging while doing the same things is wrong. His point was that if we sin, we will be judged for it – whether under the Law or apart from it. He merely used pagan practices to show what happens when people turn aside from the truth of God – this truth includes the existence of God and what He has said.

But Paul chose to use the example of homosexual sex as part of what happens when we exchange the truth of God for a lie. In doing so, He was quite clear about what God thinks of the action of same-gender sex.

“The word “passions” in 1:26 is the same word used to speak of the suffering and death of Jesus in Acts 13 and does not mean what we mean by “passion” today. “

I disagree. The word used for “lust” in  Rom 1:24 is actually epiqumia. This word means “desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust” It is used in many places in the New Testament, but not in Acts at all. The term ‘desire’ in Romans 1:27 is Orexis, and again means desire, longing, craving, lust, appetite. The word used for ‘passions’ in Rom 1:26 is Pathos, and means “whatever befalls one, whether it be sad or joyous – spec. a calamity, mishap, evil, affliction; a feeling which the mind suffers; an affliction of the mind, emotion, passion; passionate deed.“ Again, this word is used in various places in the New Testament, but never in Acts 13. To suggest these words are used to describe what happened to Jesus is to add to scripture. If you disagree, please provide scripture reference?

”Eros is the Gk word for romantic, sexual love, but Eros is never used even once in the NT. “Passions” in Romans 1:26 probably refers to the frenzied state of mind that many ancient mystery cults induced in worshipers by means of wine, drugs, and music.”

Again, that is supposition. Not all same-gender sex involved drugs, wine, or music – then or now. Given the context of the example, it would refer to the affliction of mind or passionate deed.

“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 “burn” in Rom 1:27 is ekkaio. This means “to burn out; to set on fire; to be kindled, to burn”. Given the context, it would mean to lust, especially given the use of epiqumia and pathos in the previous sentences.

To suggest the meaning is not known is to ignore facts. Paul used three different terms to describe lust, desire, passion. He did so within four sentences. It should be clear to anyone not attempting to justify a desire or behavior what Paul meant: the sexual desire a person has.

”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 something “against nature” was evil, since God also “acted against nature”.”

It is not strange; the term means something that is not normally found in nature – against the normal way of things.

“One more word needs special attention. “committing indecent acts” in Romans 1:27 is translated by the KJV as “working that which is unseemly”. The Phillips translation goes far beyond the evidence and renders it as “shameful horrors!” The Greek word isaskemosunen 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 know in public. “

The term ‘indecent’, askemosune, refers to that which is not normally seen in public because for it to be seen in public is shameful.

“Indecent in 1 COR 12:23 referred to the parts of the body that remain hidden but are necessary and receive honor.”

You are changing the meaning. In 1 Cor 12:23, Askemon become eusemosune. In context, askemon would refer to those things that are either deformed or unseemly. When taken in context with Atimos, the word translated ‘less’, atimos askemon indicates without honor and indecent.

” 1 COR 13:5 used the word to say that love does not behave “indecently”. This word for “indecency” was used to translate Deuteronomy 24:1 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 Deut. 24: 1-4, but he did not define the term.”

You are mistaken. The term translated ‘unchastity” and ‘immorality’ found in both Mt 5::32 and Mt 19:9 is Porneia. In context, this speaks to something that has to do with sex – indicating that if the husband divorces his wife for something other than porneia, he causes her to commit adultery. The only way he could NOT cause her to commit adultery (moicheuo in Greek) is if she had already committed it. Many religious leaders at the time allowed the ‘indecent’ to be anything the husband wanted, but Christ was more restrictive. Christ said if you commit adultery, then you are an adulterer. If you divorce a woman who has not committed adultery, then you cause her to become an adulterer. The only way for the woman to have committed adultery is to have any sexual activities condemned in Lev 18; 20; Dt 22 while married. Thus, porneia refers to various sexually illicit behavior; doing these things while married is what makes it constitute adultery.

“Paul was certainly aware of the variety of ways that the teachers interpreted the word “indecency” and he used I in a variety of ways himself. To read into “indecent acts” a whole world of homosexual ideas is to abandon the realities of objective academic study and to embark on useless and damaging speculation that cannot be supported by the meaning of the word or by Paul’s use of it elsewhere.”

I am not reading anything into the term indecent. I am reading the text. Epiqumia means desire, craving longing, wanting that which is forbidden. Akatharsia means uncleanness. Atimazo means to dishonour, insult, treat with contempt.

Metallasso is to exchange. Phusikos is inborn, ‘agreeable to nature’. Chresis means ‘use’, as sexual use of a woman, function. I could go on, but there really is no need. To ignore what Paul wrote concerning homosexual sex being a sin is to ignore scripture.

“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 than emerges from Romans. 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. As in the rest of the Bible, Paul nowhere even hinted hat lesbians and gay men can or should change their sexual orientation.”

He dealt with an issue at hand: exchanging the truth of God for a lie and the consequences thereof. I repeat what I have said before:

By putting one’s desires above God’s one places oneself, a created creature, in the place of God in one’s life. By refusing to accept what God has said about homosexual sex being a sin, one refuses to honor God. By ignoring His word, one is ungodly, and suppressing the truth. By saying that one’s thoughts on the subject are more important that God’s thoughts on it, one exchanges the truth of God for one’s own thoughts.

“The use of Romans 1:26-27 against gay people turns out to be a blunt instrument to batter and wound people who were not intended in the original text. 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. “

I agree that Paul taught God’s grace and love and even salvation is available for everyone. But there is a requirement: they must repent, and believe. And if they believe, they must obey (Acts 26:20 ; John 14:15).

“Notice what Paul said about judging others, “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 (Romans 2:1).”

Let us realize he is saying to not be hypocritical. He did not condemn judging those within the church. In fact, he said to do so, when dealing with the man who was having illicit sex with his mother-in-law.  Note that in this case, it did not have to do with ‘passion’ or temple worship, simply a type of sex the old testament indicates is sin.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

One can not ignore the Old Testament when dealing with the New Testament. It tells us what is right and wrong. It tells us who God is and what God has done and what God likes and dislikes. Yes, we are free from the Law, in terms of punishment, and in terms of the price has been paid for those who believe. But if you believe, you will obey. If Christ is God, and God has said certain sexual acts are wrong, then Christ has also said they are wrong. Plus, when Christ said a man cannot divorce a woman without making her an adulteress unless she has already committed adultery, He was speaking of the multitude of sexual activities included in Lev 18, 20 and Dt 22.

From my reading, it appears that no sin is worse than any other in God’s eyes, other than outright rebellion. We are to love God and love others and express that love. We are to trust Christ. Everything else must flow from that. We could be talking about getting drunk, doing drugs, beating up people, murdering people, having heterosexual sex outside of marriage, or having homosexual sex, or any of a number of other things, and the facts remain. We are to turn away from sin and turn to God. We are to express the love of God we claim to have in ways God has decreed.


4 Responses


  2. […] Welcome back, Wb. Romans 1: judging, sex, passion « Wbmoore’s Weblog. […]

  3. Thank you for sharing the information. I found the info really helpful.

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