“….God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves….For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections…(Rom 1:24, 26).
It is significant that the sexual sins mentioned in Romans chapter 1 are not shown to be part of idolatrous worship but as judgment by God because the people refused to acknowledge him; they are mentioned as being the result of idolatry. I’m not saying that the worship wasn’t sexual, but Paul doesn’t specify. So the contention that Paul is describing a situation where the worship was sexual is an argument from silence. And therefore it is not essential to know the historical and cultural context of this chapter in order to grasp what Paul means. What is made clear is that the people, both men and women, knew God but worshipped him in the forms of animals and birds and reptiles (1:23, 25). And therefore God gave them up to perverted sexual practices (1:24-27). The unnatural sexual relations as Paul discusses them were the result of God’s judgment on them for their idolatry, not as part of their sexual worship.
This understanding of Romans chapter 1 means we can take the passage as it stands, at face value, and conclude that Paul is denouncing same-sex sex for both men and women without having to see it in the context of idolatrous worship. It is true that pagan worship was highly sexualised, but in the time of the Roman world, homosexuality was “abomination” in the Old Testament book of Leviticus (ch 18 and 20), and “against nature” in Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. In Leviticus chapters 18 and 20, homosexuality is intrinsically sinful, and now Paul graphically reiterates that in Romans chapter 1.
I’m amazed as to how anybody, after reading Romans 1:24-28, could not see that God regards same-sex sex as sinful. Just look at the adjectives that describe it – they’re God’s words and they reveal his hatred of such behaviour. It doesn’t make a scrap of difference whether same-sex sex is practiced in religious worship or in a loving and monogamous relationship – same-sex sex is same-sex sex whatever the setting, and you can’t escape that. All the descriptive adjectives used in this passage about same-sex sex are powerful and condemning. How can anyone think that if God’s judgment on those who denied him was to give them over to a sinful lifestyle consisting of same-sex sex, which he denounces in the strongest terms, it would be acceptable in the context of a same-sex marriage? How can same-sex sex be both a judgment for sin by God and a blessing by God in a same-sex marriage?
This article is a small excerpt from my article “’Gay Christian 101’ Website” on this website.