Does Romans 1:26-27 condemn homosexuals?
The temple of Sybil in ancient Rome
No, Romans 1:26-27 does not condemn gays, lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals or transgendered people. Every Christian has a duty before God to interpret scripture honestly, in context, instead of divorcing verses from their context and then insisting they mean something they never meant to the original hearers.
Because all scripture is given in a cultural, doctrinal, historical, linguistic, literary and religious context, those factors must be part of our thinking as we seek to understand scripture.
Romans 1:26-27 was given in a very clear context. There is no cultural indication, no doctrinal indication, no historical indication, no linguistic indication, no literary indication, no religious indication, that Paul intended to blast lesbians and gays in Romans 1:26-27.
Instead, Paul chooses the worst possible transgression of pagan Gentiles so that the Jews in his reading audience will be saying, "Yes, Yes, they're guilty!" Then Paul will spring his rhetorical trap in 2:1 when he declares that Jewish idolatry is just as sinful as Gentile idolatry and therefore, everyone is guilty.
Paul's point never was
about lesbians and gays.
Early Christians like Aristides and Justin Martyr
understood Paul to be condemning shrine prostitution. Our rule of interpretation is:
Scripture cannot mean NOW
what it did not mean THEN.
If Paul wasn't dealing with committed, faithful, non-cultic same sex partnerships in AD 58 when he wrote Romans, then its wrong to insist that those verses are dealing with committed same sex partnerships now.
Christians need to do more reading and study before concluding that the first notion that pops into our head when we read Romans 1 is infallibly correct.
Sometimes, the first thing we think when we read a verse of scripture is wrong. That is why we are encouraged to "Study to shew yourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
-2 Timothy 2:15
Helpful LinksHow does shrine prostitution figure in our understanding of Romans 1?Good Person Test.What does against nature mean in Romans 1?Does Romans 1:26 condemn lesbians?Are lesbians treated the same as gays in the Bible?How did you decide that Romans 1:26 does not condemn lesbians?Click here to return to Gay Christian FAQ Page.We've answered the question: Does Romans 1:26-27 condemn homosexuals? Click here to return to Gay Christian 101 Home Page.
Ed's original question:
"In the book of Romans it is clear that Paul characterizes having same sex relations as a willful and sinful act, so how can we justify it? Just because two people love each other does not make it alright, does it? It is not within God's design for human sexuality."