Romans And Shrine Prostitution

Romans and shrine prostitution is precisely what Paul addressed in Romans 1. The ancient custom of shrine prostitution, prevalent in first century Rome, forms the historical motif of the first chapter of Romans.

This Spanish fountain depicts

Cybele in her chariot.

Cybele was an ancient Phrygian mother goddess, known as "the Protectress of Rome," whose pagan temple loomed over first century Rome from atop the Palatine Hill. In Cybele’s temple, castrated Galli priests engaged in anal sex with men, in unholy worship of Cybele. The religious situation Paul faced in first century Rome involved Romans and shrine prostitution.

Apostle Paul.

Ancient shrine prostitution is the most historically accurate explanation of Paul’s words in Romans chapter 1. Non-gay Christians insist that Romans 1 must be interpreted apart from its first century historical context of shrine prostitution. This causes them to misinterpret Paul's words, specifically the words, against nature as a universal condemnation of homosexuality, something Paul never intended and never said.

The following verses, Romans 1:26-27, are the crux of Paul’s argument in Romans 1, about idolatry and the results of idolatry.

"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet." Rom 1:26-27

Jeremiah And the Psalmist
On Romans And Shrine Prostitution

Paul’s argument about Romans and shrine prostitution contains clear inter-textual echoes from Psalm 106:20 and Jeremiah 2:11. These verses speak of Gentile idolatry which drew Israel away from God. The context of Psalm 106 is lust, v. 14, and God giving sinful Israel what they want, v. 15. Then comes the description to which Paul alludes in Romans 1.

“they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox... They forgat God their savior [did not like to retain God in their knowledge, Romans 1:28]

...were mingled with the heathen... they served their idols... they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils [Molech worship, Lev 18:21], And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan [Molech worship, Leviticus 18:21]” Psalm 106:20-38.

“Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory [changed the glory, Romans 1:23], for that which doth not profit.” Jeremiah 2:11.

Jeremiah the prophet and
his yoke, Jeremiah 27:2

Jeremiah links Israel’s sin of changing their glory with defiling the land and making God’s heritage an abomination, Jeremiah 2:7. The context of Jeremiah’s lament is v. 8, “the prophets prophesied by Baal.”

Romans and shrine prostitution helps us recognize that Gentile sin and Jewish sin in the Old Testament are linked to rejecting truth, practicing idolatry and sacrificing their children to Gentile gods, Baal, Molech, Ashtoreth or any other god of the Canaanite pantheon. As the Gentiles rejected the truth about God, they began to worship idols in the form of humans, birds, animals and creeping things.

Ancient fertility goddess worship
is linked to
Romans and shrine prostitution,

because both practices involved sexual rites with male shrine prostitutes, the qadesh, and female shrine prostitutes, the qadeshah.

Romans 1:24 - "Wherefore God also gave them up [paradidomi] to uncleanness [akatharsia] through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:"

As the Gentiles began worshiping idols, God gave them up to the immorality of shrine prostitution which was part of Gentile idol worship, precisely as described by Paul in Romans 1.

The Greek word paradidomi, means “to give them up to what they want to do.” It means God abandoned the Gentiles to their own impulses, linking Paul's citation of Romans and shrine prostitution to perhaps the worst punishment God could impose on anyone.

Paul’s phrase, “God gave them up” conveys inter-textual echoes from 1 Kings 14:15-16, 23-24 and Acts 7:42-43 where God gave up the Gentile nations and Israel, because of idolatry and shrine prostitution.

Idolaters worshiping Molech in a grove.

“...because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger. And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jereboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin...

For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. And there were also sodomites, [qadesh, shrine prostitutes], in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.” 1 Kings 14:15-24.

“Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them...” Acts 7:42-43.

Wisdom Of Solomon On
Romans And Shrine Prostitution

Did other Jews, outside the inspired scriptures, link Romans and shrine prostitution with idolatry and Molech worship? Yes, prior to the writing of the New Testament, the author of Wisdom of Solomon amplified this line of Jewish thought.

“Therefore even upon the idols of the Gentiles shall there be a visitation: because in the creature of God they are become an abomination, and stumblingblocks to the souls of men, and a snare to the feet of the unwise. For the devising of idols was the beginning of spiritual fornication, and the invention of them the corruption of life...

Thus in process of time an ungodly custom grown strong was kept as a law, and graven images were worshipped by the commandments of kings... For whilst they slew their children in sacrifices, [to Molech, Leviticus 18:21] or used secret ceremonies, or made revellings of strange rites;

They kept neither lives nor marriages any longer undefiled... defiling of souls, changing of kind, disorder in marriages, adultery, and shameless uncleanness. For the worshipping of idols not to be named is the beginning, the cause, and the end, of all evil.” Wisdom of Solomon 14:11-28.

Dr. Robert Gagnon On
Romans And Shrine Prostitution

The leading anti-gay apologist of our time, Dr. Robert Gagnon, from Houston Baptist University, cites Philo, 20 BC-AD 50, to support his assertion that male cult prostitutes (shrine prostitutes) were well known to first century Jews, although, in Gagnon’s opinion Paul did not primarily have shrine prostitution in mind in Romans 1.

“The existence of male (same sex) cult prostitutes was well known to Jews of the period, [first century AD] as Philo’s comments testify..."

Robert Gagnon, The Bible And Homosexual Practice, p. 105.

When discussing Romans and shrine prostitution, consistent hermeneutics requires us to read Romans 1:26-27 in the context of Paul’s central argument about Gentile idolatry. The activities Paul describes in Romans 1:26-27 are set in the context of idolatry, the sex- centered false worship of fertility cults.

The primary focus of Paul’s condemnation in Romans 1 is the illicit sexual practice of shrine prostitution, the same illicit sexual practice in worship of the fertility goddess, which is condemned throughout the Old Testament. Thus, Paul's argument in Romans 1, against shrine prostitution, is consistent with the biblical witness.

Remember that Dr. Gagnon is adamantly anti-gay, Yet, in a section of his book headed "Homosexual Cult Prostitution in Israel," Dr. Gagnon makes the following points about shrine prostitutes.

As you read keep in mind that this summary from The Bible And Homosexual Practice, represents the scholarly viewpoint of Dr. Robert Gagnon, the most anti-gay evangelical of the twenty first century.

Although it was not his intention, I believe Dr. Gagnon's list strongly supports our contention that shrine prostitution best fits the biblical and historical context of Paul's argument in Romans 1.

Dr. Gagnon downplays the importance of shrine prostitution to our understanding of Romans 1:26-27. Nevertheless, Dr. Gagnon clearly believes that shrine prostitution is an important factor in the biblical prohibitions which are alleged by many Christians, to prohibit modern homosexual practice. Gay Christians simply interpret the historical evidence differently than Dr. Gagnon.

Dr. Gagnon Affirms Shrine Prostitution
As A Major Factor

  1. There is good evidence that homosexual cult prostitution existed in Israel, Gagnon, p. 100.
  2. The words qedesim and qades refer to men at pagan temples who engaged in male-male, religious prostitution, Gagnon, p. 101.
  3. It was the function of the qedesim to offer their bodies to pagan male worshippers for sex, Gagnon, p. 102.
  4. 1 Kings 14:24 links the abominations-toebah, of Israel and Judah, to the abominations of the nations God expelled from the land of Israel. These abominations particularly single out male-male sex in worship of the ancient fertility gods, Gagnon, p. 103.
  5. The existence of assinu, kugarru and kuluu, castrated male worshippers of the fertility goddess, is good evidence that male-male cult prostitution existed in the ancient near east, Gagnon, p. 104.
  6. God’s use of the epithet “dog” in Deuteronomy 23:18, to describe cult prostitutes, reveals His revulsion for same sex religious prostitution, Gagnon, p. 104.
  7. 7. King Josiah’s forceful action to eradicate the qedesim must have been directly related to Moses’ law in Deuteronomy 23:18, concerning qedesim-dogs, Gagnon, p. 106.
  8. The author of Job 36:14 viewed the qedesim as male cult shrine temple prostitutes, Gagnon, p. 108.
  9. That cult prostitutes were religious in nature is implied by their name, which means holy or consecrated ones and by their connection to Asherah. The prostitution aspect is clear from Deuteronomy 23:18. They were paid for services they provided and they are identified as harlots in other Biblical passages, Gagnon, p. 108.

This summary of Dr. Gagnon's statements supports our assessment of the historical context of Romans and shrine prostitution in the first century AD. Dr. Gagnon's viewpoints on shrine prostitution also mesh with the viewpoints expressed by Aristides and Justin Martyr.

Romans and shrine prostitution
according to the Christian preacher
Aristides, AD 124-126

Aristides refers to one of the Greek gods, Kronos [Molech]. Kronos is the North African name for Molech of Leviticus 18:21 infamy.

“Let us proceed further to their account of their gods that we may carefully demonstrate all that is said above. First of all, the Greeks bring forward as a god Kronos [Molech], that is to say Chiun (Saturn). And his worshippers sacrifice their children to him, and they burn some of them alive in his honour. And they say that he took to him among his wives Rhea [Cybele]... And hence, as they say in fable, there was engendered Aphrodite, who is called Astarte [Ashtoreth].”

Aristides links the fire god, Kronos-Molech, to Rhea-Cybele, the pagan Protectress of Rome, whose temple crowned the Palatine Hill in Paul’s day.

Cybele, a
fertility goddess,

also called Mater Deum, Mother of the gods and Protectress of Rome. Cybele "ruled" first century Rome from her temple atop the Palatine hill, where men engaged in anal sex with her unholy priests, in their worship of the goddess.

Aristides, a heterosexual Christian,
preaching in AD 124-126,
within seventy years of Paul, links Romans and shrine prostitution
to false gods including
Molech, Ashtoreth and Cybele.

The Romans and shrine prostitution viewpoint was not invented by modern gay Christians attempting to excuse ‘our sin.’ It was a widely held viewpoint, personally expressed by a famous Christian, to the Roman Emperor Hadrian, AD 76-138.

Romans and shrine prostitution
according to Justin Martyr, AD 100-165.

Justin Martyr

“we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution. And as the ancients are said to have reared herds of oxen, or goats, or sheep, or grazing horses, so now we see you rear children only for this shameful use;

and for this pollution a multitude of females and hermaphrodites, and those who commit unmentionable iniquities, are found in every nation.

And you receive the hire of these, and duty and taxes from them, whom you ought to exterminate from your realm. And any one who uses such persons, besides the godless and infamous and impure intercourse, may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother.

And there are some who prostitute even their own children and wives, and some are openly mutilated for the purpose of sodomy; and they refer these mysteries to the mother of the gods" [Cybele]

[In first century Rome, the fertility goddess Cybele was Mater Deum, mother of the gods.]

Justin Martyr, First Apology, 27.

This ancient Roman coin depicts Cybele
as Mater Deum,
mother of the gods.

Justin Martyr linked the statements of Paul in Romans and shrine prostitution. Yet incredibly, many modern Christians reject the early testimony of Aristides and Justin about Paul's meaning in Romans 1, without any sound theological reason. Instead, their reason is a culture war reason, to defeat the gay community whom they regard as their culture war enemies.

Why do modern non-gay Christians insist they know more about Paul's intent in Romans 1 than Aristides and Justin Martyr? Both Aristides and Justin were native Greek speakers, both lived within 100 years of Paul and both were intimately familiar with the first century historical and religious context of Romans.

Romans and shrine prostitution,
according to John Chrysostom,
AD 347-407.

John Chrysostom

Chrysostom, who was certainly no friend of gays and lesbians, tells us that Paul, in Romans 1, intended to ridicule Roman idolatry. Roman idolatry included shrine prostitution.

“For they were lusters after new devices, for such is all that is Grecian... to strengthen the accusation against them he [Paul] holds the whole of their idolatry up to ridicule.”

(St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, Homily III, written in AD 391)

Romans and shrine prostitution? How could Paul ridicule "the whole of their idolatry" and not include shrine prostitution in his intended ridicule? Shrine prostitution was an integral part of pagan religious life in first century Rome and therefore, an integral part of Paul's argument in Romans 1.

Romans and shrine prostitution,
according to Matthew Henry, AD 1662-1714.

Matthew Henry

Perhaps the apostle especially refers to the abominations that were committed in the worship of their idol-gods, in which the worst of uncleannesses were prescribed for the honour of their gods; dunghill service for dunghill gods: the unclean spirits delight in such ministrations.”

Matthew Henry Commentary, Romans 1.

The Undeniable Link

Are you beginning to notice that the undeniable link between Romans and shrine prostitution is made by non-gay Christian preachers over 2000 years of church history?

Worship of the fertility goddess in first century Rome included shrine prostitution. Historically, many non-gay Christians have understood Paul's words in Romans 1 as a reference to shrine prostitution. This isn't a new teaching and it is not private interpretation. It is the understanding of Christians century after century after century.

It is anti-gay Christians with a culture war ax to grind who, in recent years, have departed from the biblical witness and the historic Christian viewpoint by insisting that there is no link between Romans and shrine prostitution.

Dr. Merrill F. Unger, 1909-1980,
On Romans And Shrine Prostitution

Dr. Merrill Unger,

links the qadesh or sodomites and their religious rites as male cult prostitutes to the shrine prostitution Paul describes in Romans 1:27.

“Sodomite (Heb. qadesh, consecrated, devoted). The sodomites were not inhabitants of Sodom, nor their descendents, but men consecrated to the unnatural vice of Sodom (Gen. 19:5; comp. Rom. 1:27) as a religious rite.” Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 1035.

Our startling but honest conclusion!

Ancient fertility goddess worship and shrine prostitution, not homosexuality and not lesbianism, form the specific historical context of Romans 1.

Because the cultural, historical and religious context demand a Romans and shrine prostitution understanding, our conclusion is inescapable. We must always be careful to read scripture in its ancient historical context instead of reading our modern cultural views into scriptures written thousands of years ago.

Helpful links to more info

Gay Christian 101 - Spiritual Self-Defense For Gay Christians

I am saying that the Holiness Code was aimed at Israel, in a specific place, the land of Israel.

What was a sodomite in the Bible?

From Romans and shrine prostitution. Return To Gay Christian Home Page.

Gay Christian 101 eBook: Spiritual Self-Defense For Gay Christians

Paul's words in Romans 1 come from his experience of the first century world in which he lived.

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