Does Romans say that God gives gay people over to homosexuality?

by Ed
(Brockport, NY)

Do NOT worship the goddess!

Do NOT worship the goddess!

No - Romans does not say that or anything even close to that. Paul makes a brilliant argument in Romans 1 by pointing out the results of idolatry. Paul condemns the idolatry of the Gentiles in Romans 1 and finds the Jews guilty in Romans 2.

Let's follow Paul's argument

  1. Gentiles are without excuse because God is knowable through His creation - v. 20

  2. Gentiles knew God but refused to glorify God - v. 21

  3. Gentiles became idolaters, making idols to worship instead of God - v. 23

  4. God gave them up to uncleanness - v. 24

  5. They worshiped the creature, not the Creator - v. 25

  6. God gave them up to vile affections so that their idolatrous women did what is against nature - v. 26

  7. The idolatrous men did what the idolatrous women were doing - v. 27

  8. God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do things which are not convenient - v. 28

No lesbians & no gay men
in Paul's argument

Notice the context is NOT lesbians and the context is NOT gay men. And just to cover all the bases, the context is not bisexuals or transgendered people. The context is idolatry and the consequences of idolatry.

Paul is focused on proving that idolatry is wrong and the people should worship God. The people Paul is talking about in Romans 1 had knowledge of God but rejected God in spite of their knowledge of Him.

The people Paul is talking about in Romans 1 made idols shaped like men and women, birds, four footed beasts and snakes or insects AND then worshiped those idols instead of worshiping God, v. 23, 25. So when Paul gets to v. 26-27, he is talking about:
  1. Idolatrous people who rejected God - v. 19-21

  2. Idolatrous people who made idols - v. 23

  3. Idolatrous people who worshiped idols - v. 25

  4. Idolatrous people who refused to worship God - v. 21, 25
Therefore, it makes no sense to conclude that the people Paul describes in v. 26-27 are somehow not part of his argument about idolatry and idol worshipers. Paul is describing idol worshipers, plain and simple, not lesbian women and not gay men.

In the cultural, historical and religious context of first century Rome, Paul is describing women and men who used sex to worship fertility goddesses like Cybele.

Context! Context! Context!

Attempting to understand Romans 1 while ignoring the religious situation in first century Rome is like trying to understand terror in New York City on September 11, 2001 while ignoring the attack on the World Trade Center.

The sexual activity Paul mentions in Romans 1:26-27 is part of the idolatry Paul has just described. Paul is not saying that God gives lesbians over to homosexuality and he is not saying that God gives gay men over to homosexuality.

The link between v. 26 and v. 27 is "likewise also the men." The men were doing something like the women were doing. Whatever they were doing is linked to rejecting the true God and engaging in idolatry.

The most common sense understanding of Romans 1 is that Paul is describing shrine prostitution, cult prostitution, people who use sex to worship the fertility goddesses of ancient Rome.

Don't be a modern idolator!

If lesbians and gays are worshiping the fertility goddess today, then of course, that is idolatry and it is sinfully wrong. But if we're talking about saved lesbians and saved gays, who worship God and who do not worship the fertility goddess, then Romans 1 does not describe them.
Note: During my July-August 2011 visit to San Francisco, I attended three services at San Francisco's Metropolitan Community Church on Eureka Street in the Castro. In each of those three services, I was surprised and dismayed to hear them pray to the goddess.

It makes me sad that some gays and lesbians, who profess to be Christians and should know better, under the guise of being Inter-faith and Inter-spiritual, now worship the goddess.

All Christians should reject goddess worship because it is contrary to the gospel of Christ and the truth of scripture.

Additional Information

Does Romans 1:26-27 condemn homosexuals?

Does Romans 1:26 condemn lesbians?

Are you a good person?

Are Romans and shrine prostitution historically linked?

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Ed's original question:

"How do we reconcile being gay when Paul states in this chapter that a man lying with a man is one of the sins that God gives us over to if we are not declaring the Lordship of Christ?"

Comments for Does Romans say that God gives gay people over to homosexuality?

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Jan 04, 2010
What then does Jesus say about man lying with man?
by: Anonymous

Luke 17:34, NKJV - "I tell you in that night there will be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken and the other will be left."

Why mention they were in bed together? But note one will be taken and the other left. If you read the rest of the chapter those that love the Lord will be caught up to be with Him.

Another part in Romans 1 - doesn't it also include: 'covetousness full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, UNLOVING, who knowing the righteous judgement of God that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who do them.'

This is where most evangelicals stop. It is the end of the chapter. But Romans 2:1 continues:
"Therefore you are inexcusable O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself, for you yourself practice the same things."

Paul later goes on to say Romans 6:23 -
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Paul also said: "Nothing can separate us from the love of God if we believe."

Jan 07, 2010
I disagree that its okay for men to lie with men
by: Ed

I agree with what you are saying about idol worship in Paul's day but you don't have to worship golden calves or birds, etc. to be an idol worshiper.

Anything that comes between our worship of the one true God can be classified as idol worship. People today worship money, fame, material possessions, etc. I think it's the same problem.

"Men lying with men" means just that, for that time and for today. When we take our focus off of God and place all our happiness in our selves and what gratifies us, then we are open to such desires. Isn't this true?

Jan 07, 2010
Context always trumps opinion
by: Rick Brentlinger


Its fine if you disagree. You're certainly entitled to your own opinion. Yet so far, you have presented no scriptural evidence that your opinion is true.

The fact is, in Romans 1, Paul argues against idolatry and mentions a form of idolatry which was widely known in first century Rome, worship of Cybele the fertility goddess.

1. Cybele's image was on Roman coins used in the mid-first century AD, when Paul wrote Romans.

2. Cybele had at least 6 temples in ancient Rome in the middle of the first century, when Paul wrote Romans.

3. Cybele worship also occurred throughout the Roman Empire of the first century.

4. Scripture informs us Paul was present when Stephen preached in Acts 7 so Paul heard Stephen preach against Molech and his fertility goddess consort, Ashtoreth, the OT equivalent of Cybele, in New Testament times.

Ignoring the context and insisting Romans 1 means what someone taught you it means - that Paul is condemning homosexuality - is not only untrue scripturally, it is also damaging to you as a gay man.

I pray you will find the peace of God about these issues.

Your brother in Christ,

Pastor Rick

Dec 03, 2010
Idol worshipers
by: robyn

It is quite clear that Paul is talking about idol worshipers and not condemning homosexuals. And i also noticed that it says "Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.", which most people teach to mean they too had same sex relations with women, but that is not supported at all by the text. I had never noticed that before!

So, since whatever the females were doing, the men were doing also with one another, it makes sense to conclude that it was anal sex that the women were engaging in.

But it also states that "in the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women", wouldn't that mean that it is natural for men to have sexual relations with women but unnatural for them to have sexual relations with other men?

I am not on here to hate or judge, I am a gay Christian and am merely looking for answers, and am in no way looking for a way around verses that may definitely be statements against homosexuality.

I know this passage is not about condemning homosexuality, but it does seem to imply that men having sex with women is the natural thing to do.

Dec 10, 2010
by: Anonymous

I see you did not reply to the last post comment. I was wondering your take. As it is pretty clear in the greek that the "men abandoned "natural" relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another". Tho your argument about idol worship is valid - the result of that is to be given over to "un-natural" ways, meaning the ways are wrong in and of themselves and so therefore the "punishment" or result thereof.

For example if speeding gets me a fine the fine is the does not mean that in other instances other than speeding a fine is a good thing. I would really like to know your understanding of this.

Dec 10, 2010
This may help your understanding
by: Rick Brentlinger

Commenter Question:"But it also states that "in the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women", wouldn't that mean that it is natural for men to have sexual relations with women but unnatural for them to have sexual relations with other men?"

These four points assist our understanding of this passage, Romans 1:26-27.

1. The Bible generally accommodates a heterosexual viewpoint since 95% of the human race is heterosexual. That does not invalidate gays, lesbians and bisexuals. It simply recognizes that most people on earth are heterosexual.

2. If we want to understand Romans 1:26-27, we need to know how first century Romans understood the words, "against nature." There are at least 39 meanings of "against nature" for first century readers.

3. How did early Christians understand Romans 1:27?

4. How did virulently anti-gay early Christians like John Chrysostom understand Romans 1:26-27?

It is clear that John Chrysostom understood these verses to mean that heterosexuals were going against their innate heterosexual orientation.

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