Bible Abuse Directed at Homosexuals

Romans 1:26-27

Now let’s look at the Christian New Testament.

Other than the four gospels, Acts, and Revelation, the New Testament consists of letters – letters from one individual to others.

Although there is considerable dispute about when some letters were written and whether the author given credit for the letters actually wrote them.)

Don’t feel too ashamed in case you do not always write your personal letters in King James prose; these weren’t either. Instead of the elevated tone and phrasing that bible translations almost invariably provide us with, most of the New Testament was in-the-trenches, among the outcast language, written to laboring people outside privileged society. The letters did not stand on formalities … or kneel on formalities … or even locate themselves anywhere within shouting distance of them. Translators have (probably wisely) cleaned up graphic references (yes, to sex and bathroom functions) and have considerably toned down where Peter told Simon the magician to [*bleeped*].

It is the apostle Paul that made all three supposed mentions of homosexuals in the New Testament. Paul’s fundamental message throughout his writing is that God’s love is all-inclusive, i.e., not that God doesn’t love homosexuals. His letter to Christians in Rome, chapter 1, verses 26 and 27, involve him railing at former Christians who knew God but yet who suppressed truth and chose to worship idols instead.

Romans 1:26-27

KJV (King James Version 1611): 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 recompense of their error which was meet.

MSG (The Message, 1993): Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either – women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men – all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it – emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.

NLT: (New Living Translation, 1996): That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

ESV: (English Standard Version, 2001): For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Paul’s letter to the church in Rome was written to people immersed in Roman culture. Here homosexual behavior was simply a part of the normal environment, unnoticeable (as it also was in Corinth), but Paul’s concern and focus was on pagan religious worship and rituals and their degrading effects on people who had abandoned God and returned to them. Sadly, God let them sink into the natural consequences of their choice – irresponsibility, ignorance, arrogance, and disease.

In the original Greek, the phrase translated as ‘vile affections’ in the KJV does not describe the passions in a normal marriage (or sexually active relationship); instead it characterizes the orgiastic mind-state that pagan rituals created by using alcohol and/or drugs. The people in these rituals are not homosexuals at all but rather heterosexual Christians who had returned to paganism and, as a part of its rituals, not only engaged in heterosexual orgies but, under the effects of peer pressure and stimulants, abandoned their inborn sexual orientation to indulge in same-sex activities (the implication being that “received in themselves” refers to sexually-transmitted diseases, epidemic among such cults at the time). The larger context as a whole deals with people who reject God – and therefore is irrelevant to loving Christians (or Jews or Muslims). And in focusing on lust, it is irrelevant to people in or in search of long-term relationships. Paul’s letter is a commentary both on variation from a person’s faith and from his/her inborn nature. Homosexuals and committed relationships are completely absent here.

Paul also wrote two other letters that are misused as if they were condemnations of homosexuals, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-11.