Romans – The Gospel of God (Part 56)

“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Romans 1:26-27

In the last part of our study we looked at what Paul meant by the use of the phrase “against nature.” We looked at it from two points of view: those who view homosexuality as a gift from God to men and women, and those who view homosexuality as a sin against God. We studied the text and context from three perspectives:

  1. Lead-in text
  2. Study text
  3. Follow text

If you did not read the previous study, we invite you to do so before moving on to the next part. It will help you to have that background for understanding.

“Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Text

Let’s begin by looking at the text.

ομοιως τε και οι αρρενες αφεντες την φυσικην χρησιν της θηλειας εξεκαυθησαν εν τη ορεξει αυτων εiς αλληλους αρσενες εν αρσεσιν την ασχημοσυνην κατεργαζομενοι και την αντιμισθιαν ην εδει της πλανης αυτων εν εαυτοις απολαμβανοντες

“likewise” is ομοιως and means “equally in the same way, in like manner, similarly.”

The “men” (αρρενες – males) “also” did something similar, like, equally in the same way to the women. They left the “natural use of the woman.”

“leaving” is αφεντες (aorist active participle – having left) and means “letting go, releasing, departing.”

“the natural use” is την φυσικην χρησι and is the same phrase Paul used for women exchanging “the natural use” (την φυσικην χρησιν) for “what is against nature” (εις την παρα φυσιν – what is contrary to nature).

“burned” is εξεκαυθησαν and is used only one time in the New Testament, Romans 1:27. It is a combination of the words ἐκ (from out, suggesting from the interior outwards) and καίω (ignite, burn, consume with fire). It means “blaze out, burn out from within” and was used in the sense of burning with internal lust.

“in their lust” is εν τη ορεξει and means in their “strong desire, lust, appetite.” The word ορεξει comes from ὀρέγω (stretch forth, long for, eager for). It is used only one time in the New Testament, Romans 1:27.

This lust, strong desire is directed toward “one another” – εiς αλληλους. Who is “one another”?

αρσενες εν αρσεσιν (males with males). How do men express their lust, strong desire, appetite with other men?

την ασχημοσυνην κατεργαζομενοι – “committing what is shameful”

ασχημοσυνην was used to describe behavior that was “unseemly, indecent, shameful, indecent, lewd, nakedness.” The word is used twice in the New Testament – Romans 1:27 and Revelation 16:15.

κατεργαζομενοι means “work out, produce, accomplish.” One Greek commentary added this – “The participle κατεργαζομενοι (nom. pl. masc. of pres. mid. ptc. of dep. κατεργάζομαι, “achieve, accomplish”) is adverbial of result; the present tense is iterative (“with the result that they are repeatedly committing what is disgraceful”). (Exegetical Guide To The Greek New Testament, Romans, B&H Academic, 2017, p 46).

Men lusted after other men continuously and produced what is shameful, indecent, lewd, unseemly. Was there a result from this work of shameful lust?

“and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” is και την αντιμισθιαν ην εδει της πλανης αυτων εν εαυτοις απολαμβανοντες

αντιμισθιαν is used twice in the New Testament and means “reward, recompense, retribution.”

εδει means “necessary, inevitable.”

πλανης means “wandering, departure, deceit, delusion, error, sin.”

εν εαυτοις απολαμβανοντες translates as “in themselves receiving.” The word απολαμβανοντες is used only one time in the New Testament, Romans 1:27. It means “get back, receive back.” The idea of the word is to receive what one is due.

The men who left the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, and produced what is shameful, received a recompense, a retribution, that was due them because of their error, their departure. Departure from what? What God designed as the “natural use of the woman.”

Context

It’s important that we continue to return to the context for those who think the text is supportive of homosexual acts between homosexuals. Does Romans 1:26-27 mean that it is wrong for heterosexual women to have sexual relations with women? Yes. Does Romans 1:26-27 mean that it is wrong for heterosexual men to have sexual relations with men? Yes. Does Romans 1:26-27 mean that it is acceptable for homosexual women to have sexual relations with homosexual women and homosexual men to have sexual relations with homosexual men? NO!

People who participate in homosexual acts and those who support the right of people to participate in homosexual acts and believe the Apostle Paul would agree with them are not understanding the text nor the context of Romans 1. The context is clear that God gave up the people (men and women) “to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves” and to “vile passions.” Nowhere in the context of Romans 1 do we find a presentation of two kinds of nature: one for homosexuals and another for heterosexuals. People are treated as either male or female, part of the human race.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” Romans 1:18-19

Because the human race did not glorify God as God, even though they knew God, nor were thankful, “but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” and because while professing to be wise, “they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things,” God gave them all up to “uncleanness, in the lust of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves” and to “vile passions.” What does that look like? Women having sexual relations with women and men having sexual relations with men, both having left the “natural use” of the opposite sex. As Paul viewed it, a very sad state for the human race.

Homosexuality in Scripture

Let’s look first at homosexuality in the New Testament –

“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Romans 1:26-27

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

“But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.” 1 Timothy 1:8-11

“… as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Jude 1:7

What about the Old Testament? What about Jesus? Did He ever say anything about homosexuality? Let’s begin with the Old Testament because Jesus said much about what was written there –

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, ‘Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.’ And they said, ‘No, but we will spend the night in the open square.’ But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.’ So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, ‘Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.’ And they said, ‘Stand back!’ Then they said, ‘This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.’ So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door. Then the men said to Lot, ‘Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city—take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it … Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” Genesis 19

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” Leviticus 18:22

“If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” Leviticus 20:13

Genesis and Leviticus are part of the Torah, the Law of Moses. Here’s what Jesus said about that Law –

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17

“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

“The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.” Luke 16:16-17

Jesus presented His view of marriage as being between a man and a woman –

“But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:6-9

It’s important at this point that we remember that Jesus is the Creator and designed the purpose for male and female –

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Colossians 1:15-17

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:1-3

Summary

God is angry. Paul wrote that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Paul wrote that God gave humanity up to “uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves” and to “vile passions.” The next sentence explains what people did when God gave them up –

“For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Homosexual relations (men/men, women/women) are not the only thing Paul will list for what humans did when God gave them up, but it is the first thing on Paul’s list. There’s a reason for that as we have explained in previous parts of this study. It goes back to God’s original design for the male and female sexually, a design the human race has violated in many ways.

It is about origin, identity and purpose. We originate from God, our identity is that which God gives to each of us, and our purpose is what God purposed us to be and to do. To exchange that for anything else is missing the entire point of being made in the image and likeness of God (Imago Dei).

Next Time

In the next part of our study in Romans, we will look at more ways the human race has been impacted by God giving them up.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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One thought on “Romans – The Gospel of God (Part 56)

  1. Whether it be ‘homosexuality’ or something else, we cannot live our lives contrary to the Holy Scriptures. There is no sense, whatsoever, that ‘homosexual acts’ are condoned/justified throughout Holy Scripture. Some of us wish it wasn’t so but Father calls us to live holy, celibate lives. Calling on Him in times of temptation. Thank you for a thorough and compassionate message.

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