Romans seems pretty clearly anti-gay:
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with man and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” Romans 1:26-27
But Romans 1: 26-7 is very much not clear because:
- The words natural and unnatural are incorrect translations of the original Greek.
- Paul, the author of Romans, was not speaking about gays or lesbians. He was talking about straight people.
- Paul wasn’t talking about love but about being consumed by passion.
What about the words natural and unnatural?
- The term often translated to English as natural is the Greek word phooskos, which means customary or characteristic, as in something that is usually done.
- What is often translated as unnatural is the Greek para physin, which actually means deviating from the norm or being unconventional.
- Gay sex was not the norm in Biblical times. Just as it is not today. Not being the norm does not mean being something bad. It’s estimated that 7 to 10 percent of people are left-handed . Just because the norm is to be right-handed does not mean the the left-handed people are bad. The Bible acknowledges that being gay is not the norm. It does not say that being gay is bad.
Even if one chooses to believe that Romans 1:26-27 is about the sin of choosing unnatural passions, it still does not condemn homosexuals.
- Just as a person who’s heterosexual knows what’s natural to him or her, so does a person who’s homosexual.
- Some straight people might think that homosexuality is unnatural. That’s because it’s not natural to them.
- True, no one should give up their natural heterosexuality for homosexuality.
- Just as no one should give up their natural homosexuality for heterosexuality.
What about the shameless acts?
- Paul was not speaking to the general public, he was specifically speaking to Christians living in Rome who had fallen from Christian ways.
“To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints.” Romans 1:7
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.” Romans 1:23
- What was shameful was giving up the ways of Christianity for the ways of Rome.
Even if one chooses to think Paul is talking about gays and lesbians, he wasn’t talking to gays or lesbians living responsibly because he would not have known any.
- A loving relationship between two men or two women was not part of Roman culture.
- However, in Roman culture, there were traditions of pederasty (older men with boys), male prostitution and orgies for men and women. If Paul has anything to say about homosexuality, it is only about pederasty, prostitution and orgies. Not about loving relationships.
On the receiving in their own persons due penalty of their error.
- That due penalty may have been venereal disease, which was common around the Roman orgies.
More on what’s natural:
- Of course, it can be argued that procreation is the point of sex – it’s pleasurable so that people and animals will do it in order to continue the existence of humankind.
- Just because the primary reason for sex may be procreation, does not mean that non-procreative sex is unnatural.
- Scientists have proven that 1,500 animal species engage in homosexual sex. There are even famous penguins in a New York zoo that confused zookeepers because they kept a nest and acted like the other penguin couples but never laid an egg. Turned out both penguins were male.
Homosexual practice may not be the primary reason for sex, but it cannot be argued that it is unnatural.