The Epistle to the Romans, is part of the New Testament, so it’s more relevant to Christians than Old Testament books such as Genesis.
Romans chapter one contains the most extensive references to same-sex relations in the entire Bible. Let’s review the key section of Romans chapter 1 (NIV) –
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Ive highlighted the most relevant 3 sentences above.
And of course Romans 1 also attracts controversy about what it means. Common responses from gay activists include –
- Like Leviticus, some activists claim that Romans 1 is simply about pagan religious ceremony and does not apply at all to gay relationships.
A key problem with this argument, is verse 26. While in Biblical times, pagans were known to engage in homosexual religious prostitution and rites, there are no records of women doing this. So verse 26 doesnt fit that argument. See also #2 below.
- Some gay activists claim that the point of this passage is simply about lust and does not apply at all to committed gay relationships.
But that interpretation is just a lazy superficial reading of what it actually says. Verse 27 describes associated acts as shameful and connected to penalty – it’s not just lust that is condemned, it’s associated acts too.
- Some gay activists claim that the author of the passage had no understanding of homosexuality and that he was referring to heterosexuals that chose to gave up their natural inclinations to the opposite sex, to instead have sex with members of the same sex. They say the point the author was trying to make was that you should not give up what comes naturally to you, and they say that this means that gay people should not quit the gay relations that come naturally to them.
But this interpretation likewise is lazy and superficial, missing the fact that the men “were inflamed with lust for each other”. Straight people do not lust after members of the same sex. The passage is clearly about people who are same-sex attracted, rather than about straight people.
- Gay activists often (correctly) point out that in Biblical times, sex between males was often pederasty. IE basically between a teenager and an older male. And they often claim that this is what Romans 1 is referring to. But the problem is that the text does not state “men with boys” or “teenager with a man”. No, it says “men … with other men.” And as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship have pointed out –
There is another Greek word, paiderastia, which was used in pagan literature to describe the love of boys, and Paul does not use this term nor does the word appear in the New Testament. Second, the mention of lesbian sex, between two women, makes it highly unlikely that pederasty is in view, since this was not the common ancient pagan practice among women and girls.
- That the point that the author of Romans 1 was trying to make, was revealed in Romans 2:1. For a response to the “do not judge” mantra, please see the section of this website titled “Other Scriptures”.