Homosexuality As a
The preceding discussion has laid the groundwork for a Christian appraisal of homosexuality in response to current challenges. Scripture is received as the self-attesting, fully inspired, infallible Word of God. It is to be interpreted as inerrant, authoritative, and consistent, with careful attention to context, cultural setting, original languages, and Scripture's interpretation of itself. The commandments of God revealed in Scripture are necessary to Christian morality, unquestionable in their requirement, relevant to every age, allowing no extrascriptural exceptions, and perpetually binding. In such a framework, an authentically Christian position regarding homosexuality can be derived. Those who resist the conclusions about homosexuality drawn in this study and who promote contrary attitudes often do so because they are working out of a completely different theological, hermeneutical, or ethical context. Consequently, many contemporary disagreements as to the morality and acceptability (ecclesiastical or civil) of homosexuality can be resolved only at this level. Recognizing this, we can examine now the scriptural materials for their assessment of homosexuality and our response to it.
We must turn to the Bible so as to think God's thoughts after Him on this subject.
The Creation Account
When God created the world, He established a fundamental distinction within the human race, reflected in the human body: "male and female created He them."1 In the creation order upon which God pronounced His benediction,2 there were but two sexes; the human body was deliberately shaped male (zakar) and female (neqevah) the Hebrew words referring specifically to biological, sexual distinction. This natural difference defines and underlies the polarities of man and woman: such a distinction is not an arbitrary accident of evolution (as though survival of the fittest preserved only species able to procreate by couples), nor a mere cultural convention having the force of long-standing tradition. The distinction enunciated in Genesis is more than incidental historical detail. It is a declaration of the proper creation order, cited with authoritative approval and moral significance by Christ.3 It was God's ordained design for sexual relations to be in the form of male-female union, man and wife becoming "one flesh,"4 and God created the distinction between the sexes to that end.
This creation of sexual differentiation by God from the beginning established heterosexuality as the normative direction for the sexual impulse and act. God the Creator gives created things their essential identity and function and defines man's proper relationships. Man's sexual function has been defined by God as male-female behavior. This fact refutes the claims of homosexual apologists who say that all human beings have the right to self-definition.
Such an existentialist rationale (existence preceding freely chosen essence) reflects an autonomous desire to replace God's intended distinctions and created designs for man with the relativistic will of the creature, who would be worshiped as his own creator.
The opening chapters of the Bible present us with God's original norm that sexual activity was to be within the context of marriage, and they present marriage as exclusively heterosexual in nature. This is true totally apart from any thought that sex and marriage serve solely a procreative function. Man needed a companion and suitable helper,5 and in response God fashioned a woman from the man; there was unity and distinction. She was called "woman" (isshah) precisely because she was taken out of "man" (ish);6 there was common humanity with sexual differentiation. These two creatures were made for each other; their union and interdependence were grounded in the natural order that is, in their God-given identities and functions.
Marriage, the ordained sphere of sexual relations, is accordingly described as a man and woman "cleaving" to each other and becoming intimately one flesh.7 This creation ordinance, with its natural differentiation between male and female, is continually reaffirmed by the interpretations of the creation account in the New Testament.8 Thus Paul maintains that the heterosexual drive is the natural God-given orientation of male and female.9 Its proper culmination in external expression is reached in marriage, where husband and wife have authority over each other's bodies.10 Only when sexual impulses are expressed in that specific fashion is the bed undefiled.11
Because man's sexual identity is defined by God, because his orientation is ordained by God, and because his sexual activity is circumscribed within a heterosexual marriage context, homosexuality cannot be viewed merely as a variant sexual preference or accidental variation within creation (akin to lefthandedness). It is not a third natural sex or alternative sexual orientation in God's diverse world. Instead it represents a choice, in some sense, to set one's desires and satisfy one's physical drives in a way contrary to God's appointment and creation. There is no natural homosexuality, for homosexuality is precisely a perversion of nature (understood as God's design for human relations). Homosexuals are made, not born; their disorder is developed contrary to their God-given identity, learned in opposition to the created order, pursued in defiance of the marriage ordinance.
Therefore, where defenders of homosexuality accuse its opponents of secret fears of their own homosexual feelings, of projecting their inability to accept their own desires, they are just rationalizing. In the first place, such a claim rests on the allegation that all adults experience homosexual feelings, which in turn must be defended against counter-evidence by claiming that these feelings are often related to an "unconscious level." This way of arguing imposes a contrived theory on the data, a theory which dies the death of a thousand question-begging qualifications.
Ironically, psychological projection may indeed enter the picture here. But given the creation account in Scripture, the projection is that of the homosexual, who projects on the heterosexual his own inability to accept his homosexuality as natural or normal. He cannot genuinely accept his condition, for it defies what God made him to be. The creation account in God's Word undermines the homosexual's defense. Homosexuality, in light of creation, is a severely disordered condition.
Accordingly we conclude that homosexuality cannot be assimilated
to the divine order of creation, but belongs to the realm of man's fall into sin. God's will for man is universally heterosexual with respect to sexual expression and activity. In principle, heterosexual marriage is approved within the creation order for man; sins pertaining to heterosexual activity are not sinful simply in virtue of the heterosexual nature of that activity. On the other hand, homosexuality is in principle disapproved by God, for it is contrary to the creation ordinance of marriage; such activity is sinful simply by virtue of its homosexual nature. In the case of heterosexuality, redemption renews and perfects the sexual relations ordained at creation; heterosexual activity which is indisputably affected by the fall is sanctified through the redemptive work of the Savior. However, in the case of homosexuality, redemption aims to bring the pursuit of this disorder to a stop, replacing it with the original creation ideal of heterosexual monogamy. Homosexuality is thus contrary to the orders of creation and redemption (re-creation); it is a perverted consequence of man's fall.
The Story of Sodom
The previous judgment is given strong ethical force by the account of Sodom's destruction in Genesis 19. The men of Sodom demanded that two guests of Lot be brought out that the Sodomites might "know" them.12 The final outcome was that the Sodomites were smitten with blindness and the city divinely destroyed by fire and brimstone. Later biblical references indicate further sins of Sodom which displeased the Lord13 even as a
syndrome of unrighteousness is associated with homosexuality in Paul's mind.14 Although a general wickedness characterized Sodom,15 the fact cannot be suppressed that the Sodomites' desire to "know" Lot's guests is the manifest sin set forth in Genesis 19 and the specific confirmation that the city was worthy of devastation.16 This was the mark of their extreme degradation and rebellion against God.
What was this sin? Some have suggested that yadha is not the normal word for homosexual coitus (shakhabh) and should be taken in its ordinary sense of knowing something, thus meaning here "to get acquainted with." The theory is this: as a resident alien in Sodom, Lot was responsible for introducing his guests to the townsmen and letting the established citizens examine their credentials; for that reason the Sodomites asked to "know" Lot's visitors. They wished to get acquainted with them. Since in the Hebrew mind a stranger had a right to hospitable reception,17 the sin of Sodom would hereby be interpreted as inhospitality to the visitors.18 For such a breach of love and social courtesy the Lord reduced the city to ash.
This theory will not withstand serious scrutiny. In the first place, Lot was not merely an alien resident in Sodom, but a prominent social figure "sitting in the gate."19 He knew well enough the moral character of the city, so much so that he became alarmed at the prospect of these visitors spending the night in a public place and strongly urged them to accept his invitation of accommodations in his home.20 When the citizens later came and asked to "know" his guests, Lot did not see this as
simply an accepted civil routine whereby visitors have their credentials inspected; he defensively shut the door behind him and characterized the requested "knowing" as a great wickedness.21 It calls for a strange mentality to see (1) how a simple desire of the townsmen to get acquainted would be a breach of hospitality, (2) how it could be deemed seriously wicked (especially in light of the city customs, which Lot certainly understood), and (3) why it would be so vile as to warrant dramatic divine punishment.
Moreover, on this interpretation what would explain Lot's offer to substitute his daughters?22 The citizens were already acquainted with them; their appearance would have done nothing to prevent the breach of hospitality to Lot's guests. The reply to this objection is that Lot's offer of his daughters was a tempting sexual bribe, intended to appease the crowd and change the subject (away from the town protocol regarding visitors). This is psychologically incredible. Why would a father go so far as to propose the violation of his daughters in response to a mere impolite request? Moreover, such a reply requires that we interpret Lot's offer to bring out his daughters "who have not known man" as a sexual bribe, taking the verb yadha to refer to coitus.23 In that case the same translation should be favored in the immediate context at verse 5 as well; the Sodomites were requesting not mere social acquaintance but sexual relations with Lot's guests the conclusion this interpretation sought to avoid.
As a final resort, one defender of the reinterpretation of Genesis 19 has suggested that comparison with a similar incident in Judges 19 warrants us to see the intention of the Sodomites as in fact murderous;24 this accounts for the wickedness perceived by Lot, his extreme preventive offer, and the Lord's wrath at such inhospitality. However, this view suppresses the obvious
sexual character of the event in Judges 19 and illegitimately transposes the narrower interpretation onto Genesis 19. It either exceeds acceptable translations of yadha in verse 5, or requires one to read between the lines of the scriptural account. The conclusions of such an arbitrary procedure commend themselves only to those already predisposed to avoid the obvious and natural meaning of the text.
The men of Sodom desired to have sexual relations with Lot's visitors, to "know" them. Lot rightly perceived their homosexual designs as wicked and made his own (unrighteous but contextually appropriate) counteroffer to let these men do as they wished with his daughters, who had not "known" men (engaged in sexual relations). In the similar story of Judges 19:16ff., the townsmen of Gibeah surrounded the house of a host, demanding that his male guest be brought out so that they might "know" him. Again the request was deemed wicked, and a counterproposal was made that the guest's concubine be accepted in the place of their homosexual demands; as a result she was raped until morning and found dead. In both stories it is clear that the townsmen were interested in homosexual relations, not mere social acquaintance. In the case of Sodom there is no textual reason to view the intentions of the townsmen specifically as that of homosexual rape. We have no evidence that they anticipated resistance from Lot's guests and were seeking sexual assault.
We cannot avoid the obvious conclusion that God devastated the cities of the plain with a catastrophe because of the homosexuality of the Sodomites. It is pure, ungrounded speculation to hold that they were punished for an idolatrous fertility cult of which homosexuality was a part, or for an attempted transgression of the bounds between men and angels; the text has no cultic indications, nor does it even hint that the Sodomites recognized Lot's guests as supernatural beings.
Sodom was utterly destroyed because it was a city full of homosexuals25
who day after day practiced their impious, sensual debauchery.26 Unlike many Christians in this secular age, Lot was continually shocked and repulsed ("vexed, tormented") by the lawless deeds of the Sodomites. The use of the word "lawless" (anomos) in 2 Peter 2:8 indicates that the Sodomites violated God's command. Even though they were not the elect theocratic people of God, they were responsible to the content of the case law in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. The law deep in their heart27 informed them that those who transgress God's ordinances and practice such things are "worthy of death."28
God's inspired Word interprets the Sodom story for us, leaving no doubt that Sodom was devastated for violating God's creation order. In Jude 7 it is precisely the unnaturalness of the vice practiced at Sodom that is stressed as the cause of the divine wrath. The Sodomites are there described as "committing fornication and going after strange flesh." The Greek form, ekporneuein, is intensive, denoting extravagant lust. The participle, apelthousai, adds further intensification and brings out the sense of utter abandonment to impurity. The object of this extravagant, abandoned fornication is said to be sarkos heteras, "different flesh." It was unnatural sexual intercourse, a departure from the laws of nature (God's ordained pattern for sexual relations), that placed Sodom under God's vengeance.
Both the sexual differentiation and marriage ordinance of the creation order and the exceptional destruction of Sodom for its
homosexuality in the patriarchal period teach the moral prohibition of homosexuality. God condemns homosexuality as unnatural, a severe disorder against creation, and so vile as to warrant death. Creation and history, seen through the spectacles of God's inspired Word, teach us as much. A direct and specific formulation of God's prescriptive will for human behavior is found in the revelation of His law during the Mosaic period; this sharply defines the moral norms implicit in creation and history.
In the law we learn of the Lord's strong hatred of homosexuality as an abomination. The seventh commandment ("Thou shalt not commit adultery") protects sexual chastity and the integrity of the family. It is elaborated and illustrated in various case laws. Under one commandment in the Decalogue we are to understand that all sins or duties of the same kind are forbidden or commanded, together with all the causes, means, occasions, and provocations thereto. The general moral equity of these judicial laws is that of the original, foundational requirement of the Ten Commandments; they cannot be dismissed as lacking validity today.29 Therefore, one of the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment is sodomy and all unnatural lusts: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination."30 "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their bloodguiltiness is upon them."31
God's verdict on homosexuality is inescapably clear. His law is a precise interpretation of the sexual order of creation for fallen man, rendering again His intention and direction for sexual relations. When members of the same sex (homo-sexual) practice intercourse with each other (expressed by the idiom "to lie with," shakar eth), they violate God's basic creation order in a vile or abominable fashion. Throughout Leviticus we see God's absolute
standards for purity; in the sexual realm one may not profanely use the creation of God, "uncovering the nakedness" of man, woman, or beast indiscriminately.32 Sexual relations must be conducted within God-given boundaries.
What was revealed in the creation account and the history of Sodom has been confirmed in statutory form. The Lord will not tolerate homosexuality. However, it is not surprising that those who suppress the implications of sexual differentiation at creation and who reinterpret the sin of Sodom have also attempted to mitigate the condemnation of God's law regarding homosexuality.
Some attempts are hardly worth refuting. We are told that love is the only issue in any sexual relationship, and therefore it would be submitting to a double standard of morality for the Christian to condone heterosexual love-making and condemn homosexual love-making. As their argument goes, God surely would not expect the manner of attaining sexual gratification to be made important, setting down a standard that commends one sexual preference while condemning another. Such a rationale not only ignores the specific revelation of God in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, where it is clear that God does indeed regard the specific manner of one's sexual gratification to be morally important, but also it easily can be reduced to absurdity (e.g., "surely God would not have a double standard regarding the attainment of money, distinguishing between work and theft").
Others have argued that the prohibition of homosexuality is rooted in the arbitrariness of the Jewish people regarding sexual matters, and that there is no reason for it in terms of social consequences (i.e., it does not harm society or violate the rights of others). Such thinking contradicts the divine authorship of the law.33 If, contrary to the views of Jesus and Paul,34 the moral
code of Leviticus 18-20 is not received as inspired of God, then it is superfluous to debate its binding character. But if it is deemed to be divine in origin, then it is arbitrary on the part of the critic to renounce the sections unfavorable to his preconceived notions.
Presumably there are good social reasons for the laws that confine sexual relations to heterosexual marriage. God's Word says that they are laid down for our positive good.35 The blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience are momentous.36 Any other attitude would certainly lead to a permissiveness toward sex that would degrade and destroy the integrity of the family. However, we would be bound to God's law regarding homosexuality even if we could not see its positive social consequences. The goal of our ethical system is not to satisfy the tastes of the creature, but to please the Creator and reflect His absolute holiness.
More serious challenges to the apparent meaning of the laws against homosexuality in Leviticus have been leveled: namely, that they are ceremonial (i.e., condemning the associations and uses of homosexuality in ancient society). The first argument is that the injunctions of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 appear in connection with cultic purification and thus belong to the "shadows" of the ceremonial law dispelled by fulfillment in Christ. Therefore it would be inconsistent to apply Leviticus's prohibitions of homosexuality today while rejecting Leviticus's prohibition, for example, of unclean meats.37 Now it is true that the covenant of grace was administered differently before and after Christ's coming. Some Old Testament laws served primarily not to define sin and its just sanctions but to reveal by means of types the way of redemptive restoration to God's favor. Under the Old Testament
dispensation God's gracious covenant was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the passover lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the Jews; they were "the gospel in figures," signifying Christ and His redemptive work.38
These ceremonial laws have all been fulfilled for the believer by Christ's obedience, so the covenant of grace under the gospel is administered now through preaching and the sacraments. The ceremonial laws God gave Israel, containing several typical ordinances prefiguring Christ, His graces, actions, sufferings and benefits, have all under the New Testament been "put out of gear."39 This distinction between moral and ceremonial laws is not arbitrary. It has a rationale required by Scripture as it interprets itself: moral law defines justice while ceremonial law guides redemptive restoration.
Therefore, we recognize the category of temporary, ceremonial law in the Old Testament. However, there is no good reason to assign the prohibitions of homosexuality to it. They do not anticipate the person and work of Christ for salvation in any sense. Further, the fact that homosexuality was to receive the death penalty in Israel places it in the sphere of other moral offenses punished by the Jewish magistrate, not in the sphere of temporary ceremonial legislation.
Moreover, the context of these prohibitions suggests that they pertain to moral holiness, not mere cultic purification. The list of injunctions in Leviticus 18 is introduced with emphatic divine authority: "You are to perform my judgments and keep my statutes, to walk in them; I am the Lord your God;40 it ends, "Thus you are to keep my charge ... I am the Lord your God."41 The next chapter contains further laws, introduced with these words: "You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am
holy";42 it ends, "You shall thus observe all my statutes, and all my ordinances, and do them: I am the Lord."43 Chapter 20 is a continuation of such injunctions: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'You shall also say to the sons of Israel ...' ";44 it similarly ends, "Thus you are to be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy."45
In contrast to such ethical requirements reflecting the lordship and holiness of God, chapter 21 begins a new section dealing with requirements for priests and their cultic service. The preceding passage46 contains some requirements that are no longer observed in their Jewish form, e.g., those which symbolize the separation of Israel from the abominations committed by her pagan neighbors47 and a few ceremonial instructions.48 But the predominant character of its commandments is moral, and their content is generally recognized as binding today (e.g., prohibiting incest, adultery, child sacrifice, idolatry, oppression of the poor, slander, hatred, unjust weights and measures). Christ Himself appealed to them as summarizing all the law and the prophets.49
Therefore, the context does not support the automatic dismissal of the prohibitions against homosexuality as ceremonial. The defender of homosexuality must produce a viable criterion for distinguishing between moral and ceremonial laws, or else consistently reject them all (contrary to the emphatic word of Christ). We have New Testament warrant for discontinuing obedience to the sacrificial system,50 and the failure to observe the symbols of separation from the Gentile no longer displeases God.51 However,
the Scriptures never alter God's revealed law regarding homosexuality, but leave us under its full requirement.52 Indeed, the Bible repeatedly condemns homosexuality, the New Testament itself stressing that it is contrary to God's law,53 bringing God's judgment and exclusion from the kingdom.54 Therefore, the prohibition against homosexuality cannot be viewed as part of the ceremonial system prefiguring Christ or as temporary in its obligation.
Another attempt to loosen the binding character of the prohibition of homosexuality in God's law reinterprets the prohibition as dealing with homosexuality's aggravating circumstances and not with homosexuality as such, independent of its ancient associations or social implications. One reinterpretation maintains that in the Jewish mind homosexuality was associated with the idolatry of Israel's neighbors, who practiced cultic fertility rites in their temples, using male and female prostitutes. Thus the Holiness Code in Leviticus, which (as we have noted above) warned repeatedly against the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites, should be seen as condemning cultic homosexuality. This connection is explicit in Deuteronomy 23:17,18, where it is prohibited for the sons of Israel to become cult prostitutes and thereby bring the wages of a "dog" into the Lord's house.55 This derisive term indicates how abominable this was to God. It is also clear from Israel's later history that such cultic homosexuality was a moral problem for that society.56
By association, then, the prohibition of homosexuality becomes in fact a metaphorical prohibition of idolatry; it was revealed in order to keep the Israelites from contact with alien religions, which practiced cultic defilement, homosexual fertility
rites as part of their idolatrous worship. In this way the prohibition against lying with a man as one does with a woman57 is taken in the same way as the prohibition of boiling a kid in its mother's milk,58 namely as forbidding participation in what historical research has shown to be heathen religious practices. In this connection it could be observed that the verse immediately preceding Leviticus 18:22 mentions an obvious idolatrous practice of the Canaanites (child sacrifice to Molech), and it has been speculated that the verse immediately following (prohibiting the perversion of bestiality) refers to an Egyptian goat cult and/or Canaanite heifer cult. Hence God's law against homosexuality is circumstantial and has nothing to say about homosexuality in non-cultic contexts.
Another reinterpretation attributes prohibitions to the procreative emphasis among the Jews, who saw childlessness as a spiritual curse and/or an economic hardship and who viewed the willful destruction of viable human semen as a serious crime.59 Thus homosexuality was actually prohibited because it was impossible through such sexual activity to propagate the chosen race.
Another reinterpretation claims that in the ancient world homosexual rape was inflicted upon a defeated male enemy as a symbol of domination and an expression of scorn (as in the Egyptian epic, The Contending of Horus and Seth). Therefore the Jewish law prohibited homosexuality as a sign of disrespect for a person and a dishonoring of the superior male gender (which was reduced to the performance of a female function). In these views, the biblical prohibition would have no continuing moral force outside of cultures that insist on procreation as the key function of sexual relations or that see homosexuality as a symbol of scorn and dishonor.
What can be said about these various circumstantial reinterpretations of the biblical prohibition of homosexuality? First, they are not consistent with each other; an act of religious worship, a failure to pursue the best end for man, and a positive act of scornful domination are completely different and incompatible things. The circumstantial reinterpreters of the biblical prohibition against homosexuality need to resolve their own disagreement as to what the law "really" meant to forbid. Without a clear candidate for the sin which actually stands behind the apparent meaning of Leviticus 18:22 in its alleged cultural setting, there is no serious challenge to which we must respond.
More importantly, these theories, one and all, do not warrant any definite conclusion about what is actually prohibited when God speaks of homosexuality; at best they are speculative searches for what might possibly be an underlying rationale for the prohibition of homosexuality. And at many points they are not even very plausible possibilities.
The "homosexuality-as-scorn" theory rests on pure conjecture as to the meaning of the biblical texts themselves.60 Moreover, the idea that homosexuality represents a willing submission to a scornful and dishonorable manner of behavior does not detract from the traditional understanding of the biblical prohibition in the least, but supplements it.
The "homosexuality-as-contrary-to-procreation" theory completely overlooks the fact that sexual relations served an essential role in man's need for human companionship, not simply procreation, in the Old Testament theology of marriage.61 The allegation that Hebrews viewed semen as somehow sacred rests on a complete misreading of the Onan story, for Onan was punished for a violation of the levirate institution and not simply for wasting his seed. Homosexuality was punished as a positive
sin of commission, not merely as the failure to generate children through one's sexual activities. Otherwise heterosexual barrenness would be similarly condemned.
Such imaginative views are not based on an exegetical study of the Bible's own teaching but are imposed from outside. Scripture's own inspired rationale for God's prohibition of homosexuality is simple and direct: "It is an abomination (toevah),"62 that is, detestable in the sight of God, loathed as degrading and offensive to the moral sense.
Of course it might be idolatrous abomination, as the first circumstantial reinterpretation of the prohibition suggested. The problems with this theory, however, are textual and historical. God's Word contains a separate and explicit prohibition of cultic homosexuality,63 whereas in Leviticus 18:22 there is no reference to cult prostitutes and thus no necessary association with idolatrous rites.
The prohibition in Leviticus is found in a context predominately moral in character (as discussed above). The alleged cultic character of verse 23 is entirely speculative, and even the idolatrous reference in verse 21 does not make that particular command any less moral in its intention. After all, the prohibition of child sacrifice serves to protect human life and prevent the destruction of the family, as well as shunning pollution with Canaanite idolatry; the fact that this sin was historically a cultic rite does not make it any less a perpetual moral issue. The point, then, is that Leviticus 18:22 is distinct from the law against cultic homosexuality; the contexts of the two prohibitions are different, and there is no suggestion of idolatrous sexual rites in the Leviticus passage.
The appeal to historical and cultural background will do nothing to remedy this defect; in fact, it will defeat the theory altogether. The historical fact is that in Canaanite culture homosexuality was practiced as both a religious rite and a personal
sexual perversion in general; it was popular in the temple and the town, performed both religiously and hedonistically. Israel's pagan neighbors knew both secular and sacred homosexuality, which would make two different biblical prohibitions all the more necessary for God's will to be clearly revealed to His people. The Bible condemns the sex life of the heathen town as well as the sexual idolatry of the heathen temple.
The advocates of the circumstantial reinterpretation of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 do not prove that these verses must be interpreted as saying what Deuteronomy 23:17,18 says and no more. In fact they illegitimately collapse the two distinct prohibitions into each other, thereby suppressing a portion of God's moral will as does an interpreter who reads Romans 13:13 and 1 Corinthians 11:21 and concludes that God merely forbids drunkenness at the sacraments of the church and not drunkenness in general.
Even if it could be shown that there is some cultic association with the homosexuality prohibited in Leviticus 18:22, there is still no reason to think that the law is exhaustively cultic in its reference; after all, God would abhor homosexuality all the more, it seems, for its incidental idolatrous connections. The circumstance would in this sense aggravate the offense of homosexuality, not reformulate the basic meaning of the prohibition.
The error of this circumstantial reinterpretation of Leviticus 18:22 is all the more clear when one realizes that the same line of interpretation could be applied to the prohibition of bestiality in verse 23. Parallel reasoning would lead us to deem bestiality outside of religious or cultic contexts as morally acceptable today a conclusion that ought to shock our ethical sensibilities (even if we have become insensitive to the continual propaganda for homosexuality in present-day culture).
Many counterexamples to the pattern of argument used in the circumstantial reinterpretation undermine its validity and credibility.
For example, the historical fact that stealing is always associated with envy or covetousness, which is idolatry according to Colossians 3:5, would not reduce the eighth commandment to the second or tenth.
Homosexuality is so vile in God's sight, so repugnant to His moral character, that in ancient Israel it carried the sanction of capital punishment.64 We must remember that in the Old Testament "every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense."65 Homosexuality is so contrary to creation and to God's will that every hint of wiping out the created distinction between the sexes was also forbidden. Even impersonating the other sex by one's clothing was abominable.66
Homosexuality is presented in God's just law as worthy of death. Now with other capital crimes the law of God draws important ethical distinctions relating, for example, to the offender's motivation67 or the circumstances of the offense.68 When qualifications and mitigating circumstances are relevant in evaluating the crime, God lays them down for us and does not leave them to speculation and later historical research. But no excuse, amendment, or circumstantial consideration mitigated the prohibition or punishment of homosexuality. The instructions for the severe sanction against it in Israel were simple and direct. Under no circumstances could homosexuality be tolerated as morally acceptable.
Therefore we are compelled to say that God's law against homosexuality cannot be deprived of its force. It is not an objectionable double standard, is not arbitrary and inconsequential, cannot be taken as a temporary ceremonial law, and ought not to be reduced to circumstantial sins associated with it or its social implications.
The numerous attempts to escape its binding character are futile and lead to the distortion of God's Word through interpretive methods that must read things into the text, ignore the broader context of Scripture, violate the analogy of faith, and resort to fallacious maneuvers.
God has created man in such a way and ordered social relations in such a way, God has worked such judgment in the course of history, God has such a holy character as is transcribed in the law, that homosexuality is "an abomination." It upsets the proper sexual relations between people, representing an attempt to redefine man and the world in the image of the sinner. It provokes the wrath of God, is diametrically opposed to His nature, and is punishable by death. This much is taught in the creation account, the story of Sodom, and the law of God.
It was because the Canaanites practiced such "abominations" as homosexuality that God scourged them from the land.69 This shows that the Mosaic law's content was binding even on those outside the covenant community, those not given the redemptive special revelation of God's law a fact that confutes the suggestion that God's law cannot have direct binding force in the modern secular state, but only in the church of Christ. All men in all times and all cultures are obligated by the Lord to abhor and refrain from homosexuality. From the perspective of Old Testament revelation the conclusion is clear: homosexuality is perverted (contrary to God's created order), immoral (contrary to God's commandment) and worthy of death (temporal, societal, eternal).
Identical principles are authoritatively revealed in the first chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, thus providing explicit
New Testament confirmation of the Old Testament ethic regarding homosexuality.
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire towards one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error . . . And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things [the sins listed in verses 28-31] are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.70
In this context Paul was teaching that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against those who turn from their proper relationship to the Creator; suppressing the truth of God, they resort to various forms of idolatry, serving the creature with darkened minds and foolish reasoning. In response, God gives them over to impure lusts and the dishonoring of their bodies specifically, to homosexuality, which in turn stimulates further depravities. Men who give up God and His law are eventually given up by God to wander in morally polluted practices that become a way of life. Specifically, the penalty for man's rebellion against the true service to God is homosexuality, which Paul described with reinforcing disapprobation as "impurity," "dishonoring of the body,"71 "degrading passions,"72 "indecent acts" (or "shameless deeds"), "error,"73 the "improper" activity of a "depraved mind."74 Homosexuality exchanges the natural use of sex for unnatural sexual practices,75 thereby evidencing immoral perversion in the most intimate of human relations and being
"worthy of death."76 The best commentary on this teaching is found in the Old Testament, upon which Paul drew heavily.
Scripture's most obvious condemnation of homosexuality as intrinsically immoral is found in this Romans passage. Nevertheless, there are those who seek to evade its straightforward indictment. In the first place there are those who maintain that Paul did not single out homosexuality as especially offensive among sins; it is not taken up as a subject in its own right but merely dealt with incidentally among the results of a perverted relationship to God presented simply as part of a broader pattern of pagan excesses.
Such a response to Paul's words is plainly wrong. After all, homosexuality is presented precisely as an appropriate illustration of sinful depravity. Indeed, it is Paul's key illustration of the perversion that results from rebellion against God, a conspicuous symptom of such rebellion. The subject is discussed, to be sure, in relation to its roots and effects, but the moral character of homosexuality is nonetheless discussed in its own right as well. Its vile character clinches Paul's argument concerning the consequences of suppressing the knowledge of God, and thus what Paul said in describing it cannot be minimized. To contend that homosexuality in Romans 1 is portrayed merely as a punishment for sin and not as a sin itself is to forget that God often punishes sin by turning men over to that sin and its effects completely.77 This is exactly what Paul said about homosexuality: it is both sin and punishment for sin.78
Second, there are supporters of homosexuality who claim that Paul is condemning lust and promiscuity, not homosexual love and devotion; the assumption is that the moral quality of homosexuality cannot be judged in isolation from the attitude
and context in which one exercises it, the interpersonal support it supplies, and the personal fulfillment it offers. Supposedly there are distinctions to be drawn, with the result that we should recognize a commendable Christian practice of homosexuality in contrast to depraved versions of it.
But such a suggestion is mere wishful thinking without biblical support. Paul was quite adept at drawing careful moral distinctions. He recognized pertinent qualifications that had to be made and gave his readers details of intricate ethical problems (such as those regarding meats offered to idols, marriage and divorce, spiritual gifts, exhortations and rebukes, uses and abuses of the law). If homosexuality could gain divine approval in any sense, Paul would have indicated as much and drawn the distinctions which men now wish to impose upon his text.
In ancient culture homosexuality was commonplace, with certain distinctions customarily drawn between homosexuality as an ideal expression of love (e.g. in Plato's Symposium) or an aid to military prowess (e.g., in Spartan propaganda) and homosexuality in the form of prostitution and indiscriminate infatuation. The one was encouraged, the other discouraged. By contrast, Paul, who was well versed in the culture of his day, drew no such distinctions but categorically condemned homosexuality without exception. Scripture cannot be interpretively shaped to fit the contours of sin, and homosexuality cannot be cleverly domesticated within a divinely approved lifestyle. There is no more a Christian form of homosexuality than there is a Christian form of adultery or bestiality or rape, etc. Romans 1 makes no room for any kind of homosexuality whatsoever, for it is plainly and simply "error," a wrong lifestyle.79 If Paul's words can be twisted to allow for homosexuality under certain conditions, the same line of thought can be taken with all of the sins elaborated in verses 28-31 indeed, with any sin whatsoever!
The third attempt to blunt Paul's condemnation of homosexuality argues that Paul's fundamental concern was the general influence of paganism on believers or the contaminating idolatry of Hellenistic cultures, which was associated with homosexuality in the mind of any pious Jew (and which would be a particular problem for Roman Christians). One author goes so far as to say that Romans 1:26-31 is merely Paul's cliché-ridden summary of a well-known list of vices popularly used to condemn Gentile culture and religion. Since Paul's intention was simply to use such a hackneyed catalogue to say that all men80 fall under the rule of God's wrath, we must conclude that there is nothing particularly virtuous about any sexual orientation in itself, heterosexual or homosexual. One would also fall under Paul's condemnation in Romans 1 by insisting upon and thereby idolizing the sexual preference of heterosexuality. It also represents worship of the creature rather than the Creator, failing to see God's gracious acceptance in the face of man's rejection (the theme of the epistle). So then, a true understanding of Paul's teaching would allow one to be "graciously gay," we are told.
At some point in a discussion such as this it becomes appropriate to warn interpreters of God's inspired Word that they must be careful not to "wrest the Scriptures unto their own destruction."81 The preceding misstatement of Paul's teaching is a dangerous perversion of the biblical doctrines of God's wrath and grace. To say that all men are condemned by God's law is not at all the same as saying that God's law condemns all attitudes and behavior; there are actions which God commands (e.g., working gainfully six days a week) and which God condemns (e.g., stealing, Sabbath-breaking), even though no man perfectly abides by God's will in these matters.
Paul cited homosexuality as a specific violation of God's
revealed will in his conclusion that all men are condemned by the law. But men's universal condemnation under law cannot be used to empty specific commands of their content, making heterosexuality and homosexuality equally sinful in God's sight. Likewise, the insistence on upholding God's moral standard (e.g., regarding heterosexuality) over against its transgression can be deemed idolatrous only by eliminating any thought of clear and definable moral character in God. The grace of God teaches men to renounce sin and live by the righteous pattern of God's law; for that reason one can be "graciously gay" no more than one can "graciously murder." We must beware of such "ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness."82
If Paul drew from a well-known list of pagan vices in Romans 1, then we should conclude that indeed these are, in God's sight, genuine vices. The fact that a biblical writer had historical sources for his own teaching83 does not undermine the accuracy of what he taught,84 for men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God and the final product of their efforts must be accounted as God-breathed.85 However, in light of our previous investigation starting point for his teaching about homosexuality was the Old Testament.
The fact that Paul moved in Romans 1 directly from a discussion of idolatry to homosexuality does not suggest that he was referring exclusively to cultic homosexuality. As similarly discussed regarding Old Testament law, Romans does not specify cultic prostitution, and in terms of historical setting there would be every reason for Paul to condemn secular homosexuality itself (and not merely cultic homosexuality).
Paul's words in Romans 1 cannot be restricted to the pagans' ritual homosexuality any more than his judgment on prostitution86 can be restricted to the well-known occurrences of this sin within pagan cultic services. Verses 28-31 indicate clearly that Paul's mind was on intrinsically moral behavior as he discussed repercussions of abandoning the knowledge of God87. Furthermore, it is evident from the text that Paul was not simply concerned with the general influence of paganism or with merely expressing a narrow-minded disdain for Hellenistic culture. He dealt bluntly and specifically with homosexuality as the manifest outcome of paganism and the leading proof of the degradation of Hellenistic culture; the other sins mentioned are accompanying vices to homosexuality. The offense was not its Greek background (which was hardly unique) but its transgression of God's holy standards of morality revealed in nature and Scripture.
The last attempt to dispose of Paul's condemnation of homosexuality that we shall investigate, by far the most ingenious, is the claim that Paul was condemning perversion and not inversion. Some allege that Romans 1:26, 27 describes people who "exchange" their own natural inclination toward heterosexuality for homosexuality, thereby perverting their own nature; it does not touch on the inverted person who has never been attracted to the opposite sex and is by his own nature homosexually inclined. This would mean that those who are (according to the theory) constitutionally homosexual in their orientation and who have not willfully given up their natural sexual relations for what would be "unnatural" to them (heterosexuality) do not come within the scope of Paul's judgment. Indeed, we are told that it would be perverted according to Paul's teaching for a naturally oriented homosexual to turn to heterosexuality in his behavior, for that would
be an exchange from the natural to the unnatural. It turns out that what was apparently the strongest indication of homosexuality's intrinsic immorality becomes in fact the homosexual's greatest defense!
This defense rests on the interpretation it offers of the phrase "against nature" (para phusin) in verse 26. Not a few defenders of homosexuality fluctuate between contrary approaches to the phrase, and some try to combine senses in which it might be taken so as to exonerate "constitutional" homosexuality in one way or another. For purposes of analysis it will be best to isolate the options that have been suggested, finally returning specifically to the above theory.
(1) According to one approach, Paul was speaking of what is contrary to the intrinsic nature or essence of a thing;88 however, Paul's judgment against homosexuality cannot be clearly established or conclusively evaluated. How does one discern that something or someone is acting "contrary to nature" by statistical comparison with others (in which case the "natural" constantly changes), or by perceiving an individual's own common pattern (in which case systemic behavior can never be perverse)? Do we want to condemn homogenized milk simply on the grounds that it is unnatural?
(2) Another approach reads Paul as speaking of that which is contrary to a religio-cultural heritage or custom, matters of training and social conditioning; for a Jew what is "against nature" would be functionally equivalent to what is improper by Jewish custom and forbidden to the chosen people in God's law.89 Thus in Romans 1:26 Paul was simply making the point that the Gentiles go beyond what was approved for the Jews in Leviticus because the Gentiles have not recognized the living and true God.
Homosexuality is not being viewed as evil independent of a person's social customs but only within the context of Jewish law, which saw it as an expression of cultic idolatry.
(3) Finally, others think that in speaking of behavior "against nature" Paul had in mind a conscious choice to act contrary to one's normal inclinations. Paul censures men for engaging in sexual acts that are contrary to their ordinary heterosexual appetites, but does not speak to the question of inversion (a psychological condition wherein one is naturally inclined toward members of the same sex) because it does not reflect an abandoning of one's own natural function.90
In reply to the first suggestion and its critical attack on the possibility of knowing and evaluating what is "natural," we need simply observe that God, the Creator of man, who establishes the essence of all things and ordained man's normal functions, is certainly in a position to reveal what is natural to sexual relations. While in some respects He requires man to use, subdue, and change the natural world (e.g., removing weeds, curing polio), He nevertheless forbids the transgression of certain essential boundaries.91 Despite the problems of a philosophy of natural law that is devised independently of God's revelation, the fact remains that God knows the essential nature of all things and thus can infallibly declare the appropriate functions and relations for man.
In reply to the second suggestion, we must remember that the Jewish law of the Old Testament is still normative for the modern world. It was not intended as an ethical eccentricity of the Israelites but is manifest in the hearts of the Gentiles,92 stands as an ideal and standard for all nations,93 and shows how God's kingdom comes and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Accordingly, even if Paul meant in Romans 1:26 that homosexuality
was contrary to the "customary" Jewish law (i.e., nature), this would not mitigate his universal condemnation of it. Moreover, as was discussed previously, the Jewish law does not condemn homosexuality simply in terms of idolatrous circumstances; it prohibits all forms of homosexuality, secular and sacred.
In reply to all three suggestions, but more particularly to the third, we need to observe the proper meaning of Paul's words, "against nature." In the immediate context we note that Paul is speaking of the knowledge of God available to men through the created world, rendering them without excuse in failing to glorify God properly and in exchanging the truth for a lie.94 Moreover, there is an internal witness to the moral standards of God in every man.95 Men are responsible to know certain things from the objective condition or order of the world and human nature; therefore Scripture can speak of nature teaching obvious moral truths,96 of men understanding things naturally or instinctively,97 and of men by nature doing the things of God's law.98
In the New Testament the "natural" pertains to the created world and its present general order as ordained by God, ranging from ordinary living things such as animals99 or branches100 and biological processes, 101 to the fundamental, original condition of things without artificial intervention either their innate character102 or inherited condition.103 God has ordained "the natural
function" for sexual relations in His creation order: the normal, and normative, pattern of male and female becoming one flesh. God's creation ordinance, with the specific distinction between male and female, intended for heterosexual relations to be "natural." Man's inherited condition and ordinary biological process, the essential character of his sexuality when there is no artificial intervention and willful reorientation, is therefore heterosexual. This information is clearly known from creation and conscience by those who disorder the natural function of sex.104 There is in the biblical perspective no such thing as "natural homosexuality." It is always at base a perversion of the created order.
To interpret the phrase "exchanged the natural function for that which is against nature" as pertaining to the personal, psycho-sexual orientation of individuals or the particular biographical history of certain people who go from one kind of sexual activity to another requires forced exegesis. Paul spoke, not of one's personal and previous sexual engagements, but of "the natural function" regardless of whether individual homosexuals have in fact consciously experienced heterosexual desires or acts. His thrust was that men and women have departed from what is natural for mankind, not for individual persons. His discussion was generic and categorical, dealing with the sexual function that God has ordained as natural for man, not with the individualized sexual natures of diverse individuals. Homosexuals "exchange" the right way to gain sexual gratification for one which is in itself "against nature";105 what males are said to "abandon" is not their own personal customary sexual activity but rather "the natural use of the female."106 It may be in some sense individually "natural" for someone to be a kleptomaniac, but it is nonetheless a perversion of God's will for man's prescribed manner of obtaining
things. Likewise, to say that heterosexual desires and acts are not "natural" to those individuals who are (allegedly) constitutionally homosexual plainly suppresses Paul's point. Homosexuality per se is always unnatural.
It is artificial to argue that Paul's verb tense in the phrase "abandoned the natural function" was chosen to denote exclusively an explicit act of renouncing former heterosexual ways by the homosexual. Rather, the verb signifies a resultant condition, not a conscious and definite act of past sexual conversion; (the connotation of past time is not necessary to the aorist participle at all). What Paul was teaching is the simple fact that those who burn with homosexual desire and commit indecent acts have effectively abandoned what God ordained for man's natural sexual impulse.
Therefore, this last attempt to dispose of Paul's condemnation of homosexuality fails as did the others. An exclusion of alleged inverts cannot be read into the text, setting them apart from Paul's censure of others who practice homosexual deeds after involvement in heterosexual patterns. Paul's simple point is that homosexuality in itself has the wrong sexual object. All homosexuality, regardless of whether one is inverted or converted to homosexuality, is itself a perversion, a departure from God's ordained use of sex. No qualifying or mitigating distinctions are warranted textually or theologically. The creation order and law of God have been violated in any and all expressions of homosexuality.
As indicated previously, these emphases of Paul are based on the teaching of the Old Testament. The creation account establishes heterosexuality as the pattern of man's sexual activity and desire; accordingly, Paul viewed homosexuality as an exchange of the natural for that which is against nature.107 The Sodom story demonstrates the judgmental wrath of God that is provoked by homosexuality,
leading to temporal and eternal punishment; accordingly, Paul taught that God gives homosexuals over abandons them to dishonor, degradation, and depravity108 and classifies them as "worthy of death."109 The law of God strictly prohibits homosexuality in Israel as an abomination carrying the death penalty; accordingly, Paul declared that homosexual is shameless error110 which transgresses the ordinance of God and that its practitioners know that they deserve to die for their disobedience to God's will.111
In a sense, homosexuality is the cultural culmination of rebellion against God. It represents the "burning out" of man and his culture.112 Paul described accompanying aspects of a culture that reaches this stage in verses 29-31.113 The vices enumerated by Paul accompany the open practice of homosexuality and characterize a society in which homosexuality is practiced and tolerated. Therefore, homosexuality that is publicly accepted is symptomatic of a society under judgment, inwardly corrupted to the point of impending collapse. Paul the apostle regarded it as the most overt evidence of that degeneracy to which God in His wrath gave over the nations.
Consider, then, what God says in His infallible Word about homosexuality. It violates His holy law, representing a departure into abominable sin and shameless error. It is dishonorable, degraded, and depraved. These are not the judgments of some narrow-minded, uneducated, overzealous, modern-day crusader who is drunk with rhetoric. These are the judgments of the one and only living and true God, whose holiness, wisdom, and truth are flawless. Man, who was created by God in His own image, ought to
reflect the purity of his Maker in thought, word, and deed. When men and women wander into homosexual perversion, thereby failing to conform to the righteousness of God, they dishonor themselves and degrade their own persons. That is why it is wrong for people to think that opposition to homosexuality is a violation of the homosexual's dignity as a person. It is precisely because of his dignity as a person that we must disapprove of homosexuality as unworthy of him as God's image.
It is untrue to the full extent of God's revealed will to reduce sexual ethics to questions of consent versus seduction, faithfulness versus promiscuity, etc. The form that one's sexual gratification takes is also a moral matter, and deviation from heterosexual monogamy brings the condemnation of God. This is contrary to the current attitude that says there is nothing intrinsically good or evil in any sexual act as such that one's situation and attitude make his behavior right or wrong. As important as love is, the Bible will not support or condone the view that love can validate whatever expression sex takes (e.g., adultery, homosexuality, bestiality). Those who would defend homosexual desires and acts must reject an absolute standard. In the eyes of God the object of one's sexual gratification is not a matter of indifference, despite the protest of homosexuals against the normativity of heterosexuality. A certain irony is to be observed, however. Despite the moral relativism advocated by homosexuals with respect to the form of sexual relations, in other contexts they really want a positive value attributed to their own sexual preference! They want not only acceptance, but approval, demanding that everyone else respond as though homosexuality were perfectly respectable; they speak of homosexual relations as having virtue and beneficial consequences, they speak of themselves as "gay" (open and proud about their sexual orientation), and they give their organizations honorific names (e.g., Dignity). The Word of God refuses to
render this kind of approval to the homosexual form of sexual expression and behavior under any condition whatsoever.
It is the summit of evil when the sinner is so void of shame114 that he is pleased with his vices and cherishes them.115 Romans 1:32 indicates that the sins condemned are not the result of an irreversible and unavoidable inner "orientation," but are indulged in deliberately and encouraged in others. While modern interviews show homosexuals self-deceptively portraying their sexual attitudes and behavior as normal and desirable, Paul did not tolerate homosexuality, because in the eyes of God it is radical iniquity. Not only those who perform acts of homosexuality but also those who give approval to them have gravely offended the holy Creator.116 Certainly disciples of Jesus Christ and the overseers in His Church should be far removed from any attitude and teaching that consents to homosexuality or effaces its sinful character. However, modern churchmen have instead learned to mirror the trends of the world. We would soberly conclude that modern society as well as the modern church are both dangerously close to divine retribution as they continue to tolerate and approve of homosexuality. "Gay liberation" is symptomatic of a culture abandoned by God to destruction and a church provoking the Lord with abomination.
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1. Genesis 1:27; cf. 5:2.
2. Genesis 1:31.
3. Matthew 19:4.
4. Genesis 2:24.
5. Genesis 2:18.
6. Genesis 2:23.
7. Genesis 2:24.
8. Mark 10:6-8; 1 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 5:31.
9. Romans 1:26-27.
10. 1 Cor. 7:2-5.
11. Heb. 13:4.
12. Genesis 19:5; Hebrew verb yadha.
13. Ezek. 16:49, 50 (which includes the mention of "abomination," cf. Lev. 18:22); it is worth noting however that most references are apparently not attributing particular sins to historic Sodom but simply holding up the city as "an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter," as 2 Peter 2:6 says.
14. Romans 1:29-31.
15. Genesis 18:20.
16. Genesis 19:13; cf. 18:21.
17. E.g., Gen. 18:1-5; Heb. 13:2.
18. Cf. Luke 10:10-13, where Jesus linked rejection of His messengers with Sodom's judgment.
19. Gen. 19:1.
20. Gen. 19:2-3.
21. Gen. 19:6-7.
22. Gen. 19:8.
23. As it sometimes does in the Old Testament, e.g., Gen. 4:1.
24. Note Judges 20:4-6.
25. "Young and old, from every end," Gen. 19:4
26. 2 Peter 2:6-8.
27. Romans 2:14-15.
28. Romans 1:32.
29. Cf. Matthew 5:17-48; 1 Cor. 6:14; 1 Tim. 5:18; Mark 10:19.
30. Lev. 18:22.
31. Lev. 20:13.
32. Cf. Lev. 18:20.
33. Cf. Lev. 18:1-5.
34. Cf. Matthew 22:39,40; John 10:35; 2 Tim. 3:16,17.
35. Deut. 6:24; 10:13; 30:15,19,20; 32:46-47.
36. Cf. Deut. 28.
37. Lev. 20:25.
38. Cf. Heb. 8:5; 10:1.
39. Cf. Heb. 7:11,12,28; 8:13; 10:8,9; Eph. 2:14-16.
40. Lev. 18:4.
41. Lev. 18:30.
42. Lev. 19:2.
43. Lev. 19:37.
44. Lev. 20:1-2.
45. Lev. 20:26.
46. Lev. 18-20.
47. Cf. Lev. 18:3, 24-30; 19:19; 20:22-26.
48. Lev. 19:5-8, 21,22.
49. Lev. 19:18; cf. Matthew 22:39-40.
50. Heb. 10:1-18.
51. Acts 10:9-20.
52. Cf. Deut. 8:3; 12:32; Matthew 4:4.
53. 1 Timothy 1:9-10.
54. Romans 1:24ff.; 1 Cor. 6:9-10.
55. Cf. Rev. 22:15.
56. Cf. 1 Kings 14:23-24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7; Hosea 4:14.
57. Lev. 18:22
58. Exod. 23:19.
59. As seen in the Onan story, Gen. 38:8-10.
60. Or else an illegitimate interpolation of Gen. 9:22.
61. Cf. Gen. 2:19-25.
62. Lev. 18:22.
63. Deut. 23:17,18.
64. Lev. 20:13.
65. Hebrews 2:2.
66. Deut. 22:5.
67. E.g., murder: Deut. 19:4-13.
68. E.g., rape: Deut. 22:23-29.
69. Lev. 18:24-30.
70. Romans 1:26,27,32, NASB.
71. Rom. 1:24.
72. Rom. 1:26.
73. Rom. 1:27.
74. Romans 1:28.
75. Rom. 1:26-27.
76. Rom. 1:32.
77. E.g., Hosea 4:17.
78. Cf. Romans 1:24.
79. Romans 1:27.
80. Gentile as well as Jewish: Romans 1; 2.
81. 2 Peter 3:16.
82. Jude 4.
83. E.g., Luke 1:3.
84. Luke 1:4.
85. 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16.
86. 1 Cor. 6:15.
87. Note the similar introductions to verses 26 and 27 regarding homosexuality and verses 29-31 regarding a variety of immoral deeds and attitudes.
88. As in Romans 11:24, where the ingrafting of tree branches is said to be "against nature."
89. Cf. Galatians 2:15 where those who are Jews "by nature" have a manner of life distinct from the Gentiles, who are "by nature" uncircumcised, according to Romans 2:27.
90. Cf. Romans 1:27a, where the punctiliar aorist participle, aphentes, could suggest a specific past point of transition from heterosexual to homosexual activity.
91. E.g., nothing in the created realm is to be worshiped, for the Creator alone is God by nature, Gal. 4:8; it is natural that there be a recognized distinction between the sexes, 1 Cor. 11:14.
92. Romans 2:14-15.
93. Deut. 4:8; Isa. 51:4; Lev. 18:24-27; Prov. 14:34; Psalm 72:1-11; Matthew 28:18-20.
94. Romans 1:18-25.
95. Rom. 2:14-15.
96. 1 Cor. 11:14.
97. Jude 10.
98. Rom. 2:14.
99. James 3:7; 2 Peter 2:12.
100. Romans 11:21, 24.
101. Rom. 11:24.
102. Gal. 4:8; James 3:7; 2 Peter 1:4.
103. Gal. 2:15; Romans 2:27; Eph. 2:3.
104. Romans 1:32; cf. 1:19,20; 2:14,15.
105. Romans 1:26.
106. Romans 1:27.
107. Romans 1:26-27.
108. Romans 1:24, 26, 28.
109. Rom. 1:32.
110. Romans 1:27.
111. Rom. 1:32.
112. Cf. Romans 1:27.
113. "Being filled with" in Romans 1:29 modifies "them" in Romans 1:28, which is to say, the homosexuals of Romans 1:26,27.
114. Aschemosune, Rom. 1:27.
115. Rom. 1:32; cf. Prov. 2:14; Ezek. 16:25.
116. Romans 1:32.
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