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Objection #4: Paul identifies homosexual behavior as dirty, but not sinful.
The most outspoken promoter of this point of view is L. William Countryman, who unpersuasively attempts to distinguish between "dirty" (improper or unusual) and "what is sinful." However, the untenable foundation of this argument becomes immediately apparent when one considers the fact that homosexual behavior is described as "dishonorable passions" (vs. 26), "shameless acts" (vs. 27) and "error" (vs. 27) — not to mention several other negative descriptions of homoeroticism that are presented throughout the larger context of Romans 1. As Dr. Robert Gagnon states, "The plain reading of Romans 1:26-27 makes clear that Paul regarded same-sex intercourse and unrestrained passion for such practices as sin." And in the surrounding context of verses 18-32, the entire catalog of conduct is evaluated as equally sinful with no distinctions being made. Moreover, other significant Pauline texts unequivocally identify homosexuality as a transgression of God's moral law, which bars unrepentant participants from the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10).
James White and Jeffrey Niell also provide further clarification, "Their 'error' is not merely a 'miscalculation' as we might use the term 'error' today. Indeed, a better rendering of this term, which often is used in the New Testament to refer being misled or drawn from the right path, is 'perversion.'" So, whenever this distinct Greek word is used, moral deviancy is certainly in mind.
Finally, Paul writes that homosexuals are in danger of "receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error" (vs. 27). Homosexuality is therefore undoubtedly described as sinful and therefore worthy of the retributive wrath of God (see also vs. 18). Nevertheless, it is being commonly claimed by "gay"-affirming individuals that the Bible has only recently been reinterpreted with an anti-"gay" bias to condemn homosexuality. The historical record, however, reveals strong documented evidence to the contrary. Each of the following Church Fathers clearly and consistently spoke about homosexuality as a breach of the biblical, sexual ethic (bibliographical information included):
From the very beginning and all throughout the ages, there have been faithful Christians who have unwaveringly enunciated and staunchly upheld the historic biblical witness regarding homosexual practice. The revisionist claims represent nothing more than a recent development of our morally adrift, postmodern culture. Therefore, we must continue to follow in the footsteps of those who have accurately proclaimed the sinfulness of homosexuality and the need to repent of all such sexually aberrant behavior. The souls of homosexuals literally hang in the balance.
Click here for the first part of this series.
Author's Note: The following primary resources were utilized in the writing of this article: The Same Sex Controversy, James R. White and Jeffrey D. Niell; The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, Robert A.J. Gagnon; Can You Be Gay and Christian?, Michael L. Brown; The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible, Joe Dallas.
Jeff Allen is both senior editor and a columnist for BarbWire. He also serves as senior pastor in a mainline Christian church in Indiana.
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