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Romans 1:18-32

In terms of its place in the argument of the epistle, Rom. 1:18-3:20 is something of an interruption. Moo explains:

 

"Paul implicitly acknowledges that 1:18-3:20 is an interruption in his exposition of the righteousness of God by his clearly intentional 'reprise' of 1:17 in 3:21: 'But now the righteousness of God has been manifested. . . .' Why this interruption? What is the purpose of this step-by-step indictment of humanity?" (88)

 

It would appear that 1:18-3:20 is Paul's preparation for the exposition of the gospel of grace that begins in 3:21. In other words, the grace of God in Christ, received by faith, can be understood and appreciated only against the dark backdrop of human sin and depravity. Thus, in 1:18-32 Paul paints the grim picture of Gentile corruption, while 2:1-3:8 indicts the Jew. All of humanity, therefore, stand guilty before God (see 3:9).

 

The principal reason for seeing Gentiles in 1:18-32 is that the knowledge of God rejected by those depicted in these verses comes exclusively through natural revelation, i.e., that which God has revealed of himself in creation or the natural order of things. The Jews, on the other hand, are accountable to God primarily on the basis of the special revelation found in the Law of Moses and Holy Scripture (cf. 2:12-13,17-29). One should also note that Paul's critique here is remarkably similar to the typical Jewish view of Gentile idolatry (Schreiner, 81). Furthermore, this overt form of idolatry was virtually nonexistent among the Jews of Paul's day. The fact that Paul focuses on homosexuality also points to Gentiles, among whom this particular sin was far more prominent and public than it was among the Jews. Schreiner also points to the fact that most Jews would hardly identify themselves with those described in verse 32. They would not smile on the sins of others but condemn them, whereas the evil of the Gentile world was expected since Gentiles were outside the covenant of the one true God? (81).

 

 

 

II. The Way of Salvation - 1:18-5:21

 

A. Human Depravity: the doctrine of universal sin - 1:18-3:20

 

[Perhaps no doctrine of Romans (and of the Christian faith) is being undermined and soft-pedaled in our churches today as is that of human depravity. Strategies for church growth, philosophies of preaching, methods of worship, tactics for evangelism, etc. are being recast in order to downplay the reality of human sin and the eternally precarious position in which it places the individual.]

 

1. Sin & Condemnation of the Gentiles

 

a. The wrath of God 1:18-20

 

1) the reality of wrath v. 18a

 

Cf. Nahum 1:2-3a,6-8.

 

The doctrine or concept of wrath is thought by many to be beneath God. C. H. Dodd, for example, speaks for many when says that the notion of divine wrath is archaic and that Paul's terminology refers to no more than 'an inevitable process of cause and effect in a moral universe.' In other words, for such as Dodd, divine wrath is an impersonal force operative in a moral universe, not a personal attribute or disposition in the character of God.

 

Clearly, Dodd and others misunderstand divine wrath. It is not the loss of self-control or the irrational and capricious outburst of anger.

 

Observe the terminology: (a) the Greek term orge = wrath (from which we derive our word "orgy", a mindless loss of control, especially sexual in nature); and (b) the Latin term ira (from which we get 'irate' and 'irritable').

 

But divine wrath is not to be thought of as a celestial bad temper or God lashing out at those who 'rub Him the wrong way.' Divine wrath is righteous antagonism toward all that is unholy. It is the revulsion of God's character to that which is a violation of God's will. Indeed, one may speak of divine wrath as a function of divine love! For God's wrath is His love for holiness and truth and justice. It is because God passionately loves purity and peace and perfection that He reacts angrily toward anything and anyone who defiles them. Packer explains:

 

'Would a God who took as much pleasure in evil as He did in good be a good God? Would a God who did not react adversely to evil in His world be morally perfect? Surely not. But it is precisely this adverse reaction to evil, which is a necessary part of moral perfection, that the Bible has in view when it speaks of God's wrath' (Knowing God, 136-37).

 

2) the revelation of wrath v. 18b

 

Lit., is being revealed (present tense). Where or how? Options: 1) a futuristic present, hence referring to the final judgment; 2) the disease and disasters of earthly life; 3) given the parallel with v. 17 some have argued that just as the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel so too is the wrath of God (i.e., the gospel is the proclamation of both grace and juddgment, mercy and wrath); or more probably 4) God's wrath is revealed in the content of vv. 24-32. I.e., 'the wrath of God is now visible in His abandonment of humanity to its chosen way of sin and all its consequences' (Moo, 96).

 

a) its origin: heaven

b) its object: humanity

 

'The wrath which is being revealed,' writes Cranfield, is no nightmare of an indiscriminate, uncontrolled, irrational fury, but the wrath of the holy and merciful God called forth by, and directed against men's ungodliness (sin is an attack on God's majesty) and unrighteousness (sin is a violation of God's will) (111). The nature of this "suppression of the truth" will be explained below.

 

3) the reason for wrath vv. 19-20

 

There is a reason for God's wrath. It is not capricious. God's wrath has been deliberately and persistently provoked by man's willful rejection of God as He has revealed himself.

 

a) who? v. 19

 

The revelation is both from God and about God. Therefore, in this case if the pupil does not learn it is not because the teacher did not teach.

 

The phrase 'evident to them' (NASB), is better rendered either in or among them, probably the latter; i.e., God has made himself known among people (and thus, in a manner of speaking, to them) in His works of creation and providence.

 

b) what? v. 20a

 

Observe Paul's paradoxical language: he refers to God's invisible attributes (1 Tim. 1:17) as clearly seen (oxymoron). Paul's point is that the invisible is made visible via creation or nature. Wisdom, power, eternity and goodness, for example, are not in themselves visible, but their reality is undeniably affirmed and apprehended by the effects they produce in nature.

 

That there is a God, supreme, eternal, infinite in power, personal, wise, independent, worthy of glory and gratitude, is clearly evident in the creation.

 

c) how? v. 20b

 

How are these truths about God made known and where may we see them? Answer: 'through what has been made.' God has left the indelible mark of His fingerprints all across the vast face of the universe.

 

See Psalm 19

 

'They who have no Bible may still look up to the moon walking in brightness and the stars watching in obedient order; they may see in the joyous sunbeams the smile of God, and in the fruitful shower the manifestation of his bounty; they hear the rending thunder utter his wrath, and the jubilee of the birds sing his praise; the green hills are swelled with his goodness; the trees of the wood rejoice before him with every quiver of their foliage in the summer air' (Robert Dabney).

 

'Heaven and earth and all creatures, herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea and all things declare God. There is not an atom of the universe in which God's power and divinity are not revealed' (Herman Bavinck).

 

d) why? v. 20c

 

This revelation renders all without excuse.

 

N.B. There is no such thing as ?an innocent native in Africa? any more than there is ?an innocent pagan in America.'

 

'The excuse that is banished, the excuse every pagan hopes in vain to use, the excuse that is exploded by God's self-revelation in nature is the pretended, vacuous, dishonest appeal to ignorance. No one will be able to approach the judgment seat of God justly pleading, 'If only I had known you existed, I would surely have served you.' That excuse is annihilated. No one can lightly claim 'insufficient' evidence for not believing in God' (R. C. Sproul, Classical Apologetics, 46).

 

The problem is not a lack of evidence. The problem is the innate, natural, moral antipathy of man to God. The problem is not that the evidence is not open to man. The problem is that man is not open to the evidence.

 

b. The wickedness of man 1:21-32

 

1) his impiety v. 21a

 

Note well: 'For even though they knew God' (v. 21a). There is no such thing as an honest atheist! All people know God. There is a distinction, of course, between a cognitive apprehension of God, i.e., knowing that there is a God and that He is worthy of obedience, worship, gratitude, and a saving or redemptive knowledge of God. All people experience the former whereas only the redeemed experience the latter. Thus the problem, again, is not a failure to honor what was not known, but a refusal to honor what was clearly known? (Sproul, 51).

 

a) undutiful

b) ungrateful

 

2) his ignorance vv. 21b-22

 

a) futile in his beliefs

b) foolish in his behavior

 

Paul does not say they began in darkness and futility and are slowly but surely groping their way toward the light. Rather, they began with the clear, inescapable light of the knowledge of God and regressed into darkness. More below.

 

The term foolish does not mean all pagans are stupid. It is not man's intelligence that is in view but his disposition. The problem with the unsaved isn't that he can't think with his head. The problem is that he refuses to believe with his heart. The unsaved man is a fool not because he is of questionable intelligence. He is a fool because of his immoral refusal to acknowledge and bow to what he knows is true.

 

3) his idolatry v. 23

 

What Paul has in mind involves a distortion or deliberate mutation when one substitutes something artificial or counterfeit for that which is genuine. Clearly, then, when man rejects God he does not cease to be religious. Indeed, he becomes religious in order to reject God. He substitutes for God a deity of his own making, often himself.

 

Here Paul 'describes the terrible proclivity of all people to corrupt the knowledge of God they possess by making gods of their own. This tragic process of human 'god making' continues apace in our own day, and Paul's words have as much relevance to the person who has made money or sex or fame his god as to those who carved idols out of wood and stone' (Moo, 105).

 

 

Two important theological issues are worthy of special note:

 

1. A psychological description of human sin

 

It is possible to translate Paul's analysis of the human response to God into contemporary psychological terms.

 

Trauma R. C. Sproul explains: 'A traumatic experience generally involves something negative or threatening to the individual. . . . In the case of Paul's analysis the trauma is produced by encounter with God's self-revelation. For various reasons, God's presence is severely threatening to people. God manifests a threat to human moral standards, a threat to the quest for autonomy, and a threat to the desire for concealment. God's revelation represents the invasion of light into the darkness to which people are accustomed' (58).

 

Repression In psychological terms 'repression may be defined as the process by which unacceptable desires or impulses are excluded from consciousness and thus, being denied direct satisfaction, are left to operate in the unconscious' (59). The knowledge of God is simply unacceptable to the pagan, who buries what he knows or at least camouflages it sufficiently that it no longer poses a moral threat.

 

Substitution This corresponds to what Paul says about exchanging the glory and truth of God with an idolatrous substitute. As Sproul explains it, 'what results from the repression is the profession of atheism either in militant terms, or its less militant form of agnosticism, or a kind of religion that makes God less of a threat than He really is. Either option, atheism or false religion, manifests an exchange of the truth for a lie. The truth is exchanged for a lie simply because the lie seems easier to live with' (60).

 

What does this tell us about why people ultimately reject the gospel? Is their reason intellectual, as so many claim, or moral?

 

2. What about the heathen in Africa?

 

There is no escaping the fact that the vast majority of human beings in history died without ever hearing the name of Jesus. What may be said about the eternal destiny of these millions of souls? Are they forever condemned to hell? If so, how can it be fair or an expression of divine justice that they entered eternity without having had the advantage or opportunity afforded those who live in a place or time where the gospel of Christ is preached?

 

For an overview of the major options dealing with this question, see the chart at the end of the lesson, taken from What About Those Who Have Never Heard? ed. by John Sanders (Downers Grove: IVP, 1995), p. 20.

 

What does Paul have to say about Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Islam, Confucianism and the various forms of primitive animism and other religious isms?

 

The story in Romans 1 is not one of man's gradual evolution up the ladder of spiritual enlightenment, but of his grievous devolution into the depths of sin and rebellion. This is not an ascent but a descent, not progression but regression. In other words, non-Christian religions are not stages in the development of humanity brought about by the absence of the knowledge of God. Rather, they are the result of a deliberate denial of God and a refusal to glorify and honor him as God. Idolatry and non-Christian religions are not signs that men are searching for the truth, but evidence that they do not want it. Says Sproul:

 

"According to Paul, religion is not the fruit of a zealous pursuit of God, but the result of a passionate flight from God. The glory of God is exchanged for an idol. The idol stands as a monument not to religious fervor but to the flight of man from his initial encounter with the glory of God" (The Psychology of Atheism, 69).

 

All forms of so-called non-Christian religion, however sophisticated or primitive they may be, are not an indication of man's struggle to discover God, but rather of man's desperate attempt to deny Him.

 

The world's many religions and philosophies are not the efforts of men and women to reach God but a deliberate, contrived, cold-hearted attempt to run away from him.

 

Paul's point is that humanity does not begin in ignorance of God and patiently works its way to knowledge. Humanity begins with knowledge and makes its way wickedly to ignorance and idolatry.

 

People often argue that non-Christian religions are preparatory to faith in Christ, that they are the initial gropings of a hungry heart for truth. NO. They are, in fact, a repudiation of the truth, the expression of a deep-seated hatred of Christ. The study of world religions is not the study of human progress toward God but of human rebellion against Him.

 

This leads to several important conclusions:

 

a. The revelation of God in nature is sufficient to render all men without excuse, sufficient to lead to their condemnation if they repudiate it, but not sufficient to save. No one will be saved solely because of their acknowledgment of God in nature, but many will be lost because of their refusal of Him as revealed there.

 

b. The so-called heathen are not condemned for rejecting Jesus, about whom they have heard nothing, but for rejecting the Father, about whom they have heard and seen much. What exactly is the content of that revelation about God made known in nature and conscience (cf. Rom. 2:14-15)? Ronald Nash identifies seven elements:

 

1) God exists

2) This God created the physical universe

3) This God is loving

4) This God is personal, since love cannot characterize an impersonal deity

5) This God is a moral being

6) We have violated the moral law and thus are guilty

7) We have displeased the morally perfect God who is the source of the moral law.

 

(What About Those Who Have Never Heard? [IVP, 1995], p. 67)

 

c. If by God's gracious and sovereign enablement and enlightenment, any unbeliever responds to the revelation of God in nature (and conscience), God will take the necessary steps to reach him or her with the good news of Christ whereby they may be saved.

 

[For a more extensive discussion of this issue, see my notes on General Revelation as well as the discussion on Pluralism.]

 

 

 

4) his impurity - vv. 24-32

 

The horrifying refrain, "God gave them over", is repeated three times. There are two fundamental elements involved:

 

(1) Permissive - God withdraws divine restraint on men's hearts and permits them to have their way. Cf. Acts 14:16. God relinquishes his hold over them and ceases to curb their willful determination to sin. However, God's action in response to human sin is more than simply permissive.

 

(2) Positive - God doesn't simply let them go. He also positively consigns them to suffer the consequences of their sin. It is not merely divine relinquishment but also divine retribution. As Moo points out, "God does not simply let the boat go --- He gives it a push downstream. Like a judge who hands over a prisoner to the punishment his crime has earned, God hands over the sinner to the terrible cycle of ever-increasing sin" (106).

 

There are three additional issues to note:

 

First, Paul does not say that God is himself the cause of their impurity or idolatry. Rather, God gives them over to degrading passions. The act of divine relinquishment presupposes the existence of these sins. God gives them over to what they have already chosen for themselves. "In the midst of the retributive action of God there is no coercion of man. God does not entice or compel to evil" (S. Lewis Johnson).

 

Second, that to which God gives them over is not simply their sin but a deeper and more intense cultivation of their sin. In the absence of divine restraint (common grace), sin intensifies and aggravates itself. When God abandons someone to his sin, that sin accelerates.

 

Third, when God gives someone over in the way Paul envisions, is it forever? Is it permanent?

 

a) God gave them over to dishonorable impurity - vv. 24-25

 

Careful study of vv. 23-25 indicates that it is idolatry which leads to immorality. Men first abandon God and then God abandons them into the depths of every conceivable vice. Sexual perversion, says Paul, is the result of religious rebellion. This is also seen in the words Paul employs. Those who 'exchanged' (v. 23) God's glory and 'exchanged' (v. 25) his truth 'exchanged' (v. 26) natural sexual relations for what is unnatural. Simply put, sexual immorality is the consequence of human idolatry.

 

1 - impurity - v. 24

2 - idolatry - v. 25

 

b) God gave them over to degrading passions - vv. 26-27

 

1 - female homosexuality - v. 26

2 - male homosexuality - v. 27

 

Why does Paul focus on homosexual relations here? 'Probably because it functions as the best illustration of that which is unnatural in the sexual sphere. Idolatry is 'unnatural' in the sense that it is contrary to God's intention for human beings. To worship corruptible animals and human beings instead of the incorruptible God is to turn the created order upside down. In the sexual sphere the mirror image of this 'unnatural' chose of idolatry is homosexuality' (Schreiner, 94).

 

[For an extended study of homosexuality in the Bible, see below.]

 

c) God gave them over to depraved minds - vv. 28-32

 

1 - holy retribution - v. 28

2 - unholy results - vv. 29-32

 

It is stunning to note that 'despite their rejection of the true God and the darkening of their understanding (vv. 21-23), that they are still keenly aware of God's disapproval of their behavior' (Schreiner, 99). Indeed, they know 'the ordinance of God' that people who indulge in such behavior are 'worthy of death'. Yet, the depth of their depravity is even greater, for 'not only do they continue to practice evil that they know deserves God's sentence of death, but they also 'give commendation to those who practice these things'' (Schreiner, 99).

 

Homosexuality in the Bible

 

Depending on which survey one reads, anywhere from as few as 1% to as many as 10% of the American populace is homosexual in orientation. This, combined with the AIDS epidemic and the efforts to re-interpret the Bible in a way that endorses homosexual behavior, makes our study all the more urgent.

 

The biblical evidence regarding homosexuality is equally divided between the Old and New Testaments.

 

A. OT evidence regarding Homosexuality

 

1. Genesis 1-2

 

Foundational to an understanding of sexual ethics is the creation account in Gen. 1-2. God created male and female in His image. God ordained that male and female should leave father and mother and cleave unto each other and that the two, male and female, should become one flesh.

 

Human sexuality is portrayed in terms of the relationship between man and woman, Adam and Eve, not Adam and Freddy or Eve and Alice.

 

2. Genesis 19

 

The sin of Sodom (hence, sodomy) is crucial for an understanding of the biblical perspective on homosexuality.

 

According to many in the gay movement, the men of Sodom were simply anxious to meet and interrogate these two visitors to find out if they were spies. When they demanded of Lot that he bring out the two men in order that they might know them, their desire was to get better acquainted, to examine their credentials, as it were.

 

Their sin, therefore, for which they were punished, was little more than a lack of hospitality and kindness. By treating these visitors with suspicion and demanding that they subject themselves to inquiry and investigation, the men of Sodom were being unfriendly and inhospitable.

 

There are numerous problems with this interpetation:

 

a. Whereas the Hebrew verb yada means "to know" or "get acquainted", on 10 occasions in the OT it refers to sexual relations. Of those 10 occurrences, 5 appear in Genesis. Surely it is not far-fetched to conclude that Moses used the term with sexual connotations.

 

b. This view asks us to believe that because the men of Sodom lacked love and social courtesy, God reduced the entire city and its inhabitants to ashes! God incinerated Sodom and every living creature within its boundaries because the men violated some ancient law of etiquette! Please!

 

c. It is unlikely that Lot would have referred to a breach of etiquette as wickedness (v. 7).

 

d. If the verb yada means no more than "to get acquainted with" in v. 5, it must mean the same thing in v. 8, where it is used yet again. But does Lot mean to say that his daughters were not acquainted with any man? Was not Lot himself a man? Furthermore, even if yada means no more than "to get acquainted with", how could Lot's offer of his daughters "to get acquainted with" the men of Sodom compensate for their breach of hospitality toward the visitors? If it is admitted that yada (to know) in v. 8 refers to sexual relations (and even most homosexual scholars admit it does), it must refer to sexual relations in v. 5. Thus the sin of the Sodomites was not social, but sexual, in nature.

 

e. Let us suppose, solely for the sake of argument, that the verb yada means two entirely different things. In v. 5 it means "to get acquainted with" and in v. 8 it means "to have sex with". If that were the case, Lot is offering his two daughters as a sexual bribe in order to prevent a breach in the law of hospitality. That is psychologically ludicrous and absurd. Would a father propose the heinous violation of his own daughters simply to avoid the breach of a minor social custom?

 

Lot's decision to sacrifice his daughters is itself difficult to understand. Perhaps he knew more than he let on of the divine origin of the visitors and felt it would have been worse for them, than for his daughters, to have been subjected to such barbaric treatment. Perhaps he hoped that because the men of Sodom were homosexuals that they would not seriously harm his daughters. Perhaps he thought that no matter how bad heterosexual rape was, homosexual rape was worse. Perhaps he reacted impulsively, not thinking. We just don't know.

 

f. If the only thing the Sodomites wanted was to investigate the visitors' credentials, why didn't Lot simply comply? Why didn't he just introduce his guests and demonstrate their good intentions and put a swift and easy end to the matter?

 

g. The breach of hospitality interpretation would call for serious injustice. For "if the problem at Sodom was that the hospitality code was broken, it was Lot who broke it, not the inhabitants of Sodom. But then, Lot should have been the one judged. Instead, Lot and his family are the only ones who escape while Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed" (Feinbergs, 193).

 

h. Jude 7 confirms that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality, not inhospitality:

 

"Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire."

 

Those who wish to uphold the morality of homosexuality try to argue that Sodom's sin was not homosexuality per se, but homosexual rape. The sin of rape, so they insist, lies not in the fact that it is homosexual or heterosexual, but in the fact that it victimizes a non-consenting partner.

 

However, "nowhere does the text even slightly hint that what the men of Sodom wanted to do would be permissible if only Lot's guests had consented. Moreover, this interpretation does not account for the fact that God's judgment fell upon two entire cities. Was homosexual rape a common practice and thus brought the judgment of God? . . . What is more damaging is that God's judgment on homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah is quite in harmony with his prohibition and denunciation of this sin in other Scriptures properly interpreted. It is not as though this is the only time homosexuality is denounced and judged" (Feinbergs, 190).

 

3. Judges 19 (esp. vv. 22-30)

 

Virtually everyone acknowledges that this incident concerns sexual sin. As Davis points out, "the use of the same Hebrew word, yada ('to know'), in verses 22 and 25 shows unmistakably that in verse 22 the men of the city were demanding homosexual intercourse with the visiting Levite" (105).

 

4. Leviticus 18:22; 20:13

 

B. NT evidence regarding Homosexuality

 

1. Romans 1:26-27

 

It would appear that Paul addresses the sin of lesbianism in v. 26 and that of male homosexuality in v. 27. Several observations:

 

a. When Paul says unnatural or against nature he means contrary to the intent of the Creator, not contrary to the desires of the creature. By natural Paul means the way God created and intended for men and women to relate to each other sexually. Greg Bahnsen explains:

 

"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; what males are said to abandon is not their own personal customary sexual activity but rather the natural use of the female. 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" (57-8).

 

b. Paul refers to such people as receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error (v. 27b). He has in mind the physical, emotional, and moral consequences of such debauchery. This sort of immoral activity always provokes divine wrath.

 

c. In vv. 24 and 27 Paul says that such behavior is dishonoring to themselves. "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" (Bahnsen, 60).

 

d. Increased homosexuality in our society does not mean we are on the verge of being judged. It means we have already been judged. God judges such immorality by abandoning men and women to an even deeper, more intense and aggravated indulgence in the sin itself. The ever-accelerating increase of homosexuality in our society is not a precursor to divine judgment: it is the divine judgment.

 

2. 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:8-10

 

The debate focuses on the meaning of the terms translated effeminate (malakoi) and homosexuals (arsenokoitai) in v. 9.

 

malakoi - has the basic meaning of "soft" and thus came to be used as a "pejorative epithet for men who were 'soft' or 'effeminate,' most likely referring to the younger, 'passive' partner in a pederastic relationship" (Fee, 243);

 

arsenokoitai - this word is a compound of "male" and "intercourse" (cf. our word "coitus") and is generally understood to be a reference to the "active" partner in a homosexual relationship.

 

C. Related Issues

 

1. The distinction between act and disposition

 

2. Is AIDS the judgment of God?

 

a. If by God's judgment you mean that each person who has AIDS has contracted the disease because of some personal sin, the answer is No. Consider the case of those infected in the womb and hemophiliacs infected through blood transfusions.

 

b. Consider the analogy of war. In the OT war is often God's judgment on his people. But not all who suffer the ravages of war were guilty of the idolatrous behavior that provoked it. One of the mysteries of divine providence is the incidence of so-called innocent bystanders, as in the case of the children of a compulsive gambler or alcoholic; consider also the sailors who found themselves on board ship with Jonah!

 

We must remember that some who are sinning escape the suffering of AIDS while some who are not sinning contract it. The fact that not all who deserve to suffer do suffer and the fact that some who don't deserve to suffer, do, does not prohibit us from recognizing God's hand of judgment in this scourge.

 

c. The fact is, if there were no sexual promiscuity there would be virtually no cases of AIDS. Those who are most sexually promiscuous are at greatest risk. "It is exceedingly difficult---not to say morally and biblically irresponsible---not to see a connection" (Carson, 259). Says Carson:

 

"The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of those who suffer from the disease have engaged in biblically forbidden promiscuity or self-destroying drug use; and the small percentage of additional people who have suffered from the disease would never have contracted it had it not been for the larger groups" (260).

 

d. What about Rom. 1:27? But homosexuality itself is the due penalty of the perversion of inflamed lust; i.e., a deeper and more aggravated indulgence in the sin itself is the sin's punishment.

 

3. Homosexuality and the law

 

Comment on the following assertion by Davis:

 

"Christians cannot consistently support making a civil right of that which the Scriptures teach to be morally wrong. On biblical grounds, it would make as little sense to argue that society should endorse basic 'civil rights' to commit adultery, to operate houses of prostitution, or to commit child abuse. A moral wrong can never become the basis of a civil right. True civil rights, e.g., freedom of speech and assembly, are based on the fundamental dignity of the human person as created in the image of God. Homosexuality, however, does not represent such a fundamental human good, but rather a sinful disordering of human nature as originally intended by God" (114).

 

4. Can one be healed, cured, saved from homosexuality? Can the homosexual become authentically heterosexual?

 

See 1 Cor. 6:9-11

 

Let us never forget that homosexuality is not the worst sin, nor the only sin, nor the unforgiveable sin, nor an irreversible sin.

 

See also the Addendum on homosexuality.