The Bible and Same Sex Relationships, Part 10: Changing the Way We Read Romans 1

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12 thoughts on “The Bible and Same Sex Relationships, Part 10: Changing the Way We Read Romans 1”

  1. Paul writes about two revelations in Romans 1:16-32.
    * The one is God’s righteousness (that is by faith from first to last) in 1:16-18.
    * The second is God’s wrath (against all the godlessness and wickedness of men) in 1:18-32.
    Both revelations are Paul’s and are intricately linked in terms of his argument in the rest of Romans.
    The “quotation” in 1:17 is from Scripture (Hab. 2:4 in the LXX) which one can locate. The same can not be said of the “quotation” that Calvin Porter proposes, that is apparently well known. Porter’s argument therefore does not hold at all.

  2. Chris, your simple summary does not deal in any way with the issue of Romans 2:1, and then the rest of Romans 2. How do you make sense of the fact that Paul refutes what he’s just said in Romans 1? Neither does your summary take account of the central theme of Romans, which is the call to unity of Jews and Gentiles. I am afraid that your summary is simply a repetition of the traditional interpretation without dealing with most of the contextual information I have presented.

  3. A Comment is per definition short and simple. I have written on this chapter at length in another context. To answer your comment. Romans 2 challenges the Jews and chapter 3 all mankind to recognize that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, precisely in connection with the argument on the glory of God that Paul speaks about in 1:18. The whole of Romans is thus all Paul’s own thoughts, right through. Calvin Porter cannot produce the alledged quotation, much the same as the old sources theories on Isaiah 1-3, that stands corrected currently in OT theology, because there is no hard evidence in terms of manuscripts. B that as it may, I am not advocating the traditional view on gay marriages as such. I am just appalled at the assertion that Romans 1:18 vv. is a quote from another writer. One would for instance expect an introduction like Paul does with the quote from Habbakuk in 1:17. Alas, there is no such thing.

  4. Thanks for that explanation, Chris. I am sure you’ll be interested in the next part of this series.

    I am going to edit the original post to make my point about Paul’s quote more clear. Thanks.

  5. I have read a bit more on Porter’s idea of Romans 1:18-32 as an interpolation, as also proposed by O’Neill and Walker, although on different grounds. Those proposals from the nineties have not met with the approval of the wider NT scholarly world. Thus the commentaries of this century, for instance the one from Frank Matera 2010, the one from Hultgren 2011, and the most recent one from Michael Wolter 2015 have discounted the idea that Romans 1 doesn’t come trom Paul himself. Romans 2:1-5 in their view is a diatribe against an imaginary Jewish reader/listener to counter any idea that the Jews can look down on the rest of the world because of the revelation of God’s wrath in Rom. 1:18. This is a technique that Paul will use again and again in the rest of Romans, sometimes also against an imaginary Gentile reader. Interpolations on the basis of language, which per definition have to do with the subject matter and thus differs from the surrounding language of a given writer, are notoriously difficult to sustain. Plus the fact that there is no introduction in Rom. 1:18 that would make sense of the so-called interpolation, as Paul does in 1:17 with his quote from Habakuk, strongly suggest that this is Paul’s own words. I reiterate – I am not condemning gay-marriages as such, but really cannot see any value in Calvin Porter’s proposal. Let Paul’s word be his own and let us make sense of it as he speaks it.

  6. Chris, that’s a very fair critique of this view. I do think it’s a touch speculative. If you are not convinced by it, just move on to the next part of the series, which engages with a more traditional interpretation.

  7. “The plain reading of Romans 1 makes it clear that Paul has in mind people who have taken their sexuality to excess and gone against nature, descending into sexual depravity. This does not describe LGBT people seeking a lifelong, monogamous, covenantal relationship.”

    First of all, what is this business of always saying, “lifelong, monogamous, covenantal relationships” when referring to same-sex relationships? Why should it be lifelong and monogamous? And what covenant are they upholding?

    Bur more importantly, of course Romans 1 described homosexual relationships. Homosexual relationships are the very essence of going against nature! Our very bodies bear that out. Without being graphic, it’s obvious that male and female bodies function sexually in a particular way. They do not function sexually that way when it’s same sex couples.

    That’s why there is such a high rate of sickness among homosexuals when compared with the heterosexual population. (Something that is always ignored and even denied when brought up in discussion.)

    You can stick food in your ears and call it eating. But that’s not what the ears are meant to do. Do that long enough and you will die of starvation.

    Of course homosexual relationships go against nature itself. You don’t even need the Bible to tell you that! The very fact that if it was only homosexual couples, the human race would die out in a generation because they cannot procreate is evidence enough!

  8. Mo, I don’t believe the Bible has anything to say on sexual positions. If sex in any position other than “missionary” is a real problem, why did God not instruct male and female married couples to not engage in anal or oral sex? He did not give any such prohibition. YOU might not like it or engage in it, but that is a cultural bias, not a Biblical mandate. I don’t buy the “sexual position” argument against homosexuality.

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