We are spending a lot of time in Romans 1, because this is the passage that most people point to when they want to exclude LGBTQI people from the church and Christian faith. This is the fourth part of our mini-series in Romans, and looks in even more detail at the original text and specifically at Romans 1:26-27, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
What were the women, and men, actually doing? And what did Paul condemn in these verses?
We will discover that Paul’s issue is temple prostitution and pederistic relationships. And that he is not actually condemning same gender sexual activity in these verses. That’s right: the verses don’t say what you’ve been told they say. And once you see what they do say, you won’t be able to unsee it.
In Romans 1, Paul says that women and men were “given over by God” to their “shameful lusts” and did what is “against nature”. What did he mean by this? And does that apply to LGBTQI people today who want to get married to their lifelong, loving partner?
In this episode of the ALLin Pod we do detailed word studies of what it means for something to be shameful and unnatural. Neither of them are what you might expect: they’re related to things that are socially unacceptable, rather than something that is morally wrong or evil.
This changes completely how we should understand this passage.
This is part 2 of the mini-series in the book of Romans, Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. In the first chapter of this letter, Paul appears to list a whole lot of sins, including same gender sexual activity. But if you read on into Romans 2, and in fact the rest of the letter, the tone and purpose of the first chapter seems to change. So, what was the purpose of the letter, and what light does that shine on how we should understand chapter 1. Graeme Codrington explores these questions, and comes once again to the same conclusion: that Romans 1 is not addressing loving, consensual LGBTQI relationships at all.
This is a long episode, and we highly recommend that you have a Bible handy to follow along the readings. In fact, we recommend you read the whole letter to the Romans before listening to this episode.
Further readings on the purpose of the letter to the Romans:
We finally get to the book of Romans in our study of the verses that have traditionally been used to oppose gay marriage and the inclusion of the LGBTQI community into churches. This is the start of a four part mini series on Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, and in this episode we read through the text looking at the plain meaning of Romans 1 and 2. We’ll get into more detail in the next episodes, but even on the plain reading of the text, it is clear that Paul is not talking about loving, committed, monogamous same gender relationships – he’s talking about something else.
For more details, read my original document on this topic.
In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul says that those people who are “malakos” are outside of the Kingdom of God. This is a Greek word that means “soft”. It is a strange choice of word for Paul to use if he meant to describe homosexuals. In the context of the passage, and with understanding of the culture of the day, this word makes a lot more sense if it is describing effeminate young men who made themselves available as “call boys”.
In his letters to Corinth and Timothy, the senior pastor at Ephesus, Paul lists a number of sins that will keep people out of the Kingdom of God. Included in these lists is a word that Paul made up. Why did he make this word up, what does it mean, and how should we understand it today?
See here for the table of vice lists referred to in the podcast.
It was my turn to preach at our church this morning. My sermon is about Ressurection, Sabbath and Exodus, and can be watched at https://www.facebook.com/MelroseChurchJhbZA/posts/153826419456676
I talked about how the Resurrection of Jesus is deliberately linked back to two big themes in the Old Testament:
1. the Creation Sabbath, which reminds us that the world is meant to be a place where we all have work and rest in a natural rhythm, and
2. the Exodus Passover, which reminds us that we are not meant to be in slavery to our work.
Jesus did not come to merely save us from this world and give us a hope of life after death, he came to save us from incorrect and oppressive systems in this world. Maybe Covid-19 is the reset the world needed to move us towards this picture of what the world is meant to be.
A few years ago, a good friend of mine, author and pastor Brian McLaren wrote a magnificent, thought-provoking piece about the type of Christianity the world needs now. It’s more relevant than ever.
For my friends who are Christian leaders, please read and re-read the last two lines a few times. That’s really the whole thing there.
The deepest difference in Christianity is not what you think:
Continue reading The deepest difference in Christianity is not what you think
A Reflection during Lockdown on Good Friday, 10 April 2020:
It’s the hope that nearly killed me…
That’s a line from the amazing documentary, “Touching the Void”. Joe Simpson and his mountaineering partner Simon Yates were caught in a snowstorm on the Siula Grande in Peru. Joe broke his leg and in a failed attempt at a self rescue, was then left for dead on the mountain. He managed to get himself down the mountain, only to discover he was far away from any civilisation and had to drag himself across glaciers and rocks for a few days becoming dehydrated and frost bitten, before finally being rescued.
Having managed to get himself to the bottom of the mountain, he says that it was the dashing of his hopes of rescue at that point that was the lowest moment of the experience for him. Dashed hopes can kill you.
Continue reading Lockdown Reflections: It’s the hope that nearly killed me