Yes, we are still in the book of Romans. For many Christians, Romans 1 is the key passage against same gender sexual activity, so we need to cover it thoroughly. In this episode of the ALLin Podcast, we look at seven additional interpretative options for Romans 1.
If you’re satisfied with my explanations so far, you might want to just skip the rest of this episode. This one has a lot of detail and further options for interpreting Romans 1, for sake of completeness. While I have sympathy for these seven views, I do not endorse them all, and find some more compelling than others. I present them for two reasons. Firstly, for the sake of completeness – these are views held by committed Christians and qualified theologians alike. Secondly, and more importantly, so that those who might still be clinging to a traditional interpretation of Romans 1, despite the detail I have supplied about context and about the meanings of key words, can see that there are significant additional problems with the traditional reading of Romans 1.
There is a danger that by presenting a variety of alternative suggestions for interpretation I will bring confusion rather than insight. I hope not. I think it’s clear to see that the weight of evidence is actually pretty much overwhelming: Romans 1 does not condemn same-gender couples wishing to enter loving, lifelong, covenantal marriages.
If you’re convinced that God will not extend His grace to LGBTQI people, then I probably can say nothing to convince you. But for those who have doubts about the way the church has treated gays; for those who believe more in God’s love and grace than in His wrath and anger; for those who want to believe that the Bible is right when it says “God wants everyone to be saved”; for those who know godly, Christian gay people and can’t understand why the church says these people are awful sinners and without hope of heaven; for all these people, I hope I have adequately shown that we can believe that God loves gays while at the same time holding true to God’s Word revealed in the Bible. It has been our mistake of interpretation that now needs to be corrected.
TAKE NOTE: This is a dense episode, with lots of detailed arguments and references. You probably can’t listen to this one in the background. It needs your focus.
More details are available in the written version of this episode, available here.
- Arland J. Hultgren, “Being faithful to the Scriptures: Romans 1:26-27 as a case in point.” – PDF download
- Rick Brentlinger on Cybele and Goddess worship
- Jeremy Punt on Romans 1 interpretative options
- Roy Bowen Ward, Why Unnatural? The Tradition behind Romans 1:26–27
- Calvin Porter on Paul quoting from another source
- Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality – book
- John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century – book
- Sarah Ruden, Paul Among the People – book
- John Shelby Spong, Sins of Scripture – book