Romans 1:26-27 reads (KJV), “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” [You can click this link and change it to any number of different versions if you want, but most read very similarly.]
I’ve read this passage in numerous versions, in pondering this topic, and most basically say the same thing: the women turned a natural thing into an unnatural thing, and in a similar way so did the men, leaving the natural use of women, and began lusting after each other, committing homosexual acts. A couple of versions, those which do not pretend to be literal translations, but rather intentionally take the literal words and turn them into what the author thinks the original meaning was, outright say that this means, “women started having same-sex relations, and the men did also.” Any time I’ve encountered this passage, no matter what the version, that has been what the preacher or expositor says it means — it’s a condemnation of homosexual relations, whether female or male.
To be honest, I can certainly understand where that came from, and it may indeed be the correct way of looking at it, and I may be totally off-base. But something (and I can’t remember what) got me to thinking about this and looking at it in a different way, and wondering if the common understanding is the correct one, or if people misunderstood the “natural vs. unnatural” and the connection between “the women having unnatural relations” and “likewise also the men”.
So here’s how I’m wondering how it can be taken: the “changing of the natural use into that which is against nature” may refer not to the unnatural manner of female same-sex sexual relations, but rather be referring to anal sex.
Yes, it may be that two women together may be rightly considered as “against nature”; after all, what is natural is males with females and sex ultimately creating children. Not only is female-female unnatural, but it is a sterile form of sexual relations by its very nature, and as such could be said to be “against nature”. But then, so is anal sex. The “lower alimentary canal” (large intestine, rectum, anus) is naturally used by the body for elimination of undigested and indigestible food and toxins and all other sorts of stuff that would be bad for the body to retain. What could be more unnatural than using this excretory system/organ(s) for sex? [Plus, there are all sorts of diseases that can afflict the participants in anal sex (passing of STDs and other germs), and sex can damage the anus, rectum, and lower bowel because it is not designed for sex, and sex can tear the delicate lining of the bowel, leaking toxins, fecal matter, and other germs into the interior of the body, where it is not supposed to go.]
Backing up a little bit in the Bible to add context, Paul says that even the ungodly, heathen sinners are “without excuse” (v. 20) because they shoulda, coulda, woulda been able to recognize God and His rules by nature, except for the fact that they didn’t want to. They refused to glorify Him as God, and became idolators, worshiping other gods and making images of these false gods, using things in creation as their model, rather than retaining the worship of the Creator. So, God turned them over to their own imagination and lust; and because of their lust and idolatry (and wicked imagination) they began to commit strange sexual practices. [This much, I think pretty much everyone agrees the passage means.] And if I’m right, these strange and unnatural sexual practices included anal sex, which led to male homosexual relations. So, the “likewise the men” would not mean, “the women entered into same-sex relations, and so did the men”, but rather, “the women allowed unnatural anal sex, and then the men did too, leaving women entirely and began lusting after other men, engaging in homosexual (anal) sex”.
Again, pretty much everyone agrees that the end result of whatever the women did “and likewise the men” was unnatural and anti-God homosexual sex, which brought a greater and just curse upon the participants. (The only ones I know who would disagree are those who want to rewrite the Bible and pretend that homosexual relations are not condemned in the strongest terms throughout the Bible.) The only question is does this passage condemn lesbian sex, or is it more proper to use it to condemn anal sex?
I can see it going either way. Using the understanding I’ve outlined above, it seems pretty easy to step from “men started having anal intercourse with women” to “men started having anal intercourse with men” — as if once they accepted non-vaginal or anal intercourse with women, it became even easier to start lusting after other men and having anal intercourse with them. But using the common, perhaps even near-universal understanding, it could also be easy to understand this as “both women and men started having homosexual relations”.
After writing the above but before hitting “publish”, I read what Dr. John Gill (eminent Baptist preacher from the 1700s, whose Exposition of the Whole Bible my husband has in our library) has to say about it, and he basically says what I say above — the first option he gives is that it is referring to the practice of sodomy (male-to-female anal sex, perhaps as prostitutes) “and likewise also the men” (male-to-male anal sex); while he gives as other possibilities the women sexually gratifying themselves or each other without men (and as I read it, I’m uncertain whether Dr. Gill was saying that these women were sodomizing each other and/or themselves [by use of sex toys, I suppose, or other such objects], or whether he was referring to other non-anal sexual practices of a lesbian or self-gratifying nature). So, if I’m wrong, at least I have good company, since that seems to be the same line of reasoning and train of thought that one of the greatest theologians had 300 years ago.
Next Friday, April 25, schools all over the nation are observing this pro-homosexual event in which students and/or teachers are encouraged not to speak the entire day at school, as a show of solidarity with homosexuals who “suffer in silence” on a daily basis. Click here to find out if your child’s school is participating. I’m proud to say that not one school in my state is on this list! Somehow it doesn’t seem as if the homosexuals and those who support them are ever very silent about it, so this event rings hollow with me.
I will admit at the outset that I did not watch this interview, and have very little of it recorded in print, but here’s what I’m going to talk about:
BARKLEY: Well, I think they — they want to be judge and jury. Like, I’m for gay marriage. It’s none of my business if gay people want to get married. I’m pro-choice. And I think these Christians — first of all, they’re supposed to be — they’re not supposed to judge other people. But they’re the most hypocritical judge of people we have in this country. And it bugs the hell out of me. They act like they’re Christians. And they’re not forgiving at all.
I will strongly concur with a previous statement made by Mr. Barkley that there are a lot of “fake Christians.” I’ve written many times on this blog touching on this theme–people who say they are Christians but don’t believe the Bible, or support abortion, or say that there are many paths to God. They may be “religious” but they do not fit the definition of Christian. The term “Christian” literally means “Christ-like.” Believing that Jesus is one of many ways to get to heaven does not accord with what He said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” How anyone can pick and choose which parts or verses of the Bible to believe is beyond me. Let’s say for the sake of argument that there is error in the Bible–how would you know? Does your heart tell you that it’s wrong? Well, the Bible says that your heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Can anyone envision the Christ of the Bible performing an abortion? Is that an easy mental picture to come up with?
Unfortunately, the people Mr. Barkley called “fake Christians” are probably the truest Christians there are. The ones he would identify as “real” are the ones I would probably seriously question as being any sort of Christian–those who support (or have no problem with) homosexual “marriage” and abortion. He bases his claim on Matt. 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” and says that Christians judge people and are hypocritical to do so, and are not forgiving at all. Let’s examine this a tad closer, shall we?
Elsewhere in the New Testament, it is obvious that Christians are to judge, but this is a corporal judgment of other Christians–when fellow church members are in error (some of the sins listed in the Bible were illicit sexual relationships, refusing to work and gossiping among many others), the whole body was to join in judgment against the sinner. Matt. 7:1 was talking about personal relationships–as was the entire Sermon on the Mount (believe me, we had to memorize the whole thing one year at school!). That is a distinction that most people do not consider when they hear that the Bible says “Don’t judge.” Does that mean that Christians can’t be judges or jurors, because then they would have to decide the guilt or innocence of a person? That’s just ridiculous, especially when you consider the full Bible.
Now, what about “forgiveness”? Well, one can only forgive those sins committed against oneself. Let me illustrate. Suppose John steals Jim’s car. I can’t go to John and say, “I forgive you for stealing Jim’s car”–only Jim can forgive John. Justice requires that Jim be punished for his crime. All sins and crimes are ultimately against God, although some may be against other people as well. Homosexual behavior is condemned in both the Old Testament and the New, in no uncertain terms. I cannot say, “Well, the Bible says that men having sex with men is aberrant and abhorrent behavior, but I’m called by God to be forgiving, so I’ll just have to let that slide.” It’s like saying, “Well, the Bible says that stealing is wrong, but I can’t judge others!” No, I have to stand against wrong and sinful behavior.
To be Christian is to be “Christ-like.” When Jesus was here on earth, he did not sweep sin under the rug. Yes, when faced with the adulteress He did not condemn her (as a man, He had no right under the Jewish Law to do that, not having been an eye-witness to her crime–the Pharisees and Saducees were just trying to trap him; had she been caught “in the very act” then they had to have caught the man in the act as well, and both of the adulterous people were to be punished, not just the woman). However, he did say, “Go and sin no more.” He forgave sinners, because He was God. Note well the story of the man whose friends broke up the roof and let him down through the ceiling. When Jesus said to him, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” the lawyers were aghast and said, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They were correct. Only God can forgive sins. We are not to hold people’s sins against them, but if the sin is not against us, we cannot forgive it either–only God can. Vengeance is not ours; retribution is not ours; but that doesn’t mean we just turn a blind eye to the evil around us because “we can’t judge.”
Now, on to the topic of hypocrisy. The term “hypocrite” means an “actor”–to pretend you are something that you are not. If you openly oppose homosexual behavior while you are a closet homosexual yourself, you’re a hypocrite. If you protest against abortion, but go get an abortion when you get knocked up, you’re a hypocrite. If you speak out against any behavior that you engage in, you’re a hypocrite. It’s interesting to note in Romans that Paul spends several verses talking about the battle between the old man and the new man–the flesh and the spirit–and that part of him always wishes to do good while the other part wishes to engage in evil. He essentially calls himself a hypocrite when he says, “I do what I don’t want to do; and what I want to do, I end up not doing.” But that is slipping and falling into sin due to weak human nature; not deliberately going out and pretending to be what you are not. The difference between the former and the latter is that when a Christian falls into sin, he regrets it and seeks forgiveness. It is not hypocritical to be outspoken against homosexuality and be a Christian. In fact, it is hypocritical to call yourself a Christian and not oppose homosexual behavior.
Ah, yes, “Super Tuesday.” The blogs are all popping about political things, I’m sure. If the lead-up to today has been any clue, it’s going to be a very interesting Presidential race, with lots of mud-slinging and posturing….but what else is new?
Recently, I’ve read a couple of posts from Christians and non-Christians that wonder out loud how Christians should vote, or why we pay so much attention to a candidate’s position on abortion or homosexual “unions” or “marriage”, to the exclusion of everything else….. yet I’m sure there are as many posts (if not more) from proponents of abortion and/or homosexual marriage who are single-issue voters, and no one thinks to question their logic on that. But of course, Christians make their decisions based on their religion, which is offensive and scary to some who would rather believe that they are making their decisions based on their brilliance, with great logic and thought, and coming to the best answer based on just themselves, without any outside influence. As if that’s a better method of reaching a decision.
But the recurring theme has basically been, “How do Christians justify voting for a candidate [or supporting our current President] just because he is pro-life, regardless of how he views the other issues?” Each person will have to answer that question for himself. For me, it would be absolutely immoral to vote for someone who thinks it is perfectly fine for a mother to kill the baby that is in her womb. Do these supporters of abortion not realize that a live baby is sucked out of the womb in pieces? or else that the sterile amniotic fluid surrounding, supporting, and protecting the baby is drained and a high-saline solution is put in, chemically burning the baby to death? (Click on the “Abortion Facts” link over on the right for more info.) Back when Rudy Giuliani was the front-runner, I declared that if he won the Republican nomination, I could not vote for him (and of course, all of the Democratic contenders were pro-abortion). Mitt Romney’s “pro-life conversion” does not sit well with me–I think it’s fake, to be blunt; and I think he’s too liberal in most other things. Mike Huckabee is strongly pro-life, but I’m afraid he will govern too liberally. Ron Paul isn’t strong enough against abortion, which bothers me, but I daresay he’s pretty good on most other things. The fact that he side-steps the issue by saying he’s against it but thinks it’s a state’s-rights issue is bothersome. If he’s against abortion because it is murder, then how can that be a state’s-rights issue? The right to life is in the Constitution, the document which he seems to revere above all else. It would be very interesting if he became President, to see what all he would veto….but I’m not sure all of his strategies and idealized Constitutionalism would work very well in the world in which we live. We are a global society now. What happens on the other side of the globe does matter, and does affect us. We cannot be Neville Chamberlain while Hitlers assume power, and we just sit and wait for them to attack us even though they’ve already taken over several other countries. As far as John McCain, I’ll have to read up more on him; I’m afraid he’s generally too liberal for me. Honestly, I didn’t think he’d have much of a chance, so haven’t paid much attention to him. Earlier in the campaign, I took a few of those “select a candidate” questionnaires, and found that Duncan Hunter & Fred Thompson were my top choices (usually tied), but both of those candidates have dropped out before I have even had a chance to vote.
So enough of that rabbit-chasing. Right now, my choices are between Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, with John McCain as a possibility until and unless I find out more about him that I don’t like. If Mitt Romney wins, I’m probably going to have to sit out the general election, unfortunately (or cast a write-in vote). As much as I dislike the idea of someone as liberal as either Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama, I don’t think I can in good conscience vote for someone who is just a notch above them. Does that make me a single-issue voter? To some people, it probably does. I formulate my vote on a lot of different factors, and it may very be that my vote will end up being “none of the above,” because there is no one close enough to my views without being too distasteful on other issues that are very important to me.
What is the most important issue to you? Does that not affect your vote? There are people who are committed to voting for the most pro-abortion or pro-environmental or pro-education or pro-homosexual or this or that other issue. Does that make them a single-issue voter? Does it devalue their vote or their thinking and/or reasoning process? I may very well have to shut my eyes, pinch my nose and vote for somebody who is less than my ideal candidate. We’ll see who’s still around by the time my state votes, and then further refine it when we see who the top candidate is from each party (as well as any third-party candidates that might have jumped in the race).
It amazes me that so many people call themselves Christians, but don’t believe the Bible. Perhaps I’ve been a bit too insulated in my world (I’m not complaining, by any means!), but the statement “My God wouldn’t do that” sounds foreign to my ears. I’ve heard it in many different ways, by different people, in different settings–my aunt was probably the first person I heard in person say it; but many people on the internet and my email groups will say this from time to time. This statement makes me wonder, just who is your god anyway?
Usually when people say “My god wouldn’t do that,” they are objecting to something that is in the Bible–prohibitions against homosexual behavior, women in leadership positions at church, the death penalty, sending people to hell, etc. If their god isn’t the God of the Bible, then who is their god? They will say they believe the Bible….just not certain parts of it. My aunt said she believed that the Bible as it was originally written was God’s absolute truth, but that “through the centuries” people had added in their own prejudices to it. She said, “I don’t believe Paul wrote that.” Another person through email said that she didn’t think it was God’s will that anybody be disempowered (meaning, I suppose, that women are expressly forbidden to teach in the church). So, who is her god, then?
If you say you are a Christian, then you are bound to believe the Bible; and if you believe the Bible, then you must act on it (otherwise it is not true believe, just mental acknowledgement). Why do you believe parts of the Bible and not other parts? Deists of the 18th century believed the Bible….just not the parts that showed God interacting with His creation, especially the miracles. They believed in “The Watch-maker God”–that is, that God set up the universe with certain rules, like winding a clock, and then let it go on its own. Why did they cut out the miracles? Because they were “Enlightened” and only believed in the natural, because the supernatural was beyond reason. Do you believe the miracles of the Bible, but not the prohibitions against homosexual behavior? Who is your god?
“Well, I believe that God is love, and God wants me to be happy, and [doing this] makes me happy.” Does God want you to be happy? Or does He want you to be joyful, and give Him glory? What if you found your happiness in molesting little children? Some people do (in some sick, twisted way). Are pedophiles allowed to do whatever they want, just because they get pleasure and gratification from it? “Well, that’s sick. I’m not a pedophile, I just…..” But what does the Bible say? “Well, I don’t like what the Bible says there, and I don’t think that’s right, so I don’t think it was what God originally said.” I encourage you to read Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict, for a fuller explanation of the accuracy of the Bible as we know it (among other things, it states that almost every verse in the New Testament exists apart from the texts, in collections of letters and sermons and things from the early centuries).
The problem is not with the Bible, the problem is with people who don’t want to believe the Bible and obey it. They call themselves Christians, but they have sex outside of marriage, and have abortions, but think the death penalty is murder, and allow women preachers, and allow homosexuals to remain in the church and even to be preachers, bishops, etc. And all because “My god wouldn’t do that.” Psalm 50:21 says, “….you thought I was altogether as yourself…..” When people alter the Bible to suit their own preconceived notions, they bring God down to their level, so that they have a deity whom they can understand, and even control. This god is like a doting old grandfather letting his rambunctious grandchildren do generally whatever they want, because he just can’t bring himself to punish them. That is not the God of the Bible. This god is more like the ancient deities of the pagan and heathen cultures–a god of their own imagination.
In Joshua 24:15, we read this familiar passage, “….as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” But often, we don’t read the rest of the verse: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” In other words, if you’re not going to serve God (the one true and living God), then it doesn’t really matter who you do serve. So, who is your God?