Statesboro, GA, USA
I honestly think your analysis of Romans is flawed, Stephen. The emphasis should be on "Because of THIS, God gave them over to shameful lusts." By concentrating on details and examples, you are obscuring the real point of the passage.
Pointing out details and examples is by no means "obscuring" the real point of the passage. If it were, then Paul himself was at fault in his description. I agree with you that sin, as a general concept, is the thrust of this passage. However, considering specific outworkings and examples of sin surely isn't at variance with the general thesis. One supports the other. They are harmonious. What is not harmonious is admitting sin as a reality, and yet denying that any actions can enbody it. And worse, denying that specific examples which the apostle identified as exemplary of sin, should be thought of as sin. That kind of moral relativism and the Biblical view of sin are hopelessly irreconcilable.
It would not be at all difficult to argue that the sin is lust, not homosexuality, especially when the following verses you didn't cite include all of the other seven deadly sins and examples that at times demonstrate those sins.
Even so, homosexuality would be exemplary of that lust. Lust is simply desire in the wrong context ... a legitimate need, met in an illegitimate way. Desiring sex is a good thing. Desiring sex with someone other than your wife is not. What you can cogently do is to say that sexual sin is much wider than homosexuality, and therefore there are other sexual sins as well. What you cannot do is cite examples of either adultery, fornication or homosexuality where this lust is not operative. Why? Because they ALL lie outside of God's parameters for human sexuality ... which is a man and woman joined by Covenant relationship.
Or do your really think that all debaters and inventors risk their immortal soul?
I'm really not sure where you get "debaters" from, unless you are inferring it from what the NIV calls "insolent, arrogant, and boastful" in Romans 1:30. But if that is the case, this passage would describe a certain type of debater, not debating in general.
I guess by "inventors" you are referring to the phrase "inventors of evil things"? If so, you've taken the word "inventors" (ephuretes in the Greek) right out of its context, to make your point... which is the only way you can make your point. Paul qualified the term with another term, "kakos" in the Greek which means:
1. of a bad nature; not such as it ought to be
2. of a mode of thinking, feeling, acting; base, wrong, wicked
3. troublesome, injurious, pernicious, destructive, baneful
So yes, I think that all inventors of "ways to do evil", with that intent of heart as implied in the text, do risk their immortal soul.
I don't believe these passages were ever intended to be a definitive list of sin, but rather were a warning against "exchanging the truth of God for a lie."
You make it an "either/ or" choice, when it is clearly a "both/ and". Paul would be pretty ineffective in his warning about a spiritual "exchange", if his described results were not necessarily contiguous with that exchange.
Also the view that homosexuality is sin, is consistent with every other reference to it in the Bible. I challenge you to cite one reference to homosexuality in scripture which would support your interpretation that it is "neutral", and may or may not involve sin.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" (Matt. 7:3)
Pulling someone out of a ditch always involves the risk of sending them to the ditch on the other side of the road. This scripture definitely speaks against judgmentalism and self-righteousness. But it does not, therefore, speak FOR libertinism. There is just as much of a danger of abusing and misapplying the scripture you quoted, as there is a danger of not heeding it’s main point. It’s demonstrated by the fact that “Judge not lest you be judged” is about the only scripture which many who live in sin, know how to quote.
The rest of the above passage of scripture (which you didn't quote) goes on to say that we should first deal with our own sins, before being morbidly concerned with those of others. “First remove the plank in your own eye ...”. But this was given to spur us onward to moral purity, so that we CAN be used in the area of moral reform, not so that we should abandon it for a bland tolerance of everything with everybody.
Consider whether the following scriptures can be meaningful at all as instruction, if your interpretation of Matthew 7:3 is correct . . .
“. . . the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him, he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
(2 Timothy 2:24-26)
“All Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage- with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
(2 Timothy 4:2-3)
I am against hypocrisy as much as you are. But I don’t think the stern Biblical teachings against it should be misused to say that we should never speak the moral truth, unless it directly concerns our own personal behavior. That may be how you take it, but it doesn’t square with the rest of the Bible. What you’re going to have a hard time doing is showing that teachings on hypocrisy, are not compatible with saints making moral judgements ... especially when the standard of scripture (being a high one) calls us to both avoid hypocrisy AND to uphold moral truth as it is revealed.
The question isn't whether they regarded it as a sin, Jim, but rather why they regarded it a sin. Remember, the same exact behavior between a man and a woman is regarded a sin outside the confines of marriage.
As I’ve already mentioned, adultery is sin because it lay outside of God’s parameters for human sexuality, as does homosexuality “married” or not. Paul does not describe homosexuality as simply a variation of adultery. If he had done so, he might have urged those who practice it to marry to avoid the sin ... (as he did toward heterosexual “singles” in 1 Corinthians chapter 7).
As I've said elsewhere, when an interpretation of scripture conflicts with the Spirit of Christianity, I'm going to assume the interpretation is flawed. If that is poor exegesis, so be it.
The correct interpretation of Romans 1 (and other passages dealing with homosexuality) is not contradictory with the Spirit of Christianity ... unless it’s spirit is “I’m OK. You’re OK.” I think rather than foisting the spirit of contemporary “tolerance” upon Christianity, we should derive the spirit of Christianity from Christ himself, who when dealing with the woman caught in adultery, showed great and unusual mercy, and yet did not fail to say “Go and sin no more.”.
Even if one is convinced that homosexuality is a sin, that view does not warrant man's punishment of the sinner. Or do you think Jesus was condoning adultery when He said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"?
In context of this discussion, the public preservation of traditional marriage should not be thought as “punishment”. Some actions are punishment. Some consequences are natural outworkings of actions/ choices/ lifestyles. I cannot easily get a paycheck by refusing to work. It wouldn’t make sense to accuse this example of public policy as “punishment”.
The absurdity of this position is the idea that society all along has been “punishing” homosexuals by recognizing only heterosexual marriages. So all of history is cruelly and backwardly wrong, and we are obviously and arrogantly right. Casting a stone at an individual, and preserving a stone already placed as a foundation and boundary are two very different things.
[This message has been edited by Stephanos (04-14-2004 03:02 PM).]