Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Romans 1:26-27

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural 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 indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Because they exchanged the truth for a lie, because of sin, God gave them over to shameful lusts, to more sin. Same idea as last time. Paul is still telling the believers in Rome about God’s wrath specifically against those who have exchanged the truth of God, Who He really is and what He’s really said, for a lie, an idol, a false god. And again, the penalty of sin here is more sin. The penalty of turning away from God is having God back away. God lowers His hedge of protection, His hedge of sustenance. John Piper says, “The root of all our disorders—sexual and social and physical and emotional—is the exchange of the glory of God for idols. Our soul was made to orbit around the glory of God as its sun. And the entire human race has exchanged the glory of God for weightless, substitute satellites that have no gravity and can hold nothing in proper orbit. Therefore the world is disordered and decaying and moving toward destruction.” And Paul gets specific. We’re talking about shameful lusts of the flesh, sexual immorality, and homosexuality.

Homosexuality is an unnatural shameful lust. They received in themselves the due penalty for this perversion. First of all, homosexuality is not only unbiblical; it is unnatural. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that 2 female parts don’t connect. Now why has Paul picked out homosexuality? He singles this sin out precisely because it is an example of the human heart working against reason, working against Scripture, and working against nature. Paul’s stress falls upon the unnatural character of the vice, and the peculiar gravity of the abomination. The implication is that however grievous fornication or adultery is, the desecration involved in homosexuality is on a lower plane of degeneracy; it is unnatural and therefore reveals a perversion more basic. Paul is saying, you want to see evidence of the power of sin unchecked? I give you female homosexuality. In Scripture, women are always the last ones to be swept under in pervasive societal moral degradation. Paul says, look, even your women have fallen prey to this. Paul says, I know that this is more prevalent amongst men than women, but the fact that even your women, upper-class women, educated women, women who know better than this had fallen into this practice. He said that’s an evidence of how pervasive sin is in your society. Paul is telling us here what can happen when sin unchecked by God’s grace is occurring in a society. It leads literally to inhuman deeds.

Second, remember Piper’s analogy from last time: The Ephesians 5 idea that an ideal relationship is monogamy between husband and wife to symbolize the intimacy of Christ and the Church. Remember that the farthest one can get from this ideal relationship is homosexual promiscuity. And I think that’s exactly what Paul is talking about here. Don’t get me wrong. Paul is talking about all kinds of sexual sin in general: pornography, prostitution, adultery, one-night stands, sex before marriage, sodomy, molestation, even perverted intimacy, etc. And the result is more sin, more idolatry, increasing lack of reverence for God. But specifically here, Paul says that the promiscuous homosexuals will receive in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. “In themselves” is judgment. “The due penalty” is judgment. AIDS? Maybe / maybe not. There will be not only consequences of behavior, but behavior is the consequence of behavior! Have you ever heard from a repentant homosexual? They are absolutely scarred for life. Yeah, they can move on and even marry and have children and live normal lives filled with a love for God. But they are scarred, and that scar is a punishment; they have received the due penalty for their perversion.

" " was deep into pornography while in college, before he became a Christian. He even struggled with pornography after becoming a Christian, and only with the help of his accountability group (and the Holy Spirit of course), was he able to regularly (even always) overcome the desires to look at pornographic images. Not to say he never has any desires like that. He still does. But he no longer yields to that temptation as a slave, and it’s because of God’s sanctification. But he's scarred. He's got a scar that depicts the due penalty for his perversion. His emotions are seared. His eyes have seen too much. The images are burned into his mind. And he hates it. Oh, how he wishes pornography had never been introduced! But it was. And now he's scarred. He knows God can take the scar away, but he doesn’t believe He will. God wants him to remember Him, and call on Him when a temptation arises. God wants him to say, along with Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

He could be wrong about that. But that’s his experience. And I think that homosexuals who leave the lifestyle are scarred like that. So the due penalty is received in yourself when you commit sexual sin. And it doesn’t matter if God leaves you to wallow in your sin or if He pulls you out. The scar remains if you are pulled out. Piper says, “We have forgiveness for sin now; we will have freedom from all sinning later.
We have reconciliation with God now; we will have complete intimacy later. We have the firstfruits and the downpayment of the Holy Spirit now; we will have the full harvest of his power and presence later. We have some healing now (from our sexual disorders); we will have full wholeness later. We see his beauty through a glass darkly now, later we will see face to face. We have peace with God now; we will have perfection later.” The due penalty continues in your body and results in destruction if you remain in that sin.

Lastly, Paul is not condemning only heterosexuals who occasionally or perhaps even regularly perform homosexual acts. Some of the liberal denominations will interpret this passage that way. They might say that Paul says it’s wrong if you are “naturally” heterosexual to engage in homosexual behavior. But, they would also say that it’s okay for “naturally” homosexual folks to be who God made them to be: homosexuals. That’s wrong. Paul clearly condemns all homosexual acts, regardless of “natural” orientation. By the way, what do you think of homosexuality being a genetic thing? There’s no proof of that, but what if it is? There’s still no excuse. It’s a moral decision. And we’ve seen that the problem is a moral one, not an intellectual one, not even a physical one. Alcoholism is genetic. But that doesn’t make it right. Addictive behavior is often classified as genetic, but that doesn’t make it right. In fact, it’s wrong to be addicted to anything. So you can’t say, “I was made this way.” You have no excuse, genetic or otherwise.

It is not unloving to condemn homosexuality. God does not accept any of us as we are. He does something better than that. He accepts us in spite of who we are. And then by His grace, He makes us into what we are not. And every single believer knows that experience.

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