(Romans 1:24-32)

In a real sense the results of God’s condemnation on rebellious humanity are nothing more than the natural consequences of suppressing truth, ignoring revelation, and perverting God’s glory. However, God did more than simply let nature take its course. God acted to abandon (the thrice-mentioned "gave them over" [vv. 24,26,28] is paredoken, "abandoned") people to expressions of a corrupt lifestyle that deserved God’s wrath and the sentence of death (v. 32).

a. Abandoned to fornication (1:24-25)

1:24. One aspect of mankind’s corruption (to which God actively let people go) was sexual profligacy. The frequency of live-in lovers, wife-swapping, and group sex parties today only confirms this result of God’s abandonment. Sex within marriage is a holy gift from God, but otherwise sex is impurity (lit., "uncleanness") and the degrading of… bodies by using them contrary to God’s intent.

1:25. In a sense this verse repeats the truth of verse 23, but it expresses more. The truth of God is not only the truth concerning God but also God’s truth concerning all things, including mankind. This truth is that people are creatures of God and can find true fulfillment only in worshiping and obediently serving God the Creator. A lie (lit., "the lie") on the other hand says that the creature – angelic (Isaiah 14:13-14; John 8:44) or human (Genesis 3:4-5) – can exist independent of God, self-sufficient, self-directing, and self-fulfilling. Mankind made himself his god in place of the true God. Because God the Creator is forever praised (in contrast with creatures who are undeserving of worship), Paul added Amen. This word transliterates in both Greek and English the Hebrew word meaning "so let it be." As an affirmation, not a wish, it places approval on what has just been said (cf. comments on 2 Cor. 1:20).

b. Abandoned to sexual perversion (1:26-27)

1:26-27. Also God gave them over to shameful lusts (lit., "passions of disgrace"). This involved, as the text states, both sexes engaging in homosexual instead of heterosexual relationships. Women deliberately exchanged natural relations (with men in marriage) for unnatural ones (with other women). This is the second "exchange" the unregenerate made (cf. v. 25). Men… were inflamed with lust (orexei, "sexual lust," used only here in the NT and differing from the more common word for lust in v. 26).

The words translated women and men in these verses are the sexual words "females" and "males." Contemporary homosexuals insist that these verses mean that it is perverse for a heterosexual male or female to engage in homosexual relations but it is not perverse for a homosexual male or female to do so since homosexuality is such a person’s natural preference. This is strained exegesis unsupported by the Bible. The only natural sexual relationship the Bible recognizes is a heterosexual one (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6) within marriage. All homosexual relations constitute sexual perversion and are subject to God’s judgment. Such lustful and indecent acts have within them the seeds of punishment (due penalty).

c. Abandoned to depraved lifestyle (1:28-32)

1:28. Pagan humanity’s rebellion also included the rejection of the knowledge (epignosei, "full knowledge"; cf. v. 32) of God. In a sense they put God out of their minds. God’s responding judgment was abandonment (cf. vv. 24,26) to a depraved (adokimon, "disapproved") mind, which expressed itself in attitudes and actions that ought not to be done (lit., "what is unfitting or improper," a technical Stoic word).

1:29-31. The mental vacuum created by dismissing God was filled (the perf. tense implies filled full) with four forms of active sin: wickedness (adikia; cf. v. 18), evil (poneria), greed, and depravity (kakia, "badness or malice"). These four in turn express themselves in 17 more specific types of wickedness. The first two, envy and murder, sound much alike in Greek: phthonou and phonou. Also the four vices in verse 31 each begin with the Greek letter alpha ("a" in Eng.).

1:32. This whole pattern of evil becomes the lifestyle of people who continue to do (pres. tense implies continuing or habitual action) these very things in open defiance of God, a defiance aggravated (a) by fully knowing (epignontes; cf. v. 28) that such things deserve death and (b) by encouraging others in the same lifestyle. Such extremity of human rebellion against God fully warrants God’s condemnation.


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