Last time I checked, the Christian church was founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Apparently a short blurb in a letter Paul wrote to the Romans takes precedent.
Last night at church during our Christian Education Committee meeting, our pastor informed us that someone had written on a few of our Marriage Equality signs. Upon further inspection, it looked as though they used Crayola markers. Sure enough, it was Romans 1:27. For those unfamiliar with the passage, it reads, “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.” Some pretty harsh words, but let’s examine them a little closer.
First of all, Paul uses the word ‘natural’ in this verse. Since both nature and science have proven homosexuality to be a natural occurrence, one can only assume he meant heterosexual men experimenting with homosexual acts. Or, perhaps if you read all of Paul’s letters, you’ll discover something quite peculiar in the way they are written. By 2 Corinthians we start to see a softening of Paul’s anger with the introduction of Timothy. By Ephesians, there is no error or heresy that he is addressing in his letters, but simply that of grace and purpose. The letters that follow (Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, etc.) seem to go down a similar path of extravagant welcome and less about judgment. Throughout most of these letters, Timothy is mentioned as being by his side. Curiously, this sounds an awful lot like a classic case of homophobia. Allow me to explain.
Paul has these feelings he wants to hide because he thinks they are nothing more than temptations from Satan, so he makes a little mention to the Romans, who, as we know from history, were quite sexually promiscuous and less discerning than the Jews and recent converts to Jewish Christianity, about homosexual acts being bad. You know, eternal damnation and no hope for redemption, blah blah blah. Anyway, then Timothy comes along and suddenly there is a shift in Paul’s perspective. Instead of telling the recipients of the letters everything they are doing wrong, he shifts to a message of love, compassion and understanding of the human experience. Through Paul’s letters, we get to see his evolution from hate and intolerance to love and forgiveness.
I encourage anyone who has the audacity to quote a Bible verse in support of their bigotry, to take a closer look and make sure someone cannot do the same right back to them. You may even be surprised that a verse just a short distance away from the original may come back to bite you. “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” – Romans 2:1.