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Talking Points
What you need to know and say when they say:
“But the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality!”
Compiled and written* by Rev. Stephen Parelli
www.othersheepexecsite.com
June, 2012; revised March 2013
This paper was first presented in Kampala, Uganda, in July of 2012, by the author, at two separate
conferences. Copies of the paper were made available to conference attendees.
Topic #4:  Romans 1,
probably the passage most often used to condemn homosexuals,
isn’t about homosexuality
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Introduction

Topic #1:  The
erroneous use of the
word “sodomite(s)” in
the 1611 King James
Bible (KJV; also
known as the AV –
Authorized Version)

Topic #2:  “The
Gen. 19 notorious
story of Sodom and
Gomorrah [is]
irrelevant to the topic”
of homosexuality

Topic #3:   Modern
Bible versions that
use the word
“homosexual(s)” or
“homosexuality” in its
translation of I Cor. 6:
9 and I Tim. 1:10 are
“driven more by
ideological interests
in marginalizing gay
and lesbian people”
than by scholarship

Topic #4:  
Romans 1, probably
the passage most
often used to
condemn
homosexuals, isn’t
about homosexualit
y

Topic #5:  Once the
context is
understood, it is clear
that Lev. 18:22 and
20:13  – that a man
should not lie with a
man – is not a
blanket
condemnation of
homosexuality

Topic #6:  The
reference in Jude 7 to
Sodom and
Gomorrah “going
after strange flesh” is
perhaps best
understand in light of
a first century legend

Books and Web
Sites Cited
This web page was created in the Bronx,
New York, and published from the Bronx, on
February 17, 2013.

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click Talking Points for the entire paper in Word document formate
In point of fact:  In Romans 1, Paul uses the words “natural” and “unnatural” not to distinguish
heterosexual people from homosexual people (which is not his purpose in this text), but Gentiles
from Jews (which is his purpose in this text) [Stuart, p96].  To engage in same-sex activity was,
characteristically, a Gentile trait, not a Jewish trait, a trait that the Jews catalogued as “unclean.”  

Talking Points:
  1. Paul is not condemning same-sex sex acts as sin; instead, he places these acts under the
    Jewish cultural category of “uncleanness” which describes material things as “out of their
    appropriate place.”  Semen deposited “out of place” left the individual “unclean.”  [Hanks,
    PDF]
  2. In context (Romans 1 and 2), Paul is rhetorically addressing Jewish superiority over Gentile
    impurity as a “bait and switch” maneuver with the purpose in mind of asking his Jewish
    readers “who are you to judge these Gentiles when you do the same things” (Romans 2:1).
    He refers to these unclean homoerotic acts of the Gentiles (in Romans 1) only rhetorically so
    that he can later (in Romans 2) unpack Jewish sinfulness.
  3. Paul is addressing a different set of facts.  Paul’s model in Romans 1:1-31 does not address
    the gay relationship model of the 21st century.  (Paul’s model is: to refuse to acknowledge
    God, v. 21; to worship idols, v. 23; to prefer earthly pursuits versus spiritual, v. 25; to give up
    their innate passions, v. 26-25; to engage in sex with temple prostitutes. The 21st century
    gay relationship model is: not part of idol worship; accepts their sexual orientation; sex with
    committed partners; and accepts God.)
  4. Paul is talking about what is customary, not what is natural or unnatural.  “Natural use” and
    “against nature” (Romans 1:26-27), or “natural” and “unnatural,” did not have for Paul the
    same meaning it has for us today.  In ancient times, “unnatural” meant “unconventional” (cf. I
    Cor. 11:14-15 NRSV and Rom. 11:24 NRSV where long hair on a man is unnatural and where
    God himself does what is “contrary to nature”).  Seneca, for example, refers to hot baths,
    banquets after sunset, potted plants and a man’s passive sexual role as all, equally “against
    nature”, i.e., contrary to custom.
  5. Same-sex sex acts between women is nowhere condemned in the Bible, including the
    Romans 1:26 passage found here.  In Romans 1:26, the reference (“against nature”) is to
    women who took the active role in sex with men [Goss, p, Nissinen p108] or women who
    engaged in anal sex with men to avoid procreation [Hanks and Miller as summarized in Goss,
    p200].  

Conclusion:  In Romans 1, Paul is not distinguishing between homosexuality and heterosexuality
(or between homosexuals and heterosexuals) [Stuart, p96]. The set of facts Paul establishes here
(vs. 18 – 27) do not correlate, in the least bit, with the set of facts 21st century homosexuals
actually experience in their personal lives [Miner, p14-16].  Paul is distinguishing between Gentiles
and Jews with a view of entrapping the Jew (by what he says in vs. 18-27) so that he can, later on
(in
Romans 2), unpack the Jews’ sinfulness [Countryman, p201; Goss, p200].  Paul is, therefore,
speaking rhetorically to the Jews’ superiority over the Gentiles [Halminiak, p201] in two areas:  

    (1) The Jewish people are monotheistic (not idolaters as are the Gentiles, vs. 21-23) and

    (2) the Jewish people are “clean” with respect to material things, that is, keeping “things in
    their appropriate places;” semen deposited out of place (in anal intercourse, vs 26 and 27)
    left the Gentiles unclean [Hanks, PDF].  

Paul is not condemning same-sex sex acts as sin, but as “unclean.” Neither does Paul state that
same-sex sex acts are “unnatural” in the modern sense of how we understand the word
“unnatural.”  “Unnatural” and “against nature” for the ancients meant uncustomary, or out of the
norm (cf. I Cor. 11:14-15; and Rom. 11:24).  Finally, the Bible nowhere condemns same-sex sex
acts between women.  In
verse 26, Paul is speaking of women who engaged in anal sex with men
[Hanks and Miller as summarized in Goss, p200].