If you use Romans 1 to condemn homosexuality, you are wrong and you need to repent.
And you need to read Romans 2.
First some background. Romans was written for two audiences – Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians living in Rome. Romans 1 describes things that Gentiles do. Romans 2 was written to teach Jewish Christians how to react to the Gentiles.
Let’s start with Romans 1. Since many who use Romans 1 as a reason to condemn homosexuality think they are reading this passage “literally,” let’s keep with a literal reading of the text. Paul wrote that Gentile
“… women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”
Let’s take this literally. In Paul’s day, there were women and men who gave up *natural* intercourse with the opposite gender for unnatural intercourse with the same gender.
What Romans 1 has to say about homosexuality literally hinges on the word “natural.” What if there are some men and women who *naturally* are oriented to be attracted to individuals of the same gender?
Modern science tells us that there is a variant within nature, including human nature, of males and females are who naturally attracted to members of the same gender. And there are some who are naturally attracted to both genders.
For these individuals to deny or suppress or go against their God-given nature by being with a member of the opposite gender would be to exchange what is natural for what is unnatural.
The message is a warning, “Do not go against your God given and natural sexuality. If you exchange what is natural for what is unnatural, you will have gone against who God naturally created you to be.”
But here’s the thing: Even if you disagree with this argument about what Romans 1 literally says about nature, you need to read Romans 2. Romans 1 is a massive set up for Romans 2.
Romans 1 was written primarily to the Jewish Christians. It says, “Oh yes, you know that the Gentiles do all of these weird and nasty things. Some of them even give up their natural sexual desire for a woman and go off and have sexual relations with other men! Oh the shame!”
Those who want to condemn homosexuality because of Romans 1 generally do not quote Romans 2, so they miss Paul’s major point. After Paul sets up the Jewish Christians as righteous in comparison with the Gentiles, he writes,
“Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.”
The word “Therefore” at the beginning of Romans 2 means that he is about to drop his conclusions about Romans 1. And Romans 2 says that anyone who uses Romans 1 to judge others is condemning themselves.
No matter how you interpret Romans 1, if you use it in a way to condemn others, you need to repent. Because when you use Romans 1 to judge and condemn, you are judging and condemning yourself.
Check out these other articles explaining why Christianity leads us to be Open and Affirming of our LGBTQ siblings!