EFCA Theology Conference Session 5

The Witness of Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles – Robert Gagnon

Romans 1:24-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10

Romans 1:24-27: Opposed to some, or all, forms of same-sex intercourse?

Three main arguments made to discount Romans 1:24-27

  1. The exploitation argument: Paul only knew of exploitative forms of homosexual practice in his culture
  2. The orientation argument: Paul had no concept of a homosexual orientation
  3. The misogyny argument: Paul feared homosexual practice would upset male dominance over women

The plot structure of Romans 1:18-32

Stage 1. God’s power and divinity is manifested in creation

Stage 2. Humans suppress the truth and foolishly exchange

Stage 3. God’s wrath is manifested in giving over humans to self-degrading desires

Stage 4. These sinful deeds merit death

Intertextual echoes to Genesis 1:26-27

References to creation and Creator

Rom 1:23 echoes Genesis 1:26

Romans 1:26-27 echoes Genesis 1:27

The point of these echoes – idolatry and same-sex intercourse together constitute a frontal assault on the work of the Creator in nature, those who suppressed the truth about God visible in creation they went on to suppress the truth about themselves visible in nature

The argument from nature

The truth about God is visible and apparent in material creation (1:19-20)

The truth about God’s will for sex is visible in our gendered bodies (26-27)

Pagans do not have to have Genesis or Leviticus to be held accountable for this knowledge, they are “without excuse”

Innate desires are unreliable guides

The mention of lesbian intercourse in Romans 1:26

The mention of mutual gratification in Romans 1:27

The conception and practice of caring homosexual relationships in antiquity

Absolute nature arguments in the Greco-Roman world

Why Paul is not saying, “Don’t judge homosexual practice”

The one whom you obey, that it your Lord. Don’t say with your mouth that you follow God but then continue to serve sin, that is your Lord

What even scholars supportive of homosexual unions admit

1 Corinthians 6:9 (& 1 Tim 1:10) Opposed to some, or all, forms of male-male intercourse?

Meaning of malakoi “soft men”

Meaning of arsenokoitai “Men who lie with a male”

The Bible’s alleged ignorance of sexual orientation

Grego-Roman theories of a congenital basis for some homoerotic attraction

Differences with contemporary theories and beside this point

Did Paul get “nature” confused?

What even scholars supportive of homosexual unions affirm

The Bible’s Alleged Misogynistic Bias against Homoerotic Unions

Ignoring concerns for structural complementarity in ancient texts

Absoluteness of Bible’s prohibition suggest priority of gender over status

Women’s liberation as a stimulus for opposing all male homosexual unions

An absurd corollary

View of women in the Bible fares well relative to its cultural environment

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