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Perspective from Romans 1

Originally from: "Rev. James D. Roper" Originally dated: Mon, 15 Sep 1997 10:43:14 -0500 in response to John Q. on the Confessing Movement Discussion List:

Thanks for the wonderful quotes from Richard Hay and Paul Dodd. I would like to disagree with something Dr. Dodd said. His point that the mention of homoeroticism in Ro 1 is there for rhetorical effect destroys, I believe, Paul's point, which is one of progressive judgment against progressive sin. Paul seems to be saying---as we have witnessed here in America in the last 150 years---that God judges sin by opening the sinner up to greater opportunities for sin, which in turn brings greater judgment, etc. "God gave them up...therefore God gave them up...for this reason God gave them over."

The economic Darwinism of the nineteenth century which brought about vast material wealth in this country was accompanied by a large-scale appeal to reason over Scripture, the population becoming "futile in their thoughts." This was the beginning of the teaching of evolution and the anti-biblical liberalism which began to fester in the Methodist Church 120 years ago. This force found its highest expression in the so-called "Roaring 20's."

God sent us Depression as a judgment against this line of thinking, but WWII pulled us out of that.

However, in the post WWII years, with widespread financial blessing, this led once again to a preoccupation with the physical and material. There was no revival, and we had the 60's which were a reflection Ro 1.24,25.

With no repentance accompanying that, God judged us by allowing us to move into the following verses (1.26-32), which is where we are today, in the throes of rampant and vocal homosexuality, and everyone wonders where it comes from!

So, I see homosexuality as sin, yes, but also as part of the judgment of God on an unrepentant and rebellious nation. I believe that the next stage---the reprobate mind---will see the downfall of America, unless repentance comes on the part of the people of God.

Simplistic? Yes! But I see the outline of it right here in the first chapter of Romans. Homosexuality is more than, as Dodd says, a rhetorical device---it is the precursor of the fall of the nation. History teaches us that much.

Bec of HIM, Jim Roper

James D. (Jim) Roper is:

  • an Elder in the Memphis Annual Conference of the UMC
  • currently the pastor of the Maury City-Floyd's Chapel charge
  • a graduate of Rhodes College (Memphis TN), where he majored in Latin and Greek and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa
  • a graduate of Memphis Theological Seminary
  • an alumnus of the Walk to Emmaus
  • a certified teacher-trainer in Evangelism Explosion III
  • in 1994, his church (Corning UMC, Corning AR) won the Harry Denman Evangelism Award
  • in 1995, his church (Floyd's Chapel UMC, Friendship UMC) won the Memphis Conference Small Church Evangelism Award

Addendum: Statement refered to in the discussion

. . . The New Testament speaks unequivocally about homosexuality and lists it with other categories of sins to be condemned. United Methodist New Testament scholar Brian Dodd in The Problem with Paul(IVP, 1996) concludes at page 55 as follows: "Stagmatization of homosexuality as a worse sort of sin than others is not supported by Scripture. Paul refers to homoerotic sex in Romans 1, not because it is a special form of sinfulness but because it was rhetorically effective with his readers...Homosexual practice is not of a worse order of sinfulness but provides the rhetorical trap that draws the reader into agreement with the sinfulness of all humanity. This observation is supported by the two other references to homoerotic behavior in Paul's letters(1Cor 6:9-10; 1Tim 1:10). In both cases it appears as one sin on a shopping list of sins(so called vice sins) utilized by Paul to illustrate the human sinfulness from which Christ redeems us." [back]

Addendum: Scripture refered to in the discussion

Romans 1:18-32 (NIV) - The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

1:19 - since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

1:20 - For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

1:21 - For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

1:22 - Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

1:23 - and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

1:24 - Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

1:25 - They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. [back]

1:26 - Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.

1:27 - 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.

1:28 - Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved ["reprobate"-KJV] mind, to do what ought not to be done.

1:29 - They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,

1:30 - slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;

1:31 - they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

1:32 - Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. [back]

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