Why Romans 1:18-32 doesn’t apply to everyone

Once the ministry of a church told me that eroticized same-sex attractions were a “sin attraction” and were the result of “replacing a desire for God with man.”  I asked for scripture on this, and they sent Romans 1:20-32.  How wrong can someone get when quoting the Bible, let me count the ways:


1) Their quote ignored the antecedent of “them”

Verse 18 contains the antecedent of the pronoun “them”.  It is “men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”  Verse 22-23 further narrows the set of men about whom this verse applies to men who have engaged in idol worship.  It bothers me greatly that you expect this verse to explain equally the origin of same-sex attractions in men who have never accepted Christ as Lord, and in those who accepted Christ at age 8, and developed same-sex attractions at age 14, since it would appear not to describe their actions.


2) This passage does not report the origin of the “Desires”

Supposing my previous point is incorrect, and this verse does apply to everyone, it does not indicate the creation of new “sinful” desires in these men, rather that God is not protecting them from these desires anymore.  Thus, it does not explain the origin of same-sex attractions, but the aside-from-God’s-intervention-unbreakable hold of sin in their lives, similar to Romans 6:20.  The origin of these precise desires lies elsewhere, not mentioned in this scripture.

I specifically consulted with theologian & researcher Robert Gagnon, author of “The Bible and Homosexual Practice:…”, on this point.  He replied, “Romans 1:18-32 does not explain how sinful impulses originate but rather how in the Gentile world they become overriding controlling influences particularly among those who don’t honor God as God. When impulses to do what God expressly forbids overtake us to a point where we act on them, it is because we do not find fellowship with God sufficient for our happiness and so seek God substitutes. In 1:29 the offender list continues with such things as greed and envy. We wouldn’t say that greed and envy as sinful impulses originate with a turning from God but rather becoming controlling and enslaving impulses when there is a rupture in our relationship with God and we seek gratification from God-substitutes. Scripture does not explain how homosexual impulses originate. Sin in general is viewed as an innate impulse passed on by an ancestor. But no explanation is given in Scripture as to why some experience homosexual attraction while others do not.”

While I do not agree with everything he writes in that book, or even his perception of scripture, on this one point, I agree.  What he does do in that text, however, is blow the “gay-lobby’s” arguments for Biblically-compatible same-sex erotic activities out of the water using the most liberal possible interpretation of scripture.  The response I quoted above, is in personal response to my question, not a quote from the book.  He gave a very good plenary lecture about how a Christian led by the Holy Spirit would never be led into the “gay lifestyle” at the Restored Hope Network Conference in June.  The video, or at least the audio, should be available online, somewhere. If you can’t find it, let me know, the videographer is a friend of mine.  His comments are in stark contrast to Alan Chambers, who led Exodus into a ditch the day before, about whom your pastor seemed to agree whole heartedly in his blog post a few days later.


3) The passage does not claim to be all-encompassing

Supposing that this passage does imply the creation of new same-sex lusts which were not pre-existent, this scripture does not claim to provide an all-encompassing origin for what you call “sin attractions”.  Instead it claims to document how some sins became widely practiced.  In other words, it says “If A then B”, where A is “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” and B is “gay sex & other stuff”.  It does not follow that “If B then A”.  Your argument, “same-sex attractions are a sin-attraction caused by the individual suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” is “if B then A”.  You would need other supporting scripture for that.  After spending 11 years looking for such a passage, I discovered there isn’t any.


4) You presume same-sex attractions are inherently lust

You presume that same-sex attractions are a lust.  In reality, lust obscures the underlying emotional wounds, but it’s the underlying wounds which percolate to same-sex attractions as a symptom.  This is why overcoming same-sex attractions is so difficult – because it is a confusion of your very perception of yourself and the “other”.  I suppose I should really stop using the phrase “same-sex attractions”, since there isn’t any such thing.  There is no feeling, no emotion, no desire which is in itself an erotic desire for the same sex.  God created us male and female, not male, female, gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual.  This may seem like a far too minute detail since the end result is men with SSA see other men as “hot”, “sexy”, or “cute”.  But, it’s actually critical in understanding how to help these men.  The desires which have become mixed up are not a need God placed in us for Himself being replaced by a man, but instead a desire God placed in us for a sense of belonging with members of our own sex getting bound to the erotic desire (not lust) God placed in us for our complement.  That’s why “pray-away-the-gay” is so statistically ineffective at removing same-sex attractions – there isn’t anything to remove.  Instead there’s something to fill and two things to untwist, and God has commanded us that parts of it are to be filled by our fathers, brothers and other same-sex peers, as I will demonstrate throughout the rest of this letter:  (oh, yeah, and I know enough to know that lesbianism is somewhat different, so please don’t mistake my statements as having applicability to that.)


5) There are other Biblically-valid causal factors for wounds than the sin of the individual

Ultimately, mankind’s original sin was trusting himself more than God.  That sin, and God’s punishment for it, negatively affected everyone.  But that’s not all.  Ephesians 6:11-12 indicates the devil actively schemes against us.  Sin’s influence frequently reaches beyond the person who commits it.  So although attempted usurping God’s place in our lives would be bad for us, it could also lead to bad for other people – people who didn’t commit the sin.  If that weren’t the case, I submit Romans 12:19 doesn’t have full context in which to function.  To assert that “If B then A” – for each individual – above ignores this path for damage.  Colossians 3:21 supports this notion, that a father can sin in a way which negatively affects his child emotionally.