S (Scripture): Romans 1:22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done. 29 They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.
Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else. For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment is in accordance with truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed! 6 He will reward each one according to his works.
O (Observation): Once again…a lot packed into a few verses. Paul addresses the fact that swaths of people have ignored God as the Creator and ruler of all. Paul addresses a group of people who have chosen to follow earthly gods, even though the majesty of God is clearly present.
Paul sees these folks as having deprived minds. These non-God-fearers are quite a bunch. They include folks who misuse and abuse one another for selfish gain (physically, economically, politically, socially, etc.).
But! Should it be the job of a God-fearer to condemn these people? Certainly not! For as soon as we start to judge, we become the gossipers and slanderers.
Let God’s judgment stand, not ours!
A (Application): The first place people go to in these texts are the verses surrounding same-sex attraction. They say these few verses clearly condemn all same-sex attraction and relationships. They do this without acknowledging 2 important items: 1.) the group being addressed by Paul is those who do not believe in God and are out for selfish gain; 2.) Paul immediately follows these condemnations with the fact that we are not to judge others. These 2 points are quite the inconvenience for self-righteous Christians.
Paul addresses his condemning words towards folks who are looking only for self-serving pleasure and advantage. The same-sex relationships here are not grounded in Christ’s love for the neighbor. For that matter, when opposite-sex relations are based on self-centered pleasure alone, that is also something not to be condoned. However, when folks come together in love towards one another (same-sex or opposite-sex) this goes beyond self-centeredness, into selfless love for one another. And if so, these relationships should be allowed without question.
On the issue of condemning and judging others… Many Christians who openly condemn other Christians prefer to read the end of Romans 1 and skip what comes just before and after these verses. Paul is setting a bit of a standard at the end of Romans 1, but he is letting us know that he is addresing behavior of those who have no regard for God. They are selfish. Not only this, but indeed we become the condemned in condemning others!
What does this mean? For me, this means we support those who seek God’s blessings on marriage (same-sex or opposite-sex). This means we guard ourselves against condemning others. This means we are called to love one another, especially when we are not sure about each other.
P (Prayer): Lord, keep us steadfast in the faith…that we might find compassion in our hearts. Amen.