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What the Bible Says About Homosexuality

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Romans 1:26–27

As believers we must never succumb to the pressures of a godless world to give our approval to sinful lifestyles. Rather, we are to stand boldly on the Word of God, which is the only hope the world has.


The Sahara Desert in North Africa was once filled with herds of buffalo and antelope, and cattle grazed in lush pastureland. It is now buried under mountains of sand as the desert has expanded to the south over the last century, claiming more and more of the African continent.

However, there are places where rivers of water are flowing from the Atlas Mountains underneath the Sahara Desert. Sometimes the water comes to the surface, and the land around it becomes an oasis, where life can flourish.

Beloved, the church should be an oasis in the midst of a desert, offering the water of life to everyone who is dying of thirst. But the desert sand is never satisfied. It wants to infiltrate and compromise the church, covering over the truth in every generation.

Now so far, in our study of Romans chapter 1, we have learned that those who abandon the Creator end up experiencing the consequences of their defiance. Paul writes here in verse 25 that mankind ends up serving the creature—the animal kingdom.

The animal kingdom was created by God for mankind to take care of and enjoy. Animals are not to be treated with cruelty. But when mankind rejects God, animals rise to a place of equality. And frankly, when that takes place, humans end up treating humans like animals and animals like humans.

So today, for example, it is illegal to crush the egg of an eagle—the law protects the unborn life of that little eaglet. But it is perfectly legal today to crush the life of an unborn human being.

Now we come to verses 26 and 27, where Paul delivers another consequence of abandoning God’s created order:

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

In other words, in disobeying God’s design for sexual relations, mankind actually reverses the order of nature. Don’t miss the connection here: when the Creator of nature is abandoned, the order of nature is abandoned.

Paul writes that those who reject the truth about God are abandoned by God to what the Bible calls here “dishonorable passions.” What are these passions? Paul writes in verse 26, “Women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature.” Next, in verse 27, he says men are abandoned by God to follow the same pattern. Paul writes that they are “consumed with passion for one another.”

The text is speaking of homosexuality, describing it as contrary to the created order and purpose God intended for the male and female. So, Paul is saying that when people abandon God’s word, God abandons them to a life that pursues unnatural sexual relations.

Paul goes on to write that they receive “in themselves the due penalty for their error.” This phrase means that homosexuality is itself God’s judgment on them; it might also be a vivid warning that God’s judgment awaits them.[1]

These verses undeniably condemn homosexual practice. Yet this clear teaching of Scripture is attacked by those who want this sin accepted and approved. The push to honor what God describes here as dishonorable is evidence of how far a culture can stray from the Word of God. And that includes many churches and church leaders today.

As you can imagine, this passage has become one of the most controversial—one of the most politically incorrect—passages in the entire Bible. And that is because the meaning of this passage is so obvious.

Still, there are various arguments you might hear today from those who want the church to be inclusive and homosexuality to be approved.

I have heard the argument that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality at all, only homosexuals who act selfishly. Those who propose this argument attempt to make the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah the result of their inhospitable treatment of others. They will quote Ezekiel 16:49-50, which condemns Sodom for arrogance and refusing to help the poor and needy. But keep in mind that Ezekiel is only adding to the list of sins for which those cities were judged.

Other passages make it clear what was taking place in those cities. In the little book of Jude, the Bible says that Sodom and Gomorrah “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire” (verse 7). That is exactly what Paul writes in Romans 1.

Another argument I hear often is that Jesus never uttered one word against homosexuality, so He was not against it at all. Well, Jesus never uttered one word against incest or pedophilia or rape or pornography. Does that mean He is not against those sins? Beloved, during His ministry, Jesus did not address every sin, but He never approved of any sin.

And by the way, there is a vast difference between saying Jesus accepts you and Jesus accepts anything you want to do.

Another argument I have heard is that a homosexual is by nature homosexual—he is created that way. Therefore, he is not acting contrary to his nature. What Paul is condemning, they say, is unnatural behavior. That is, homosexual acts are wrong only for those who are not, by nature, homosexuals.

That is a clever interpretation, but Paul is not talking about heterosexuals; he is talking about males and females who abandon the natural order and lust after the same sex. That is what the Bible is calling unnatural.

Another argument I often hear is that a homosexual is born that way and cannot change. And if you cannot change, then it is not a choice—you simply cannot help it.

The truth is, we are all born with a sin nature that we cannot change by ourselves; we all have some particular bent toward a particular sin. Hebrews 12:1 calls it the “sin which clings so closely.” It is our besetting sin—that sin we continually struggle with and have a weakness toward. We are all born bent, so to speak, in the wrong direction.

But that does not give us the freedom to follow our bent. A married man who lusts after his neighbor’s wife cannot say, “Well, God made me this way and I can’t help it, so I’m going to pursue it.” Yes, that is his natural desire, but God considers it a sinful desire; in fact, God calls it “adultery.”

The Bible never calls homosexuality or adultery a genetic issue. The Bible never calls sin a sickness. But beloved, that is the good news! Sicknesses might not have a cure. Genetic problems might never be corrected or resolved. But there is a cure—a remedy—for sin!

Over in 1 Corinthians, Paul lists a number of sinful lifestyles. Look at what he says:

Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

But then notice what Paul writes in verse 11: “And such were some of you.”

The church in Corinth was filled with former idolaters and adulterers and homosexuals and drunkards. What happened? Paul writes in verse 11, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

We live in a desert, beloved. We are surrounded by the sands of sin. The only oasis, the only place of true fulfillment and rest, is found in the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ. It does not matter who you are, what you have done, or where you are; Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sin. Admit your sin, and ask Him for forgiveness, and He will keep His word and cleanse you and redeem you and walk with you through life.

[1] Douglas J. Moo, The Letter to the Romans, New International Commentary on the New Testament, 2d ed. (Eerdmans Publishing, 2018), 127.

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