Some people use Chapter 1 of the Biblical book
of Romans to say that homosexuality and
homosexuals are bad. However, the facts are
In Romans 1, Paul shows what happened to
people who refused to glorify God. Their
thinking became foolish (distorted) and they
honored and served created things (including
idols) rather than God the Creator. Therefore
God allowed them to follow their own lustful
choices and dishonor their bodies. Women and
men changed from having male-female sex and
had female-female sex and male-male sex
Paul criticizes the act of sex between
women by calling it unnatural (Romans 1:26).
He also criticizes an extreme form of sex
between men by saying that the men are
utterly consumed in their lust for one another
and men act shamefully with men (Romans 1:
27). Although Paul calls both these forms of sex
degrading passions (shameful lusts) and
unclean, he is only using them to illustrate his
argument and does not say don’t do it.
Paul’s criticism of sex between women
seems to be based on how women’s sex roles
were seen in the Greek-Roman and Jewish
cultures of Biblical times (women should be
passive, not active, in sex). As the criticism is
culturally based and as Paul does not say don’t
do it, the criticism does not apply today.
More details However sex between women
should comply with the no-harm test. Details
His criticism of sex between men refers
only to penetrative sex (anal intercourse),
not to other forms of sex between men. Details
Although Paul criticizes penetrative sex between
men, he does not actually say don’t do it.
The criticism of penetrative sex between
men does not apply to straight, bisexual and
gay men today because it applied only to the
Greek-Roman culture of Paul’s time. For those
who don’t accept this culture argument, the
criticism of male-male penetration does not
apply when no one is harmed, directly or
- What form of sexual activity is described in
- What points favor Romans 1:26 referring to
sex between females and what points favor
a reference to male-female anal sex?
- What does Paul mean by “nature” in
Romans 1:26 and what is the meaning of
“natural relations” and “unnatural
- What does the criticism of sex between
females mean for women who are attracted
to, or have sex with, other women?
- What form of male sexual activity is
described in Romans 1:27?
- What did Paul think of same-sex behavior?
- What was the Roman attitude to sexual
relations between males?
- Is Paul criticizing same-sex activity
wherever it occurs or just same-sex activity
when people worship idols?
- What is meant by “receiving the due
penalty for their error” in Romans 1:27?
- What does the criticism of male-male
penetration mean for men who are
attracted to, or have sex with, other men?
- False views about Romans 1:26 and
- Other interpretations and papers
Author: Colin Smith