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Does Romans 1:26 condemn lesbians?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lesbos Harbor on the
Greek Island of Lesbos

No, Paul is NOT condemning
lesbians in Romans 1:26.

"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:" - Romans 1:26
Anti-gay Christians arrive at that conclusion because they believe that Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 condemn both gay male and lesbian relationships (even though neither females nor lesbians are mentioned in the Leviticus verses).

Anti-gay Christians then assume that since Paul was a Jew, he must have interpreted Lev 18:22 and 20:13 the same way anti-gay Christians interpret them today, as universal proscriptions of all homosexual behavior, including lesbian behavior.

So when they get to Romans 1:26, they interpret "against nature" to mean lesbianism and nothing but lesbianism. According to their opinion, Paul couldn't possibly have been referring to any of the other "against nature" behaviors I list at this Link. 

If it does not fit,
you must acquit.

The anti-gay interpretation of Romans 1:26 does not fit the rest of scripture however, since lesbians are never condemned in the Old Testament or anyplace in the New Testament.

Many leaders in the early Christian church did NOT hold the view that Romans 1:26 condemns lesbians.

Early church leaders who did NOT hold the anti-lesbian view include Clement of Alexandria and Saint Augustine, who understood Romans 1:26 to refer to anal or oral sex between heterosexuals. 

One early Christian writer, Anastasios, clearly dismisses the view that Paul was referring to lesbianism in his comments on Romans 1:26.
Clearly they (the females referred to in Romans 1:26) do not go into one another, but rather offer themselves to the men. (Brooten, 1996, p. 337n)
Augustine continues this line of thought (fairly explicitly):
But if one has relations even with one's wife in a part of the body which was not made for begetting children, such relations are against nature and indecent. In fact, the same apostle earlier said the same thing about women, "For their women exchanged natural relations for those which are against nature."  [quoting Romans 1:26] (Marriage and Desire, 20.35)"

Shrine Prostitution best fits the context
of Romans 1:26

There is however, ONE female sexual practice:

(1) which is condemned in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 23:17-18,

(2) which is linked to Gentile idolatry and

(3) which perfectly fits Paul’s "against nature" argument.

That sexual practice is female shrine prostitution, using sex to worship Ashtoreth, (the fertility goddess consort of the male fire-god Molech).

Qedesha-female shrine prostitutes, are mentioned in Genesis 38:21-22, Deuteronomy 23:17, and Hosea 4:14. It better fits the context of Paul's argument in Romans 1:26 (idolatry) to understand that Paul is referring to the illicit sexual practice of female shrine prostitutes who serviced men than that,

suddenly and unaccountably, with no Biblical basis from the Old Testament, Paul injects into his teaching against idolatry, a one verse condemnation of lesbians, (which is unrelated to idolatry) and which is without any basis in the Old Testament.


Gay Christian 101 - Spiritual Self-Defense For Gay and Lesbian Christians

Gay Christian 101 - Spiritual Self-Defense For Gay and Lesbian Christians
Click the red book
for info

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