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Friday, January 18, 2013

Romans 1, Part 2 "The Nastiest People in the World"

We can "cut to the chase" very quickly by beginning at the end.  To see where Paul is headed is to see what concerns him.  And it should concern us, too.

Whoever it is that Paul is castigating here surely are among humanity's most despicable people.  Here's how the NRSV puts it:
They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them. 
No one of wholesome spirit would want to be associated in any way with such as these. These are the dregs of the earth, for sure.  This is character shaped by idolatry, or, shaped by other than God. 

We begin here because I want you to consider something in your own experience.  Do you know any Christian LGBTs who fit this description?   Of course you don't.  They fit, instead, another of Paul's lists of characteristics, the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness.  If this is not your experience, you don't know enough gay Christians!  Therefore, we can say with assurance that whomever Paul has in mind, it is not gay Christians!

It must also be said that this does not fit even the vast majority of LGTB people at all. The prejudicial depiction of the stereotypical gay is a product of projecting a minority of gay pride parade participants as typical of the whole.  Even in a pride parade, the exhibitionists are in the minority. 

To say that all gays are like that is to say that all straights are like the party animals at the Mardi Gras.  A woman in one of my seminars wanted to say that all gays are promiscuous, "just like in the parades."  To which I replied, "So, if I threw you a necklace of glass beads, you would show me your breasts.  Right?"  She got the point.  I hope you do, too.  The fact is that most gays are indistinguishable from straights. The proof is that hundreds of them live in proximity to anyone of us and we don't even know it!

I know hundreds of LGBT Christians, many of whom make my witness look puny.  I also know many non-Christian gays who have been driven from our churches by behavior more typical of the strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, insolent, haughty, boastful behavior that Paul decries, than that of the Spirit.  

So then, just who or what is Paul referring to with such language as God gave them up and they were filled with every kind of wickedness?  This we will turn to tomorrow.

TOMORROW:  Romans 1, Part 3 "Passion Fruit, the Aphrodisiac of Idolaters" 


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