For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
There God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.
For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful, who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Strong words from the Apostle Paul (Rom. 1:18ff). Many, many things can be written about this passage. Indictments against homosexuality, etc. First off, we should recognize the logical genius of Paul – the man can structure an argument.
But instead, I’d like to look at a more basic theme, one introduced here and more fully fleshed out throughout Romans. The idea that there is objective truth and an objective relationship to God (oops, shouldn’t say that – one can get in big trouble nowadays with that).
The implication in this passage is that worshipping God, the Creator, is the natural thing to do. Any deviation from this is unnatural.
This deviation results in arrogant pride. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about most militant atheists, it’s their overbearing arrogance. Not to say that we are more holy…we should recognize and repent for this reason with all humbleness. But the one who dares to say God is not, and even those who have the audacity to put words into His mouth, or discredit his Word, are arrogant. They make themselves foolish.
When we assume that God is a creature, of course he becomes unworthy of lordship. Who could worship corrupted Man? But God is not a creature…He is God, and by definition the opposite of Man – not only is He pure, He is incapable of ever seeing corruption (Ps. 16).
When our god becomes a creature, he is no longer god…but he is still our god. And since we fall into the mold of the god we worship, instead of striving for purity, we become even more base than before.
And God gives us up to that. The important thing, I think, about this passage is the way it treats homosexuality and other sins. These are not sins first…they are punishments first, and only secondarily are they sins. Homosexuality is a punishment that God inflicts upon a proud and unrepentant culture. There are many well-meaning evangelicals who say that God will judge us for our tolerance of homosexuals – Paul is telling us that He already has.
When God gives us up to the machinations of our own minds, things fall completely to pieces. We trust that He will deliver us from evil and let us not fall to temptation. When we rebel against Him in our arrogance, we cast off those “shackles” that are in reality our armor. We leave ourselves defenseless, and we are devoured by our own sin. Christ has made us holy…but we are perfectly capable of rejecting that gift at any time.
It is important to see the order in which these events take place. First, we reject Christ. That is the principle sin. All other sins proceed from the sin of arrogance in thinking that we are our own savior. Once that has been done, we have thrown ourselves into a filthy vat of sin, and all bets are off.
Rabbit trail: This is one reason why infant baptism is a necessity. Obviously, I need further Scripture to back this up, as well as covenantal objectivity, but that’s not the point of this post, so don’t jump on my back. Since our principle sin is in Adam, and we know all who proceed from him by ordinary generation are subject to this sin, we know for a fact that these other sins are not only possible, but guaranteed. That’s scary. That’s why we baptize our babies practically as soon as they taste free air. Every second spent out from under the covenantal Blood of Christ is a second spent in danger and under God’s wrath. “Believer’s baptism” be damned.