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INTRODUCTION

Paul’s allusions in Romans 1:18-32 to language from Leviticus 18 and 20 in the LXX (the Septuagint which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament) show that the prohibition against homosexual sex was alive and well when Paul wrote Romans.  These prohibitions remain applicable to today.  Thus, the pro-LGBTQ faction is wrong to discard Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13 from the Bible for the 21st Century,

ROMANS 1:18-32 CONDEMNS HOMOSEXUAL PRACTICE

As an initial comment, Romans 1:18-32 is a passage that deals directly with homosexual sexual activities of the male-male type and the female-female type.  There is no confusion about the homosexual sexual behavior Paul described in this passage per Romans 1:24–27 (ESV), which reads (boldfacing added):

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 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.

One commentator (Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, pp. 82–83). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers presents the complete argument:

Romans 1:26–27 contains the clearest teaching in the New Testament on homosexuality. In this section Paul described the practice as “shameful,” “unnatural,” “indecent,” and as a “perversion.” By contrast, the Greco-Roman society of Paul’s day tolerated homosexuality with considerable ease. Among some advocates it was viewed as superior to heterosexuality. Barclay notes that “fourteen out of the first fifteen Roman Emperors were homosexuals.”31

In Jewish culture, however, it was regarded as an abomination. Barrett comments that “no feature of pagan society filled the Jew with greater loathing than the toleration, or rather admiration, of homosexual practices.” The Old Testament specifically prohibits homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 says, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” The penalty for both participants was death (Lev 20:13). In 1 Cor 6:9–10 Paul specifically said that “homosexual offenders” will not “inherit the kingdom of God.” Against this background it is difficult to understand why some contemporary teachers—even some who claim to be biblical—make allowance for a practice clearly condemned in both the Old and the New Testaments.35 Achtemeier writes that the kind of life Paul described in vv. 26–27 “cannot be understood as an alternative life-style, somehow acceptable to God” but rather as “a sign of one of the forms God’s wrath takes when he allows us free reign to continue in our abuse of creation and in our abuse of one another as creatures.”

In language that cannot be misunderstood, Paul condemned homosexual practice in Romans 1:18-32.  Please remember that Paul wrote Romans under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Divine inspiration of Scripture, which includes Romans, is clear from 2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV), which reads:

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

And, it is made clear by 2 Peter 1:20–21 (ESV), which reads:

20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

This teaches that Paul’s condemnation of homosexual practice in Romans means that our holy and immutable God condemns homosexual practice today.

ROMANS 1:27 – PAUL’S FIRST ALLUSION TO LEVITICUS 18 AND 20

The first set of allusions in the LXX relates to Romans 1:27 (ESV), which reads:

27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts [aschēmosynē ] with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

The ESV translates the Greek noun aschēmosynē as “shameless acts” and it means to act in defiance of social and moral standards, with resulting disgrace, embarrassment, and shame—‘to act shamefully, indecent behavior, shameful deed.’  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition, Vol. 1, p. 758). New York: United Bible Societies.  The LXX uses this Greek noun thirty-three times in Leviticus 18 and 20 and the translation is typically “nakedness.”  The listing below shows these usages.

Lev 18:6  Ἄνθρωπος ἄνθρωπος πρὸς πάντα οἰκεῖα σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ οὐ προσελεύσεται ἀποκαλύψαι ἀσχημοσύνην· ἐγὼ Κύριος.  “None of you shall approach any one of his close relatives to uncover nakedness. I am the Lord.  
Lev 18:7  ἀσχημοσύνην πατρός σου καὶ ἀσχημοσύνην μητρός σου οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις· μήτηρ γάρ σού ἐστιν καὶ οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness.  
Lev 18:8  ἀσχημοσύνην γυναικὸς πατρός σου οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις· ἀσχημοσύνη πατρός σού ἐστιν.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness.  
Lev 18:9  ἀσχημοσύνην τῆς ἀδελφῆς σου ἐκ πατρός σου ἢ μητρός σου, ἐνδογενοῦς γεγεννημένης ἢ ἔξω, οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether brought up in the family or in another home.  
Lev 18:10  ἀσχημοσύνην θυγατρὸς υἱοῦ σου ἢ θυγατρὸς θυγατρός σου, οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῶν, ὅτι σὴ ἀσχημοσύνη ἐστίν.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of your son’s daughter or of your daughter’s daughter, for their nakedness is your own nakedness.  
Lev 18:11  ἀσχημοσύνην θυγατρὸς γυναικὸς πατρός σου οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις· ὁμοπατρία ἀδελφή σού ἐστιν, οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, brought up in your father’s family, since she is your sister.  
Lev 18:12  ἀσχημοσύνην ἀδελφῆς πατρός σου οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις· οἰκεία γὰρ πατρός σού ἐστιν.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is your father’s relative.  
Lev 18:13  ἀσχημοσύνην ἀδελφῆς μητρός σου οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις· οἰκεία γὰρ μητρός σού ἐστιν.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s relative.  
Lev 18:14  ἀσχημοσύνην ἀδελφοῦ τοῦ πατρός σου οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις, καὶ πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ οὐκ εἰσελεύσῃ· συγγενὴς γάρ σού ἐστιν.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother, that is, you shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt.  
Lev 18:15  ἀσχημοσύνην νύμφης σου οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις· γυνὴ γὰρ υἱοῦ σού ἐστιν, οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.  
Lev 18:16  ἀσχημοσύνην γυναικὸς ἀδελφοῦ σου οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις· ἀσχημοσύνη ἀδελφοῦ σού ἐστιν.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness.  
Lev 18:17  ἀσχημοσύνην γυναικὸς καὶ θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις· τὴν θυγατέρα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτῆς καὶ τὴν θυγατέρα τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς οὐ λήμψῃ ἀποκαλύψαι τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῶν· οἰκεῖαι γάρ σού εἰσιν, ἀσέβημά ἐστιν.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, and you shall not take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter to uncover her nakedness; they are relatives; it is depravity.  
Lev 18:18  γυναῖκα ἐπὶ ἀδελφῇ αὐτῆς οὐ λήμψῃ ἀντίζηλον, ἀποκαλύψαι τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς ἐπʼ αὐτῇ, ἔτι ζώσης αὐτῆς.  And you shall not take a woman as a rival wife to her sister, uncovering her nakedness while her sister is still alive.  
Lev 18:19  καὶ πρὸς γυναῖκα ἐν χωρισμῷ ἀκαθαρσίας αὐτῆς οὐ προσελεύσῃ ἀποκαλύψαι τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς.  “You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness.  
Lev 20:11  ἐάν τις κοιμηθῇ μετὰ γυναικὸς τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ, ἀσχημοσύνην τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ ἀπεκάλυψεν, θανατούσθω· ἀμφότεροι ἔνοχοί εἰσιν.  If a man lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.  
Lev 20:17  ὃς ἐὰν λάβῃ τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτοῦ ἐκ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ ἢ ἐκ μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἴδῃ τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς καὶ αὕτη ἴδῃ τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτοῦ, ὄνειδός ἐστιν, ἐξολεθρευθήσονται ἐνώπιον υἱῶν γένους αὐτῶν· ἀσχημοσύνην ἀδελφῆς αὐτοῦ ἀπεκάλυψεν, ἁμαρτίαν κομιοῦνται.  “If a man takes his sister, a daughter of his father or a daughter of his mother, and sees her nakedness, and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace, and they shall be cut off in the sight of the children of their people. He has uncovered his sister’s nakedness, and he shall bear his iniquity.  
Lev 20:18  καὶ ἀνὴρ ὃς ἂν κοιμηθῇ μετὰ γυναικὸς ἀποκαθημένης καὶ ἀποκαλύψῃ τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς, τὴν πηγὴν αὐτῆς ἀπεκάλυψεν, καὶ αὕτη ἀπεκάλυψεν τὴν ῥύσιν τοῦ αἵματος αὐτῆς· ἐξολεθρευθήσονται ἀμφότεροι ἐκ τοῦ γένους αὐτῶν.  If a man lies with a woman during her menstrual period and uncovers her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from among their people.  
Lev 20:19  καὶ ἀσχημοσύνην ἀδελφῆς πατρός σου καὶ ἀδελφῆς μητρός σου οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις· τὴν γὰρ οἰκειότητα ἀπεκάλυψεν, ἁμαρτίαν ἀποίσονται.  You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister or of your father’s sister, for that is to make naked one’s relative; they shall bear their iniquity.  
Lev 20:20  ὃς ἂν κοιμηθῇ μετὰ τῆς συγγενοῦς αὐτοῦ, ἀσχημοσύνην τῆς συγγενοῦς αὐτοῦ ἀπεκάλυψεν· ἄτεκνοι ἀποθανοῦνται.  If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness; they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.  
Lev 20:21  ὃς ἂν λάβῃ τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ, ἀκαθαρσία αὐτοῦ ἐστίν· ἀσχημοσύνην ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ ἀπεκάλυψεν, ἄτεκνοι ἀποθανοῦνται.  If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.  
   
   
   

By using a word like aschēmosynē, which is used in Leviticus 18 and 20 so many times, it is highly likely Paul had Leviticus 18 and 20 in mind when he used the word in Rom 1:27.  Again, one cannot ignore Paul’s condemnation of homosexual practice in Romans 1:18-32 in light of the condemnation of homosexual sex by Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. 

ROMANS 1:24 – PAUL’S SECOND ALLUSION TO LEVITICUS 18 AND 20

Romans 1:24 (ESV) reads:

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity [akatharsia], to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

The ESV translates the Greek noun akatharsia as “impurity” and it means the state of moral impurity, especially in relationship to sexual sin—‘impurity, immorality, filthiness.  See Louw et al. (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 769). 

The LXX uses akatharsia in Leviticus 18 and 20 as shown below:

Lev 18:19  καὶ πρὸς γυναῖκα ἐν χωρισμῷ ἀκαθαρσίας αὐτῆς οὐ προσελεύσῃ ἀποκαλύψαι τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτῆς.  “You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness.  
Lev 19:23  Ὅταν δὲ εἰσέλθητε εἰς τὴν γῆν ἣν Κύριος ὁ θεὸς δίδωσιν ὑμῖν, καὶ καταφυτεύσετε πᾶν ξύλον βρώσιμον, καὶ περικαθαριεῖτε τὴν ἀκαθαρσίαν αὐτοῦ· ὁ καρπὸς αὐτοῦ τρία ἔτη ἔσται ὑμῖν ἀπερικάθαρτος, οὐ βρωθήσεται.  “When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten.  
Lev 20:21  ὃς ἂν λάβῃ τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ, ἀκαθαρσία αὐτοῦ ἐστίν· ἀσχημοσύνην ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ ἀπεκάλυψεν, ἄτεκνοι ἀποθανοῦνται.  If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.  
Lev 20:25  καὶ ἀφοριεῖτε αὐτοὺς ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν κτηνῶν τῶν καθαρῶν καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν κτηνῶν τῶν ἀκαθάρτων, καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν πετεινῶν τῶν καθαρῶν καὶ τῶν ἀκαθάρτων· καὶ οὐ βδελύξετε τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμῶν ἐν τοῖς κτήνεσιν καὶ ἐν τοῖς πετεινοῖς καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἑρπετοῖς τῆς γῆς, ἃ ἐγὼ ἀφώρισα ὑμῖν ἐν ἀκαθαρσίᾳ.  You shall therefore separate the clean beast from the unclean, and the unclean bird from the clean. You shall not make yourselves detestable by beast or by bird or by anything with which the ground crawls, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean.  

The English translation of the word akatharsia in the LXX comprise “uncleaness”, “you regard as … forbidden”, “impurity”, and “hold unclean.”  These usages make it likely that Paul had Leviticus 18 and 20 in mind when he wrote Romans 1:24.  Again, one cannot ignore Paul’s condemnation of homosexual practice in Romans 1:18-32 in light of the condemnation of homosexual sex by Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. 

ROMANS 1:32 – PAUL’S THIRD ALLUSION TO LEVITICUS 18:22 AND 20:13

The third allusion to Leviticus 18 and 20 is contained in Romans 1:32 (ESV), which reads:

32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

The preceding text of Romans 1:28–31 (ESV) reads:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:32 says that the people who satisfied the laundry list of evilness in verses 28-31 “know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die.” 

The ESV translates the Greek verb epiginōskō and “Though … know” and it means to come to an understanding as the result of ability to experience and learn—‘to come to understand, to perceive, to comprehend.’  See Louw et al. (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 381).  The sense of the verb is to discern something clearly and distinctly as true and valid.   The ESV translates the Greek noun diakaiōma as “righteous decree” and it means (derivative of δικαιόω ‘to act justly,’ not occurring in the NT) a regulation concerning right or just action—‘regulation, requirement.  See Louw et al. (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 426).  

Paul then went on to better describe the “righteous decree” by the expression “that those who practice such things deserve to die,…”  The ESV translates the Greek verb prasso as “who practice” and it means to carry out some activity (with possible focus upon the procedures involved)—‘to do, to carry out, to perform, deed.’  See Louw et al. (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 511).  Here, the “such things” comprises the male-male and female-female homosexual sex.   The “righteous decree” provides for the death penalty per the expression “deserve to die.” 

The combination of homosexual practice (i.e., “such things”), knowledge (i.e., “they know”) that homosexual practice violated God’s moral law (i.e., the “righteous decree” of Leviticus 18:22) and the death penalty (i.e., the “righteous decree” of Leviticus 20:13) leaves little doubt that the “righteous decree” to which Paul referred is the prohibition set out in Leviticus 18:22 and the punishment as set forth in Leviticus 20:13 (ESV):

13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

One commentary (Utley, R. J. (1998). The Gospel according to Paul: Romans (Vol. Volume 5, Ro 1:32). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International) reads:

1:32 “those who practice such things are worthy of death” This statement reflects the Law of Moses.

In an article entitled “A Comprehensive and Critical Essay of Homosexuality, Science and the ‘Plain Sense’ of Sripture, Part 2”, Dr. Robert Gagnon makes the connection between Romans 1:32 and Leviticus 20:13 when he wrote (footnote 115, page 233):

“Worthy of death” in Rom, 1:32 may also have called to mind the capital sentence pronounced on man-male intercourse in Lev. 20:13.

CONCLUSION

It is very probable that Paul had Leviticus 18 and 20 in mind when he wrote Romans 1:18-32.  More specifically, it seems very likely he had Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 in mind, especially in light of Romans 1:24, 27 and 32.  This being the case, the pro-LGBTQ faction of the UMC wrongly discards Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 from the Bible for the 21st Century.  

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