The Hard Truth
Devotion In Motion
“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves…” Having worshipped animals they began to live like animals. Over time a person grows to resemble whatever it is that he or she worships. After teaching our kids that they’ve ascended from apes, why are we surprised when they monkey around… Teach a child that he’s nothing but an animal and he’ll act like an animal… Why expect a kid to develop spiritual appetites and moral standards if all he consists of are glands and hands.
In today’s morallyless world we haven’t given people a reason why one human whim is any more right or wrong than another. People today are driven by their lusts. They dishonor their bodies. They’ve lost any concept of the sanctity of human sexuality. They’ve been given over to uncleanness. “Who (also) exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” They “exchanged the truth of God for the lie…” Imagine a society that calls right, wrong, and wrong right… Homosexuality is no longer a dysfunction – a sin – it’s now a legitimate preference… Abortion isn’t murder, its a woman’s right to choose…
The biblical family of one father and one mother is no longer the optimum environment for raising kids – now any configuration will do… When pleasing and honoring the creature becomes more important than pleasing the Creator; then truly the patients have taken over the asylum. Here’s what’s happened today… to avoid God’s authority we’ve suppressed His truth. And to convince ourselves we’re right we’ve normalized the pathological and the deviant. We’ve created our own rules and ethics. Here’s how topsy-turvy the world has become… Millions of tax dollars are spent to save a few beached whales, while we condone the murder of innocent babies…
In today’s world, animal rights overshadow human rights. Man has lost his uniqueness. Humans are no longer viewed as the image of God – but just another animal. Rather than take dominion over nature as God commanded we’ve become its slave. People and governments are more concerned about damaging the environment than bettering life for mankind. Several years ago, I read where a doctor was anesthetizing cats, then shooting them with a BB-gun to find ways to help humans traumatized by gunshot wounds. His research was helping soldiers injured in the Gulf War. Yet his experiments were shut down by animal rights activists who thought Snowball and Fluffy were more important than Smith and Franklin. The truth is, man is not an animal.
It’s a confused society that puts animal life on a par with human life. Man is an eternal soul made in God’s image. But in verse 26 it gets worse… “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.” In his commentary on Romans, Donald Barnhouse writes, “The last nine verses in the first chapter of Romans are the most terrible in the Bible… The scene is frightful.” Three times in three verses (verses 24, 26, and 28) Paul tells us “God gave them up!” or “God gave them over!”
In other words, God abandoned those who abandoned Him! When a red indicator light on my dashboard starts to flash I know there’s a serious problem with my car. Likewise there are cultural indicators that signal when a society is breaking down and falling apart. They’re a serious warning. In the remainder of chapter 1, Paul gives us 23 indicators of a society on the verge of collapse – but the primary, clear-cut manifestation that a people have been abandoned by God is the cultural acceptance and legitimization of homosexuality.
Listen to what Paul says to us in the next two verses… “For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.” When it comes to sexual deviance women are usually less prone than men. But in Rome even the women behaved in unnatural ways. “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…” The word “debased” means “rejected or castaway.”
As far as God was concerned they were ejected from the game. They were on their own. Here’s the ultimate destiny for those who suppress God’s truth – God stops convicting and wooing them back to Himself. He gives them up to their lies – turns them over to their own deceptions. Their evil becomes set in stone. A debased mind participates in deviant behavior without the slightest tinge of guilt. It demands acceptance. It grows militant in its quest for legitimacy. And this describes today’s homosexual agenda. They’re not content to practice their perversion privately, they want it normalized.
They want to socialize children to see homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle. They want to be a privileged group with special legal protections. They want to force acceptance of their lifestyle on the rest of us. They’ve justified their rejection of God’s order, and God has given them up. Understand, in Romans 1 Paul tells us four truths about homosexuality – it’s not natural, it’s not normal, it’s not noble, and it’s not neutral.
First, it’s not natural. Both women and men left the natural use of the opposite sex to lust after those of the same sex. A quick check of human anatomy will show that same sex relationships are anatomically aberrant. A quick peek at male and female genitalia and you’ll notice a natural fit. The Bible teaches that God created gender. The sexes matter to God. Men are for women and women for men – sexual expression is dictated by God. The research often sited to support the theory that people are born homosexual is flawed and extremely dubious.
But for the sake of argument, what if it were proven that some people do have a gay gene? Does that mean we should condone and legitimize the behavior? If a person is biologically predisposed to alcoholism, or depression – shouldn’t we still try to treat the disorder? If a person is prone to violence should we legitimize all violence? Dr. Robert Kronemeyer writes, “With rare exceptions, homosexuality is neither inherited nor a result of some glandular disturbance or the scrambling of genes or chromosomes. Homosexuals are made, not born… From my 25 years’ experience as a clinical psychologist, I firmly believe homosexuality is a learned response to early painful experiences, thus it can be unlearned…”
Also, homosexuality is not normal. I believe there’re two roots from which homosexual behavior stems. First, is gender confusion. Through abuse or neglect people at early ages develop abnormal psychological attractions. This is the homosexual who may not understand why he feels the way he does. But when Paul describes homosexuality he says he “burns in his lust.” Here’s a homosexual who’s eaten up with desire. Perhaps she’s bored with heterosexual experiences. In her quest for greater thrills she flirts with a taboo. She swings back and forth. This is Madonna and Brittney Spears pushing the boundaries…
It’s the Katy Perry “I kissed a girl” phenomena. This is what happened in the bath houses of ancient Rome. The brothels no longer satisfied, so perverse Romans adopted an anything goes sexuality. Homosexuality is not natural, not normal, and not noble. Paul describes homosexual practice, “men with men committing what is shameful.” The Greek word rendered (“shameful” can be translated “deformed.”) Such practices twisted God’s intended order. Ephesians 5 teaches us that heterosexual marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church. Homosexuality on the other hand, distorts and perverts this picture. It masculinizes the female and feminizes the male.
It disrupts God-given roles and identities – which in turn leads to the destruction of the family and society. And finally, God says homosexuality is not neutral. Don’t be naive, you can’t buck nature and not pay the piper. Giving in to homosexual tendencies take a terrible toll… Unbridled selfishness, a seared-conscience, damaged self-esteem, confusion, and insecurity, and loneliness, and depression, and manipulation – are all the price of perversion… Not to mention the physical dangers. Even though AIDS has crossed over into the heterosexual population, still 70% of all victims are homosexual. For the last 30 years the FDA has prohibited male homosexuals from donating blood.
Their sexual practices make them more prone to dangerous viruses. Homosexuality is not natural, not normal, not noble, and not neutral. But don’t conclude that a homosexual is not loved by God. When Jesus went to the cross and took our sin upon His shoulders, that included the sin of homosexuality. If you embrace Jesus as your Lord He’ll forgive you, and provide you a new identity, and teach you a new way of life. Homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin. In fact, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6, “Do not be deceived. neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites… will inherit the kingdom of God.” But then he adds, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” I love the phrase, “And such were some of you!” Jesus can break the bonds of homosexuality.
As I said earlier, homosexuality is an indicator that a society is in trouble – that it’s strayed dangerously far from God. But there are other indicators… Paul has a long list in verses 29-31, “ 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…” Let me run through this list quickly…
“Sexual immorality” – The Greek word is “pornea” from which we get our word “pornography.” It applies to all forms of illicit sexual arousal and activity. “Wickedness” – The original word means to work or toil at wickedness. “Covetousness” is greed. It’s the itch for more. “Maliciousness” is the desire to injure another person. “Strife” is the tendency to argue just for the sake of arguing. “Backbiters” – Remember, the childhood jingle “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.” That’s simply not true. Flesh wounds heal quicker than wounds inflicted by a sharp tongue on a psyche or a person’s reputation. Chrysostom said, “Slander is worse than cannibalism.” “Inventors of evil things” – Today these guys work in Hollywood. “Disobedient to parents” has become an epidemic in today’s world. “Undiscerning” – the failure to learn from history – unteachable. “Untrustworthy” – When members of a society no longer try to honor their agreements, and keep their promises – that society is on its way to ruin. “Unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful…”
It was said of Rome, “How pitiless she was! Amid all the ruins of her cities we find no hospital or orphanage – in an age that made many orphans. Rome had no conscience; she was a lustful, devouring beast, made more bestial by her intelligence and splendor.” Rome is proof – anarchy and brutality await a people with no heart, no compassion. Verse 32, “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.”
I think Paul saved the worst for last! Think about this verse the next time you sit down to watch a raunchy movie. You may not cheat on your wife, but do you cheer on the actor who does it in the movie. How often do we give placid approval to acts God hates? It’s called “guilt by association” – and we need to repent! Back in the day when pay phones were popular, I heard of a businessman who phoned his wife. He’d finished the conversation and hung up, when the phone rang… He figured it was the operator telling him to insert another coin. It was the operator, but she didn’t say anything about more money. This is what she told him, “Sir, I thought you’d like to know that just after you hung up, your wife told you that she loved you.” What a nice gesture! Here’s how we need to close Romans 1.
Even though we live in a society that’s hung up on God, He’s still telling us He loves us. And He’ll forgive us if we repent. This is the Gospel. It’s still the power of God to those who believe.
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