Discovery? Did Saint Paul Really Accept Sodomy?

Derek Ouellette —  November 30, 2011

I hesitate to bring this to your attention because for me, this book amounts to something somewhere between UFO sightings, the ghost of great uncle Jim closet haunting and secret government conspiracies that depict Gorbachev as the one world leader future antichrist. But a few people on facebook have been passing around an article titled “Discovery: Apostle Paul Accepted Christian Homosexuals”. Let’s be clear about something from the start, one can “accepted Christian homosexuals” the way someone like Tony Campolo does, but that is not what the article is talking about. So if you’re with Tony on this issue (as I am – that it’s the lifestyle, not the orientation that is sin), you’re probably not going to agree with what this book seems to be about.

For starters the article is laced with words and phrases like “discovery!” and “definitive” and “reveals” and “well kept secret”. It reminds me of a bad infomercial, and of course, you always get people jumping on those bandwagons too. (And let’s face it it’s not the successful people sitting up in a dark living room at three in the morning with a bag of potato chips waiting to buy into the next “definitive” “well kept secret” from infomercials.) And what’s more? The discovery was made by an acclaimed cryptography. This has all the makings of the Da Vinci code and the Bible code wrapped up in one.

Michael Wood is the retired cryptographer who was apparently able (in his spare time no less) to out-do every scholar and theology in history by unlocking the mystery of Paul’s words about homosexuality in Romans 1.

Go ahead and read the article and watch the really cheesy little video, then come back here where I’ll offer a few thoughts. (Here)

Two arguments are put forth in the article and book trailer:

  1. The climax of Romans 1 teaches that sins other than homosexuality are sins that lead to death.
  2. The book claims to solve “unsolved” contradiction between Romans 2 and Romans 3 regarding “works of the law”.

Romans 1 Teaches The Homosexuality Is Not A Mortal Sin

The book teaches Romans 1 to read like this: in 1:18-27 Paul talks about homosexuality, idolatry, and orgies, but it is the climax of the text, 1:28-32, that Paul declares the sins that deserve death, and Paul is forced not to include homosexuality, idolatry and orgies in to that list.

The first thing to observe is that the article and book clearly affirm (or at least does not deny) that for Paul, homosexuality, idolatry and orgies are sins in God’s eyes. The article and book want to say that they are not “sins unto death”, but it does affirm that they are sins nonetheless. Paul says elsewhere that if we walk by the Spirit and live by the Spirit (the Spirit that gives eternal life), we will not sin by gratifying the lusts of the flesh (cf. Galatians 5 et al). So if I were an advocate of the homosexual lifestyle, if I were gay for example, I wouldn’t be cheering this book… I would rather be angry that the book doesn’t go far enough. It still shows that Paul taught against the lifestyle.

The second point to make is that Romans 1 is demonstrating the complete depravity of humanity. Where the article claimed that Paul “deliberately acknowledged that [homosexuality, idolatry and orgies] does not prevent anyone from entering heaven” Paul had the exact opposite thought process in mind. Paul’s point is that it is impossible for any person to enter the kingdom of God, homosexual or otherwise. As a side note, it is remarkable that the article and book hang so much on claiming knowledge of a first century worldview when making their point and yet first century Jews never thought like Greeks and modern people in terms of “entering heaven”. (I could pick this article apart all day long about its mistakes, so I’ll try from this point forward to keep to the main points.)

The third point to make is that the article (and book trailer) lump “homosexuality” and “idolatry” together, if one is a mortal sin, so is the other. Interesting enough the problem of idolatry as a “root” problem to humanities plight is, as N.T. Wright said, a basic spiritual truth (note, Wright is a real, not pseudo, scholar). The articles claim to “reveal” a bunch of stuff can only seem to be a revelation to people who are biblically inept. Idolatry is what caused Adam and Eve to die spiritually in the first place according to the biblical narrative. So the book might want to reconsider its strategy of lumping homosexuality and idolatry together, because it implies the opposite of what the book intends to communicate according to the article and trailer. (For those who are interested in reading what a scholar – not a pseudo scholar – has to say about this, see G.K. Beale’s We Become What We Worship.)

Romans 2-3 Were “Unsolved” Pauline Contradictions

The article and trailers claim that Romans 2 and Romans 3 are unsolved Pauline contradictions is highly deceiving. To quote scholars saying that it is a difficult passage and that people have wrestled with this passage for a the better part of church history is not at all the same as saying that the entirety of those two chapters is “unsolved” or that they are “contradictions”.

In general scholars of all stripes believe they understand those passages. There are no contradictions and no unsolved mysteries about them. The problem is that scholars tend to dispute each other on what those passages mean. But the article and trailer are misleading here too in that they suggest that scholars are unanimous about everything in the bible but only a few passages here or there, and that Romans 1-3 is one of those passages. The truth is actually the opposite. Christian scholars dispute almost everything about the bible, making Romans 1-3 no more or less solved than any other passage generally speaking.

The article and trailer then turns to an apparent discovery of a Jewish understanding of Leviticus 19:18 and imposes that discovery upon Romans 2-3 to solve what the author sees as a contradiction. Keep in mind that the author is a retired cryptographer, and that there are a good number of world-class scholars who specialize in first century Judaism as it relates to early Christianity, and I don’t know any who have put forth Wood’s suspicious interpretation. But anyone who has read any good biblical scholar on Romans 2 and 3 knows that if those passages are read in context in light of all of Paul’s thoughts in Romans and especially in the mind of Paul’s wider biblical narrative, there is no contradiction.

By plucking a passage here or there and then presenting your case in similar fashion as an infomercial you will lead many non-reflective and highly hopeful people into, how did Paul put it in Romans 1, “a suppression of the truth”.

Conclusion

If a healthy discussion on the homosexuality debate is to continue, this book and those who promote are not helping the conversation along. We need serious and credible thought and engagement in these matters.

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • Dave D.

    I can’t believe the term ‘homosexual lifestyle’ is still being used. There is absolutely no difference in your lifestyle than an LGBT person’s. Other than you have an opposite-sex relationship. “Love the sinner, Hate the sin” is the hugest cop-out. It keeps homophobia going by saying to people we ‘love you, but not quite ALL of you’. It saves face for the person who is ‘loving the sinner, hating the sin’ to feel they aren’t really being hateful. It just doesn’t work, especially being applied to LGBT people. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-dudley/evangelicals-gay-marriage-why-love-the-sinner-hate-_b_1017934.html

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      The insistence that to disagree with sodomy someone must have “homophobia” is itself a cop-out. I believe sodomy is a sin according to the biblical narrative, but I have no phobia of homosexuals. Point taken about “homosexual lifestyle” though. I want to distinguish between an orientation and an action. A man may be orientated towards adultery, his orientation is not sin, his actions or lusts in that regard are. It’s the same with homosexuals. I could use the term “sodomy” to get closer to the idea of what I wanted to communicate, though sodomy is descriptive towards the sexual actions of men. There are women who engage in homosexual activity as well. But to move closer in that direction, I’ve modified the title.

      Thanks of the comment.

      • Dave D.

        Actually homophobia has a broader meaning than simply ‘fear of’. “The word homophobia means fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. It can also mean hatred of and disparagement of homosexual people, their lifestyle, their sexual behavior, or culture, and is generally used to assert bigotry[1]. Opposition to same-sex activism on religious, moral, or political grounds is also generally referred to as “homophobic”. http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Homophobia

        This is something that many evangelicals are not understanding. Homophobia means way more than simply ‘fear of’. So the word when used to describe the behavior of evangelicals who are anti-gay toward LGBT is accurate, not a cop-out. I don’t believe you or many of the evangelicals who are ‘against gay people’ or as you said ‘their behavior’ are afraid of them. But their actions apply to the broader meaning.

        I appreciate the fact that you sincerely mean well, Derek. Even to changing the title. Although Sodomy has been a misinterpretation of the original texts for centuries. Sodomy means greed, not homosexual acts or anal sex. This is a gross unfortunate misinterpretation that has caused way more grief for humans than you can imagine. For centuries homosexuals have been denigrated, murdered, bullied, shunned, discriminated against and, as we’ve seen more recently, driven to suicide.

        Although I don’t want to get into semantics, I believe what you are saying is that the only acceptable form of sexual expression is procreative sex between a man and a woman. That is what you believe the bible to tell you. There are only 6 instances of mention of what is believed to be about homosexuality in the bible, which researchers have since found to be different from what we have been taught as they do not pertain to LGBT people as we know them today. There is much information out there about this. There are over 3,000 admonitions to heterosexuals regarding sex, so I’m not sure who needs more supervision.

        I hope that you read the attached article as it does clearly explain why ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ really doesn’t work. The ‘act’ of homosexuality is not like alcoholism, adultry, pedophilia, murder, or any of the other choice of sins that it is lumped in with. It is how a person identifies, which I think you understand that. LGBT people are not created or coerced into being LGBT, they come to know their sexual identity the same way a heterosexual person does. Sexual identity is not chosen, and it is not changeable. (Pedophilia is not an identity, it is a paraphilia which is completely different. So you can imagine why that upsets LGBT people to be compared to that.). One can certainly live a lie and choose to be in a heterosexual relationship, but those that have chosen that (with the rare exception who aren’t being fully honest) will tell you that they are still gay and they are forcing themselves to live a certain way. This is sad and it certainly isn’t what God intended for LGBT people. Nor is it intended for LGBT people to remain celibate simply because those who still don’t understand fight against same-sex marriage which would allow the same structure and benefits that heterosexuals enjoy. Some LGBT are celibate, does that make them saved and someone who chooses not to be not saved? There are heterosexuals who choose celibacy too, does that make them better than married couples? (According to Paul it did. But I have to disagree.).

        I have found that this article/research is a good primer on the subject. I sincerely hope that you take the time to read it as I think you are being sincere in your wish to understand LGBT people and their relationships with Christ. Unfortunately what I’ve seen is that people who have firm beliefs about ‘what the bible says’ about homosexuality don’t really take the time to learn information and research, try to seek out information (like the faulty and inaccurate research of NARTH) that agrees with life held views to continue their anti-gay beliefs, or don’t take the time to actually meet and get to know LGBT Christians. I do know people that have and God has opened their hearts to the truth that LGBT people, or their ‘behavior’ as you expressed, is not a sin any more than heterosexual people or ‘heterosexual behavior’. God Bless. http://www.soulforce.org/article/homosexuality-bible-gay-christian

        • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

          How does the saying go, he who controls the dictionary controls the conversation. :) Whatever its broader definition may be, in common usage a “phobia” is a fear of something, with “homo” being that something. To (again) give you ground so as not to be accused of being the ‘intolerant’ one, even the broader definition does not fit. Can’t someone believe that certain actions are a ‘sin’ according to the bible without being accused of being a ‘homophobe’ even according to the broader definition?

          You may disagree. That’s fine, we’ll have to disagree. I’m not a ‘pedophobic’ because I think the acts of a pedophile are sinful. I’m not an ‘adulterer-phobic’ (or however you’d say that) because I think adultery is a sinful act. So the accusation by those who support acts of homosexuality of saying that those who don’t are “homophobic” is a rhetorical tactic and, to me, amounts to a cop-out. Whatever it is you are trying to say by that term, find a different word that more accurately portrays someone like me, because that is how these kinds of debates move forward.

          The same goes for the use of ‘sodomy’. Whatever the etymology of the word, today’s common usage is what it is. According to the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary, sodomy means, “sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation” usually involving man with man or man with animal. (Google “Define Sodomy” to see what comes up…) But I couldn’t find anywhere where sodomy simply means “greed”. If some dictionary has it, the fact that it’s rare and hard to come by is telling. (Sigh, such is the battle over word usage.)

          I agree that persecution of homosexuals has been terribly unfortunate just as the ‘holy wars’ and advocating of ‘slavery’ has been smear marks on the Christian history as well. No question that such is not the way of Jesus.

          You’re mistaken that I believe that “the only acceptable form of sexual expression is procreative sex between a man and a woman”. I’m not sure where you got that from, but no, I don’t believe the bible teaches that. It seems to me that you need to attempt to understand my position better too! For the record, while this conversation is about the gay-sex, I never intend to focus on this sin to the exclusions of other types of sexual sin. I believe all sexual sins to be, well, sin.

          I did read the article. I appreciate what the author is attempting to do, but he is mistaken in how he draws his conclusions. A Christian’s stance against gay-sex is more in line with a Christian’s stance against adultery. An attempt to make it a simile to the unfortunate Christian attitude toward slavery in the 18th and 19th century is to misunderstand the Christian attitude toward gay-sex. I think you’ve oversimplified the ‘cause’ (excuse the lingo for a moment) of homosexuality. Even among the secular sciences it is acknowledged that there may be various ‘causes’ of homosexual orientation. But yes, I agree that there is such a thing as natural homosexual orientation in which a person may ‘come to know’ (as you say) their sexual preference the same as a heterosexual. But I do believe studies have shown that sexual identity can be changed one way or the other, though I would never suggest that anyone live a lie.

          Since terms can be disputed (as this conversation illustrates), let me put it like this, whatever Paul means by this sentence: “Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another”, that is what I mean also. It seems that the author is saying that this is a part of the results of a creation that is out of alignment with God’s original intent as well as everything else in the following verses (i.e. references to evil, covetousness, envy, murder, gossip, et cetera). Peace.

          • Dave D.

            Okay. I get where you are coming from, Derek. I had a reply but I realize it is pointless. As I sit here contemplating your response all I can do is cry. It is more of the same rhetoric that keeps homophobia (in this case using the word in it’s current common usage, not the basic term) to continue. Whether you realize it or not. Whether you agree or not. Whether you care or not. It saddens me to such a deep level that you believe that homosexuality, which is the normal expression of a homosexual person (just as heterosexuality is the normal sexual expression of a heterosexual person) is nothing more to you than murder, adultery, molestation or beastiality. It is no wonder to me that LGBT people do not feel welcome by Christians and that many are killing themselves. I am thankful to Christ that we are not like this on the CToBM page. That He has opened our eyes and shown us the truth. We believe that LGBT people have a place at the table. Unconditionally. They do not have to change who they are, they do not have hide who they are, and they do not have to be ashamed of who they are. Or the expression of who they are. Please, be thankful you are straight, Derek. Please be thankful that you have never experienced any of this.
            And I must add, that no legitimate study has shown that one can change their sexual orientation either way. Your sexual identity is what it is. If someone says they have ‘changed’ they are not being honest. Even if you called Exodus, the horrific ex-gay repairitive therapy institute (that uses actual ‘treatments’ that were developed by Nazis) will tell you that it is not possible to change one’s orientation. You can learn to lead a heterosexual life, you can learn to subdue feelings and numb yourself, but no one actually changes. Call them, they will tell you. I have to add that because it is irresponsible of anyone to put that on a public blog when it is not true. It is dangerous and enough people have gone down that road and not come out the other side.
            The verse you quote from Romans is commonly known as a ‘clobber verse’. You can call that ‘rhetoric’ too, but when these verses are used to ‘show gay people the truth’ it is essentially clobbering them. Your assessment or understanding of that verse is not everyone’s. Here is one in line with what we believe. http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978269808

            It is clear, sadly, that as much as you and others say they want ‘progress in dialogue’, I’m not exactly sure how that can happen when information is provided and then promptly refuted to retain the original views. Also not to have an understanding of how those views really effect the very people you are speaking of. I hope and pray that someday this issue will finally be resolved for the non-issue it was meant to be. That LGBT people will be able to come back to Christ and fellowship without fear, harm or mistreatment and accepted as they are, as they should be. I am firm in my belief that that is what Christ intended. Not telling people the expression of who they are is equal to pedophilia or murder.

            • Dave D.

              “The bible never links the story of Sodom with homosexuality. To use the Sodom story as evidence that the Bible condemns homosexuality is totally inaccurate. It is an anachronism, projecting later Church interpretation onto the biblical text, which is essentially about hospitality….” Inhospitality = greed. http://nwanglicanblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/sodomy-a-biblical-word-study-that-might-surprise-you/

            • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

              Dave, you knew going into this discussion that I take a different position than you. I felt my last response was friendly and engaging. Why did you cut that off by getting emotional and upset simply because I have not changed my view right away? Progressive dialogue mean’s both sides moving in a direction that allows both of us to see things more clearly. Why do you assume that progress dialogue cannot take place if I still hold to my original views? Perhaps I can charge you with the same thing. :) I would say that progressive dialogue has taken place, yet I never expected to change your mind on the matter. Such things happen gradually. This conversation has helped me to see things more clearly. The things your accusing me of, you’re doing the same. Your angst has shown that you have missed most of what I have had to say.

  • http://web.me.com/craigadams1/Commonplace_Holiness/Blog/Blog.html Craig L. Adams

    Ugh. More dis-information on this issue. This is not what we need.

    Thanks for drawing my attention to this. I hadn’t seen it.

  • http://www.TheJesusAgenda.net Dave Leigh

    In my nearly four decades of being an Evangelical Christian, and during some past seasons even a fundamentalist, I have observed that one’s personal nearness or distance from a controversial topic will affect how one deals with it.

    For example, churches used to be much more restrictive and inflexible on the matter of divorced people joining or serving, when they could afford to be so, seeing as divorce was less common in past generations. Today, excluding divorced people from a variety of roles has become impractical due to the small percentage of non-divorced people available for those roles. Were the older, more narrow ways right? Or has the church of necessity become more compassionate and caring with regards to people who need grace and healing? While there are still many churches that are quite restrictive on this question, the trend is in a more loving and inclusive direction.

    Likewise, when it comes to LGBT matters, one only has to look to the broad support Chas Bono had on Dancing With the Stars, to see there is a sweeping tide of change in our society regarding “alternate” lifestyles and gender issues. It is only a matter of time before even Evangelical churches will find a way to be more compassionate and inclusive on such matters.

    What will be the impetus for reexamining our doctrinal formulations on these matters? It will be the human face we find when we have to speak to the matter. Just as having a skyrocketing divorce rate among believers and even their clergy (and I include myself as a divorced pastor), has forced many to ask if all the inferences our predecessors drew from Scripture are necessary and sound, so too having one’s daughter or son “come out,” while they’re still professing a faith in and love of God in Christ, will ultimately force many to a Jacobic wrestling with God on the matter until God blesses them.

    I do not know what the outcome will be. But it will likely parallel the divorce example. Perhaps it will even parallel the progression seen in the book of Acts regarding the allowing of uncircumcised Gentiles into the community of faith, since evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work can be very influential.

    However it turns out, it is my prayer that it will be handled in a way that avoids twisted extremes and conclusions derived from paranoia, mischaracterizations, and crazy-making generalizations. Judging, however, by the way Evangelicals have behaved lately in the spheres of politics, science, and other forms of cultural engagement, mine (sadly) may be a misplaced optimism.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Hi Dave, you are absolutely correct I think when you put a “face” on the situation. The personal nearness of it will challenge individuals to go back and re-examine some of their most valued convictions. Such a thing happened to Tony Campolo in his book Speaking My Mind where he was asked to performed a funeral for a gay person (no other minister would do it) and the entire audience sitting out in the rain were all members of the LGBT community. They were people desperate to hear more of the gospel. It was an emotionally touching experience that moved me to re-examine my own approach to this issue.

      I rehears this (and would encourage you to go ahead and read the book) to point out that Tony Campolo may reformulate the discussion more carefully, but he still holds to the conviction that “gay-sex” is a sin. He also believes (I think, based on his recent articles) that homosexual’s should be allowed to be married “civilly” but not necessarily in the church (i.e. separation of Church and State).

  • Chad

    I think that even Homosexual people get caught up in the fact that because they are homosexuals that they are sinners. Not at all. The sin is the act of sex outside of marriage. Some one can have Homosexual tendencies but remain free of a sexual sin if they remain free of fornication. But this would have been assumed by the people Paul was talking about thus is why he focused on the act of un natural sex practices itself.

  • LexCro

    Dave D. posted a link to Mel White’s article “What the Bible Says–and Doesn’t Say–About Homosexuality” above. I’ve interacted with White’s article before, and I’m still underwhelmed. Here are a few reasons why:

    The argument that homosexuality is (1) not mentioned by Jesus and (2) not mentioned in the Old Testament prophets is deeply flawed. Homosexual sex-acts are mentioned as sin in other parts of Scripture (as White acknowledges). Just because you can find a place where they are not mentioned doesn’t undermine the prohibitions against homosexual sex-acts where they are mentioned. But there’s more here: Last time I checked Moses was an Old Testament prophet. Being that Leviticus and Deuteronomy–books which repeatedly state, “The LORD spoke to Moses saying”—came from Moses, White’s arugment from lack of Old Testament prophetic witness is undone. Concerning Christ, White is correct that Jesus does not explicitly mention homosexuality. However, Jesus does mention sexual immorality in general (Greek: “porneia”, from which we derive the term “pornography”) in Matthew
    15:19/Mark 7:21. “Porneia” is rightly translated as “sexual immorality.” For a Jewish rabbi speaking to a primarily Jewish audience, “porneia” would have been a blanket term for any and all sexual sins prohibited by God in the Torah. This includes adultery, incest, bestiality, and homosexual sex-acts. In order to rebut this we would have to have something from Jesus himself that would have qualified such a statement. We have no such qualification. Also, if we’re going to with an argument from silence (which is all White’s argument amounts to), then we’d have to say that Jesus’ lack of explicit references to sins like bestiality makes them permissible. But this kind of thinking is riddled with difficulty and makes deriving anything from Jesus impossible.

    The argument that the biblical prohibition on homosexuality behavior leads to the persecution and/or murder of homosexuals is spurious. While it is absolutely repugnant AND ungodly for anyone–ESPECIALLY a professing Christian–to take the mantle of judgment upon him/herself and terrorize another human being for any reason, there is a difference between justifying one’s action via appeal to some authority and truly deriving one’s motive from said authority. The murderers to whom White refers were not normal chaps who were just sitting around reading Scripture over afternoon tea and who suddenly snapped one day upon reading that God deems homosexual sex-acts sinful. These were evil folks who
    muderously targeted homosexuals and then–to assuage their own consciences–appealed to Scripture. Any depraved individual(s) can appeal to any text (religious or otherwise) to justify their evil deeds.

    White asserts that the Bible is “a book about God–not a book about human sexuality.” Actually, the Bible is a book about God and His redemption of a tragically wayward world. Human beings–and their sexuality–are part of (1) the world, (2) what’s gone VERY wrong with the world, and (3) how God redeems the world in and through Christ. True, the Bible is not a “book about human sexuality” per se, BUT being that humans play such a vital role in God’s world and being that He seeks to redeem the entirety of our humanity in Christ, it is not in any way wrong for those who profess Christ to have their sexual ethos rooted in the Scriptures. Later in the article, White claims that the over-arching imperative of Scripture is to love one another. But a huge part of loving one another concerns how we relate to one another sexually/erotically. Because of Scripture’s imperatives concerning love for God and one another, Scripture is concerning with the MEANS WHEREBY WE EXPRESS THAT LOVE. This is why Scripture demonstrates a powerful concern for how we
    manage our material possessions! Is the Bible a book about material possessions and the management thereof? Not per se. However, because our management of material wealth is a vital means whereby we show (or fail to show) love for God and our neighbors, Scripture speaks powerfully on the subject. White’s failure to see the relationship between the biblical love imperative and the biblical concern with the means by which we express love is indicative of his tacit segregation of eroticism from biblical take on holistic human personhood.

    White claims that we must be open to new truths from Scripture. This is VERY true. White cites the Apostle Paul’s about face concerning Scripture when Jesus confronted him on the Damascus Road. White also cites Jerry Falwell’s repentance from the notion that racial segregation was in line with Scripture. But are these two instances of men correcting their deficient views of Scripture, not diverging from Scripture and labeling their divergences “new light.” Gay and pro-gay advocates love to use the example racist appeals to Scripture as examples of how entrenched views of Scripture were overturned in light of “new discoveries”. However, such thinking betrays a ridiculous view
    of both Scripture AND history. The concept of “race” is relatively new with respect to human civilization. Sure, humans have always had varying levels of conflict between one another, but for most of human history said conflicts have not had their roots in what we now call “racism.” Race is a relatively recent social construct invented to quickly (and visually) distinguish between those who could be subjugated and those who could not be. Scripture IN NO WAY ever condones racism. In fact, Moses’ second wife was Ethiopian (Numbers 12:1-2), Jesus had Gentile blood running through his veins (check out the geneological references to Gentiles like Tamar and Rahab the Canannites and Ruth the Moabite in Matthew 1), and Paul’s protege Timothy was bi-racial (Acts 16:1). And God’s prohibitions against Israel inter-marrying with certain nations was based upon these nations’ worship of pagan deities, not racial/ethnic bias (as the context of said prohibitions makes abundantly clear). These kinds of biblical facts demonstrate that when racists turned away from racism in light of Scripture, they weren’t turning to “new light”; instead, they were turning towards “old light”–i.e. Scripture and historic orthodoxy. Pro-gay takes on Scripture attempt to OVERTURN Scripture and historic orthodoxy.

    Ironically, White’s example of the cultist Jim Jones (and Guyana massacre he brought about) is actually the best analogue to what the pro-gay movement is doing with Scripture. Jim Jones was not some biblically-rooted evangelical who backed his actions with Scripture! In fact, Jones entirely abandoned Scripture (by
    LITERALLY throwing it to the floor on one occasion from the pulpit during a Peoples’ Temple church service!) very early in his career, establishing HIMSELF as the his church’s primary authority. In fact, when you read and listen to interviews with the folks Jones deceived none of them (that I’ve seen) speak about his appeals to Scripture or historic orthodoxy. Instead, Jones set HIMSELF up as the sole authority over and against Scripture. Jones’ reckless disregard for Scripture and his self-exaltation bear a striking resembleance to the pro-gay movement’s
    (mis)handling of the Bible.

    • http://www.paulonhomosexuality.com Michael Wood

      The Jewish extension of the Greek word ‘porneia’ primarily involved ‘having sex with another man’s woman.’ This came from the Septuagint’s usage of the word.

      The New Testament Gospels and Epistles use the traditional meaning (‘prostitution’) and the Jewish extension (‘sex with another man’s woman’).

      Jesus used ‘porneia’ in the sense of sex with another man’s woman.

      In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul described an extreme form of ‘sex with another man’s woman’ when he wrote about a man having sex with his father’s wife.

      In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 Paul described porneia as “transgressing and defrauding a brother.” Clearly the broad basket term “sexual immorality” wasn’t being referenced here. Rather, Paul was using the word precisely in the extended Jewish sense.

      The reason ‘sex with another man’s woman’ was condemned was due to the fact that it violated Leviticus 19:18 – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is sad that conventional translations expand the meaning, and thereby cause Paul to appear as if he contradicted his very own teachings. Paul consistently taught that Leviticus 19:18 was the entire Law (Romans 13:8-9, Galatians 5:14). He really didn’t negate his own teachings, no matter how much conventional translations claim that he did.

      • LexCro

        Michael,

        Actually your treatment of the word “porneia” is incorrect.
        For Jewish commentators before and after Jesus “porneia” was a blanket term for any and all sexual immorality. The fact that in both Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:21 Jesus differentiates between “sexual immorality” (porneia) and “adultery” (moicheia) bears this out. Sure, any biblical writer to zero in on one particular type of “porneia”. However, contextually referring to one kind of sexual immorality is not tantamount to limiting the scope of the word to that one kind of sex-act. In the same way, people use the term “pornography” in a blanket way. However, unless context demonstrates that a particular kind of pornography is being underscored, the term typically encompasses the entire gamut of pornography. “Porneia” is used in the same way.

        • LexCro

          That fourth sentence in my last reply should read as follows: “Sure any biblical writer can zero in on one particular type of ‘porneia'”. Sorry for any mix-up.

  • http://www.paulonhomosexuality.com Michael Wood

    Regarding: “For starters the article is laced with words and phrases like “discovery!” and “definitive” and “reveals” and “well kept secret”. It reminds me of a bad infomercial…”

    The word ‘definitive’ is an objective term, not a subjective one. It simply means ‘exhaustive.’ Biblical scholarship has acknowledged that no definitive explanation of Romans 1:18-3:20 has ever been offered since none of them exhaustively accounts for every sentence in the passage. John Calvin serves as an ideal example.

    Romans 2:13 says, “The doers of the Law will be vindicated before God.” Regarding this statement, Calvin wrote:

    “Still more, we can prove from this passage that no one is justified by works; for if they alone are justified by the law who fulfill the law, it follows that no one is justified; for no one can be found who can boast of having fulfilled the law.”

    The problem is that in the very next sentence Paul gives an example of those who keep the entire law and are justified before God for doing so. The passage reads as follows:

    “The doers of the Law are those who will be vindicated. For example, when gentiles who don’t have the Law do naturally what the Law requires, those gentiles without the Law are the Law unto themselves. They are demonstrating the performance of the Law written in their hearts”

    Calvin’s explanation of Romans 2:13 contradicted the very next sentence which came after it. Thus it is an ideal example of a non-exhaustive, non-definitive response. This contradiction of the very next sentence didn’t make him an inferior theologian. He simply joined the long list of Biblical scholars who were unable to find the definitive solution to the larger passage (Romans 1:18-3:20).

    If you would like to learn about the first definitive (exhaustive) solution to Romans 1:18-3:20, the entire explanation is posted free-of-charge in the documents section of the PaulOnHomosexuality website.

  • http://www.paulonhomosexuality.com Michael Wood

    Regarding the words: “discovery,” “reveals,” and “well-kept secret”…

    The Greek term ‘dikaiomata tou nomou’ in Romans 2:26 has long been problematic. Conventional translations of this verse say, “If an uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the law, won’t his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision.” The problem is that, by definition, an uncircumcised man cannot be keeping the requirements of a law that requires circumcision.

    I approached a Princeton trained Greek scholar and told him that I had discovered the correct translation. He too thought the claim to be over the top. That is, until he spent two weeks researching the matter. To his surprise, Photius (the greatest lexicographer of Koine Greek) documented that my translation was indeed correct.

    Oddly, Photius’ lexical explanation is truly one of the well-kept secrets. None of the Greek scholars I had approached knew of it. None of the conventional translators seem to know of it either. Thus, they write a self-contradictory statement in their translation. This is rather unfortunate when the correct meaning of the phrase is part of the historical record.

    In short, the words in the press release were chosen carefully, and they accurately reflect the situation. Dr. William Berg has issued a statement regarding the discovery, and his initial skepticism. It too is posted in the documents section of the PaulOnHomosexuality website.

  • http://www.paulonhomosexuality.com Michael Wood

    Thank you for posting my replies. I appreciate your allowance of dialogue.

    I would like to offer you a friendly challenge. Please justify the following:

    “But anyone who has read any good biblical scholar on Romans 2 and 3 knows that if those passages are read in context in light of all of Paul’s thoughts in Romans and especially in the mind of Paul’s wider biblical narrative, there is no contradiction.”

    How do you reconcile Romans 2:13 vs. 3:20 without negating any other sentence in Romans 1:18-3:20? You claim “anyone” can do it. I’m claiming no one has done it, until now.

    I promise a friendly, open, warm-hearted dialogue if that is okay with you.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Frankly Mike, I’m flabbergasted that you are so confident in your assessment that scholarship regards Romans 2:13 and 3:20 as a contradiction. Maybe you see scholarship as not providing an adequate answer to a passage that you see as a contradiction, but that is a different thing altogether. I don’t believe I’ve read any commentaries on Romans where the author writes, “This part of Paul’s letter is a contradiction, so we’re just going to have to skip over it for now and wait for some cryptographer to come along and give us the definitive answer”. (I’m being facetious of course.)

      Using the ‘carefully chosen’ words that are used to promote your book sucks the credibility from it to my mind. Serious scholarship approaches difficult subjects with a great deal more humility. You, of course, think that you solved an apparent problem of Romans 1-3. That’s fine. Say that. But to market yourself so ostentatiously as the one to have the final definitive word in the face of all of the scholarship that has gone before? It sounds like a pitch from a used car salesperson. Perhaps you should have more carefully chosen better words and let the conclusions from the arguments you put forth speak for themselves.

      In any case, I appreciate that challenge. What it will boil down to is a difference of interpretation. Biblical interpretation is not like math where someone can just find the right equation and viola, the exact answer. You’re right that no one has found that “definitive” interpretation to Romans 1:18-3:20. But your wrong in thinking that you have. Every part of scripture is contested, thus none of it is definitive. Serious biblical scholarship knows that. I would like to think that biblical passages on the historical physical resurrection of Christ (the very heart of Christianity) has been definitively put to rest, but alas we have folks like John Dominic Crossan and John Shelby Spong. As I already made clear, read any book on Romans and you’ll find thought out expositions to those texts (though they may disagree with each other). But I think proponents of the NPP have moved the conversation along a great deal and are closer to what Paul is saying. I would direct you to Jimmy Dunn’s large book, The New Perspective On Paul, where he explores your key texts with a great deal of depth. Or I would direct you to N.T. Wrights Climax of the Covenant (for the scholarly level) or his recent book on Justification (for the popular level) regarding your key texts. For my own part, I will take up your challenge in an upcoming post when I have time.

      As a matter of full disclosure, I personally don’t believe that Paul intended the opening portions of his letter to the Romans to be used against gay-sex. That wasn’t his point, though that’s what we’ve turned this discussion into. It seems to me that we’re bringing questions to the text that Paul was never asking.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • http://www.paulonhomosexuality.com Michael Wood

        You have made three assumptions, all which don’t happen to be true.

        First, I didn’t say that scholarship says they are contradictory. Rather, I said that scholarship acknowledges that the resolution hasn’t yet been satisfactorily realized. Those are two very different statements. Please consider:

        “Paul’s statements about the law sometimes seem to contradict one another. As an example, Paul in Romans 3:20 stated that no one can be declared righteous by observing the law, whereas Romans 2:13 seems to state just the opposite…. The debate on Paul’s view of the law is far from finished and promises to continue for a long time to come.—John B. Polhill (professor of New Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of the Acts volume in the New American Commentary.)”

        Your second assumption is that I am somehow unfamiliar with the New Perspective or N.T. Wright. It was in N.T. Wright’s book that I came across Richard Longenecker’s quote, the one you heard in the video. (See “Romans and the People of God” by N.T. Wright and Sven K. Soderlund, p. 51). It is in this book that Longenecker asserts that the Romans 2:13 vs. 3:20 paradox “continues to plague commentators today.” The New Perspective folks don’t have everything nearly as resolved as you confidently believe. I do suggest it is you who needs to become more familiar with their teachings, and the inherent weaknesses thereof.

        Third, you automatically assume that I’m motivated by pumping a book. I give away far more books than I sell. I’ve spent literally hundreds of thousands of dollars over ten years tracking down every original Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic text I could to solve this issue. My findings are the result of ten years of research, often sixteen hours per day. It is a love of truth that motivates me beyond anything else. I’ll overlook your sarcastic comment… this time.

        Despite not resolving Romans 2:13 and 3:20, you are still flabbergasted and self-righteousness. Until you resolve these two passages, you haven’t earned the right for either response. I really say this lovingly, in an attempt for you to gain some self-awareness. Those emotions are keeping you from seeing what is now being laid out right before you.

        In closing, I have not presented my findings lightly nor without researching every piece of scholarship that I could find relative to Romans 1-3. That is why I was so confident to present my findings in the first place. And that is why I knew you couldn’t resolve Romans 2:13 vs. 3:20. The only question is, will you allow yourself to stop dancing around the issue (by saying it’s not math, etc.) and come to terms with the reality that the first direct, complete, exhaustive explanation has finally been offered for the first time in two millennia. It is what it is…

  • http://www.paulonhomosexuality.com Michael Wood

    One more thing. I think you are still using the word ‘definitive’ differently than I have already stated that I am. The word has two general meanings: 1) exhaustive, complete, 2) conclusive. I have already stated that I am using the first nuance of the word, not the second.

    And yes, over the last 2,000 years, there has not been any solution to the Romans 2:13 vs. 3:20 paradox that has been exhaustive. Every explanation, including N.T. Wright’s, negatives at least one part of Romans 1:18-3:20. The fact that my solution allows for every sentence to be held true without contradiction makes it the first exhaustive explanation. In that sense it is definitive. Although, I do expect in time, it will be considered definitive in the second sense as well. But I recognize that will indeed take time.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Self-righteous? I’m not the one claiming to have “the first, complete, exhaustive explanation” of these passages (the opposite of scholarly humility!). I suppose John Polhill was wrong, all any scholar has to do is read your book and viola, the debate comes to a rest. :) I’ve never assumed that you are “unfamiliar” with the New Perspective. If I did, I wouldn’t not have abbreviated it with “NPP”. Neither did I assume that you were “unfamiliar” with N.T. Wright simply by recommending a book by him (which I knew not whether you read it). I was simply stating that it is my opinion that the NPP proponents are closer to what Paul means than most commentators. Finally, I’ve not assumed that you’ve pumped the book for dollars! But for ideas. You obviously believe very strongly that you’ve found the answer (why else would you right the book) which is also why you’ve given them away. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I find the way the book is promoted sucks credibility from it. Sorry if that offends.

      You’re arrogance in assuming that I have not resolved Romans 2:13 with 3:20 to my satisfaction (as you have to yours) simply because I don’t think a small comment box is a suitable place to work out every last piece of Romans 1:18-3:20 is truly remarkabe. “Make bricks without straw”. Why write a book Mike, why not just slop it out there in a thousand words or less, like you are wanting me to do. As it is, I said quite plainly, “For my own part, I will take up your challenge in an upcoming post when I have time.” Some of us don’t have the luxury of just arguing on blogs. I’ll get to it whether your still hanging around or not. Sigh. Let people read your comments and then mine and judge for themselves.

      So you’re mistaken on many counts. This thread ends now. If you want to complain about me in other forums, feel free. Otherwise, practice the virtue of patiences and come back when I’ve written a post on those passages.

  • http://covenantoflove.net/ Derek Ouellette

    I think we need to hold them in tension. Consider John 3, Hebrews 3-4, James, and so on. As the Message Bible puts it, “faith and works goes together like hand in glove.” I would interpret those two passages – following a great deal of church leaders and church tradition – in that light. One passage speaks of the present (justified NOW by faith) the other speaks of the future (will be justified at the judgement on your obedience). As one who does not hold to “eternal security” and how believes with the author of James that our works prove our faith, I have no problem holding those two passages together. Thanks.

    • leecappella

      Hi, Derek. What I hear you saying is that Romans 2:13 is talking about being obedient to faith in Jesus. In contrast, the author of the book you are speaking of in this blog, is saying that Romans 2:13 is referring to obedience to the law of loving thy neighbor as thyself, which is known as ‘the faith of the King’. So, instead of being saved by faith alone, the original message was being saved by obedience to the faith of the King, which is to love thy neighbor as thyself.

      Regarding Romans 3:20, you seem to say that it is speaking of justification by faith and not by works. The author would be in agreement with you on this. The only difference would be your definition of faith would be believing in Jesus by accepting him as one’s personal Lord and Savior in order to be saved. The author’s definition of faith would be believing in what Jesus said justifies a person, which is obedience to the faith of loving thy neighbor as thyself and not believing that works or religious rules save you, which is the difference between Romans 2:13 and Romans 3:20. One says a person is justified or exonerated by obedience to the faith of loving thy neighbor as thyself. The other is saying that the religious rules a person does out of faith (that have nothing to do with how you treat your neighbor) will not justify or exonerate anyone. These are called works.

      I just wanted to share the differences between you and author Michael Wood. Thanks for your time.