Romans 1:19-32

Jul 13, 2008


The first section of the “2nd half” of the main body of Romans, 1:19-3:20, extends naturally and directly from 1:18,  “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”  The reader may remember that the  “1st half” of the main body is the short check list in 1:8-18 (c.f., entry for June 30, 2008).  In fact, v 18 and 19-32 function as a unit, except the two are semantically distinguished by the conjunction dioti (“because”), which is used twice in this section to show two reasons God’s wrath is revealed from heaven.  The first reason (v 19-20) is because the truth about God is clear.  The second, larger, reason, (v 21-32) is because humanity has suppressed the truth by their wickedness (utilizing the theme from v 18b).  Each dioti section has its own chiastic structure.  The organization of both is apparent from the outline. 

Some will say that the homosexual practices in this text are not the topic under discussion and that they are merely secondary to the condemnation of idolatry. Granted, while St. Paul may be primarily condemning idolatry within the context of pagan temple worship in this passage, the specific sexual relations cannot somehow be dismissed. Whatever the culturaal-historical context, these behaviors are stated to be the result of God’s judgment in "giving them over" to impurity. St. Paul uses universally applicable terms such as natural and unnatural (as well as “dishonoring" their bodies via “dishonorable” passions) to decribe this exchange of sexual relations.

Disclaimer: The reader need not be triggered by the reference to “Homo” several times in the outline. Such usage is not intended in any crude or pejorative sense. It is merely an abbreviation for “homosexual” due to (hopefully obvious) space limitations.