After a fellow blogger posted a great post yesterday about "Doing a Cut & Paste Job of Romans 1", I decided to read through the first couple chapters of Romans myself. As most of you know, I don't take anyone's word for anything (even if I agree with it, I still like to research it for myself). I'd read Romans 1 many times, but when he referenced Romans 2, I knew I hadn't studied it as closely - I had perused through it, in a version that was kinda hard to
The book of Romans is another one of the Apostle Paul's letters to the Romans, preaching the gospel of Christ. This letter is written to a group of Jews - so the message is intended for religious people. Many religious folk of today's times like to use a section of Romans 1 to condemn others, but the true context & purpose of Paul's letter is not to condemn any group of people - in fact the beginning of Romans 2 warns the Jews against the criticism and condemnation of others.
The letter is explaining to these Jews about "ignoring God" and how this "leads to a downward spiral." He tells them a story of a group of people who abandon God to worship other idols (Commandment #1 is broken).
These people become Godless and loveless -when he speaks of them being "sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love" - note the last part. All lust, no love. This is a key part of this scripture. The KVJ states it this way: "
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet."
These people have abandoned God and are acting in loveless ways. (Thus the reason this scripture does not condemn homosexual orientations/relationships/love/marriage. People who are in love with one another... The people Paul is referring to in this passage are "going against their nature" because they are natural heterosexuals engaging in homosexual practice.)
But this is not the only sin they are committing...
The passage goes on to say, since they didn't even bother to acknowledge God, he has quit bothering and has let them run loose... "And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it's not as if they don't know better. They know perfectly well they're spitting in God's face. And they don't care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!"
Intentional sin. (It speaks more of this in Romans 2). But these people know good and well they are not acting within God's word. But "mean spirited" and "venomous" stands out... "bullies, swaggerers (braggarts, people who boast), insufferable windbags (horrible gossipers, snooty, stuck up)." This sounds familiar - how many little old ladies gossip in your church? How many church goin' folks are too good for "sinners"?
These people are terrible! BUT!!! The point here is not for Paul to gossip to the people of Rome about these "horrible" sinners... it is to provide an example of what not to do, yes, but Paul goes on in Romans 2...
In verses 1-2 Paul continues his point to the Jews of Rome: "Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn't so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you've done."
So I say to you today, just because someone sins, doesn't mean you have the right to point your finger and judge. Quoting Neal again, from my previous post, "Recognizing that someone is sinning doesn't mean you get to mistreat and discriminate them, or think you're better than them. I'm a sinner too and other sinners do not have to justify their life choices to me."
The only being sinners will have to justify their life to is God. God hates sin. But we need to be more careful about how we cut & past, or cherry pick scriptures for defining sin. We also need to remember that just because another person may be sinning, we sin too, and we have no right to cast stones.
Romans 2 goes on to remind us that we are not getting by with anything. Our sin stinks just as much as anyone else's, and religion alone will not save us. "Circumcision, the surgical ritual that marks you as a Jew, is great if you live in accord with God's law. But if you don't, it's worse than not being circumcised. The reverse is also true: The uncircumcised who keep God's ways are as good as the circumcised—in fact, better." Flaunting our religion, our beliefs, as an excuse to harm others or point fingers, doesn't make us a Godly person. In fact, it makes us boastful.
"When outsiders who have never heard of God's law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God's law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation." Just because you have religion doesn't make you "special"... it means you are religious. Your Christ-like behavior is what makes you special - what makes you stand out. Faith without works is dead.
So I'd like to say to that "church-goer" who recommended I re-read Romans... thank you for your input. I've begun my reading, and thus far my theory is confirmed - you might want to re-read Romans. :)
***Disclaimer: This post is a recollection of my thoughts and reflections as I study and learn these passages for myself. There is no intent of "pointing fingers" or condemning sin. If you feel convicted from reading my post, then I recommend you study these passages further yourself for further confirmation, don't take my word for it - I'm just sharing what I've personally learned with hopes that someone will be inspired.
CONTINUE TO ROMANS 3