“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: 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.” —Romans 1:26, 27
As sinful humans abandoned themselves to vile affections (disgraceful passions or wicked sensualities), God gave them up, gave them over to, those wicked sensualities. These two verses are connected by the linking conjunction, “and,” so there can be no mistake that both verses are speaking of the same thing.
The word “use” (KJV and NKJV), “function” (NASB), and “relations” (ESV) speaks of sexual relations; there is absolutely no way around that Greek word. These two verses are clearly speaking of homosexuality. The NASB has possibly the best translation of these two verses: “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”
As many of us have looked at this passage over the years, and have certainly recognized that it is speaking of the sin of homosexuality, we may tend to dismiss it, saying, “Well, that doesn’t apply to me.” O, but it does, and not merely because we agree with the Scriptures and confess that this is an abomination against God, but apart from the grace of God, the function of this sin is in all of us. Notice again, that our passage says, “women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural” (NASB); and it is repeated in the following verse, “men abandoned the natural function of the woman…” This is the very essence of perversion: to take something and use it for that which it was not designed. There are things we have done, things that we do that are apart from the original design. Man was created to glorify God and to enjoy Him so when we do anything that is against that design, it is a perversion of it; and though we may not have committed the act of sexual perversion, we have all committed the essence of it. This is why salvation by God’s grace through faith alone is so wonderful and such a comfort.
Homosexuality is a sin against God, and a direct result of the revelation of the wrath of God against sin. This may also be an indication that we may very well be, as a nation, under the judgment of God. Legislation in our country continually moves closer and closer to what they have in Canada. And I can safely say that that trend is the judgment of God because of what it says in Romans 1:26, “And for this cause God gave them up…” As Romans 1:24 says that God gave sinful men up to their impurity, and just a moment ago for verse 26, as they deserted God, God deserted them; and God deserting anyone or any place, is a judgment of God.
Even though we haven’t gone the way of Canada yet; even though we have not yet signed into law for the entire country same-sex unions like they have in England, our leadership in this country— “…although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32, NASB). The hearty approval given by the majority of the leaders in our nation is considered by God as doing the very same thing.
LISTEN TO THE SERMON preached on this text on August 2, 2009 at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.
CLICK HERE to read the previous article in this series, “God Gave Them Up” (Romans 1:24-25).