Yellow Balloons Devotional Series: Advent

Romans 1:26-27

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

Paul makes clear his respect for the believers in Rome, acknowledging that their “faith is being proclaimed throughout the world” (Romans 1:8)and states his central theme that the just or righteous live by faith empowered with resurrection power, while unjust living based on our own pride and strength leads to wrath and destruction.

God’s design for sex is between a man and a woman within marriage. When we decide we know better than God, we exchange what is natural is unnatural and this brings consequences.

Sometimes people fail to acknowledge that God invented sex, and designed man and woman as sexual beings. God’s intended design is for a man and woman to be “one” with one another (Genesis 2:24).

In Scripture, this oneness is used often as a picture for the oneness God desires to experience with humanity. In Ezekiel 16 God uses a vivid illustration of Israel as His bride that He loves. However, this bride has forsaken her faithful husband and gone off to seek sexual relationships with every man she can find. God says this woman has fallen lower than a prostitute because at least a prostitute gets paid. “But you pay them,” God states.

The first biblical instance of the Greek word “ginosko” (usually translated “know”) refers to Joseph not “knowing” (sexually) Mary until after Jesus was born. This same word is used in John 17:3 when Jesus prays to His Father that His disciples might have “eternal life” then says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” The very essence of productive living is to develop intimate relationships with others. Sexual relationships outside of God’s design do much to destroy this productive interaction. The very nature of promiscuous sexual interaction is self-seeking. But sexual intimacy with a spouse grows out of a strong relationship. In fact, a healthy frequency and mutual satisfaction from sexual interaction is a good gage for the health of a marriage.

In being “set apart” or sanctified for the kind of just life God’s resurrected power enables us to live, a key first step is to avoid sexual perversion. God defines this as a key part of His will in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6, where Paul tells us to keep our bodies clean and free from sexual immorality.

Same-sex behavior was completely accepted and unquestioned within Greek culture, as was promiscuity in general (including bestiality). It was common for Greek nobles to keep boys for sexual companions. Two nobles fighting over a particular boy they both had affection for sparked one major civil war in Athens. The Spartans embraced bi-sexuality as state policy. Rome embraced Greek culture.

Paul here is stating that like idolatry, sexual practices outside of God’s design bring dishonor to our bodies, and bring in and of itself a judgment. Paul will make clear in Romans that if we are controlled by our lusts or passions, we become their slaves.

The resurrection power God has placed within us is power to overcome sinful lust of any sort. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 Paul exhorts

“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”

Even though God gives His resurrection power for living to all who believe, we must choose to walk in faith that God knows best to engage the power. The primary thing we must daily believe is that God’s way is better than following “my way.” That includes choosing to follow what God says about sexual conduct rather than following our desires, whatever those might be. A simple (but not comprehensive) definition for “sin” might be choosing a path counter to God’s instruction and design. When we sin, we damage ourselves, because God instructs us in ways that are in our best interest. The consequence for sin falls on believers and unbelievers alike.

Sin brings adverse consequences, but sexual sin is especially hostile to us, which could be why Paul leads with this particular sin when discussing God’s judgment on any unjust living. He will broaden the discussion of sin considerably in the following verses.

Biblical Text

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 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.