Understanding and Using the Bible
The Book of Romans
This book is written by St Paul who was a Jewish convert to Christianity and who devoted his life to spreading the Christian message to non-Jews. He travelled around the Roman Empire preaching and founding churches. He then wrote to them regularly giving advice on how to live a Christian life in a non-Christian secular world. Some of these letters have been preserved in the Bible.
Paul's point in the Book of Romans is to show that God has made salvation possible for all humanity and starts out by highlighting the need the human race has for this salvation. He speaks, at some length, on his perceived evils of the world and in this context the following words appear:
"Because of this God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." (1:26-27)
This is the only passage that explicitly mentions women in a context often construed to mean homoerotic relationships. The passage is much debated and a gallons and gallons of scholarly ink has been expended on working out what Paul may have meant. There are some problems with automatically assuming his words apply today.
Read on to "Roman Patterns of Sexuality".