Most of us have seen those cut-and-paste jobs of Romans 1: 18-27 or 18-32 an awful lot of times. I rarely reply to these sincere folks, but I did just now on another blog, A Flock of Crows. I’ve made these points before, but you can’t say it often enough, it seems. I was replying to someone named Eternity-is-forever.
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Eternity-is-forever, please look at some of the sins of the depraved or useless mind in the passage you quoted. Many of the sins of the useless mind are quite common in the church.
fornication: whether we’re talking about pedophile pastors, porn-addicted elders, evangelists caught with prostitutes, or just garden-variety lust, many (most?) religious men are fornicators.
maliciousness: when Christians used to say that AIDS was God’s punishment for homosexuals, this was malicious. Many homosexuals saw dozens of their friends die gruesome deaths when Jerry Fallwell said this, while America ignored the crisis.
backbiters: I’ve never seen Christians go at it the way I’ve seen Southern Baptists chew one another up on Southern Baptist websites. Bickering, attacking, backbiting, calling people out for their “heresy” over the slightest doctrinal disagreement.
gossips: from “little old ladies” to pastors at their conferences and ministerial meetings, gossip is nearly universal in the church.
without understanding: many good, religious people are just plain ignorant and unreflective.
without natural affection: any parent who can kick their teen-age kid out of the house and onto the streets really is without natural affection. But they’ll get a hearty “Amen!” if they attend certain churches.
implacable: your most strident fundamentalists aren’t satisfied until you either knuckle under and agree with them, or you leave. Stubborn. You simply can’t reason with some of them. Some, but not all, literally don’t know how to reason. You cannot placate their irrational demands.
unmerciful: no concern or compassion for gay and lesbian teenagers who, in their despair, commit suicide because of fundamentalist teachings. “They needed to repent. I just declare the Word of God. I’m not responsible.”
Christians suffer from the sins of the depraved mind, then do exactly what Paul says they do. “Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
Now continue on to Romans 2, and you’ll see why Romans 1 was written.
Therefore, you may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? (Romans 2: 1-4)
Eternity-is-forever, these verses are directed directly at your religious heart. Read it out loud, it is God’s word for you right this moment.
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Romans 1 and 2 were directed at us religious folks, pure and simple. Paul knew that we good religious people wouldn’t think any of these sins applied to us, not really.
Our capacity for self-deception never ceases to amaze.