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by Melinda Penner
The New York Times claims that Romans 1 calls for the execution of gays. A Republican congressman read the passage at a committee hearing. I don’t know the congressman’s purpose, but it couldn’t be to call for the execution of gays because the passage doesn’t say that. And 2,000 years of Christian teaching has never taught that it does.
It tells us we’re all sinners deserving punishment, but the only execution referred to in Romans is that of Jesus, who took the punishment Romans 1 is speaking of on behalf of sinners so that sinners can be reconciled to Him.
The relevant passage, Romans 1:18-32, begins: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” All ungodliness. Romans isn’t singling out gays, though homosexuality is mentioned. So are many other sins:
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
No one can read that passage and walk away scot-free because we’ve all committed at least some of those sins, and maybe all. Some of these sins are universally common – disobedient to parents – because Paul means to count every single one of us as sinners so that…
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