Honor and Shame, Natural Law, and the Scriptures. The Foundations of Paul’s Argumentation on Male and Female Homosexual Relations in Rom 1:26-27


Abstract

The author analyzes the foundations of Paul’s argument on homosexuality in Rom 1:26-27. First, he points to the categories of honor and shame functioning in the Hellenistic world, which the apostle refers to when he describes male and female homosexual relations moved by “degrading” and “consuming passions,” and consequently leading to “shameless acts” (Rom 1:26-27). Second, Paul relies on the natural law, which he perceives not as a cultural norm but, like some Greco-Roman and Jewish authors, as a creation order permeated with God’s insight. Third, the primary point of reference for the apostle are the Scriptures and the broadly understood Jewish tradition (Lev 18:22; 20:13; Deut 4:16-19; Ps 105:20; Jer 2:11; Wis 12-15), especially Genesis 1-3 (with particular emphasis on Gen 1:27-28). They connect homosexuality with idolatry, transgressing the order of creation and blurring the distinction between the male and the female. Gender differences serve procreation, but also building up the relationship based on mutual understanding and complementarity between a man and a woman. The apostle finds allies in Plato, Plutarch, Dio Chrysostom, Philo, Flavius Joseph, Pseudo-Phocylides and many others who also refer to the categories of honor and shame, natural law and procreation in their critique of homosexual acts.


Arnim, H.v. – Radice, R., Stoici antichi, tutti i frammenti. Testo greco e latino a fronte. Introduzione, traduzione, note e apparati a cura di Roberto Radice (Il pensiero occidentale; Milano: Bompiani 2002).
Bailey, D.S., Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition (Hamden, CT: Archon Books 1975).
Ball, M.S., „Law Natural. Its Family of Metaphors and Its Theology”, Journal of Law and Religion 3/1 (1985) 140–165.
Biggar, N. – Black, R. (red.), The Revival of Natural Law. Philosophical and Theological Essays on the Finnis-Grisez School (Aldershot: Ashgate 1999).
Boswell, J., Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago – London: University of Chicago Press 1980).
Boyarin, D., „Are There Any Jews in ‘the History of Sexuality’?”, JHSex 5 (1995) 333–355.
Brooten, B.J., Love Between Women. Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism (The Chicago Series on Sexuality, History, and Society; Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1996).
Bussey, P.J., „Natural Law. 'God's Law in Our Hearts'”, Science and Christian Belief 32/1 (2020) 5–28.
Byrne, B., Romans (SP 6; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press 1996).
Cherry, M.J., Natural Law and the Possibility of a Global Ethics (Philosophical Studies in Contemporary Culture 11; Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004).
Cohen, D., „Sexuality, Violence, and the Athenian Law of Hubris”, Greece and Rome 38 171–188.
Cohen, D., Law, Sexuality and Society. The Enforcement of Morals in Classical Athens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1991).
Collins, J.J., Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age (OTL; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox 2011).
Covell, C., The Defence of Natural Law. A Study of the Ideas of Law and Justice in the Writings of Lon L. Fuller, Michael Oakeshot, F.A. Hayek, Ronald Dworkin and John Finnis (London: Palgrave Macmillan Limited 32016).
Cranfield, C.E.B., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Introduction and Commentary on Romans I–VIII (ICC; Edinburgh: T & T Clark 2004).
Curran, C.E. – McCormick, R.A. (red.), Natural Law and Theology (Readings in moral theology 7; New York: Paulist Press 1991).
Davies, M., „New Testament Ethics and Ours: Homosexuality and Sexuality in Romans 1:26-27”, BibInt 3/3 (1995) 315–331.
DeYoung, J.B., „The Meaning of 'Nature' in Romans 1 and Its Implications for Biblical Proscriptions of Homosexual Behavior”, JETS 31/4 (1988) 429–441.
Dover, K.J., Greek homosexuality (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1989).
Dunn, J.D.G., Romans 1 - 8 (WBC 38A; Dallas, TX: Word 1988).
Esler, P.F., „The Sodom Tradition in Romans 1:18-32”, BTB 34/1 (2004) 4–16.
Fitzmyer, J.A., Romans. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 33; New York: Doubleday 1993).
Fredrickson, D.E., „Natural and Unnatural Use in Romans 1:24–27. Paul and the Philosophic Critique of Eros”, Homosexuality, Science, and the "Plain Sense" of Scripture (red. D.L. Balch) (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 2000) 197–222.
Furnish, V.P., The Moral Teaching of Paul (Nashville: Abingdon 1979).
Gagnon, R.A.J., The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Nashville: Abingdon 2002).
George, R.P. (red.), Natural Law Theory. Contemporary Essays (Oxford: Clarendon 1996).
Greenwood, D., „Saint Paul and Natural Law”, BTB 1/3 (1971) 262–279.
Hallett, J.P., „Female Homoeroticism and the Denial of Roman Reality in Latin Literature”, Yale Journal of Criticism 3 (1989) 209–227.
Halperin, D.M., One Hundred Years of Homosexuality and Other Essays on Greek Love (New York: Routledge 1990).
Hays, R.B., „Relations Natural and Unnatural. A Response to J Boswell's Exegesis of Rom 1”, JRE 14/1 (1986) 184–215.
Himbaza, I. – Schenker, A. – Edart, J.-B., The Bible on the Question of Homosexuality (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press 2012).
Hittinger, R., „The Recovery of Natural Law and the 'Common Morality'”, This World 18 (1987) 62–74.
Horsley, A., „The Law of Nature in Philo and Cicero”, HTR 71 (1978) 35–59.
Hubbard, T.K., Homosexuality in Greece and Rome. A sourcebook of basic documents (Joan Palevsky imprint in classical literature; Berkeley, CA: University of California Press 2003).
Hyldahl, N., „Reminiscence of the Old Testament at Romans 1:23”, NTS 2/4 (1956) 285–288.
Inwood, B., Ethics and Human Action in Early Stoicism (Oxford – New York: Clarendon; Oxford University Press 1985).
Jewett, R. – Kotansky, R.D., Romans. A Commentary on the Book of Romans (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress 2007).
Johnson, A.F., „Is There a Biblical Qarrant for Natural-Law Theories”, JETS 25/2 (1982) 185–199.
Kalin, E.R., „Romans 1:26-27 and Homosexuality”, CurTM 30/6 (2003) 423–432.
Kowalski, M., „Apokaliptyczny gniew Boga i jego miejsce w Ewangelii Pawła (Rz 1,18-32)”, VV 33 (2018) 203–249.
Kowalski, M., „Między darem Bożym a konstruktem społecznym. Wczesnochrześcijańskie rozumienie płciowości na podstawie 1 Kor 11,2-16”, Biblica et patristica thorunensia 13/1 (2020) 59–104.
Linebaugh, J.A., „Announcing the Human. Rethinking the Relationship Between Wisdom of Solomon 13-15 and Romans 1.18-2.11”, NTS 57/2 (2011) 214–237.
Longenecker, R.N., The Epistle to the Romans. A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 2016).
Lucas, A., „Distinct portraits and Parallel Development of the Knowledge of God in Romans 1:18-32 and Wisdom of Solomon 13-15”, Christian Body, Christian Self. Concepts of Early Christian Personhood (red. C.K. Rothschild – T.W. Thompson) (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 284; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2011) 61–82.
MacMullen, R., „Roman Attitudes to Greek Love”, Historia 31/4 (1982) 484–502.
MacNeill, J.J., The church and the homosexual (Boston: Beacon Press 41993).
Martin, D.B., „Heterosexism and the Interpretation of Romans 1:18-32”, BibInt 3/3 (1995) 332–355.
McKenzie, J.L., „Natural Law in the New Testament”, BR 9 (1964) 3–13.
Miller, J.E., „The Practices of Romans 1:26: Homosexual or Heterosexual?”, NovT 37/1 (1995) 1–11.
Moo, D.J., The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 1996).
Mueller, E., Homosexuality, Scripture, and the Church ([brak]: Biblical Research Institute 2010).
Osiek, C. – Pouya, J., „Constructions of Gender in the Roman Imperial World”, Understanding the Social World of the New Testament (red. D. Neufeld – R.E. DeMaris) (London – New York: Routledge 2010) 44–56.
Osiek, C.A. – Balch, D.L., Families in the New Testament World. Households and House Churches (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox 1997).
Paul, E.F. – Miller, F.D. – Paul, J. (red.), Natural Law and Modern Moral Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2001).
Reese, J.M., Hellenistic Influence on the Book of Wisdom and Its Consequences (AnBib 41; Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute 1971).
Remus, H., „Authority, Consent, Law. Nomos, Physis, and the Striving for a 'Given'”, SR 13/1 (1984) 5–18.
Richlin, A., „Not Before Homosexuality. The Materiality of the Cinaedus and the Roman Law against Love between Men”, JHSex (Journal of the History of Sexuality) 3 (1993) 523–573.
Rogers, J., Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality. Explode the Myths, Heal the Church (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press 2009).
Sanday, W. – Headlam, A.C., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (ICC; New York 1897).
Schreiner, T.R., Romans (BECNT 6; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker 1998).
Scroggs, R., The New Testament and Homosexuality. Contextual Background for Contemporary Debate (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress 1983).
Skinner, B.G., „New Testament Ethics and Natural Law”, Church Quarterly Review 165/354 (1964) 8–17.
Smith, M.D., „Ancient Bisexuality and the Interpretation of Romans 1:26-27”, JAAR 64/2 (1996) 223–256.
Stegemann, W., „Paul and the Sexual Mentality of His World”, BTB 23/4 (1993) 161–166.
Striker, G., „Origins of the Concept of Natural Law”, Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy (red. J.J. Cleary) (Lanham, MD: University Press of America 1987) 79–94.
Ward, R.B., „Why Unnatural? The Tradition behind Romans 1:26-27”, HTR 90/3 (1997) 263–284.
Weinreb, L.L., Natural Law and Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1987).
Wilckens, U., Der Brief an die Römer (EKKNT; Neukirchen-Vluyn – Zurich: Neukirchener Verlag; Benziger 1978–81).
Williams, C.A., Roman Homosexuality (New York – Oxford: Oxford University Press 22010).
Wink, W., „Homosexuality and the Bible”, Homosexuality and Christian Faith. Questions of Conscience for the Churches (red. W. Wink) (Minneapolis MN: Fortress 1999).
Winkler, J.J., The Constraints of Desire. The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece (New York: Routledge 1990).
Winston, D., The Wisdom of Solomon. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 43; Haven – London: Yale University Press 2008).
Witherington, B. – Hyatt, D., Paul's Letter to the Romans. A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans 2004).

Published : 2021-04-29


Kowalski, M. (2021). Honor and Shame, Natural Law, and the Scriptures. The Foundations of Paul’s Argumentation on Male and Female Homosexual Relations in Rom 1:26-27. Verbum Vitae. https://doi.org/10.31743/vv.12231

Marcin Kowalski  xmkowal@gmail.com
Katolicki Universytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II  Poland
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8732-6868




Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

(1) Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC license Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. 

(2) Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.

(3) Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).