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
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.
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