Re: Rom 1 and phusis
On Wed, 28 Sep 1994, Kenneth Litwak wrote:
> on Sept. 28, 1994, Greg Jordan wrote:
> >I don't think you realize the extent to which you are positing an unusual
> >theological twist on this passage yourself. You seem to be saying that
> >God causes homosexuality at the same time as he condemns it, and that
> >homosexuality is a product of and development from disbelief in God,
> That's not what I am arguing. I am arguing that:
> 1. Neither Paul, onor any place in the OT or NT is there any place that
> distingushes between different kinds of homosexuals (that;'s modern hair-splitting). For Paul, all such activity is "ordinary homosexual" activity.
It seems I misunderstood you then. On the other hand, your (1) is a
point I would disagree with. The Bible says very little about
what we today would call "homosexuality" - our term is a projection of
categories to a certain extent, but not completely. On the other hand, I
recently proposed distinctions within what could be called "homosexuality"
in Leviticus 18:22, and I would propose that another such distinction occurs
in 2 Thess. 4:3-6 (not to open an entirely new argument). Deut. 23:18 (LXX)
contains a condemnation of one specific type of homosexual behavior whose
qualification (prostitution) is universally accepted by scholars.
Distinctions between different kinds of "homosexuals" and "homosexual
behavior" were a commonplace of Greek literature, at least. It seems
like some moderns are not doing as much hair-splitting as our ancestors did.
> 2. Paul in Rom 1 argues that because Gentiles as a whole have rejected God,
> God has delivered them over to a God-alienated state in which they
> consciences are dead and they pursue actions and lifestyles that deserve God's
> wrath, the epitomy of this rebellion being displayed by homosexual activity
> which is contrary to the phusis God gave humans in the first place. However
> the individual came to practice this sin,
Well, first I would drop the "God-alienated state" and simply observe how
Paul refers to the sins here described as self-aware abandonments and
exchanges of previous states and awarenesses. He even finishes with:
"They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are
gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful;
they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are
senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. ***Although they know God's
righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not
only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who
practice them.***" Rom 1:29-32 (NIV).
Here Paul is clearly not talking about people in a mystical haze designed
by God and making them unable to figure out what they are doing. He says
they are clearly aware of right and wrong, God and not-God. These are
people who are fighting with their consciences, not people whose consciences
Secondly, I would argue that Paul would say God did not give one _phusis_ to
human beings "in the first place", especially when _phusis_ is understood to
refer to observable behavior. Each human has their own _phusis_, some
needing to be changed, and others needing to be preserved, depending on
the person and circumstance. Again, this is backed up by the usage of
_phusis_ everywhere in the New Testament.