Romans 1 – A Message of Inclusion for Gay Christians.

Conventionally, when people speak of “Romans 1” in the context of homosexuality, they are thinking in terms of the end of the chapter,verses 26 and 27,  with their apparent condemnation. of homoerotic acts. There are two basic flaws with this assumption. As James Alison and others have pointed out, the division of the text into chapters and verses is relatively modern, and arbitrary. It is inappropriate to read these verses in isolation, without consideration of the full context. Reading the whole of Chapter 1, immediately followed by chapter, gives quite a different perspective on the intended lesson – that the passage as a whole, as of the full letter to the Romans, is a condemnation of judging others.

Part of a Syriac ms of Paul's letter to the Romans (source, Wikipedia)
Part of a Syriac ms of Paul’s letter to the Romans (source, Wikipedia)

We should also note that in these selected verses, the references are to “them“, to other people and the consequences of their sinful actions, not to the Romans themselves, whom Paul is addressing. For the Romans of the first and second centuries, sexual acts between men were commonplace and seen as entirely natural. and acceptable, as long as due regard was given to observing the correct social distinctions between the partners.

With this in mind, let us now turn to the first reading for today’s Mass, Monday of week 28 of the year, which comes from the beginning of Romans, and is addressed directly to them. Let us interpret these words as they would have been heard by the Romans, some of whom will have engaged same – sex erotic practices and relationships. It is reasonable then, to think of these words as addressed directly to ourselves.

First reading Romans 1:1-7 ©
From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.
  This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead. Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name. You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ. To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.

What this is saying to me, is an important message of inclusion among God’s people. We too, irrespective of our sexuality, by his call, belong to Jesus Christ. We too, along with all other Christians, are called to be saints. To us, too, God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, send grace and peace.

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