(Josh Buice – Delivered By Grace) Yesterday morning, I had the privilege to preach Romans 1:24-32 in our series through Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. In our previous study, we covered Paul’s warning regarding God’s wrath and how it’s poured out upon those who continue to suppress the truth and ignore the reality of God’s existence and God’s grace. Many people in our present culture like to talk about God’s judgment as if it’s an eschatological judgment reserved for the future. Could it be that the judgment articulated in Romans 1 is already present in our culture today? If so, what is the evidence of such judgment?
Three different times in this section of verses the apostle Paul used the word “παραδίδωμι” which means handed over, given over, delivered over – in this case – abandoned. The text reads, “God gave them up.” In Paul’s culture, he could see the evidence of God’s judgment on specific people and he pointed to that reality. He spoke about three different evidences. First, he pointed to the lustful idolatry of the people. They had exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature (creation) rather than the Creator. That has been taking place for centuries (see Ps. 135:15-18). However, in this text Paul links the idolatry to sexual misconduct—similar to what was prevalent in temple prostitution in Corinth and Ephesus (with the temple Artemis). This was one proof of God’s judgment.
Secondly, Paul pointed to the realty that God had given the people up to dishonorable passions that manifest themselves in the outward acts of homosexuality. Paul speaks about the fact that men and women had exchanged the natural affection for unnatural affection and engaged in acts of dishonorable passion resulting in sinful rebellion. Not only was this troublesome, but so was the due penalty they received in themselves. Paul speaks of the fact that such people often received the “due penalty” for their error. In our day, we can see this same type of rebellion that has become commonplace. Since the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalized same sex marriages, the drumbeat has continued to march onward in open rebellion. Andreas Köstenberger explains:
For the first time in its history, Western civilization is confronted with the need to define the meaning of the terms marriage and family. What until now has been considered a “normal” family, made up of a father, a mother, and a number of children, has in recent years increasingly begun to be viewed as one among several options, which can no longer claim to be the only or even superior form of ordering human relationships. The Judeo-Christian view of marriage and the family with its roots in the Hebrew Scriptures has to a significant extent been replaced with a set of values that prizes human rights, self-fulfillment, and pragmatic utility on an individual or societal level. It can rightly be said that marriage and the family are institutions under siege in our world today, and that with marriage and the family, our very civilization is in crisis.