I have a question about homosexuality. I have been thinking about something, analyzing it, and wondering if you could make a argument out of something I noticed.
In Romans 1:26-27:
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Now these verses are not talking about marriage or anything between man and woman or homosexual etc. It's talking basic sex and what it was meant for, correct? From my understanding of the reading, Paul is saying woman left her design for man and decided to have sex with woman instead of man, and the same with man. (I could word it better, but oh well.) Just talking about plain old sex, its use, and who God made it for and what way.
Now the other thing are the phrases "natural relations" and "contrary to nature." Paul uses similar wording in Romans 11:24:
For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
From my understanding the way the phrase "contrary to nature" is used in regards to homosexuals is the same when Paul gives a metaphor for the Gentiles. Now how could you use that with the homosexuality factor?
I believe best way to interpret someone's writing in one of the epistles is to look how he uses it in the same book first, then go out from there. Seems that the meaning Paul used in Romans 2 is the same in 11. Just as God made it ok for us Gentiles to become Christians, but the meaning is contrary to nature, it is used the same way Paul says it something that is done that wasn't originally meant for. I guess I can't explain very well what I mean. but how could you use it for a argument against homosexuality with Paul using it again and with the exact same words? I don't know what it says in the Greek. But still, it's a thought and I'm trying to word it, but I can't get it the right way. Any ideas? Or am I stretching it too far?
"For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due" (Romans 1:26-27).
You are correct that Paul here is talking about sexual acts. The human body is made so that a man and a woman can couple together in sex. We are not designed for women to have sex with women or men with men. Thus Paul says that these men and women have left the natural use (ten phusiken chresin) of the body for something that runs contrary to God's design (ten para phusin). He calls this indecent or shameful (aschemosunen).
"For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?" (Romans 11:24).
Here Paul compares the Gentiles to a wild olive tree and the Jews to a cultivated olive tree. The illustration is extended to the wild tree being those lost and the cultivated tree being those saved by God. Both trees grow branches naturally or according to their nature. That is, the Gentile nations tend to produce people who had little regard for God and salvation. "For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles--when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries" (I Peter 4:3). But the Jewish nation tended to produce people who looked to God for salvation. "What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God" (Romans 3:1-2).
But despite their advantage, the Jews did not continue in belief. They died on the tree and so they were broken off and cast away (Romans 11:7-10). Not all the branches died, there was still a small remnant who remained faithful to God (Romans 11:1-6). But the unfaithfulness of the Jews in general, gave the opportunity for God to offer salvation to the Gentiles. The Jews unfaithfulness to the covenant was an opportunity to replace with another (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Therefore, some Gentiles were grafted in to the cultivated tree. They were saved by an act that would not have naturally occurred.
This is not a condemned action, as sex between the same sex is condemned, because this action was done by God for the saving of the Gentiles.
Paul is pointing out in Romans 11:24, that God is able to do something else that would normally be against nature. If the dead branches, the unbelieving Jews, would start believing, then God is able to graft them back into the tree from which they were broken and they would live again. Normally you can't graft a dead branch back into a tree and have it live. But God can go against nature.
The warning is to the Gentiles not to get haughty about their salvation and the Jews rejection of Christ. It is possible, and even desirable to God that the Jews accept Christ, and if they do, God is able to restore them to salvation.
This is something every Christian should understand. People can fall away and be lost. But we should never consider them permanently lost. There is always the possibility that they will see the error of their way in the future and they can return to God and be reinstated to their salvation.
Other than the fact that both Romans 1 and Romans 11 compares and contrasts what is normal (or natural) to what is abnormal (or contrary to nature), I don't see any tying of these two passages. They are talking about two different topics and using the concept of natural and unnatural in different ways.