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Paul on Sexuality

| 5.8.03
'The Apostle Paul On Sexuality', by Neil Elliot

This insightful article stands out from among many I've read that attempt to refute traditional church views of homosexuality. Unlike some whose agenda is merely to deconstruct traditional theology, this article provides a compelling, meaningful, and relevant alternative reading of Paul's letter to the Romans --especially Romans 1:24-27.

Elliot challenges us to consider that we are reading our own prejudices in the text when we make Romans be about homosexuality. First, he examines some of the popular ways theologians have treated this text in the past, noting that "importing" Jews as Paul's original audience doesn't make sense, nor does claiming Paul used stereotypes and exaggeration to make his points do Paul much credit. Instead, Elliot shows that within the context of the first Century Roman empire, Paul's insightful words are a biting critique of the excesses of Empire, and Romans 1:24-27 would have been immediately recognizable to a first century reader as describing the idolatry and excesses of Nero, Caligula, and others in the Imperial family.

Elliot ends with this quote, which not only sums up his position elegantly, but gives us hard questions to ask ourselves about the applicability of this text for us today:

The challenge we face, I believe, is to get beyond our own cultural and sexual prejudices and to hear what Paul has to say. As we ask about the ways our lives are corrupted by imperial culture — by any culture where power over people is the highest value — we begin to understand the true challenge of Paul’s letter: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom. 12:2).

PUBLISHER: The Witness Magazine, July/August 2003. Volume 86.

(source: http://thewitness.org/agw/elliott071203.html)

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