Bryan N. Smith
Ethics (PHIL 5350), Houston Baptist University, May 2015

Abstract:

When it comes to the Bible’s stance on sexuality, perhaps no other passage is as significant and central to the debate as the passage found in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. Having been interpreted for much of history as representing a categorical moral condemnation of all forms of homosexual behavior, the prevailing trend within Western culture of affirming homosexual relationships has led to recent attempts to develop alternative interpretations which seek to reconcile the biblical injunctions with such trends. Within the ensuing debate between traditionalists and revisionists on the topic, perhaps the most central issue in the text which has served as a gravitating force for discussion has been the meaning and significance of Paul’s use of “natural” in the text. Consequently, one of the primary questions that has been set by the debate is whether or not Paul is appealing to natural law reasoning in this passage, or whether he is appealing to something quite different. Traditionalists will typically argue on behalf of the former, and revisionists the latter. It is the purpose of this paper to briefly examine such arguments and to assess their significance in answering the larger question regarding the possibility of reconciling such biblical injunctions with the affirmation of homosexual relationships.

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