Summary: In this sermon, we are going to look at sexual sin, specifically homosexuality. But in Romans 1, this isn't the first sin, the last sin, or the worst sin on the list.

Does God Give Up On People?

Romans 1:24-32

Good morning. Please open your Bibles to Romans 1.

We’ve been in a passage of the New Testament that is difficult for a lot of people to process. A few years ago, a campus ministry group at a large university in the United Kingdom printed the words of Romans 1:18-32 on a flyer which they handed out on campus. They updated the language of the King James Version so that it read as though it was composed in the 21st century. They printed it without verse numbers or citations—no evidence that it came from Scripture.

It didn’t take long before the leaders of the campus ministry group were called before the administration. They were told in no uncertain terms that they would be disciplined for distributing offensive literature, bordering on hate speech. And the administration demanded the students reveal the name of the author of this offensive leaflet. Was he a student? Give us his name. He may be subject to expulsion.

Sinclair Ferguson never said the name of the university. But it would not surprise me at all if it had been founded on Christian principles. After all, most of the world’s great universities—Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard—all had their start as training academies for young men preparing for the ministry. I’ve shared with you before that Harvard’s original mission statement, when it was founded in 1636, was

“Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.

I imagine a lot of secular people would look at the world’s universities as they are now and applaud how much they have evolved. How much more enlightened they are compared to the puritanical or even medieval values of their founders.

But the picture the apostle Paul paints in Romans 1 is not of an evolved people rising to greater and greater heights, but a debased people, sinking to lower and lower depths.

Not, “look how far we’ve come,” but “look how far we’ve fallen.”

Not how enlightened they are, but, as we talked about a couple of weeks ago, how much their “foolish hearts have become darkened” (Romans 1:21)

And as those campus ministry leaders discovered at this unnamed British university, there aren’t many passages of Scripture that show the divide between a God-centered worldview and what has been labeled secular humanism than the passage we study this morning.

And it’s important for us to wrestle with today, because there has probably been no time in history where the pressure to accept as normal and natural what the Bible calls abnormal and unnatural has been more intense.

Romans 1:26-27 is probably the clearest and straightforward statement in the entire Bible that same sex relationships violate God’s plan and are subject to God’s judgment.

And so I think the reason the pressure is so intense is because this isn’t just an abstract issue. This isn’t like one of the early church councils where church leaders debated what books would be considered part of the Bible, or the nature of Jesus as fully God and fully man. While those issues are monumentally important, they are also abstract and academic.

Think about it this way: the percentage of people in the United States who identify as LGBT is somewhere between 4 amd 6 per cent. A Gallup poll from February 2021—almost exactly a year ago—put the number at 5.6%

Which means that almost everyone in this room either knows someone who identifies as gay. Many of you have a family member who identifies as gay. And if the numbers are to be believed, in a crowd this size, there would be between 8-9 people who have either experienced same sex attraction or identify as LGBT.

And so you feel the pressure as a loving, compassionate Christian human being to think maybe the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says about same sex relationships. Or maybe the way we understand loving, monogamous LGBT relationships is different from what Paul was describing.

Or, what we often do is keep talking about it as “an issue” without talking about real live, flesh and blood friends and coworkers and neighbors and sons and daughters and aunts and uncles.

As long as its just “an issue,” we can stay on our soapbox and keep making pronouncements about how our culture is going to hell, and never have to think about friends and coworkers and neighbors and sons and daughters and aunts and uncles going to hell.

So this morning, I want you to leave here knowing exactly what Paul says in Romans 1 about the sin of homosexuality. But I also want you to see it in the bigger context of what Paul says in Romans 1. And I want to do this without ever losing sight of the fact that people we know and love are facing God’s judgment for their sin.

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