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Romans Chapter One - The Abandonment Judgement
A few years back, about the time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages in...Romans Chapter One - The Abandonment Judgement
A few years back, about the time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages in America, I posted a blog that examined Romans chapter one and God's abandonment judgement.
Five years later, I've yet to find another Book of Romans study that address the judgement, and yet, America's qualification is more profound today than it was five years ago when I first composed the post.
So, for today's Hot Topic discussion, we're going to revisit God's abandonment judgement found in Romans chapter one.
On June 26, 2015, in a 5-4 ruling by Justice Kennedy, the US Supreme Court ruled that the US constitution requires states to provide for same-sex marriage.
The topic of same-sex marriage is extremely polarizing with those holding to a biblical world view on one side and a secular world view on the other.
Of the commentary I’ve seen published from the biblical viewpoint, what I find the most disturbing is the dialog is focused on the acts of the individual because it misses the bigger picture.
It is true that the book of Romans addresses same-sex marriage and those subscribing to a biblical world view are quick to quote Romans 1:26-27 which says, "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error."
Alone, this verse is out of context with the bigger picture. It’s the bigger message that so many are apparently missing. Let me explain.
Note the plural pronouns in the above verses:
God gave them (PLURAL) over to degrading passions;
for their (PLURAL) women exchanged
also the men (PLURAL) abandoned
burned in their (PLURAL) desire
men (PLURAL) with men (PLURAL)
In fact, the only reference to the individual is “receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error” meaning that each individual is accountable for their own choices, good or bad. I am not accountable for your bad choices and you are not accountable for mine.
So what is going on with all the plurality? Who are these verses speaking to?
The answer is the nation. God is speaking to a people also known as a nation. Throughout God’s Word, we see verses addressing the individual and other verses addressing a nation. In these verses, it is the nation God is addressing.
Now, let’s look at Roman 1:18-20 where we can see part of the bigger picture.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."
In these verses, God tells us that His divine nature is self-evident in creation. In other words, the proof of His divinity is so plain to see, literally staring you in the face, so-much-so that you have no excuse for not seeing it. All are without excuse.
The next ten verses, Romans 1:21-31, God’s word says that in spite of God’s self-evident nature, seen in creation, they (the nation) choose to indulge in their sinful passions anyway.
In the middle of listing all the sinful acts they (the nation) are engaged in, God says something very interesting. He says He will give them (the nation) over to their sin – but He doesn’t just say this once. God says this three times!
1 - Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity,
2 - Rom 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions;
3 - Rom 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind,
What does that mean – God gave them over? It means He’s leaving them to their sinful choice. He’s walking away, leaving them alone – He’s abandoning them.
This is a judgment – a penalty for willingly disregarding God’s word and choosing to act in rebellion. This is a judgment of abandonment.
Now remember all those verses with the plural pronouns? That is who this judgment applies to – not the individual, but the nation, a people.
At this point, you may be asking how an individual’s choice can bring a judgment on a nation? Clearly, verse 27 holds the individual responsible for their choices.
The answer is, it’s not the individual’s choice that qualifies a nation for the judgment of abandonment; it’s the nation’s condoning of sin – they’re giving their hearty approval of it. Look carefully at Romans 1:32: "and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."
Once again, we see the plural pronouns speaking to the nation. This verse says that despite the fact that God’s divine nature is self-evident in creation, and despite the fact that they (a nation) know and understand that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they (a nation) not only do it anyway, but they (a nation) give their hearty approval to those who practice them!
They (a nation) give their hearty approval to those who practice these sinful acts.
On June 26th, 2015 the United States of America, a nation, gave their hearty approval to same-sex marriage and celebrated their approval by flooding the White House in the colors of the Rainbow flag – the symbol of the gay and lesbian movement.
So, what does this mean for America? It means that as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold same-sex marriage, and subsequent celebration of that decision as seen in the White House photograph, America is now qualified for the abandonment judgment.
In my lifetime, America has always been a blessed nation. I believe this blessing manifests through abundance, provision, and favor. I believe America is realizing a birthright blessing that God promised many years ago, but that is a topic for a different post.
Now that America has undeniably qualified herself for the abandonment judgment, I think America is on a path that will gradually see less and less abundance, provision, and favor as God gives America over to her degrading passions.
While some celebrate the high court’s ruling, I am saddened by the path America’s leaders have chosen for this nation. Show more
The Essence of Covenant
Recently, I participated in a conversion about divorce in the church. While many attribute marital difficulties to...The Essence of Covenant
Recently, I participated in a conversion about divorce in the church. While many attribute marital difficulties to communication or the lack thereof, I was of the opinion that a failure to understand the essence of covenant was at the heart of divorce.
Covenant is word we often find when studying the Bible or discussing biblical theology. We may reference the new covenant or the old covenant. We may talk about the covenant between God and Abraham or God and Moses. We refer to the New Testament as being under the new covenant, but what exactly is a covenant and what does it mean to you in this modern age?
The first thing to understand about covenant is that it was created by God to be holy. It is not to be taken lightly and should only be entered into with the full understanding of its sacred requirements.
God holds the sanctity of covenant above nearly all other things. It is covenant that is at the center of our salvation through Christ. It is covenant that defines Christ’s death on the cross. It is the fulfillment of covenant that has redeemed mankind and brought him back to his creator.
The English language fails us in many ways when we use it to understand scriptures. Our understanding of covenant is a good example. In Hebrew, the word for covenant means both covenant and testament. This means for us, that we may freely exchange those two English words. For example, the Old Testament and the New Testament are the old covenant and the new covenant and vice-versa.
If we are to understand the essence of covenant, we need an English phrase to encompass its true meaning. The phrase "binding-agreement-upon-death" comes fairly close.
In English, we separate the words covenant and testament with two separate meanings. The English definition for a covenant is an agreement. The English definition for testament is a document or a statement which commonly comes into effect upon death.
This is how we come to the phrase, last will and testament. At the reading of a will, the final wishes of a deceased person is read aloud and carried out. The testament therefore becomes effective only after the person’s death. This is the critical component of a covenant – to enter into covenant, a death is required! There is no way around this. If you do not have a death, you cannot enter into covenant.
When we combine these two English definitions, we come close to the essence of God’s covenant – a binding agreement that becomes effective upon death.
The first time we see covenant in scripture is when God enters into covenant with Abram in Genesis Chapter 15.
Gen 15:9 "And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon."
Gen 15:10 "And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not."
In verse nine, God tells Abram to gather together a heifer, a goat, and a ram. He then has Abram sacrifice the animals and cut their carcasses into two halves by dividing them.
Later in verses 17-18 we see the Spirit of God pass between the animal carcass halves and enter into a covenant with Abram.
Gen 15:17 "And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces."
Gen 15:18 "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:"
What we’re seeing in these verses is the creation of covenant. By passing between the halves of the sacrificed animals, God has "sealed" His agreement with Abram with death. That is the essence of covenant – a binding agreement upon death.
We see this act of covenant again when God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Though God stays Abraham’s hand at the last second, in his heart Abraham fulfilled his responsibility to God by sacrificing his son. Upon this act, Abraham entered into a new covenant with God.
God fulfills His responsibility to this new covenant with Abraham by sacrificing His son Jesus on the cross. Upon Jesus’ death, the new covenant or New Testament goes into effect. Again, we see that a covenant is a binding agreement upon death.
The application of a covenant is a solemn and holy act in which God places great importance. Throughout the history of the nation of Israel, God holds the sanctity of covenant above all other agreements and considers the breaking of covenant one of the greatest sins. When did God unleash His wrath upon Israel? When she broke her covenant with God and worshiped false gods and idols.
The covenant between God and Israel is like a spiritual marriage. The new covenant is like a marriage too with Jesus as the bride groom and the church as the bride. A marriage between a man and woman is a mirror image of God’s covenant and so, marriage is much more than just vows. It is a holy commitment that binds two people in a covenant that becomes effective upon death, but what death? – the death of self.
The essence of covenant in marriage is to give up your life, or to die to yourself, so that your life becomes your spouses’. From the moment you enter into a covenant of marriage, your life is no longer yours but now belongs to your spouse for you have died to yourself. This is the death that seals a marriage in covenant.
While I agree with those that say communication is important to a marriage, I believe it is a failure to understand the essence of covenant that is at the heart of the divorce rate we see in the church. Show more
Hot Topic Discussions: Current Events Discussed through a Biblical World View
About once a month, ICM hosts a live Hot Topic discussion that focuses on current or controversial current events.
As an extension of that very popular program, we've created this page for posting contemporary topics discussed through a biblical world view.
We invite and encourage our students, alumni, and supporters to join the discussions and share your experiences, thoughts, and wisdom.
CategoryHot Topic Discussions
CreatedTuesday, 02 July 2019
Page adminDr. Steve Wittmann