Most New Testament books, including the four Gospels, are silent on same-sex acts, and Paul is the only author who makes any reference to the subject. But in what context does he do so?
The most negative statement by Paul regarding same-sex acts occurs in Romans 1:24-27 where, in the context of a larger argument on the need of all people for the gospel of Jesus The Christ, certain same-sex behavior is given as an example of the "uncleanness" of idolatrous Gentiles.
This raises the question: Does this passage refer to all same-sex couples and acts, or to certain same-sex behavior known to Paul’s readers? Context is so very important!
The book of Romans was written to Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome, who would have been familiar with the infamous sexual excesses of their contemporaries, especially Roman emperors. They would also have been aware of tensions in the early Church regarding Gentiles and observance of the Jewish laws, as noted in Acts 15 and Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
Jewish laws in Leviticus mentioned male same-sex acts in the context of idolatry. That's right, we cannot turn to Leviticus for answers as it was to a specific people at a specific time and the context dealt with idolatry.
The same-sex practices cited in Romans 1:24-27 were believed to result from idolatry and are associated with some very serious offenses as noted in Romans 1.
Taken in this larger context, it should be obvious that such acts are significantly different from a loving, responsible same-sex relationship.
Let's look at what is "Natural" vs "UNnatural"
Significant to Paul’s discussion is the fact that these "unclean" Gentiles exchanged that which was "natural" for them, (physin - in the Greek text), for something "unnatural," (para physin).
According to Romans 11:24, God acts in an "unnatural" way, (para physin), to accept the Gentiles.
"Unnatural" in these passages does not refer to violation of so-called "laws of nature", but rather implies action contradicting one’s own nature.
In view of this, we should observe that it is "unnatural," (para physin), for a person today with a same-sex attraction to attempt living a heterosexual lifestyle.
The rarity with which Paul discusses any form of same-sex behavior and the ambiguity in references attributed to him make it extremely unsound to conclude any sure position in the New Testament on homosexuality, especially in the context of loving, responsible relationships.
Since any arguments must be made from silence, it is much more reliable to turn to great principles of the Gospel taught by Yeshua, Jesus The Christ and His Apostles.
Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do not judge others, lest you be judged. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love . . . against such there is no law.
One thing is abundantly clear, as Paul stated in Galatians 5:14: "…the whole Law is fulfilled in one statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself".
Here are a few quotes from scholars/professors/teachers of theology that have no hand in the game to lean either way... they just give honest facts of what The Word actually says.
"The strongest New Testament argument against homosexual activity is intrinsically immoral has been derived traditionally from Romans 1:26, where this activity is indicated as para physin. The normal English translation for this has been ‘against nature.’ Two interpretations can be justified concerning what Paul meant by the phrase. It could refer to the individual pagan, who goes beyond his own sexual appetites in order to indulge in new sexual pleasure.
The second possibility is that physis refers to the ‘nature’ of the chosen people who were forbidden by Levitical law to have homosexual relations."
John J. McNeill, Adjunct Professor of Psychology,
Union Theological Seminary, New York City.
"A close reading of Paul’s discussion of homosexual acts in Romans 1 does not support the common modern interpretation of the passage. Paul did not deny the existence of a distinction between clean and unclean and even assumed that Jewish Christians would continue to observe the purity code. He refrained. However, from identifying physical impurity with sin or demanding that Gentiles adhere to that code."
William Countryman, Professor of New Testament,
Church Divinity School of Pacific, Berkeley.