Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 1:18-32 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Among my Christian LGBTQI+ friends, Romans 1:26, 27 are known as “clobber texts”—among those few texts used by some Bible readers to condemn and exclude them. Whether or not this is the best way to read these texts, it is certainly not the best way to use these texts. Indeed, such a use of these texts is especially condemned in these very texts.
These verses—Romans 1:21–32—include a long list of sins, from inventing false ideas about God, worshipping idols and various sexual sins to a number of specific social sins that identify failures in how we treat other people. It’s quite a fearsome list of 22 identifiable sins. Included in this list are more homely sins—as such, sins more relevant to our own reflection—and sins that are particularly sobering to “good church folk.”
That any of these verses might be used to “clobber” brings into play the sins of those who “gossip” (verse 29), “refuse to understand, . . . are heartless, and have no mercy” (verse 31). This realisation does not to diminish any particular sin but is to acknowledge that we are all sinners, not one of us is better than another—and if we begin to think we are better and we can judge others, we are only demonstrating the sinners that we be.
This is exactly what Paul said at the beginning of the next chapter: “You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. . . . Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things?” (Romans 2:1, 3, NLT).
Any Bible texts that we are tempted to use to “clobber” others will clobber us as well—and, ultimately, equally offers the invitation to reconciliation and renewed relationships with God and with each other.
Recalibrate: When has a Bible verse been used to “clobber” you? Or have you been the one doing the judging?
Respond: Pray for those who use the Bible to hurt and exclude others.
Research: Using a Bible commentary, see what insights you can discover to the social situations that Paul might have been addressing in these verses.
Remember: They exchanged the truth about god for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the creator- who is forever praised amen. (Romans 1:25 NIV).
Nathan Brown is a writer and editor at Signs Publishing in Warburton, Victoria, Australia. He has written numerous books; his most recent is Engage: Faith that Matters.
Make noise with your little one today. Put some rice or pasta in a plastic container, or give them some pots and pans with a wooden spoon. Sit with them and demonstrate loud and soft noises or soft and hard touches. Big and small shakes or hits. See if they recognize and copy what you do, repeating the words that go with the sound. Noisy and quiet, gentle and hard, big and small. Our little ones will copy us far more than we know and probably more than we are comfortable with! So enjoy, be thankful, and live love.
Take a piece of string and tie it loosely onto the stretched-out big piece of string. Put a label on it that has your name on it. Read the labels on each end of the string and choose where you want to be. (Part 4 of 5)
Have you ever heard something that was true, but chose not to believe it? I remember getting the call that my grandfather had died. I was in the car driving to speak for a vespers service. It was completely unexpected and that whole afternoon it felt surreal. I couldn’t believe it until after the vespers service, I took the time to call my grandmother and hear her say the words. Is there anything about God that is true, but maybe you try not to believe it because you don’t like it? I would encourage you to take the time to face what that truth is, and ask God to reveal to you why it is good news.