Powerful, Fragile, Lies, Truth, Desire, Passion, Body, Rainbows, Hope, Lovely, Tragedy → #7, on Romans 1:24–25
To learn how and why I am writing this small commentary on Romans, see this former post. Now for Romans 1:24–25:
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
v. 24: We are powerful and fragile creatures. The lusts, desires, and passions of our heart were meant for God. Our physical selves follow our desires and lusts. When we truly love something, we desire to be with them, it, or there. Often we take ‘lusts’ to be simply sexual desire, but lust is a craving for experience. God is impassable (he cannot change) yet he is impassioned. The God of the Bible consistently feels, experiences, and interacts with humans and our world. This is most typified in Christ experiencing the full range of human emotions, but also notably described in the Old Testament with God the Father and relationship to both joy and a grieving nature to the Holy Spirit. Therefore, humans in the image of their Creator are emotional, passionate, and burning beings. Have you ever burned for justice? For joy? For some exquisite moment, movement, or experience? I fear our culture has become so grossly over-sexualized that any sense of desire always is interpreted sexually rather than living full of passion.
Sadly, in this text we are told ‘God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,’ Our passion was made for a satisfaction in God and the right enjoyment of his good gifts. ‘Right’ enjoyment is the enjoyment of God’s gifts under God’s loving rule. Yet mis-ordered passions lead quickly to disordered uses of our bodies. Here the connotation of the text turns sexual as referring a dishonoring among ‘themselves.’ Therefore, we must see our sexual life, a deep expression (but not the only expression) of our passions, is a worshipful act. The question is, what our we worshipping?
God has created sex only for a marriage between a man and woman. Which, sex outside of this covenant is always worship of human’s body or our own pleasure. Sex inside of marriage becomes a mirror of loving relationship between Christ and his church. There’s commitment, love, and intimacy that represents Christ and his love for his church. Now sex within a marriage can potentially not be God honoring as well if the parties refuse the intimacy, commitment, or venture into abuse. However, under normal circumstances, marriage and the multiplication of children is a fulfillment of the Great Cultural Mandate (but not the only one) to multiply and fill the earth. We reject God’s ability to regulate our lives and particularly our sexual behavior because deep down our sin nature cringes at the thought of God not just regulating us, but owning us. God made and owns our bodies. Why else would he care about our passions and actions? God is not a distant conqueror laying claim over us, but God is the potter and we are his clay. Better yet for us, his ways, care, and rules are not only for his glory, but for our good. Yes, life with God is the best life and everything else is lie.
25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
v. 25: Simply, we are meant for God and the most flourishing life is before God under his rule. To live in any other way is an exchange of what we know to be true (God is the Creator with eternal power and a divine nature) for a lie. What is the lie? The lie is we are god of our lives. We know best. We have no one to submit to and we will not be judged. Further, we are not loved.
We must find our own means of justifying our existence because we are not loved externally and incapable of internal self-love. Find our own ways to be ‘loved’ or lose all hope in being lovely to someone or something and choose the ‘tragic’ life. The path of finding ‘love’ as justification leads us to breakdown as we make smoldering mess of relationships. The path of tragedy leads us to despair as the curtain draws close and their no more mountains to climb nor valleys to walk. Either path, we end up fighting to survive because life’s hopes, whether as beloved or living tragedy, are an illusion of self-justification. Without God, nothing lies beyond the rainbow. But be of good cheer, because God is blessed forever. We can share in that blessing through Christ alone. Our hope is built on nothing less that Christ and his righteousness.