Christianity -- Christian Living/Romans 1
Hello :) i was reading Romans chapter one and I'm very confused about all the"God gave them up to"stuff. Like in Romans 1:24, 26, and 28. To me it sounds like He's letting them or even causing then to do bad things. It kind of makes me think of how many people have a genetic predisposition to certain negative personality traits. It just doesn't sound fair to me! But then again I'm probably just taking it the wrong way lol. Thanks for your help!
Let me see if I can shed some light on your confusion. Know that we have a just and loving God.
God would never push us into sin. After all, it is God the Son who gave His life for us and saved us from our sins. Also know, dear one, that everything is connected from Genesis to Revelation. That's why if we want to know the 'mind' of God, we must study the whole of His holy word. That's the only way it makes sense.
To understand Paul's writing here in Romans 1:23-28, we need to reread Genesis 1:20-26. The similarity between the 'lists of idols' Paul gave, and the branches of creation described in the Genesis passage isn't accidental. For that matter, neither is the obvious link between Paul's use of the words "image" and "likeness" and the well-known verse "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." (Genesis 1:26). That's the foundation that Paul is teaching from. So, we're made in the likeness/image of God our Creator.
With that foundation Jessica, then we can see that the thrust of Paul's words is inescapable. From the earliest times, man hasn't only suppressed the truth and rejected God as God, but he has totally reversed the divine order by making God in his own image, after his own likeness, and then to add insult to injury, has stooped to the point of making God in the image of the lower echlons of creation. It is this blatant audacity of man's action of 'substituting his own order and creation for that of God' which is so insulting to God. Of course, the root of the problem Jessica is in man's utterly arrogant preoccupation with himself.
Paul's writing speaks very much to us today. I don't know how much of a traveler you are, but if you went to Italy you would see statue after statue (beautiful statues) that bring tribute to man (us) instead of God. It's the same today. Ancient 'idolatry' is alive and well in our modern world. We could go to Washington DC or Hollywood and see the same things. That's not to suggest that our modern world doesn't produce much that is wonderful any more than it is to dare to suggest that many of the ancient achievements were less than stupendous. But.., behind the splendor of all man's achievements so often lies a 'defication' of himself - which is idolatry. The seriousness of this is pointed out clearly in Paul's teaching (Rom. 1:25) "We exchange the truth of God (remember Gensis 1:26)...,for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature (you and me)rather than the Creator (God), who is blessed forever. Amen."
The Apostle Paul found the thought of the depths to which humanity had fallen so distasteful that he felt the need to point it out and give praise to our Creator. Remember Jessica, the Hebrew people were very much aware from ancient times, that God had said, "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship" (Exodus 20: 3-5) And yet, just like today, people are influenced more by the idolatry of their neighbors than by the commands of their Lord and Savior.
Now, here's the point of your question Jessica. "God gave them up to....."
The reaction of God in response to the actions of mankind was NOT to send fire and brimstone on the defenseless heads of pagan idol worshipers any more than He is doing that today. He did something far more subtle. He gave humanity the absolute right to choose his own course of action and then gave him/her the perfect freedom to live with the consequences. Remember Jessica, when you make a 'choice' you also 'choose' the consequences. You own it! The tragedy of humanity Jessica is, that it fails to recognize the wrath of God and the righteousness of God at work in our everyday experiences.
What's happpened is, man/woman has used their God-given freedom to 'remake God' in their own image __ an act of such arrogant self-centeredness that it elevated the human ABOVE the Divine and placed the physical and visible above the spiritual and invisible. As a result, the human heart, and it's desires, take precedence over God and His divine plan.
Two things captivated the people of Rome Jessica - freedom and pleasure. It's the same today.
Believing that life was to be found in self-produced and self-gratifying pleasure, the Romans, like many succeeding generations, have and are exchanging the truth of God for "the lie". "The lie" being that man has his own destiny in his own hands and is capable of providing the 'good life" for himself.
The logic of Paul's teaching should not be missed. Those who reject what they know of God, in so doing, divorce themselves from truth and reality. This means, among other things, that a person out of touch with the reality of God is out of touch with reality, period, including the truth about humanity. To be out of touch with the meaning of humanity means a 'crisis of identity' which is demonstrated in many ways, not least in confusion concerning sexuality.
I suggest that you continue with your reading (Rom. 1: 28-32). As I said earlier, life is about choices. Wrong choices feed the downword spiral....
I hope this is helpful to you Jessica. It's important that you (everybody) know the will of God. He created us in His likeness - and He saw that "it was good". He wants for each of us the abundant life - and He gives the believer His Spirit to counsel and guide us. He wants us to 'choose' to follow Him, so He gave us freewill. We are not puppets. Life is about choices. It behooves us not to accept and follow "the lie."
May God's hand be at your back and His light upon your path, as you seek Truth.
Rev. Ramona Stonecipher