As I went through my study of Romans, I was caught off guard by this verse - because there didn't seem to be any readily apparent answer given the context as far as I could discern it.

26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. NET

I have read several few articles dealing with this verse - and seen theories that made references to STD's and AIDS as a natural consequence (which seems terribly anachronistic to me - the answer should have been understood by Paul's intended audience not 2000 years later), while other sources have talked about the emotional problems associated with homosexuality - which also feels like it just doesn't fit when discussing a culture and time that didn't seem to have an overly developed appreciation or even awareness for mental and emotional health (is this something Paul really would have been concerned about or seen as a consequence, let alone noticed and thought to be self-evident?). The third idea I have seen is that their sexual attraction or orientation, (or increased sexual perversion) is the 'due penalty' that Paul is referring to - but this seems to be both redundant (not that the text doesn't also have some redundancy - so maybe this shouldn't be a problem) as well as a circular argument.

My working hermeneutic with this verse has been to assume that Paul was referring to something that he held to be obvious to his audience, but I can't seem to figure out what that is (perhaps commonly help opinion or perspective lost to 20th century people), though my hermeneutic could be totally wrong too ;)

Any help further examining this passage, as well as any historical information about the general attitudes and worldview in the Roman world around homosexuality that may help me understand this verse would be greatly appreciated :) Thank you!


12 Answers 12


I answer that their "error" was the sin of idolatry, and that the "due penalty/recompense" they received was that God allowed them to fall into homosexuality.

(Romans 1:23-27, DRB) And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause [i.e. idolatry] God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error.

Romans 1 makes it crystal clear that their idolatry was the cause of their homosexuality, without a doubt. What a horrible penalty/recompense! By falling into sexual sin, one is really hurting himself. According to 1 Corinthians 6:18, he who commits sexual sin is sinning "against his own body." There are countless ways which this is true. (STDs, addictions which are hard to break, the misfortune of being stuck in hell with a impurity-stained body for all eternity after the resurrection of the dead, etc.)

Interestingly, history confirms that idolatry and homosexuality were closely intertwined, as pagan (including of course Roman) mythology was filled with overwhelmingly many "queer gods" that one could follow.

  • 1
    God relinquishes them, or gives or yields them up to the desires of their heart; He doesn't specifically create in them a previously non-existent sexual attraction to the same sex instead of the opposite. It's an easy mistake to make, but it's really pushing a lot of naturally, according to my theology, broken people, to feel unnecessarily evil, and away from the gospel: homosexual attraction is a disordered appetite, only when it is indulged and delighted in, encouraged, developed, is it sinful, just like anorexia and other disorders related to appetites of the flesh. Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 13:05
  • Much more could be said and the context taken back to verse 18 but, so far this is the best answer. Commented Mar 8, 2020 at 12:07
  • God allowed them - what visible or invisible difference was there before God allowed them? Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 21:42

I think the NET translation might be a little misleading here, as it seems to imply that the "due penalty" is received for the men having "committed shameless acts with men."

The Greek text actually uses the participle form, ἀπολαμβάνοντες (apolambanontes), of "receive" (λαμβάνω - lambanō) and not the past tense of the verb as the NET implies. I am also not sure that "penalty" is the best translation of ἀντιμισθία (antimisthia). "Recompense", as found in the KJV and other versions, might be a better translation in this case; or maybe even "result". The NET translates the very same word as "fair exchange" in 2 Corinthians 6:13 (which the only other place in the Bible - Septuagint included - that the word appears).

The understanding of this passage by Greek Church Fathers in antiquity seems to have been that the antimisthia was not received due to the sinful acts described, but rather that the sinful acts were themselves an antimisthia for those who departed from the truth (Romans 1:18ff).

John Chrysostom (d. 4th c.) wrote of this verse:

And receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet

See how he goes again to the fountain head of the evil, namely, the impiety that comes of their doctrines, and this he says is a reward of that lawlessness. For since in speaking of hell and punishment, it seemed he would not at present be credible to the ungodly and deliberate choosers of such a life, but even scorned, he shows that the punishment was in this pleasure itself. (So Plato Theæt. p. 176, 7.) But if they perceive it not, but are still pleased, be not amazed. For even they that are mad, and are afflicted with phrenzy (cf. Soph. Aj. 265–277) while doing themselves much injury and making themselves such objects of compassion, that others weep over them themselves smile and revel over what has happened.*

* Homily IV on Romans (tr. from Greek, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers*, Series 2


If we're talking about Roman society, same sex relationships were used as bonding mechanisms (army) or shows of power (socially).

In the Old Testament, sex was also misused as a show of dominance and power. That's why whenever someone wanted to usurp a throne they slept with a king's concubine(s). The command in Leviticus 18:22 also takes that into account, as that was happening during their time as well with other cultures.

While you do have a point when it comes to the context of that particular text, let's also look at God's design overall. Sex from the very beginning was ordained as a procreative measure between man and woman for the growth of society (Genesis 1:28), not for a show of dominance or otherwise. Homosexuality does not lead to that. It's missing the mark (sin), just like any other sin misses the mark of what God intended for humans to be towards one another.

Now to answer your question, the Koine Greek translation of "due penalty" literally reads "the necessary retribution". Since God gave them to their sins, it means that was the appropriate act of justice.

Where else do we find this in Scripture?

King Saul. Due to repetitive sinfuless, God's anointing left and he became susceptible to his own folly (1 Samuel 18 'til his death).

The law of sowing and reaping is happening here too. You sow a life of sin, you will reap a life of sin, evidenced in Romans 1:27 and King Saul's life in the Old Testament.

That is the necessary retribution.

Hope this answer helps.


What they received was a perversion. These who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. Perversion is the answer.

  • Welcome to the site, uk lighthouse. You have given a truly succinct answer! However, on here, reasons for answers are sought and that usually entails a bit of research to substantiate your claim. The answer given by user33515 had much the same conclusion as yours, but he showed reasons for having it. If you can explain your answer more fully that would be good. Do take the Tour, at the bottom l.h.s. of this page, for guidance on that.
    – Anne
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 16:24
  • Thank you for your observation of my simple response. I actually had about two sides of an A4 of my notes and details and summarised it. I wasn't trying to avoid providing the evidence, it's just that I am up to my eyeballs so wanted to keep things to a minimum. However, I am happy for some dialogue and may add more detail when I can. Thanks again. Commented May 10, 2019 at 14:51
  • I appreciate that point and hope you may soon have cleared your metaphorical decks so that you will have more time to give us the benefit of your research. It's always difficult summarising an answer so as not to give too many details (something I'm inclined to do myself, so don't be shy at commenting to that effect if you see me guilty of that!)
    – Anne
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 16:00

Romans 1 reads like standard hyperbole about high crime rates, which may still be heard from politicians and preachers, because it speaks generally without reference to any specific incident. Paul mentions those crimes/sins because he expects no one would doubt that they should be punished.

Homosexuality is cited to illustrate the disruption of the natural order. The punishment is not necessarily specific to or limited to homosexuality because phrases in question are linked with a simple "and" – not "thus", "therefore", "for", etc.

If you read on in Romans, you will see that Paul explains that everyone is guilty of sin and punishable by death under the law, just as if they had committed the crimes he describes in Romans 1, regardless of how minor the crime may seem, because all sins are equal under Mosaic law.

A few points worth noting:

  • All have sinned, and no one is righteous under the law (Rom 3:9, Rom 5:12)
  • All are subject to God's judgment (Rom 2:3) and death under the law (Rom 6:23)
  • By faith in Jesus, we "die" to the law (Rom 7:4)
  • and are saved by grace (Rom 6:14)

"Do ye not "understand" that "COVENANT" Homosexual Union is simply NOT SIN unto GOD? Rather, It is OFFENSIVE [carnally] unto Men for their carnal instinctive [phusikos] minds is wired only for carnal-BREEDING."

Understand that I am not judging your character or sincerety, but I must disagree with your logic.Your argument simply does not stand when one looks at the rest of Scripture.

Leviticus 18:22 (ESV): You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

Here the Lord is comparing two like actions - one AS the other. If they are both "covenental", then even in covenant homosexual sex is an abomination. If both are "non-covenental", then only homosexual sex outside of marriage would be sin and not hetero. The only reasonable conclusion that one can draw is that God does not condone homosexual sex in any form.

  • Hi Joe! You haven't really answered the question, though your elaboration is very helpful. :)
    – Philip
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 4:55

For this reason - God gave them over to dishonorable passions.

In context, they received the recompense/result that was fitting (ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει) for their error. So the due penalty for their rejection of God is that God gave them over to their own passions. This includes worshiping the creation more than the creator as well as their sexual desires.

I believe this passage informs us of God's preventative grace. Thus the old saying - But for the grace of God, there go I. God protects us in order that we might come to know Him. When we fail to accept God, reject the obvious evidence before us, we are given up for the destruction of the flesh so that the soul might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

  • Welcome to BHSX, Jemmie, so glad to have you with us. Please take the tour to get yourself familiar with the site. Enjoy ! hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour
    – sara
    Commented Nov 17, 2019 at 13:43

What is the “due penalty” mentioned in Romans 1:27?

26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. NET

What is the penalty for their error.

The most damaging is their spirituality , they are in spiritual darkness and estranged from the life of God.

Ephesians 4:18 (NET Bible)

18 "They are darkened in their understanding, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts."

Romans 1:28-32 (NET Bible)

28 "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done. 29 They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips."

30 "Slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them."

Some excerpts on the medical consequences of gay marriage and homosexuality from the link below. Are. five-fold increase in contacting HIV, when engaging in anal sex, increased rates of mental ill health among the homosexual population compared to the general population.


  • A study of homosexual men shows that more than 75% of homosexual men admitted to having sex with more than 100 different males in their lifetime: approximately 15% claimed to have had 100-249 sex partners, 17% claimed 250-499, 15% claimed 500-999 and 28% claimed more than 1,000 lifetime sexual partners. (Bell AP, Weinberg MS. Homosexualities. New York 1978).

  • While 'always' condom use reduces the risk of contracting HIV by about 85%, Condoms, even when used 100% of the time, fail to give adequate levels of protection against many non-HIV STDs such as Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, Herpes, Genital Warts and others. The only safe sex is, apart from abstinence, mutual monogamy with an uninfected partner. (Sex, Condoms, and STDs: What We Now Know. Medical Institute for Sexual Health. 2002)

D. There are increased rates of mental ill health among the homosexual population compared to the general population. Many studies show much higher rates of psychiatric illness, such as depression, suicide attempts and drug abuse among homosexuals then among the general population. The homosexual lifestyle is associated with a shortened life expectancy of up to 20 years.


you can see the reward of being given over to their own lust - the darkened mind that now professing to be knowledgably about scripture pervert it to accommodate their need to justify a certain lifestyle and calling it ordained by God. they become morons and senseless in their thinking.

  • 1
    Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your contribution. Please take the tour (link below) to better understand how this site works. Are you able to provide any references for this assertions?
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 0:15

Nobody seemed to want to answer the due penalty question, so here's my two cents: It's the obvious even " carnal" recompense that the ones who engage in such acts receive. The sterotyoe that no one wants to be that guy to state the obvious. The homosexual becomes effeminate sctin like a woman and a voice changing, the off theory guy hinted at that while still alludnmg to this "I have to say blasphemic idea of a "covenant" homosexual union." The life long curse of not fimding the 'woman" the man was meant to marry , the loss of said future children from the now destroyed before it started marriage (could be for any lesbian couples just destroyed a happy marriage) and the exchange for happily degrading their bodies for a use that is unnatural to the spirit amd the body and ultimately scarring or even ruining any ability for said body to "become one flesh in marriage with a wife and husband" again..... Spiritually speaking or even as a life's work the homosexual or lesbian becomes obcessed with justifying their behaviour by exchanging obvious simple uncorruptiboe truths (SUCH AS THIS VERSE) for a " lie" and calling from then on others to engage and tell them "sweet things" about their behaviour and demanding all love them amd congratulate them and make them a wedding cake or take pictures and send them all freedom of religion in the name of their forced religion because they will force us all to accept "their lie"... it's easier to be silent tho and just let everyone play it out so not to step on toes or have arguments and let liars believe their lies win and darkness prevails because the fight truth matters why? No one else around me seems to care much and I don't seem to care much either so maybe just watch myself cause I'm not perfect either and maybe my sin isn't as accepted as homosexuals right now and I may even be shamed but it does make u jelous when one sinner gets a pat on the back from the "world" for bravely sinning against God in what says here is a deep deep way, and my struggle with sin makes me ostracised and judged "fairly" by society...? To each his own vice they aren't the seven deadly sins for no reason.... Jesus said get the plank out of my own eye before I get the spec of my brother's eye.. maybe I should do that.. and jealousy that's a Santa Rosa anyway I think I learned something from all of us besides judging homosexuals for justifying their sins . .. I take it back I just wanted to answer.. several people gave really good answers I like tried to say "less eloquently what user35???? Said about happy I'n their sin too but also to argue further... Not all sins are equal under mosaic law! I have hated and heard that expression over and over... The law is still beneficial Grace does not annul law... And the consequences of sin are completely different for each and every different sin obviously murder is worse than lying that's common sense I seriously wish everyone and apologetics conversations would stop saying that all sins are equal to God because that is the opposite of a truth that's a lie

  • Sorry, but there are too many typos to make much sense of this. And it really needs paragraph breaks.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 7:58

The “due penalty” mentioned in Romans 1:27

The passage itself gives the answer.

and the fitting fine which in themselves receive of their distraction


and the fitting fine which in themselves giving of their distraction

Build Explanation
καὶ τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀπολαμβάνοντες

καὶ - and - Traditionally translated as "and".
τὴν - the - Feminine Article
ἀντιμισθίαν - fine - Feminine Accusative attaching it with the previous article.

  • ἀντι - anti - Greek prefix "opposite of"
  • μισθίαν - wage, reward

ἣν - which - Relative Pronoun (could translate as "who") "which" works in this case.
ἔδει - fitting - agrees with many translations.
τῆς - of the - Genitive Article (means adding of)
πλάνης - distraction - can translate as error/wandering (in the Genitive connecting the previous article)
αὐτῶν - them - agrees with many translations (still in Genitive, still connecting).
ἐν - in - specifically "in"
ἑαυτοῖς - themselves - agrees with many translations.
ἀπολαμβάνοντες - receiving - could translate as "giving" because the prefix

  • ἀπο - "Simply emphasizing the meaning of the verb"(usual translator choice)
  • λαμβάνοντες - "actively lay hold of to take or receive"


Location of where the penalty occurs specified as "in themselves".
The classification of the penalty specified as "distraction/error/wandering".
The methodology of the penalty specified as "fine/recompense/payback".
The topic of the penalty specified as "men in men".

Logical metaphorical-analysis
Since μισθίαν "appropriately compensates the particular decision (action)" and if the action "insertion (in) anus of others" appropriate compensation "insertion (in) anus of self"

Since conversation heavily themes the New Testament appropriate compensation could manifest as "since insertion already occurred rejection of insertion of words might occur" hence the listener might ignore specific requests since compensation is required.

Alternately "since desire of insertion exists, missing what was said at them might occur since 'distracted'". (actual sin)

Since current scientific resources explain penalties of anal intercourse in certain situations, obviously payment of compensation might occur in this way.

Therefore use whatever translation you feel fitting. Just thought I would show the many perspectives this verse could give.


I simply recognize that one sin is no greater than another sin in God's eyes. But, He simply expounds on this by stating that they would "receive in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error".

I only see that AIDS is the penalty they would receive through this behavior. If someone is made aware of this passage of scripture and refuses to change that behavior, they could never say they were ignorant of this, when/if it happens.

This is the power of scripture...when a person has heard the gospel and doesn't accept Christ as his savior, he will never be able to say "Lord I didn't know".

Your salvation is at stake and pleading ignorance, at Judgment Day, will not be accepted. The sin can be forgiven, but the penalty for the action, would still be the result of the action.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.