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Prior to Paul, the only Jewish objection to homosexual behavior was penetration and ritual prostitution:

[Lev 18:22 NKJV] (22) 'You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

[Lev 20:5-6 NKJV] (5) 'then I will set My face against that man and against his family; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech. (6) 'And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people.

But Paul objects to homosexuality on the basis of what he perceives as unnatural:

[Rom 1:18-32 NLT] (18) But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. (19) They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. (20) For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (21) Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. (22) Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. (23) And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. (24) So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies. (25) They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. (26) That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. (27) And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. (28) Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. (29) Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. (30) They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. (31) They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. (32) They know God's justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Is Paul opening the door to humanism by inviting us to ignore Torah and inspired writings and instead look at the stars to identify right and wrong?

He claims no basis in Torah and no basis in tradition for his animosity toward homosexual behavior, only his sense that it is unnatural, as revealed in the stars and such.

And he lays this premise as the first foundation stone he lays in his Romans treatise. Men are bad because they are homosexual as the stars declare. That seems to be his premise for all that follows.

So was Paul ultimately waxing philosophical rather than expounding Torah or any explicit teaching from the Messiah (since Jesus never mentioned homosexual anything)?

This is, at the end of the day, a question of both hermeneutics and epistemology. Do we allow an apostle to appeal to nature to dictate dogma? Or is Paul beginning a new, Hellenistic humanism where our ethics arise from nature?

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  • Romans 1:20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. I was employing a metonym. – Ruminator Jul 4 '20 at 3:03
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    I think you have successfully answered the question yourself by your extensive quote of Paul's words wherein he instructs Roman citizens - not from a Torah, which they had not grown up with, but - from their own natural instincts, placed within them by the hand of the Creator.Your quotation of Paul fully displays his foundation as a godly one, neither superstitious nor, as you put it, 'Hellenistic'. Well answered, sir. – Nigel J Jul 4 '20 at 3:29
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    @Ruminator—Paul's mention of the earth and sky was to prove the existence of God, not to prove the unnaturalness of homosexuality. – Der Übermensch Jul 4 '20 at 5:32
  • What do the stars have to do with anything ? – Lucian Jul 4 '20 at 6:00
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I am answering purely out of courtesy as I stated in comment that I think the question well answers itself and needs no further citation than that made within it, being the extensive quotation of Paul the Apostle from his epistle to the Romans.

Paul makes no argument based on pantheism, nor any suggestion of the natural order being, in and of itself, a deity of any kind. Paul refers not to 'mother earth' or 'mother nature' nor to nature as a haphazard thing of doubtful or coincidental origin.

Paul appeals, throughout the OP's quoted passage, to a created order majestically and effectively put in place by an intelligent Deity who rules over all both justly and fairly, rewarding all according to their deeds.

Nothing could be further from Roman and Greek mythologies or from ungodly ideologies which deny all deity.

To those in Rome who had never heard his own preaching (as yet) and who, for the most part, knew nothing or little of the Torah or Jewish tradition and teaching, Paul addresses that within them which was there by natural generation.

Natural instinct, placed within created humanity by the very hand of the Creator, is that to which Paul appeals in his progressive argument through chapters one, two and three of the Roman epistle until, at last, he returns to what was so briefly mentioned at the beginning in the first few verses : the righteousness of God.

Thereafter Paul deals in detail with Israel, with Abraham, with the weighty matter of the Law and its comparison to the Gospel.

Paul ends his epistle with an appeal to the Roman Christians (not the general Roman populace, it should be noted) that faith in Jesus Christ is the means of their sanctification.

Paul's appeal is to the Holy Spirit within the believer as the ground of good conduct and proper behaviour, something unheard of in any other contemporary ideology.

(12) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (13) For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

{Romans 8:12-14 KJV]

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  • While your appeal to the later chapters to justify the earlier chapters isn't, in my view, inductive from the first chapter, it does introduce Paul's the idea that Paul's ethic derives from revelation from God's holy breath. Paul, as an apostle with divine inspiration and "the mind of Christ" is able to pontificate. He requires no valid reasoning from Torah (though he usually appeals to it). So there is apostolic authority introduced and Paul's vision-vindicated claim to speak with Christ's authority. +1 – Ruminator Jul 4 '20 at 13:14
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Romans 1:26-27 Young's Literal Translation says Because of this did God give them up to dishonourable affections, for even their females did change the natural use into that against nature. and in like manner also the males having left the natural use of the female, did burn in their longing toward one another; males with males working shame, and the recompense of their error that was fit, in themselves receiving

Disgraceful sexual passion: The Greek word paʹthos refers to strong desire, or uncontrolled passion. The context makes it clear that it refers to desires of a sexual nature. Here these desires are described as being “disgraceful” (Greek, a·ti·miʹa, “dishonor; shame”), since they disgrace, or dishonor, a person.

The natural use of themselves: That is, natural sexual intercourse. The Greek word rendered “natural” (phy·si·kosʹ) refers to what is in harmony with the basic and established order or function of things in nature. In support of his reasoning here at Ro 1:26, 27, Paul may have alluded to the words of the creation account at Ge 1:27. Instead of using the usual Greek terms for “man” and “woman,” he uses the more specific words rendered “male” and “female.” These words are also used in the Septuagint wording of Ge 1:27 and in quotations from that verse at Mt 19:4 and Mr 10:6. The Genesis account says that God blessed the first human couple and told them to multiply and “fill the earth.” (Ge 1:28) Homosexual acts are contrary to nature, since such sexual activity was not part of the Creator’s original arrangement for humans and could not produce offspring. The Bible compares homosexual activity to the sexual relations that rebellious angels, who came to be known as demons, had with women before the Deluge of Noah’s day. (Ge 6:4; 19:4, 5; Jude 6, 7) God views such acts as unnatural.​

Advocates of homosexuality say that what makes something “natural” or “unnatural” is purely subjective, and is a matter that must be decided by each person for himself. But is that really the case? Is it not obvious to virtually all persons that male and female are counterparts, opposites sexually? Is it not apparent that their sex organs were designed to “fit” together?

On the other hand, does it seem “natural” for two lesbians to come together sexually? One of the pair must often use some type of artificial substitute for a male organ to satisfy the other. And consider male homosexuals. Both may claim to be men, but must not one assume a female role in some sense? In the case of male and female homosexuals, one way or another, a substitute must be supplied for what the opposite sex supplies “naturally.” How reasonable is that? The Bible correctly refers to the actions of homosexuals as “abnormal and unnatural.”

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  • @NijelJ.The body of the answer addresses that. Paul alluding to the creation account. The OP can decide whether it is as you say "does not answer the question". Thank you for your comment. – user35499 Jul 4 '20 at 7:35
  • Hi Alex. I see you have been around for a while and I'm sorry that we have not met before now. I'm late, but welcome to the site. Obviously you are a thoughtful person. So are you agreeing with Paul that he doesn't need validation of his views from Torah since he sees nature as agreeing with him? – Ruminator Jul 4 '20 at 14:58
  • @Ruminator. The wise King Solomon showed that God teaches prudence and diligence by observing nature: “Go to the ant, you lazy one; see its ways and become wise.” Proverbs 6:6;11.The Greater-than-Solomon, Jesus Christ, likewise referred to God’s teaching by citing examples about nature. For a lesson of faith and trust in our heavenly Father he called attention to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field Matthew 6:28. Job did too, Job 12:7-10. Paul's reference to nature, IMO, reinforces the Torah's teaching against homosexuality. – user35499 Jul 5 '20 at 2:13
  • According to the scriptures, Solomon proved to be a fool: psychologicalscience.org/news/were-only-human/… The Torah has two specific prohibitions, for men only: * no penetration * no prostitution. Paul's appeal to nature is not borne out by either science or history. Unless inculcated, the human drive for sex is not limited to the urge to reproduce. People are naturally cauldrons of desire. Animals also are often indiscriminate. – Ruminator Jul 5 '20 at 11:10
  • As one stand-up comedian says, "All a man needs is a fold". A cavity. Men are savage when it comes to gratification. You might be the exception, of course. You prefer books. Fine. Solomon clearly preferred nookie. – Ruminator Jul 5 '20 at 11:10
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Homosexual intercourse as well as oral and anal sex between heterosexual couple (“leaving the natural use of the woman”) are unnatural. The main purpose of sex is procreation. So by definition every sexual activity that a man can perform with another man is also unnatural if he does it with a woman. See Webster's dictionary's definition of sodomy.

Torah forbid homosexuality because it is unnatural.

Torah also forbid cross-dressing. For the same reason. Deu 22:5 “A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.”

Torah forbid crossbreeding. It is unnatural since the offspring of two different animals are sterile, and can't have babies of their own. Lev 19:19 “'Keep my decrees. "'Do not mate different kinds of animals.'“

Torah forbid castration of livestock. Leviticus 22:24 “You must not offer to the LORD an animal whose testicles are bruised, crushed, torn or cut. You must not do this in your own land,” “The ancient rabbis understood the phrase to prohibit castrating cattle, or any other sort of animal or even a man, for that matter .”

The common denominator of Lev 18:22, 19:19 and 22:24 is the fact that each is unnatural and prevents bringing forth life. Therefore Paul in Rom 1:18-32 is in perfect agreement with the spirit of Torah.

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  • Torah forbids female prostitution. Does that mean it forbids sex altogether? Generalizing a specific prohibition is a dangerous thing. – Ruminator Jul 4 '20 at 17:03

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