By Marco Casanova
“The God who once manifested wrath against those who turned to idols by handing them over to their shameful passions has now handed them over to the life-giving, transformative power of the Spirit of Christ.” Dr. Robert Gagnon
St. Paul’s words to the Romans are weighty. They had to be. Ancient Roman culture needed prophetic clarity, not a weird attempt to assimilate Christian faith with pagan toxicity. We share that need today. “Gay Christian” ideology tries to mix the sacred with the pagan. St. Paul speaks a better word to us. The Savior he preaches has power to reorder us in love.
St. Paul’s words on homosexuality are clear and timely. Hear this: ‘They worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator…Because of this, God handed them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way…the men were inflamed with lust for one another…and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion’ (Romans 1:25-27). To counter these words with laborious arguments is unscholarly and reduces the Gospel of its power. Dare we dismiss what the Savior brought through St. Paul? This Roman epistle deserves a fair hearing.
To be “handed over” (v. 26) to lust is an important word choice. St. Paul describes the evident homosexual passion of Rome as a byproduct of God handing them over to what they wanted. Boundless desire becomes its own punishment. We do what we want to our own peril.
I handed myself over to guys to momentarily meet my ‘need.’ But my lust lacked life, providing no lasting fulfillment or openness to new life. To hand myself over to same-sex sin consumed me and compelled me towards a dead end. I wasn’t free. I needed Someone to save me.
Back to Romans. After his description of ‘gay’ chaos, St. Paul addressed his mostly Jewish readers: ‘You think you are less in need of mercy than these lustful ones?’ Paul invites us in all our messiness into mercy. Yes, the mercy of Jesus is messy. The God-man, slain on a Cross, handed His heart over to be cut open for us. His body fluids are our cleansing flood (John 19:34). Disciples of mercy don’t hide their pagan messes. We’re not afraid because Jesus isn’t afraid of us.
Jesus broke the domination of homosexuality in me. Jesus freed me for more. That’s what He does. He sets captives free. The power of homosexual passion to consume me was real. Though this creative gift of sex is powerful and purposeful, it enslaved me in its disorder. I enthroned my bodily urge for men and it demanded my worship. Jesus wanted more for me.
In handing Himself over for me, Jesus rescued me from being handed over to lust (John 19:16). Only Jesus can set us free from such captivity.
Following Jesus is disruptive. There are no qualms about that. But let’s not become self-piteous and make our “sacrifice” the focal point. Don’t stop at what you’ve given up. Run to the One who continues to hand Himself over each and every day for you.
Utterly important to me is daily Communion. The Eucharist is His “handing over” made flesh. It’s a tangible, deep, transformative remembrance that Jesus is on a mission to rescue us daily.
Jesus is always on the move to save us, handing Himself over, all over again.