Romans 1:27
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
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(27) In themselvesi.e., upon themselves, upon their own persons thus shamefully dishonoured.

That recompence of their error which was meet.—The “error” is the turning from God to idols. The “recompence of the error” is seen in these unnatural excesses to which the heathen have been delivered up.

1:26-32 In the horrid depravity of the heathen, the truth of our Lord's words was shown: Light was come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil; for he that doeth evil hateth the light. The truth was not to their taste. And we all know how soon a man will contrive, against the strongest evidence, to reason himself out of the belief of what he dislikes. But a man cannot be brought to greater slavery than to be given up to his own lusts. As the Gentiles did not like to keep God in their knowledge, they committed crimes wholly against reason and their own welfare. The nature of man, whether pagan or Christian, is still the same; and the charges of the apostle apply more or less to the state and character of men at all times, till they are brought to full submission to the faith of Christ, and renewed by Divine power. There never yet was a man, who had not reason to lament his strong corruptions, and his secret dislike to the will of God. Therefore this chapter is a call to self-examination, the end of which should be, a deep conviction of sin, and of the necessity of deliverance from a state of condemnation.And likewise the men ... - The sin which is here specified is what was the shameful sin of Sodom, and which from that has been called sodomy. It would scarcely be credible that man had been guilty of a crime so base and so degrading, unless there was ample and full testimony to it. Perhaps there is no sin which so deeply shows the depravity of man as this; none which would so much induce one "to hang his head, and blush to think himself a man." And yet the evidence that the apostle did not bring a railing accusation against the pagan world; that he did not advance a charge which was unfounded, is too painfully clear. It has been indeed a matter of controversy whether paederastry, or the love of boys, among the ancients was not a pure and harmless love, but the evidence is against it. (See this discussed in Dr. Leland's Advantage and Necessity of Revelation, vol. i.-49-56.) The crime with which the apostle charges the Gentiles here was by no means confined to the lower classes of the people.

It doubtless pervaded all classes, and we have distinct specifications of its existence in a great number of cases. Even Virgil speaks of the attachment of Corydon to Alexis, without seeming to feel the necessity of a blush for it. Maximus Tyrius (Diss. 10) says that in the time of Socrates, this vice was common among the Greeks; and is at pains to vindicate Socrates from it as almost a solitary exception. Cicero (Tuscul. Ques. iv. 34) says, that "Dicearchus had accused Plato of it, and probably not unjustly." He also says (Tuscul. Q. iv. 33), that the practice was common among the Greeks, and that their poets and great men, and even their learned men and philosophers, not only practiced, but gloried in it. And he adds, that it was the custom, not of particular cities only, but of Greece in general. (Tuscul. Ques. v. 20.) Xenophon says, that "the unnatural love of boys is so common, that in many places it is established by the public laws."

He particularly alludes to Sparta. (See Leland's Advantage, etc. i. 56.) Plato says that the Cretans practiced this crime, and justified themselves by the example of Jupiter and Ganymede. (Book of Laws, i.) And Aristotle says, that among the Cretans there was a law encouraging that sort of unnatural love. (Aristotle, Politic. b. ii. chapter 10.) Plutarch says, that this was practiced at Thebes, and at Elis. He further says, that Solon, the great lawgiver of Athens, "was not proof against beautiful boys, and had not courage to resist the force of love." (Life of Solon.) Diogenes Laertius says that this vice was practiced by the Stoic Zeno. Among the Romans, to whom Paul was writing, this vice was no less common. Cicero introduces, without any mark of disapprobation, Cotta, a man of the first rank and genius, freely and familiarly owning to other Romans of the same quality, that this worse than beastly vice was practiced by himself, and quoting the authority of ancient philosophers in vindication of it. (De Natura Deorum, b. i. chapter 28.) It appears from what Seneca says (epis. 95) that in his time it was practiced openly at Rome, and without shame.

He speaks of flocks and troops of boys, distinguished by their colors and nations; and says that great care was taken to train them up for this detestable employment. Those who may wish to see a further account of the morality in the pagan world may find it detailed in Tholuck's "Nature and moral Influence of Heathenism," in the Biblical Repository, vol. ii., and in Leland's Advantage and Necessity of the Christian Revelation. There is not the least evidence that this abominable vice was confined to Greece and Rome. If so common there, if it had the sanction even of their philosophers, it may be presumed that it was practiced elsewhere, and that the sin against nature was a common crime throughout the pagan world. Navaratte, in his account of the empire of China (book ii. chapter 6), says that it is extremely common among the Chinese. And there is every reason to believe, that both in the old world and the new, this abominable crime is still practiced. If such was the state of the pagan world, then surely the argument of the apostle is well sustained, that there was need of some other plan of salvation than was taught by the light of nature.

That which is unseemly - That which is shameful, or disgraceful.

And receiving in themselves ... - The meaning of this doubtless is, that the effect of such base and unnatural passions was, to enfeeble the body, to produce premature old age, disease, decay, and an early death. That this is the effect of the indulgence of licentious passions, is amply proved by the history of man. The despots who practice polygamy, and keep harems in the East, are commonly superannuated at forty years of age; and it is well known, even in Christian countries, that the effect of licentious indulgence is to break down and destroy the constitution. How much more might this be expected to follow the practice of the vice specified in the verse under examination! God has marked the indulgence of licentious passions with his frown. Since the time of the Romans and the Greeks, as if there had not been sufficient restraints before, he has originated a new disease, which is one of the most loathsome and distressing which has ever afflicted man, and which has swept off millions of victims. But the effect on the body was not all. It tended to debase the mind; to sink man below the level of the brute; to destroy the sensibility; and to "sear the conscience as with a hot iron." The last remnant of reason and conscience, it would seem, must be extinguished it those who would indulge in this unnatural and degrading vice. See Suetonius' Life of Nere, 28.

27. and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet—alluding to the many physical and moral ways in which, under the righteous government of God, vice was made self-avenging. This was the sin of the Sodomites of old, for which they were destroyed, Genesis 19:5: see Leviticus 18:22. How meet was it that they who had forsaken the Author of nature, should be given up not to keep the order of nature; that they who had changed the glory of God into the similitude of beasts, should be left to do those things which beasts themselves abhorred! God only concurred as a just judge in punishing foregoing with following sins: see Romans 1:25. And likewise also the men leaving the natural use of the women,.... The very sin of "sodomy" is here designed, so called from Sodom, the place where we first hear of it, Genesis 19:5, the men of which place, because they

burned in their lust one towards another, as these Gentiles are said to do, God rained upon them fire and brimstone from heaven: an exceeding great sin this is, contrary to nature, dishonourable to human nature, and scandalous to a people and nation among whom it prevails, as it did very much in the Gentile world, and among their greatest philosophers; even those that were most noted for moral virtue are charged with it, as Socrates, Plato, Zeno, and others (m): it is a sin which generally prevails where idolatry and infidelity do, as among the Pagans of old, and among the Papists and Mahometans now; and never was it so rife in this nation as since the schemes of deism and infidelity have found such a reception among us. Thus God, because men dishonour him with their evil principles and practices, leaves them to reproach their own nature, and dishonour their own bodies:

men with men working that which is unseemly; and of which nothing like it is to be observed in the brutal world:

receiving in themselves the recompence of their error, which was meet: God punishes sin with sin; for as the Jews say (n), as

"one commandment draws on another, so one transgression draws on another; for the reward of the commandment is the commandment, and the reward of transgression is transgression.''

(m) A. Gellius Noct. Attic. l. 2. c. 18. Laert. Vit. Philosoph. l. 2. in Vit. Socrat. & l. 3. in Vit. Platon. (n) Pirke Abot, c. 4. sect. 2.

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that {l} recompence of their error which was meet.

(l) An appropriate reward and that which they deserved.

Romans 1:27. Ἐξεκαύθησαν, were all in a flame) [burned] with an abominable fire (πυρώσει, viz., of lust.)—τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην, that which is unseemly) against which the conformation of the body and its members reclaims.—ἣν ἔδει) which it was meet [or proper], by a natural consequence.—τῆς πλάνης, of their error) by which they wandered away from God.—ἀπολαμβάνοντες), the antithetic word used to express the punishment of the Gentiles; as ἀποδώσει, that of the Jews, Romans 2:6. In both words, ἀπό has the same force.Verse 27. - And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. By the "recompense" (ἀντιμισθίαν) is meant here, not any further result, such as disease or physical prostration, but the very fact of their being given up to a state in which they can crave and delight in such odious gratifications of unnatural lust. It is the ἀντιμισθία τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν, the final judgment on them for going astray from God. And surely to the pure-minded there is no more evident token of Divine judgment than the spectacle of the unnatural cravings and indulgence of the sated sensualist. Burned (ἐξεκαύθησαν)

The terms are terrible in their intensity. Lit., burned out. The preposition indicates the rage of the lust.

Lust (ὀρέξει)

Only here in the New Testament. It is a reaching out after something with the purpose of appropriating it. In later classical Greek it is the most general term for every kind of desire, as the appetite for food. The peculiar expressiveness of the word here is sufficiently evident from the context.

That which is unseemly (τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην)

Primarily, want of form, disfigurement. Plato contrasts it with εὐσχημοσύνη gracefulness ("Symposium," 196).

Which was meet (ἔδει)

Rev., was due, which is better, though the word expresses a necessity in the nature of the case - that which must needs be as the consequence of violating the divine law.

The prevalence of this horrible vice is abundantly illustrated in the classics. See Aristophanes, "Lysistrata," 110; Plato, "Symposium," 191; Lucian, "Amores," 18; "Dialogi Meretricii," v., 2; Juvenal, vi., 311; Martial, i., 91; vii., 67. See also Becker's "Charicles;" Forsyth's "Life of Cicero," pp. 289, 336; and Dollinger's "Heathen and Jew," ii., 273 sqq. Dollinger remarks that in the whole of the literature of the ante-Christian period, hardly a writer has decisively condemned it. In the Doric states, Crete and Sparta, the practice was favored as a means of education, and was acknowledged by law. Even Socrates could not forbear feeling like a Greek on this point (see Plato's "Charmides"). In Rome, in the earlier centuries of the republic, it was of rare occurrence; but at the close of the sixth century it had become general. Even the best of the emperors, Antoninus and Trajan, were guilty.

On the Apostle's description Bengel remarks that "in stigmatizing we must often call a spade a spade. The unchaste usually demand from others an absurd modesty." Yet Paul's reserve is in strong contrast with the freedom of pagan writers (see Ephesians 5:12). Meyer notes that Paul delineates the female dishonor in less concrete traits than the male.

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