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Document Details :
Title: An Admonition on Sexual Affairs
Subtitle: A Reconsideration of Rom 1:26-27
Author(s): DEBEL, Hans
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 34 Issue: 1 Date: 2009
In current debates on sexual ethics, Paul’s strong and authoritative voice echoed in Rom 1:26-27 is often quoted as an all-embracing condemnation of male and female homosexuality. The present paper aims at offering a thorough investigation of the practices he mentions in these verses, both against their biblical and classical literary background. Therefore, it discusses at length the few Old Testament texts that deal with homosexual acts, as well as excerpts from Greek and Roman literature that refer to same-sex intercourse. From these it infers that, with the exception of Plato’s Myth of Aristophanes, neither male nor female homosexuality are depicted as a natural orientation equal to heterosexuality, but rather as the extreme expressions of an insatiable fundamentally heterosexual lust. Bearing this observation in mind, Paul’s words are examined anew in detail, paying particular attention to the kind of intercourse Paul is referring to in Rom 1:26. A critical assessment of the arguments in favor of a (female) homosexual reading of this verse demonstrates that there is considerable support for the view that the ‘unnatural intercourse’ Paul alludes to concerns the non-coital forms of heterosexual encounter that prevailed as contraceptive methods in imperial Rome rather than female homosexual practices.