By Mike Willis
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18).
In our first article in this series, we emphasized that the Bible reveals the wrath of God just as certainly as it reveals his love. We need to learn what is revealed about God’s wrath just as certainly as we learn about his love. In the second article, we emphasized that the wrath of God is revealed against ungodliness. Ungodliness (asebeia) is that impiety that refuses to have God in its knowledge, becomes vain in its opinion about itself, and, while professing oneself to be wise, becomes a fool.
God’s wrath is also displayed against unrighteousness. “Righteousness” is justice giving to both God and man what is their due. It is defined as “the state of him who is such as he ought to be… the condition acceptable to God. . . integrity, virtue, purity of life, uprightness, correctness in thinking, feeling, and acting” (Thayer 149). Unrighteousness is the opposite the state of him who is not such as he ought to be. . . unacceptable to God. . . without integrity, purity of life, not upright, etc.
God’s Wrath Against Unrighteousness
Unrighteousness is the natural product of ungodliness. When men cast God out of their knowledge, there is no moral standard left for them. In his commentary on Romans, F. Godet wrote,
The moral sentiment in man is based on the conception of the holy God. To abandon the latter, is to paralyze the former. By honoring God we ennoble ourselves; by rejecting Him we infallibly ruin ourselves. Such, according to the apostle, is the relation between heathenism and moral corruption. Independent morality is not that of St. Paul (109).
We live in a society that has rejected God’s revelation as a moral standard for itself. It is searching for a moral basis for subjective morality. There is no morality independent of God.
When men turn away from God, God gives them up (Rom. 1:24,26,28). God withdraws his hand that restrains sin and allows sin to develop unabated. H.A.W. Meyer speaks of God’s giving men up as active judgment of his wrath. He wrote,
To the Apostle God is the living God, who does not passively permit the retributive consequences of fidelity or of apostasy thus, as it were, letting them run their course, as an artificer does with his wheel work but Himself, everywhere active, pervades and effectively develops the arrangements which He has made (62).
Godet comments on Meyer saying, “The law of history, in virtue of which the forsaking of God is followed among men by a parallel growth of immorality, is not a purely natural order of things; the power of God is active in the execution of his law” (107). When man has reached a certain degree of corruption, he can only be cured by the very excess of his own corruption. It is the only means to produce what all preceding appeals have failed to produce. Like the father of the prodigal son, God allows man to pursue his course of sin until it brings its own pig pen (see Luke 15:13). He judgment is this: “You dishonored me by rejecting me. I give you up to impurity that you may dishonor your own selves.”
God’s Wrath Against Homosexuality
As an example of how the rejection of God leads to the self-destruction of immorality, Paul continues:
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 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 (Rom. 1:26-27).
Ungodliness leads to moral depravity. Sensuality developed into homosexuality. The degradation of sin is a manifestation of God’s judgment against their ungodliness their refusal to have God in their knowledge.
The politically correct position in the United States is to treat homosexuality as an alternate lifestyle. Homosexuality is not to be treated as a sin, a genetic mutation, or a mental illness. It is an alternate lifestyle that is just as correct as the monogamous marriage relationship of a man and woman. Anyone who believes differently has homophobia and must be watched lest he be guilty of a “hate crime.”
Regardless of what the moral judgments of those who have cast God out of their knowledge might be, the Lord said that homosexuality is:
1. An expression of sinful lust (1:24), dishonorable passion (vile affection, 1:26), and burning desire (1:27).
2. A departure from the natural relationship between a man and woman (1:26-27). Hence, it is contrary to nature.
3. Sexual uncleanness (1:24).
4. A dishonor to one’s body (1:24).
5. Equally wrong when practiced between two men or two women (1:26-27).
6. Disgraceful (1:27).
No amount of political rhetoric to secure a block of votes in a general election will change what God has spoken about homosexuality.
There is a “retribution” for homosexuality that is described as edei “that recompense of their error which was meet” (1:27). The phrase refers to a retribution that is “necessary, there is a need of it; it behooves, is right and proper. . . . Rom. i.27 the recompense due by the Law of God” (Thayer 126). Long before AIDS became a modern problem for homosexuals, Moses E. Lard commented on this verse in his commentary on Romans:
It was a reward received in their persons most likely a penalty in the form of disease which they suffered… . What the reward of their error was, which they received in themselves, we are not told. But from the nature of the crimes committed, we can hardly fail to conjecture it. The vices consisted in the grossest bodily abuse long continued. The result would be the worst form of those diseases which are known to follow such abuse (61).
The way of the transgressor is hard (Prov. 13:15). His way is hemmed with thorns and thistles to drive him back toward the path of righteousness.
What we are witnessing in the development of sexually transmitted diseases is God’s judgment of wrath against ungodliness and unrighteousness. Men are fighting his judgment, trying to find a cure to AIDS, venereal disease, gonorrhea, etc., because they are trying to preserve a lifestyle a lifestyle that rejects God and does as one pleases, hedonism.
We take no pleasure in witnessing the suffering that this disease has brought t the human race. Especially are we sympathetic to its innocent victims. Nevertheless, we are not hesitant to proclaim that mans refusing to have God in his knowledge and turning aside to pursue his dishonorable and vile passions causes God to give up on him, resulting in this just retribution that is unsuitable to the sin.
One would hope that this retribution of sin would cause someone to turn away from his unrighteous and ungodly conduct and return to God. However the society is not ripe for revival just yet. The darkness of sin must yet become blacker.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 9, p. 2
May 5, 1994