Romans 1 And Homosexuality: A Critical Review Of James Brownson’s “Bible, Gender, Sexuality” -- By: Preston M. Sprinkle

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 24:4 (NA 2014)
Article: Romans 1 And Homosexuality: A Critical Review Of James Brownson’s “Bible, Gender, Sexuality”
Author: Preston M. Sprinkle


Romans 1 And Homosexuality:
A Critical Review Of James Brownson’s “Bible, Gender, Sexuality”

Preston M. Sprinkle

Eternity Bible College

In the flurry of recent books about homosexuality and the Bible, James Brownson’s Bible, Gender, Sexuality offers a very convincing defense of same-sex marriage. However, Brownson makes several historical assumptions that are inaccurate, which end up working against his thesis. For instance, contrary to Brownson, the ancient world did hold to a form of sexual orientation and there are examples of peer homosexual relationships. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that Paul only had excessively immoral same-sex relationships in his mind when he penned Romans 1.

Key Words: homosexuality, Romans, Paul, Greco-Roman, same-sex marriage, Hellenistic Judaism, sexuality, sexual orientation

A Game-Changing Book

James Brownson’s recent book Bible, Gender, Sexuality is, according to one endorser, “a ‘game changing’ book on the hotly disputed topic of same-sex orientation and relationships in light of the Bible.”1 Most people familiar with this debate agree. Wesley Hill believes that Brownson’s work “will be the new ‘go-to’ book for Christians wishing to make a case for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the life of the Church.”2 Wesley Granberg-Michaelson praises Brownson for taking “the Bible seriously, engaging it faithfully and deeply,” and ultimately showing that the traditional view against same-sex relations has misunderstood the passages

that speak to this issue.3 No one interested in this debate should neglect Brownson’s valuable contribution.

In this review, I will summarize the main argument of the book and then point out several problems within Brownson’s argument; in particular, I will address his assumptions about the moral logic underlying Paul’s evaluation of same-sex intercourse in Romans 1.

Gender Complimentarity

Brownson’s central thesis is that traditionalists4 have wrongly assumed that the moral logic underlying heterosexual marriage has to do with the “gender complementarity” of men and women. According to Brownson,

Traditionalists all point to gender complementarity as the central form of moral logic that undergirds what they believe to be the Bible’s ...

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