As part of my devotions, I enjoy making a fresh translation of the Bible from the original languages. I find it gives me a better awareness of what God is saying to me through His Word. As I was working my way through Romans 1, I had the following observation. First let me share with you my translation.
1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it is God’s power which brings salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed by faith for faith; just as it is written, “THE RIGHTEOUS WILL LIVE BY FAITH.”
1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of Men who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness,
1:19 because what can be known about God is evident to them; because God has made it evident to them.
1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
1:21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their reasonings and their foolish hearts were darkened.
1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image resembling corruptible Man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.
1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among themselves.
1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
1:26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For even their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for what is against nature.
1:27 and likewise the men also abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned with an intense desire toward one another, men with men committing shameful acts and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error.
1:28 And, just as they did not approve of keeping God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mind, to do the things which are not proper;
1:29 being filled with every kind of unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossipers,
1:30 slanderers, haters of God, violent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
1:31 lacking discernment, covenant-breakers, untrustworthy, unloving, without mercy;
1:32 and, although they know the righteous judgment of God (that those who practice such things are worthy of death) they not only do those same things, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
One thing that jumped out to me was this short phrase in verse 27 which reads “τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδε” or “the due penalty” of their error. We read that those choosing to engage in homosexual activity receive the “due penalty” of their error. The greek here for the “due penalty” is not talking about a special punishment from God, but is emphasizing that those engaging in such sin will reap the consequence which is natural and logical to their actions.
Wuest’s Expanded translation reflects this important meaning.
And likewise also the males, having put aside the natural use of the females, burned themselves out in their lustful appetite toward one another, males with males carrying to its ultimate conclusion that which is shameful, receiving in themselves that retribution which was a necessity in the nature of the case because of their deviation from the norm.
Wuest, Kenneth S. The New Testament : An Expanded Translation. First published in 3 vols., 1956-59, under title: Expanded translation of the Greek New Testament., Ro 1:24. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997, c1961.
Paul does not mention any specifics regarding the “due penalty” of sin. However, it may be fair to speculate that the due penalty is referring to sexual diseases such as HIV/AIDS that are the natural consequence we see dominate the homosexual lifestyle (and promiscuous heterosexual activity as well I might add). If I read this passage correctly, these diseases are not a punishment from God nor do they reflect God’s judgment or vengeance upon any individual.
I think the lesson from Romans 1:27 is that when men and women chose to violate the Creator’s design, it leads to a natural corruption of the body. By analogy, when a person violates the intended design of a product, they void the manufacturer’s warranty. No matter how much you love to see the sparks fly, you cannot put metal objects into your microwave and then blame the maker for destroying the microwave. So too, as God’s creation we cannot violate the natural use of our bodies and then blame God for the resulting sickness, disease, or emotional suffering which are the natural consequence (due penalty) of ignoring His instruction manual.