This Anti-Gay “Pastor” Needs to Reread Romans

A virulently anti-gay fundamentalist preacher named Kevin Swanson  has unleashed the fury of the Almighty in calling for the death penalty for all practicing homosexuals in America. He cites as his primary Scriptural justification for this decidedly unloving and therefore unChristian stance Romans 1:32. But as is so often the case with people who preach a message that conflicts with Jesus’ basic teachings of unconditional love and absolute forgiveness, he gets it terribly, terribly wrong.

Here is the text of the full context of the passage on which Swanson relies (NRSV):

29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

I’ve read and re-read that passage and I can’t for the life of me find any reference to homosexuality or, for that matter, to sexual conduct or preference of any kind. In the King James Version, the word translated in verse 29 here as ‘evil’ becomes ‘fornication’, a word that is used sparingly in the Christian Scriptures and generally refers to “any sexual sin committed after the betrothal contract”. It can be read to condemn homosexuality but applies equally to adultery and infidelity in the broader sense. But if you read the entire passage above, you can see it is lumped with many, many other transgressions for which those who commit them “deserve to die,” including a number I suspect Swanson (and most of us) is also guilty of. In fact, I suggest that Swanson, in making his hate-filled comments about gays and lesbians is himself guilty of being heartless, ruthless slanderer. And by positioning himself as the ultimate interpreter, judge and jury he also runs afoul of the prohibitions on insolence, haughtiness, boastfulness, craftiness, deceit and murder.

In a widely viewed video recording of his spew at a recent right-wing Christian gathering, Swanson blustered that he is not afraid to go to jail. I wonder if he’s prepared to be executed for his many death-deserving transgressions.


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