Gold Response to the Lesson: “Why don’t more people know about this history? Why don’t people talk with us [teens] about the reality?”
As usual, I am loosely basing our study of Romans on the “So What?” study guide. These are the questions and points I hit for this section (and the answers we got):
Activity 1: In two minutes, tell me everything bad about the world. “murder, robbery, greed, abuse…” Write it in a big list on the board.
Introduce theme of this unit: Why is the world so messed up?
What is God’s wrath against? Why is God angry? (Suppressing Truth, Not honoring God even when they knew Him through experience with Creation, Exchanged the glory of God for created things)
What are some modern substitutes for God? (money, love/lust)
Before we move on… What do YOUR parents do when they’re angry/wrathful at you? (grounding, yelling, taking things away)
Let’s see what God does when He is angry:
What does God do? He ‘gives us up to it.’ He LETS us. What if your parents let you do the bad things you do that make them angry? And being allowed to do it was your punishment? (“that’s almost worse, in a way”)
What are these ‘unnatural relations’? (homosexuality)
Let me give you some clear history about this. Paul is not talking about “gay people” here, not about someone who identifies himself as ‘gay’ or about the couple of guys who want to get married and have a family together, because those things DID NOT EXIST back then. The gay ‘identity,’ and the idea that it’s just like a straight relationship but between two men, is a very modern idea. At the time that Paul was writing this, all men had sex with other men because they considered women too inferior for them. Women were just for having babies. Generally, older men would seduce or rape young men. Then those young men would be considered emasculated, would loose their civil legal rights, would be considered even lower than women. The older man was considered more masculine and powerful after.
Here are some original sources from that culture from Sarah Ruden’s book “Paul Among the People” (btw, I’m only reading the most tame, not totally gross ones)
One example from the book of a man trying to seduce a young slave boy:
“If you were still uninitiated in what I’m trying to persuade you to do, you’d be right to be afraid, perhaps expecting something terrible. But since your master’s bed has made you an expert, why do you begrudge someone else what you’ve got? Your lord calls on you when he needs you, then he goes to sleep and lets you go- he doesn’t even share a word with you. But here I can spoil you. You can play as an equal, chatter in confidence, and do other things because you’re asked, not ordered.” (pg 65, Paul among the People)
Does anyone think Paul is wrong or a jerk to call all that an unnatural passion? (no!)
(What the church teaches about homosexual relationships these days is a bigger topic we agreed to go into another day)
Why does it say God’s wrath is against ‘suppressing truth’ and ‘glorifying creatures instead of Him’ instead of against this big list of terrible things? (because cutting yourself off from love/the source of life/ God Himself leads us into these terrible things)