God Gave Them Up
Let these words sink into your ears: “God gave them up.” These are the most horrifying words in all of Scripture, every bit as horrifying as “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15), for the one leads inexorably to the other. We read yesterday that man refuses to acknowledge God who has provided witness for Himself in all of creation and even man’s own soul. Man instead chooses his sin and creates gods who approve of and sanction his sin, for which he is justly rendered guilty, indeed, inexcusable so, before his Creator.
And so what does man’s Creator do about this? He gives them up to the lusts of their hearts and to the dishonoring of their bodies with one another. And this is a just judgment on God’s part; after all, it’s what man wants, it’s why he chooses to worship the creature rather than the Creator, for the love of his sin. He thereby sins grievously and egregiously against such a great and holy God who graciously gave him life and so deserves man’s unsullied and eternal love and adoration. And so God judges man by giving man what man wants: He gives him up to the slavery of his sin.
And then Paul says it a second time: “God gave them up.” And in this case he specifically mentions unnatural relations between members of the same sex, with which the ancient world was filled, as proof of God’s giving them up. Now the gratifying of such passions is certainly not an unpardonable sin, but it does serve as “Exhibit A” of a world that does not know God, of a world that has denied God, of a world that is so blind that it chooses what is contrary to nature over the natural relations between a man and a woman in holy marriage. In short, social and cultural acceptance of what is plainly against nature and God’s intention for man and woman was and is the quintessential mark of a pagan society, of a society “gone off the rails” on the most basic of human endeavors: intimacy and procreation. And because such behavior is so unnatural, it is twice in this passage called dishonorable both in the desire and in the activity. But because man is so blinded by sin and hardened of heart and so consumed with his passion, he must condone and even celebrate his lechery, to the point of “receiving in [himself] the due penalty for [his] error,” suggesting some blight, which we have witnessed in our own time.
God gave them up. How terrifying! Paul will list plenty of other sins in the next passage as evidence of God’s giving man up. Oh, do repent. Take of the water of life without price (Revelation 22:17). Let the one who desires liberation come and experience the glorious freedom of the children of God.