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“There is no distinction”

March 13, 2024

Daily Scripture

Romans 1:25-2:1, 3:20-26

Romans 1-2
25 They traded God’s truth for a lie, and they worshipped and served the creation instead of the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 That’s why God abandoned them to degrading lust. Their females traded natural sexual relations for unnatural sexual relations. 27 Also, in the same way, the males traded natural sexual relations with females, and burned with lust for each other. Males performed shameful actions with males, and they were paid back with the penalty they deserved for their mistake in their own bodies. 28 Since they didn’t think it was worthwhile to acknowledge God, God abandoned them to a defective mind to do inappropriate things. 29 So they were filled with all injustice, wicked behavior, greed, and evil behavior. They are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, deception, and malice. They are gossips, 30 they slander people, and they hate God. They are rude and proud, and they brag. They invent ways to be evil, and they are disobedient to their parents. 31 They are without understanding, disloyal, without affection, and without mercy. 32 Though they know God’s decision that those who persist in such practices deserve death, they not only keep doing these things but also approve others who practice them.
2:1 So every single one of you who judge others is without any excuse. You condemn yourself when you judge another person because the one who is judging is doing the same things.

Romans 3
20 It follows that no human being will be treated as righteous in his presence by doing what the Law says, because the knowledge of sin comes through the Law.
21 But now God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law, which is confirmed by the Law and the Prophets. 22 God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. 23 All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. 25 Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before, 26 during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Context is more than one or two verses. Too often people quote Romans 1:26-27, by themselves, as proof that God never accepts people of the same gender who love each other, no matter how committed they are to Jesus and each other. A broader reading of Romans 1-3 shows that a) Paul did not write verses 26-27 to single out the Roman world’s kind of same gender intimacy (which did not involve commitment *) as uniquely awful, b) his real point was that all humans, not just some, need a savior, and c) Paul’s summary, in 3:22, was “There’s no distinction.” If Romans 1:26-27 meant God (and the church) can never accept any type of same gender love, then God and the church could also never accept people who are greedy, proud, or even gossips.

  • Paul’s Hebrew training (cf. Acts 22:3) usually divided the world into two groups: Jews (God’s people) and Greeks (all others). He used that language in verse 16: “To the Jew first and also to the Greek,” but for a different purpose. Now his central faith was that the gospel was for “all who have faith in God,” not for any one favored group. Who (if anyone) have you tended to see as exceptionally favored by God? What has helped or is helping you to reach an inner comfort level that lets you trust and act on Paul’s gospel message in accepting all those God accepts?

Creator God, you came to save every member of your human family who is willing to trust you. Give me a heart willing to include everyone you yearn to redeem. Amen.

GPS Insights

Amy Oden

Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality, teaching at several seminaries. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.

“There is no distinction” (Romans 3:22). There is no such thing as “GOOD people” and “BAD people.” There is no “us” and “them.” When we see the world through God’s loving eyes, all people are God’s beloved children, “there is no distinction.” This is Paul’s point in making a list of bad behavior (jealousy, slander, malice) – to show that we are ALL in the same category: human.

This can be a tough blow for many Christians. We want to be sure “we” are the righteous ones or that “we” are somehow loved most by God. These divisions are not biblical.

Or, conversely, we compare ourselves to others we think more spiritual or more Christian or holy or better somehow. This leaves us always “less than,” never enough, always behind. This is equally corrosive to our lives and to the whole body of Christ.

“There is no distinction” is a radical proclamation of good news! Welcome to humanity. Join the human ranks. We are all in this together, all held in love by God. For today, experiment with seeing every person through God’s eyes as a beloved child of God.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* The Greco-Roman actions Paul condemned in Romans 1:26-27 were NOT what we discuss today. “Greek males did not usually exhibit exclusive homosexual attraction; bisexual activity was more common…. Until late marriages, men often had intercourse with slaves, prostitutes and other males…. few people in antiquity considered the possibility of same-sex marriage, except occasionally in ridicule.” From NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Locations 255378-255388). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
In Romans 1:29 Paul listed “gossip” as just as bad as any sensual practices he cited.