Most commonly, Romans 1:26 is taken to be a reference to female homosexuality - the sole explicit reference in the entire Bible. However, there is an alternative theory: rather than prohibiting homosexuality, these two verses are actually a prohibition of penile-anal sex ("that which is against nature", KJV). Verse 26 condemns penile-anal sex as practised by heterosexual women (with a male partner), and verse 27 condemns penile-anal sex as practised by homosexual or bisexual men with other men.

Is there any good reason to suppose that this interpretation is wrong, and that the more common interpretation in terms of female homosexuality is right?

In support of this interpretation, one might note that:

  1. nowhere else does the Bible directly condemn female homosexuality, so finding this passage not to condemn female homosexuality increases its agreement with the remainder of scripture
  2. the prohibition of penile-anal sex agrees with Lev 18:22, 20:13, if we understand "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind" as referring to anal sex with men specifically (i.e. as with womankind being a particular kind of male homosexual act, anal intercourse, as opposed to all possible sexual acts between men). This passage then is simply extending the Torah's prohibition of penile-anal sex to include heterosexual acts also

If this interpretation is true, then this passage is not mentioning female homosexuality, is irrelevant to the question of female homosexuality, and we are left with an entire Bible which nowhere directly mentions female homosexuality

  • 2
    What are you looking for here? Doctrinal perspectives or an analysis of the text/translation? It sounds like this would be better off being re-worked a little and migrated to Biblical Hermeneutics, but it's not entirely clear what you expect from an answer. You seem to be looking for somebody to validate a doctrinal position, but neither site is going to be good for that. What's the goal here?
    – Caleb
    Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 11:01
  • Are you looking for answers from a particular perspective? Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


This is what makes biblegateway.com so handy. If you read this in the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) version, it really clears up the meaning:

Romans 1:26-27 CJB

This is why God has given them up to degrading passions; so that their women exchange natural sexual relations for unnatural; and likewise the men, giving up natural relations with the opposite sex, burn with passion for one another, men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in their own persons the penalty appropriate to their perversion.

Therefore, it is clear; Romans 1:26-27 talks about both female and male homosexuality. Not specifically "penile-anal sex as practised by heterosexual women". I understand the confusion since they mentioned "unnatural". However, it specifically says, "... likewise the men... " where it speaks of homosexual relations.

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