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:
- 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
- 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