The Guilt of the Unbelieving

Further proof that God holds people guilty even if they have never heard a Christian evangelist is the fact that He actively judges them. If God wasn’t holding them accountable for their sins He would not punish them. Because He does punish them, however, we can be sure that He holds them accountable, and if He holds them accountable, they must know that what they are doing is displeasing to Him.

One manner by which God punishes those who resist His call to repentance is through “giving them over” to their sinful desires so that they become slaves to even deeper degradation. Paul wrote:

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Rom. 1:21-32, emphasis added).

Notice how Paul stressed the facts of human guilt and accountability before God. The unregenerate “knew God,” but “they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks.” They “exchanged the truth of God for a lie,” so they must have encountered God’s truth. Thus God “gave them over” to ever-increasing degradation, to the point where people do the most bizarre, unnatural and perverted things as they become more deeply enslaved to sin. In effect God says, “So you want to serve sin as you should serve Me? Then go ahead. I won’t stop you, and you’ll become progressively more enslaved to the god you love.”

I suppose one could even consider this form of judgment to be an indication of God’s mercy, in that it would be reasonable to think that as people became more perverse and sinful, they would realize it and wake up. One wonders why more homosexuals don’t ask themselves the question, “Why do I find myself sexually attracted to people of the same sex with whom I can’t actually have a full sexual relation? This is bizarre!” In a sense it can be argued that God indeed did “make them that way” (as they themselves often argue to justify their perversion), but only in a permissive sense, and only because He hopes to wake them up in order that they might repent and experience His amazing mercy.

It is not only homosexuals who should be asking themselves such questions. Paul listed numerous enslaving sins that are the evidence of God’s judgment on those who refuse to serve Him. Billions of people should question themselves about their bizarre behavior. “Why do I hate my own family?” “Why do I find satisfaction is spreading gossip?” “Why am I never content with what I own?” “Why am I compelled to look at increasingly more explicit pornography?” God has given them all over to be enslaved to their god.

Of course, anyone at any point can soften his heart, repent and believe in Jesus. Some of the most hardened sinners on earth have done just that, and God has cleansed and freed them from their sins! As long as people are still breathing, God is still giving them an opportunity to repent.