Let's clear this up: about "natural affections"

Some Christians who oppose homosexuality have for the longest used 2 Tim 3:1-3 as a passage to condemn homosexuality. In the interest of rightly dividing the word of truth, we should know that it does not apply. Of course, that in no way makes homosexuality any more acceptable, but we need to clear this up.

Specifically, the phrase in question is “without natural affections”. The Apostle Paul used it in his list of latter day transgressions mankind will exhibit.  Dr. Henry Morris, Ph.D. of the Institute for Creation Research explains why natural affection in this passage doesn’t apply to homosexuality:

This phrase “without natural affection” is the translation of one Greek word, astergeo. It was a characteristic of many pagans of the ancient world. Significantly, it is also prophesied to be a characteristic of the humanistic pagans of the end-times. “In the last days . . . men shall be . . . without natural affection” (II Timothy 3:1–3). These are the only two occurrences of this word in the New Testament.

The word stergeo (“natural affection”) is one of four Greek words for “love,” but it is never used at all in the New Testament. It refers to the natural love that members of the same family have for each other. It is such a common characteristic of all peoples that there was apparently no occasion to refer to it at all—except when it is not present, when people lose their instinctive love for their own parents and children, and thus are “without natural affection.” One thinks of the widespread abortionism of these last days, as well as the modern breakdown of the family in general.

Another Greek word for “love” is eros, referring to romantic love, or passion. Like stergeo, eros also is never used in the New Testament. The other two words, however, are used frequently. Phileo, referring to “brotherly love,” occurs over thirty times. It indicates fondness, based on a community of interest with the person or persons so “loved.”

Thus, the phrase “without natural affection” more accurately describes abortion and a host of familiar/relational sins, not homosexuality.
That being said, in Romans 1:31 , it does apply. Homosexuality is a result of unnatural affections, with the “nature” being understood as what the Creator’s intent is for each person’s sexual expression.

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3 thoughts on “Let's clear this up: about "natural affections"

  1. Very interesting analysis, thanks! The results for what you have described with the reference scripture are very much alive and well today. Unfortunately, this has been a very fond part of my personal existence since childhood; for which has deeply affected me well into my adulthood. It is because of that that I have sought out those non-sexual “affections” among those I have befriended (15+ years my senior) throughout my adolescence and eventually, the church once I came of age.

    When further attention is focused on many of the common-place societal ills, nearly all of the offenders and victims involved have some degree of dysfunction, secondary to the absence of genuine love, care, affection and attention from the family. In essence, whatever you can’t get at home, you get it elsewhere.

    Most aptly applied to wayward spouses, this also fits well into scenarios where children seek out those amentities among gangs, and shady people that would otherwise show feigned interest for the sake of gratifying one’s own selfish desire. The results for these attention- and affection-starved people can certainly serve as a precursor for experimentation into homosexuality, as well as other activities that are inherently sinful.

  2. Thank you pastor. I assumed that that passage refer to homosexuality as well. This definitely shows that you do rightly divide the word of truth without bias. I swear some people who attack you assume you are homophobic but forget that “once were some of you” as Paul explain. I wished I took that class in college which helps you read the bible in Greek.

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