“So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired” (Romans 1:24a, NLT).
Reading the Bible is easy, right? Except when we read things into it that it doesn’t really say. We have to be careful to remember the context, audience, culture, language, which is constantly changing, and other factors we may not even be aware of. We also have to remember our own culture, context, upbringing, experiences and prejudices, all of which color how we perceive what’s being said. It’s good to keep in mind the famous words of Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride): “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
When we read this verse, we think it means God writes off anyone who commits a sin. That’s it, I’ve had it with you, out of my sight, you filthy rotten scoundrel. Or words to that effect. But God is not like us and verses like this are not an excuse to judge, belittle or arrogantly feel superior to anyone. We have all sinned. Christ died for everyone. No one is better than anyone else, because at the foot of the cross we are equal. God doesn’t automatically abandon sinners—if he did, we’ll all be out on the street. He does give us a lot of room to exercise our freedom to do what we want, but he still loves us, still works in our lives and I believe, never gives up on anyone. We don’t know all the answers, but if you believe God is love and believe in his grace and mercy, you must believe he won’t abandon any of his children, but will do anything in his power (and that’s a lot of power!) to bring them home.