Love “doth not behave itself unseemly, …” (1 Corinthians 13:5a/KJV). The same English and Greek word also occurs in Romans 1:27. Today I want to have a look at that verse in order to examine shades of meaning of the word “unseemly”.
Many of my readers may not be acquainted with the passage in Romans 1:18-32. Paul says that men chose to worship the creature rather than the creator. They had an awareness of God’s eternal power. Really they could have known better but somehow they made themselves images to be worshiped as deities. They also worshiped beasts, birds and creeping animals.
What you worship and what you admire has an effect on your way of thinking, on your affections and on your emotions. As you suppress and turn away from healthy feelings you may end up doing stupid things.
But let’s have a look at Paul’s words: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature; and likewise also the men leaving the natural use of the woman burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” (Romans 1:26-27).
Obviously Paul knew of heathen people that worshiped certain deities who were involved in lesbian and homosexual activities. Perhaps he also knew of Jews who had turned away from God and ended up doing such things.
Really I am not aiming at a discussion on homosexuality here. But I want to stress that the word “unseemly” here refers to sexual activities that are described as perverse.
God has created man and woman. Sexual relationships were meant for men and women to be able to bring forth children. As men are lustful with men and women with women this goal of nature cannot be attained unto.
In the bible the marriage relationship between man and woman is held in high esteem: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). Anything that might challenge marital faithfulness can be offensive.
The word ‘indecent’ is somewhat synonymous to the word ‘unseemly’. The Oxford Concise Dictionary refers to an ‘indecent assault’ as to ‘a sexual attack not involving rape’.
Love is not rude. Love does not behave itself unseemly. Love would respect marital feelings of others.