Romans 1:18-32 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.They know God’s decree, that those who practise such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practise them.
This passage of the text has often been used to condemn same sex relationships. On its face it seems cut and dried. "Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error." Taking the text out of context makes the exhortation in this passage problematic in its typical application. Remember whenever we are reading biblical texts they are written in a certain time to a specific audience. So when we look at this passage through 21st century eyes we have to recognize that same sex relationships as we know them.
When Paul writes to a church in Rome he is writing to a community with a spiritual landscape that included temple prostitution. When we look at this text its important to notice the words 'exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural.' What I believe we see in this text is a call mutuality and a condemnation of 'using' others for the sake of personal gratification, be it physical or spiritual.
This is not the first, nor will it be the last time that we encounter words from Paul that we might find vexing should we only read it on a superficial level. Remember we view and understand the holy scriptures as living and dynamic that reveal their gifts to each generation and those who have the patient and prayerful commitment to receive the wisdom they hold.