Romans 1:21-27 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were
thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like the corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to
dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 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.
This set of verses is about idol worship. The context of the verses is not a discussion of the
morality of homosexual relationships. The apostle Paul does not start the verses by saying, “Men having sex with men is a sin.” He starts the passage by talking about people who refuse to worship God. The chain of events is that the people know God, but refuse to worship the True God. Then they make images of animals and worship those animals. As a result of their idol worship, God allows them to become express their worship of other gods by engaging in homosexual acts in temples built to glorify pagan gods.
Matthew Henry, a well-respected, conservative commentator, indicates that Romans 1:23 to 25 are the "outward acts of idolatry." A case can be made that verses 26 and 27, which mention same-gender sexual relationships are also outward acts of idolatry. This is supported by Matthew Henry's remarks about verses 26 and 27. He comments, "Perhaps the apostle especially refers to the abominations that were committed in the worship of their idol-gods, in which the worst of uncleannesses were prescribed for the honour of their gods; dunghill service for dunghill gods. . ."
The Barnes commentary observes, “On
account of what had just been specified; to wit, that they did not glorify him as God, that they were
unthankful, that they became polytheists and idolaters . . . He now proceeds to show its practical
influences on their conduct.” The worship of other gods resulted in evil conduct. The evil conduct
Paul lists in verses 29 and 30 include fornication, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder,
debate, deciet, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters,
inventers of evil and disobedient to parents.
The context of the verses is not a condemnation of homosexual relationships, but is a strong condemnation of worshipping other gods. From the context, we can see that this passage was used to show that those who worship other gods stand condemned before the Lord.