Last time we began a look at the condition of mankind and its unrighteousness. We continue today.
Romans 1:26-32 (KJV)
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.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
The phrase, "For this cause" of verse 26, connects with verse 25's "who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator." Because mankind turned against the truth of God and did not worship Him, God gave mankind up to its vile affections.
What are these vile affections? The Free Online Dictionary defines "vile" as "loathsome, morally depraved, and wicked." Other Bible versions use the following:
Romans 1:26 (NASB)
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
Romans 1:26 (NIV)
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
We also see from the verse that these vile affections refer to "women changing the natural use for the unnatural," as well as "men, leaving the natural use of women and burning in their lust for one another" (verse 27).
Although many commentators have tried to say that these verses refer to idolatrous temple worship or the blurring of gender roles, Paul's language is fairly straighforward. Homosexuality must be at least an aspect of what Paul is condemning here. Yet, it isn't Paul's condemnation only. When mankind refuses to acknowledge and worship God as God and follow His ways, God allows mankind to follow its own depraved lusts. Paul called it "error."
The end of verse 27 states that such rebellious, depraved behavior results in consequences.
Verse 28 summarizes and adds to what Paul had been saying to this point. "Convenient" here means "suitable, or proper" (Webster's 1828, American Dictionary of the English Language).
Verses 29-31 list many of the sins mankind is guilty of, the things that flow out from reprobate minds. Isn't this a picture of our society? As time progresses, evil seems to grow worse and worse. But that is what God was trying to convey. A "good" society is dependent on mankind following the Law and ways of God. We cannot determine, in our own minds, what is good and acceptable. We run to error.
Then in verse 32 we see even further into the depravity of mankind. Although it knows that God will judge sin and that the above list depicts sin worthy of death, it takes pleasure when others join in sin.