"How dare she be so ungrateful," I thought. "She chose what she wanted to do, and I let her. Now instead of saying 'thanks mom' for bringing her to this fun place, she is complaining that she didn't get to ride something a second time! Why I ought to just. . . " To just what? Show her what's it's really like to miss out on fun? Never do anything fun with her again? Let her see what it's like not to have a Mommy who loves her?
God giving them over is a response to their ingratitude and lack of glorification (proper acknowledgement of Him). My poor example is not the same at all, but I think that it helps clarify the reaction to our behavior. Also, God giving them over is not the same as giving in (to our whining or complaining). It's more like Him allowing them to experience the true consequences of their rebellion--not only physically, but spiritually as well.
I couldn't help but think of "tough love" parenting (which I am not endorsing, because I am unfamiliar with the specifics beyond my high school movie of the week experiences), where you've warned, rebuked, punished, and reasoned all you can to no avail. At some point, that wayward child must be left to see and fully experience the results of his own poor choices.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another (Romans 1:24).
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion (Romans 1: 26 - 27).
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what out not to be done (Romans 1:28).
Yes, these passages are stating unequivacably that homosexuality is wrong. I don't feel the need to defend this, but I do want to expound upon it a bit. I find it interesting that when left to their own devices and choices, that the people were first given over to sexual sin. We already discussed the inability to glorify God that had already been happening at this time. When there is no god to whom we feel accountable, we become more focused on self. If we want to do only what seems best for us right then at the moment, with no limits, there is no reason to try to control our sexual desires. I don't know of anyone who has not struggled with sexual sin in one way or another. It's something that is hard to say no to, because it's fun and harmless, right? Sex outside of marriage is just as sinful as a homosexual lifestyle. There is no difference, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Lest you still feel safe and secure in simply skimming over these verses for yourself and pointing a finger at those sinners who choose a homosexual lifestyle, I would like to share the additional list of sins that follows:
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless (Romans 1:29-31).
I would hope that after reading that list, none of us would still be pointing fingers. The key is not to have a critical spirit towards the sins of others, but to examine our own lives. Also, know that this kind of evil in all its fullness is only ascribed to a depraved mind. Depravity is complete moral corruption. God only gives those over to depraved minds who have continually denied the truth of who He is. If you have been ignoring God, won't you take your golden ticket now? If you have accepted Christ's death on behalf of your sins, please don't be weighed down by your own sin. Confess it, hate it, but don't live under condemnation.
All of God's word is valuable to study. Some is harder than others, but hang in. Next up is God's kindness.
Note: One of the best explanations I've ever read of our loving response as Christians to friends and loved ones who are living the homosexual lifestyle was in this post at Seek First His Kingdom called Just Love Them. I invite you to prayerfully consider her words.
Index of Romans posts