In verses 18 through 20, we see how God created everything to reveal who He is and reflect His ways. In the things He created, we can derive that God exists, and furthermore, what is good and what is evil. God created things with a purpose and an order according to that purpose. We can discover that the eye has the purpose to help us see and the stomach helps us digest food to stay alive. God even gave us taste buds so that we may have pleasure in eating to inspire us to stay alive. If anything comes along that prevents or hinders the eye from seeing or the stomach from digesting, then that would be ‘an evil’ and unhealthy. But if medicine or some sort of assistance were to come along to help the eye see or the stomach to digest, then that would be ‘a good’ and healthy. It is just as much true with our bodies as it is with our souls. God created our bodies and souls not in a general way, but with detail, reason and purpose.
Some people choose to deny purpose or reason to God’s creation and faith. The reasoning comes from many different perspectives. Atheism denies reason and faith to isolate believers from learning. Some Christians fall into the trap to deny reason in faith as a reaction to the atheists. They lose out on the divine revelation inherent in creation. The divine revelation is not capitalized because it is not on par with the Bible but is a revealing of God nonetheless. An artist’s purpose is to reveal something of himself in what he creates. God is the artist par-excellence. Because most of humanity rejects the purpose and reason of creation, “God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies” (v24).
What does Paul mean by this? Read on in verse 26 and 27, “therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and, thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.” The “natural relations” is based upon their very nature, how God made them in their physical being. Another way to put it is that it is based upon how they were made as male and female (eyes, stomach and all their organs). Being made as female and male includes both soul and body.
Many people will reject the body, its nature and purpose and stay with the soul that gives the high energy and emotion of having relations. But that is only part of our being. This makes relations not integrated (dis-integrated). Therefore, such relations will never bring fulfillment. In fact, they will impede true joy and fulfillment. Hence Paul could say, “thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.” We do not punish such people; they end up dealing out the suffering to themselves. It is merely the fruits of the actions taken. If we could only bring them a sense of fulfillment and peace, but the decisions they have made keeps them from receiving it. We all want to have compassion on those who sin in this way, but only God can bring reconciliation and healing to them. So we do what we can: we love them in hope that they may come back to the Church of sinners and healing. This is why Pope Francis is trying to welcome them home and give them hope.
Paul then gives a list of sins that prevent us from fulfillment, wholeness and peace. To choose any sin is against our nature and life. May we always choose life (Dt 30:19).