Well, we are back to a text that gave rise to a 14-part series I did some time back on homosexuality. We need today to pause to look at the context for this text: it has to do with those who suppress the truth by injustice, who exchange the invisible God for the gods of idolatry, who are given over to their own sins, and who prefer to exchange the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:24ff). When this happens, as Tom Wright observes, “the results follow swiftly” (433).
Idolatry leads to distortion because it distorts the Eikon from its God-orientation to a self-orientation. Those who worship God in truth are healed and restored as Eikons. Those who don’t diminish the Eikon, exalt the Eikon, and turn the Eikon into a thing to be worshiped: both the self and others. Instead of doing what is right for Eikons to do, Eikons do what is wrong for Eikons to do. Involved in that wrongdoing is sexual misconduct, included in which is homosexuality. Humans who turn from God can learn to act outside the Order of Eikons. Wright: “Exchange your God for an idol, and you will exchange your genuine humanness for a distorted version, which will do you no good” (434).
Sexual behavior, for the apostle Paul and in general for Jews of his world, was a place that exhibited one’s commitment to the Torah and to God’s will in general. It was an indicator, a barometer, a sign of one’s covenant fidelity. In other words, a covenant path marker.
I’d prefer not to get into a discussion today about homosexuality — we did that a while back — but whether or not you see this thinking (Eikonic distortion leads to sin) as the thread of Paul’s in this passage.