18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error." Romans 1:18-27 NRSV
The descriptions of sexual behavior Paul uses seem to suggest that he is incontrovertibly comparing same-sex sexual behavior with any sinful abuse of the creation. It seems to me that he is using the examples as if he assumes his readers/listeners would be join right in and agree that such behavior is against God’s design for humanity.
However, there are two things we need to see from our perspective. First, Paul’s argument is from nature, God created the world, it is "good" and therefore not to be messed up by humanity. If that is a way to argue for what is good or bad, we have to argue from nature as we learn more about nature. Just because Paul saw genitalia he assumed that that was what determined sexuality. Today, we know more about it and understand that what is between the ears is the more important sexual organ.
Second, those who condemn LGBT folks based upon these verses can only accomplish this by taking them out of their clear context. (Such a move ironically shows a refusal to see God’s scripture literally. The people who do this would kill others to preserve scripture and, as they do it, flip the meaning of scripture for others on its head.) Now let's read on eight more verses. (For a full understanding of this essential thought read at least to the end of chapter 3 and, but the whole thought then continues on through chapter 8; but read the whole book as if it were all a description of the good news of God's grace in Jesus.
" 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.
22 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? " Romans 1:28 -2:1-4 NRSV
Paul’s clear point shows all people have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. As you well know, the idea that one can, upon accepting Jesus, overcome ALL their sin and therefore not depend upon God’s grace is contrary to the purposes of the Good News which brings humans and God together. Paul is so clear that we don’t come to God because we measure up to the law (he says that it is an idea that murderously kills). We come to God because God, in God’s grace through Jesus Christ, comes to us.
This second thought frees me from having to say that LGBT behavior is an unqualified good, as it frees me from saying heterosexual behavior is an unqualified good. I am not judge (and certainly not jury.) We are not supposed to be if we follow Jesus.
What does this mean? Do we refuse to distinguish between good and bad? Not at all. But our standard by which we measure the world is that grace which brings justice to the world not by our impossible attempts to level the scales, but through the gift of Jesus Christ. Is it love? If so, then it is of God. If not, then it is not of God.
How do we know it is love? If it follows in the footsteps of the one who came and loved even the unlovable, who came and even died for the unlovable, and in whose resurrection that love continues on forever.