As I went through my study of Romans, I was caught off guard by this verse - because there didn't seem to be any readily apparent answer given the context as far as I could discern it.
26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. NET
I have read several few articles dealing with this verse - and seen theories that made references to STD's and AIDS as a natural consequence (which seems terribly anachronistic to me - the answer should have been understood by Paul's intended audience not 2000 years later), while other sources have talked about the emotional problems associated with homosexuality - which also feels like it just doesn't fit when discussing a culture and time that didn't seem to have an overly developed appreciation or even awareness for mental and emotional health (is this something Paul really would have been concerned about or seen as a consequence, let alone noticed and thought to be self-evident?). The third idea I have seen is that their sexual attraction or orientation, (or increased sexual perversion) is the 'due penalty' that Paul is referring to - but this seems to be both redundant (not that the text doesn't also have some redundancy - so maybe this shouldn't be a problem) as well as a circular argument.
My working hermeneutic with this verse has been to assume that Paul was referring to something that he held to be obvious to his audience, but I can't seem to figure out what that is (perhaps commonly help opinion or perspective lost to 20th century people), though my hermeneutic could be totally wrong too ;)
Any help further examining this passage, as well as any historical information about the general attitudes and worldview in the Roman world around homosexuality that may help me understand this verse would be greatly appreciated :) Thank you!