Of Romans and Reptiles
One day I'll do a treatment of Romans 1. In the meantime this scholar, with outside sources, does a pretty good job of explaining those verses in the context they were written in, idolatry. Jeramy Townsley's (popular) paper also makes the case with giving the name of the specific cult Paul if talking about in Romans (He's updated it since).
Exegete Frank Smith also does a great job with the verses.
I want to add one thing.
Look at Romans 1:22-23:
"Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles."
Now look at Deuteronomy 4:16-18:
"Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground..."
Now there is not a Bible scholar in the world who doesn't read Deuteronomy 4:16-18 as anything but talking only about idolatry, it's a given. Yet when Paul repeats Deuteronomy word for word in Romans, Romans is only talking about homosexuality apart from idolatry?
Another instance of Paul putting the homosexuality in Romans 1 in only the context of idolatry is his quoting the 'idolatry part' of the book "The Wisdom of Solomon" (a book well known to Paul). Francis Watson in his book; "Paul And The Hermeneutics Of Faith" makes the comparison:
"Romans 1:18-32 follows Wisdom 13-14 not just at individual points but in the whole construction of the argument. Both writers argue that the true God might have been known by way of the created order, but that the opportunity has been wasted; that the most fundamental error is the manufacture and worship of idols; that idolatry is the root of all other evils; and that those who commit such sins are subject to divine punishment."
To take homosexuality outside of the context of idolatry in Romans 1, you would have to reverse the text with how it unfolds. It's not:
Homosexuality = Worship of animals, it's Worship of animals = Idolatrous homosexuality:
"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, AND exchanged the Glory of the immortal God FOR IMAGES RESEMBLING MORTAL MAN AND BIRDS AND ANIMALS AND CREEPING THINGS.
THEREFORE (because of it) God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring 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.
FOR THIS REASON God gave them up to dishonorable passions..."
See how idolatry brings a person to a debased nature that included an idolatrous homosexuality in the verses?