I'm hoping to have a post up this weekend for the final passage in Romans, but for now here is a preview of my approach. I am uncomfortable with the easy answers on this one, so I will offer a couple of views on this passage I think. The view I plan to present first does not so much explain away Paul's negative view of homosexuality as it contextualizes it and dismantles it of any relevance for Christians today. What Paul is not talking about in Romans 1 is The Fall (in other words, homosexuality did not enter the world through the sin of Adam), but it entered later through the invention of idolatry, which had divinely-inflicted consequences (of which homosexuality is one). If this sounds far fetched, stay with me. It is based on good scholarship analyzing apocryphal Jewish sources that contain this viewpoint, and Paul would have likely accepted it. Indeed, rereading Romans 1 with this in mind brings the pieces together quite nicely. While this view crushes the conservative viewpoint of homosexuality as just like any other sin, it unfortunately also leaves us in the position once again of having to part ways with Paul because of the logic he uses to support his ancient viewpoint. It is understandable for his context - and forgivable too. But it is unforgivable for us to maintain such a view today.
A quote from Dale Martin sums it up:
"What for Paul functioned as a sign of the boundary separating idolatrous civilization from monotheistic faith has become a symptom par excellence of what is wrong with 'all of us'. Homosexual desire now lurks somewhere within us all. The fear of its outbreak motivates the current interpretive politics of heterosexism."