Romans 1 emphasizes the fact that God honors agency. Several times in this chapter Paul states that God allows even the wicked to seek their respective goals and purposes. He says, “God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts… unto vile affections…” (Romans 1:24, 26) The truth is that God will always honor our freedom to choose, but once we make a choice, we need to face the consequences of that choice. Paul sees the Roman world for what it is: filled with strife, lust, and confusion. To Paul, the ways of the worldly man pale in comparison to the life of a Christian.
I like the following translation from the Jerusalem Bible: “They knew God and yet refused to honor him as God or to thank him; instead, they made nonsense out of logic and their empty minds were darkened. The more they called themselves philosophers, the more stupid they grew (Romans 1:21-22). The New International Version of the Bible gives us this translation: “And exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and bird and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator- who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. in the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions” (Romans 1:23-27).
The world the Christians in Rome lived in is very much the world that teenagers of 2013 see all around them. There is hardly anywhere a young person goes today where they are not inundated with worldly philosophies. The mist is everywhere. This is why God has called seers in the latter-days: to help us get through the mists of the world. Paul took this opportunity to stress to the Roman saints that just because they lived in Rome, they could choose to be above the ways of the worldly Romans.
The truth is that anytime mortal man chooses sin and addiction, he is faced with the fact that these things affect his relationship with God. When we choose to succumb to an addiction, there is an immediate payoff. Addictions do not (usually) require a lot of work. They immediately bring some kind of pleasure. Addictions are guaranteed: give in to the impulse and the satisfaction will come. Relationships do not work this way. With all relationships we must work diligently to maintain them. Relationships are not guaranteed. Relationships sometimes take years to develop and while they are worth the effort, the results are not immediate. Satan will lie to man and tell him that he can have both: the relationship and the addiction. The fact is that we cannot. We must choose. This is essentially what Paul is telling the Roman saints: you must choose Christ over the pleasure offered by the world. In this case Paul speaks of sexual addictions, lusts and perversions. But the principle applies with any addiction. Satan knows this and this is why he is working to enslave the world: to drown out the voice of the Spirit of God.
Speaking specifically to the young people of the Church, President Packer put it this way:
Normal desires and attractions emerge in the teenage years; there is the temptation to experiment, to tamper with the sacred power of procreation. These desires can be intensified, even perverted, by pornography, improper music, or the encouragement from unworthy associations. What would have only been a more or less normal passing phase in establishing gender identity can become implanted and leave you confused, even disturbed.
If you consent, the adversary can take control of your thoughts and lead you carefully toward a habit and to an addiction, convincing you that immoral, unnatural behavior is a fixed part of your nature.
With some few, there is the temptation which seems nearly overpowering for man to be attracted to man or woman to woman. The scriptures plainly condemn those who “dishonour their own bodies between themselves … ; men with men working that which is unseemly” (Rom. 1:24, 27) or “women [who] change the natural use into that which is against nature” (Rom. 1:26).
Do not experiment; do not let anyone of either gender touch your body to awaken passions that can flame beyond control. It begins as an innocent curiosity, Satan influences your thoughts, and it becomes a pattern, a habit, which may imprison you in an addiction, to the sorrow and disappointment of those who love you (see John 8:34; 2 Pet. 2:12–14, 18–19).
Sometimes we are asked why we do not recognize this conduct as a diverse and acceptable lifestyle. This we cannot do. We did not make the laws; they were made in heaven “before the foundation of the world” (D&C 132:5; D&C 124:41; see also Alma 22:13). We are servants only.
Just as with the prophets in ancient times, we have been “consecrated priests and teachers of this people, … [responsible to] magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence” (Jacob 1:18–19).
We understand why some feel we reject them. That is not true. We do not reject you, only immoral behavior. We cannot reject you, for you are the sons and daughters of God. We will not reject you, because we love you (see Heb. 12:6–9; Rom. 3:19; Hel. 15:3; D&C 95:1). 1
President Boyd K. Packer, Ye Are the Temple of God, Ensign, October 2000.