Amplifying the seriousness of the charge, the Apostle Paul repeats himself and says that this situation with humanity developed because “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever!” (1:25) Of all of the things that can be said about the fall of man, it should probably be made abundantly clear that it is said to have occurred because they believed the lie.
In believing the lie, not only did they, in effect, point their faith towards the serpent, honoring that part of the creation more than the Creator, but above all things, it occurred because they knew themselves to be the pinnacle of their God’s creation. With that knowledge, it would not be a stretch to surmise that they sought to worship themselves. The serpent merely provided the justification for that which was already desired. In many ways, this mindset continues unabated to this very day. It is the single darkest component of man’s fallen state, and it could be said that this is what keeps humanity entrenched in the state of falling short of the glory of their Creator God.
At this point in Romans, Paul can be understood to be moving on from Adam and Eve and surveying the scope of human history from the that day until his own, as he writes, “For this reason”---holding the lie as truth and in so doing worshiping the creation rather than the Creator---“God gave them over to dishonorable passions” (1:26a). The implication would seem to be that mankind’s passions were no longer directed towards honoring the Creator God by engaging in the purpose for which he was created, but rather, those passions are directed towards that which dishonored the Creator by dishonoring the image of the God in which he had been made.
It could be said that this dishonor was a diminishing of what can be called “human-ness.” This diminishing stood in stark contrast to the Creator’s very first command to those made in and as His image, which was to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Bringing forth life is one of the primary ways in which mankind can participate in and represent that image with which it has been endowed, and it will generally involve much sacrifice and care and concern on the part of the ones responsible (human parents) for the creation of that life.
This necessary sacrifice, care, and concern towards a creation sounds very much like the attitude of the God that is both revealed and discovered in the pages of Scripture. It is possible that Paul sees the rejection of this creation of life, together with the sacrifice, care, and concern that is learned in this creation and rearing of fellow humans, as a core component of the self-idolatry that is rampant within humanity, and addresses it in writing words such as “For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another” (1:26b-27a).