Welcome Barb @Legaleagle! What great questions!
I found Romans 1:18-32 to be very helpful. To me, it describes the steps into depravity.
But notice where it begins -
- Romans 1:18-20 shows He loves us so much, He makes Himself known to all in His creation.
- Romans 1:21a We are to respond by acknowledging Truth, Who He Is, with thanksgiving.
- Romans 1:21b When we do not, our minds become futile, full of worthless thoughts, and our hearts darkened.
Rom 1:21 KJV
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful;
but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
When one sees that what we call sin is simply a visible symptom, while the root lies in our response to His revelation of Himself, we are all in the same place. We, as believers, are not immune from forgetting to give Him thanks for all things.
Eph 5:20 KJV Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
When we do not thank Him, we also can put ourselves in a place where our thoughts become futile and our hearts also become hardened in that area. This is the condition of all mankind. It is only the specific symptom (sin) that differs.
In fact, if this is indeed a description of a descent into depravity, notice that homosexuality is listed in Romans 1:24, while some other more ‘acceptable’ sins are listed further down. If I am understanding this correctly, it may give hope to some with homosexuals in their circle of influence.
This is not to say that some sins are worse than others. To me it indicates that there may be a growth or maturity in those denying Him, just as there is a maturity as we follow Him, as implied in 2 Peter 1:5-9, which closes with the words:
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
These may provide keys to loving confront believers who hate the person rather than the sin.
May He grant you wisdom, Barb, as you continue to seek His will for you in this.