sub·vert \səb-ˈvərt\ verb
from Latin subvertere, literally, to turn from beneath, from sub- + vertere to turn
1 : to overturn or overthrow from the foundation
2 : to pervert or corrupt by an undermining of morals, allegiance, or faith.
I can’t think of a better word to define what Paul is describing in Romans 1:26-32. He writes:
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (NKJV)
This is the bottom of the cesspool of sin—the final straw that breaks the barrier to a nation’s judgment. There is an awful expression used three times, “God…gave them up” (v.24, 26) and “God gave them over” (v.28). If man will not bow to the true God, then God at last says, “Alright, if you want sin and you don’t want Me—have at it!” In giving us over to sin, we find that sin carries its own judgment (v.27). Greece in all its splendor and Rome in all its power could not survive the rottenness of sexual sin. No nation can. It is the end of the line when this becomes acceptable and even celebrated (v.32). What once would slink down a dark alley is now paraded down Main Street.
But, here’s good news—when we hit rock bottom, we have nowhere to look but up! Paul wrote to converts to Christianity that came from the depths of debauchery. Here’s what the Apostle said:
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,nor sodomites,
10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)