the Rainbow Nation Home"
(1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10)
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NAS)
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of
God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor
adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the
covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the
kingdom of God."
1 Timothy 1:9-10 (NKJ)
"Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for
the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy
and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for
manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for
liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to
I will group 1
Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 together for discussion purposes
because the debate around each centers pretty much around the proper
definition of one word - arsenokoitais (Strongs #733). The Greek word
arsenokoitais has posed a problem for scholars throughout the years, as it
appears to be a ‘slang’ word not commonly used. In fact it only appears
twice in Scripture once in 1 Timothy 1:9-10 and again in 1 Corinthians
Because of these translation problems we see these
passages interpreted various ways. For instance the King James translates
arsenokoitais in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 as “abusers of themselves with
mankind”, Worrell translates it as “sodomites” while the NIV, NAS and others
translate it as “homosexuals”.
Arsenokoitais has the same translation problems in 1
Timothy 1:9-10. With the King James writing “them that defile themselves
with mankind”, ASV is “abusers of themselves with mankind, New King James
and Worrell say “sodomites”, NIV has “perverts” while the NAS and New Living
write “homosexuals”. So who is right?
One thing is clear. That being that this
interpretation debate is a relatively new one. For years these passages were
always translated as ‘abuser of self” or “sodomite” (e.g. KVJ and Worrell).
Because of the ambiguity of the literal meaning behind arsenokoitais the
earlier Bible scholars felt an equally ambiguous ‘catch all’ word such as
“sodomite” seemed appropriate enough. They and others since then have
pointed out that if Paul wanted to specifically say “a homosexual man” there
were certainly words in the Greek language to do so as homosexuality was a
rather common practice in both the Greek and Roman cultures (Paul wrote his
letters in the Greek language). Paul elected NOT to use these words and
instead used the more ambiguous word arsenokoitais. So what DOES
Strongs (#733) doesn’t offer much help saying that
the word means “sodomite” and “abuser of (that defiles self) with mankind.”
The same translations used by earlier versions of the Bible such as Worrell
and King James (Note: these translations came out long before the current
homosexual debate was raging and thus the Bible translators felt no
compunction to have to ‘side’ with one group or another…).
Another piece to the puzzle can be found by studying
what the sins of the Sodomites really were and gaining clues from that (see
the article titled “Sodom and Gomorrah”).
God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) and given half a
chance, Scripture will interpret Scripture. Furthermore, all Scripture (if
properly interpreted) will ‘line up’ with other Scriptural truths, such as
the Law of Agape love that is the great commandment and covenant we are now
under (Matthew 22:37-40;
John 13:34). If our
conclusions don’t line up with these truths or contradict other Scriptural
truths, then we’ve missed it and we need to begin again.
So what does make sense with these passages? Does
being a homosexual seem to fit into the same ‘line-up’ as the ones Paul
describes in these passages? We can easily see how fornicators, idolaters,
adulterers, thieves, drunkards, swindlers, murderers and the like break the
great commandment of Agape love. But does a loving homosexual relationship?
I just don’t see it. Sometimes a good dose of common sense is good when
interpreting the Word of God.
What does make sense is the word “sodomite”, for the
people of Sodom and Gomorrah were one very unloving pack of totally
self-absorbed folks. They cared little about God, nor were they concerned about
others. In fact,
Ezekiel 16:49-50 describes them as cruel, selfish people who
thought nothing of raping and killing strangers. Mercy and compassion were
hardly in their vocabulary! Now folks like that I CAN see breaking the great
commandment of Agape Love! But every homosexual person that’s ever walked
the planet earth? No…
So there lay the subject with me until I came across
an article written by Paul R. Johnson for “Second Stone” magazine titled "A
New Look at Arsenokoitais" (1994 January/February issue). In this article he
Greek compound term arseno-koitais literally means ‘the male who has many
beds’. The word arsen means ‘male’, the adjective o means ‘the’, and the
term koitais is defined as ‘many beds’. Thus, the entire phrase means a male
with multiple bed-partners; a promiscuous man. Everywhere that the word
koitais is used in the plural in the Bible denotes promiscuity. However,
when the same word is used in the singular form, the Bible gives approval
because the singular denotes monogamy."
literal description of the word that makes sense! Furthermore we can clearly
see the ‘lifestyle’ of the people of Sodom in these passages. Translated in
this manner, these verses now fit in with the rest of the Bible (e.g. the Law
So what is God teaching us through these passages?
First, that He is not for or against any particular sexual orientation. What
God is against is a lifestyle of casually jumping from one bed
partner to the next without regard to the consequences of such a union. Such
sexual practices are self serving (read SELFISH), don’t foster
long lasting commitments between partners and can spread diseases such as
AIDS like wildfire!
Are there homosexuals who practice such a lifestyle?
You betcha and God is against it 100%! But God is also against heterosexuals
practicing the same kind of ‘lifestyle’ (or “death-style”) as well.
For a more in depth look at this subject read
"Calling the Rainbow Nation
by Rev. Sundby
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