As you might imagine, I’ve been receiving many emails, messages and questions asking how I interpret the verses in scripture that condemn homosexuality.
Rather than speak from my point of view, I would like to provide readers with the same information I read and allow them to come to their own conclusions.
I believe that we are all responsible for our own theology and faith –and it would be a great disservice to only know one way of thinking before weighing the evidence.
Our Spirit Now addresses what are widely known as “the clobber passages” among LGBTQ Christians. These are the verses in scripture that are translated in English containing the word homosexual or homosexuality.
“Where in the Bible you might find the word homosexual used incorrectly:
- The Hebrew word kedah means temple prostitute and is sometimes inaccurately translated at sodomite or homosexual.
- In 1 Corinthians, sodomite or homosexual are sometimes used, but they are incorrect translations of the Greek malakos which means something closer to effeminate or the Greek practice of pederasty, which is older men having sex with boys and is not consensual gay sex between peers.
- 1 Corinthians also refers in Greek to arsenokaitai, which appears nowhere else in the Bible or in Greek writings about homoerotic sexuality, but probably means male prostitute.
- Jude 7 sometimes refers to homosexual flesh that the Sodomites pursued. This is an inaccurate translation of hetera sarx which means, literally, strange flesh to describe the flesh of the angels who were sent by God to evaluate Sodom and Gomorrah.
- In Timothy 1:9-10, translators sometimes use homosexual for the original Greek words, pornoi, arsenokoitai, and andrapodistai, meaning male prostitutes, males who hire male prostitutes or the slave dealers who procure them.”
For me, one of the interesting things to consider was the lack of examples of same sex sex outside of prostitution, idolatry, sexual abuse of minors or slavery. It also came as a surprise to me that the word homosexual didn’t exist at the time of English translations. It was coined in 1869 by Dr. Karoly Benkert by combining the Greek term “homo” for same and the Latin “sexual”. It was after his studies in the field that translations started to have the word included.
“Theologian Mel White agrees that the Greek word arsenokoitai, used for “homosexual” in 1Corinthians 6:9, seems to refer to same-sex behavior. He argues that Greek scholars don’t know exactly what it means, however, and that this simple detail is a big part of this tragic debate.
He explains, “Some scholars believe Paul was coining a name to refer to customers of ‘the effeminate call boys.’ We might call them ‘dirty old men.’ Others translate the word as ‘sodomites,’ but never explain what that means.”
According to White, in 1958, a translator for the New Amplified Bible set historical precedent by translating this “mysterious” Greek word into English as the word “homosexuals,” even though no such word exists in either Greek or Hebrew. It was that translator, according to White, who “placed the word homosexual in the English-language Bible for the very first time.”
White blames this bad translation for the inability of many NT scholars today to make the proper, culturally relevant application of this passage in 1Corinthians. He adds, “In the past, people used Paul’s writings to oppress women and limit their role in the home, in church, and in society. Now we have to ask ourselves, ‘Is it happening again? Is a word in Greek that has no clear definition being used to reflect society’s prejudice and condemn God’s gay children?’”
Mel White is also a Christian minister and filmmaker, who describes how he reconciles his homosexuality with his Christian faith in his book Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America (New York: Plume Books, 1994).
The reason I like this particular article is it shows the translation process and before concluding mentions that Paul was likely referring to Leviticus when speaking to the Corinthians. They also note that “nothing in 1Corinthians, or for that matter in any other biblical writing, speaks directly of the biological or psychological condition of homosexuality or homosexual ‘orientation’ as this is understood today and as it concerns believing Christian gay persons intent on worshipping and serving God.” (Theologian John H. Elliott, Professor Emeritus of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco.)
While Equip is not in favour of LGBTQ Christians, its researchers do understand where the argument is coming from. It’s important to note that scholars are debating these issues trying to reconcile science, psychology, culture, history and theology while millions of people are navigating the tense waters in the meantime.
does a great job of presenting the inclusive argument. By focussing on the main passages Rev. Justin Cannon gives a detailed reasoning for his stance. I recommend anyone who wishes to seriously understand what inclusive affirming churches believe to read the Rev’s research.
I think it’s unfair to assume that because someone professes Jesus and identifies as LGBTQ, they would automatically know all these arguments. I didn’t know about the deity of Christ when I received him as saviour and Lord, I didn’t know about creation, or the flood, or baptism or the Holy Spirit. All of these things I needed to study. Think carefully before engaging in debate with one another, give space and time for reflection and above all don’t attack someone with your point of view (or mine for that matter) and say you’re doing it in love. Love is patient, love is kind, it is not self seeking, it keeps no records of wrongs ect. (1 Corinthians 13).