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1 CORINTHIANS 6:9 

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall

not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not

deceived: neither fornicators nor idolators,

nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers

of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor

covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor

extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 

King James Version, 1611 

The English translations have taken a great deal of liberty in this particular passage; translating three different words very carelessly.  Some versions have taken two of the Greek words used here and combined them into the one word “homosexual”.  This passage has become one of the more quoted clobber passages used against homosexuals.  An attempt to perpetuate a view that the Apostle Paul could not possibly have had concerning gay people has forced itself into the meaning of these words.  Assumption comes greatly into play in translating when little is known about the exact meanings of words.  Meanings of words used in biblical texts are largely understood as the result of the word’s usage in other places.  Using biblical and non-biblical sources as a reference point, the ancient languages can be understood through their repeated usage in authentic period documents.  In other words, the more a term is used, the better we can understand its meaning. 

Fornication 

The King James Version, 1611, has assigned the word “fornicater” as the meaning for the Greek word pornos (#4205) used in this passage.  The word fornication in the year 1611 meant “voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and an unmarried woman.”  The word pornos, literally means “male prostitute”.  Together with its counterpart porne (#4204) which refers to female prostitutes (harlots), both are derived from the root word porneia (#4202) meaning “harlotry”.  The more modern translations, such as the New International Version, 1978, use an even more indistinct term for this word, “sexual immorality”.  This meaning has a much broader connotation and is way beyond the original meaning of the text.  In his much used reference manual, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 1979, J. H. Thayer admits that a much broader term “must be adopted in these passages”….because we have learned “how leniently converts from among the heathen regarded this vice and indulged in it”.  In other words, he is telling us that we must modify the way we translate the Bible so that we can ensure a general condemnation of sexual acts outside of marriage regardless of what the text actually says.  The New Testament writers did not put it just right, so we must help them through this correction.  It is this lack of integrity in translation that makes it look as though a conspiracy of some kind has taken place in an attempt to deceive those of us who do not have access to the original documents and who do not fluently speak Hebrew and Greek. 

Effeminate 

The second word malakoi (#3120) is found in the New Testament only three times (Matthew 11:8, Luke 7:25, and 1 Corinthians 6:9).  It is a homonym (having a double meaning) in the Greek much like words in English.  An example is the word light.  Its usage in a sentence determines its meaning whether it is in reference to heaviness or a source of illumination.  In much the same way, malakoi literally means first “softness” as it applies to the feel of fine fabric.  Secondly, the word is used to describe a character flaw, and in this case it means “weak willed” or “easily beguiled”.  Our modern slang expression “softy” used to describe someone who is soft hearted, kind and easy to get along with seems closer to the meaning, except that it has a positive connotation.  But malakoi has something to do with a moral weakness in context.  It is perhaps an inability by some to maintain moral integrity and be self-controlled because of the ineptitude of their convictions and the lusts of their heart.  The word better fits the pattern we see in our modern culture to those with addictive personalities.  Addicts are controlled by their cravings such as drugs, alcohol or sex; a common problem in our culture.  Translating this word to “addicts” would not only make more sense in the context, but would be in keeping with the meaning of the word.  The Latin Vulgate, 405 AD, translated malakoi to the word “mollis” which has exactly the same meaning, but the word “mollis” became a slang expression that referred to men who wore silky refined clothing.  This meaning explains why the King James translators in 1611 decided to use the word “effeminate”.  In later translations, malakoi becomes “Catamite” which was a young boy slave used sexually by his master.  Another uses the word “lecchouris” (lecherous) and another “voluptuous” and still another “sissies”.  The multiple ways we see this word being translated is a testimony to the confusion of the translators and the disagreement between biblical scholars.  It is evidence of an attempt to prejudice scripture against homosexuals. 

Abusers of Themselves With Mankind 

The third word, arsenokoitai (#733) is used only twice in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10).  Its true meaning is the most questionable of the three.  If it refers to homosexuals, the question arises why Paul would have used such an obscure and questionable term when he could have used another much clearer term to describe what he really meant.  The Greek culture was filled with homoerotic words used to describe various homosexual relationships, but instead he used a word that does not appear anywhere else in surviving Greek literature.  The only two places this word is used anywhere is in these two passages.  Paul coined this word.  Transliterated, the word arsenokoitai means “man-active-bed”.  It could mean a male prostitute who takes the active role sexually.  Modern day male prostitutes are differentiated by their trade, either for women, “gigolos” or for men, “hustlers”.  Similarly, the Greeks also may have identified prostitutes by their trade.  If Paul had wanted to condemn a group more inclined to be exclusively homosexual, he might have coined the term arenokoitai (“man-passive-bed”) which would indicate a male prostitute who takes the passive role sexually. 

The King James Version, 1611, avoids a direct translation of this word with the phrase “abusers of themselves with mankind”, but it is interesting to note that even though the word homosexual did not exist at the time and wasn’t even coined until the late 19th century, a word did exist in 1611 which if used by the King James translators would have left no question as to what they were talking about.  This word is “invert”, which meant homosexual.  But they did not use it.  More in keeping with the context in both this passage and in 1st Timothy 1:10, a suggested better translation might be “rapist” since it has something to do with someone who is taking an aggressive active role in the sex act. 
 

The following chart demonstrates how ridiculous and far fetched some of the translations have gone with this passage.  For instance, translating to “child molester is completely ridiculous and “those with infamous habits” seems extremely vague.  Some kind of male pervert is unquestionably referred to, but not homosexuals in general. 

TRANSLATION YEAR RENDERED AS:
 
Koine Greek
 
56
 
malakoi
 
arsenokoitai
 
Latin Vulgate
 
405
 
mollis
 
masculorum concubitores
 
Wyclif
 
1508
 
lecchouris
 
synne of Sodom
 
Tyndale
 
1525
 
weaklings
abusers of

themselves

with mankynde

 
Reims-Douai
 
1609
 
effeminate
 
liars with mankind
King James Authorized

Version

 
1611
 
effeminate
abusers of

themselves

with mankind

The

Revised

Version

 
1881
 
effeminate
abusers of

themselves

with men

American

Standard

Version

 
1901
 
effeminate
abusers of

themselves

with men

Revised

Standard

Version

 
1946
 
sexual perverts
Jerusalem

Bible

(French)

 
1955
 
effeminate
people with

infamous

habits

Interlinear

Greek-English

New Testament

 
1958
 
voluptuous persons
 
Sodomites
The

Amplified

Bible

 
1958
 
those who participate in homosexuality
New American

Standard

Bible

 
1963
 
effeminate
 
homosexuals
Today’s

English

Version

 
1966
 
homosexual perverts
Jerusalem

Bible

(German)

 
1968
 
sissies
 
child molesters
Jerusalem

Bible

(English)

 
1968
 
Catamites
 
Sodomites
The

Living

Bible

 
1971
 
homosexuals
New

International

Version

 
1978
 
male prostitutes
 
homosexual offenders
 

These obvious mistranslations do not exonerate the prevalent homosexual promiscuous lifestyle, for clearly Paul’s condemnation is against unbridled promiscuity in any form, homosexual or heterosexual.  It is, therefore, the responsibility of gay Christians to redefine “gay-ness” as it relates to Spirit controlled Christian living; operating as new creatures before Jesus Christ who is Lord; setting an example to all unbelievers as a demonstration to everyone that they truly are the children of God. 

“Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Romans 8:14 


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