The Christian Approach to Homosexuality – Part 3

Peter Eng

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Romans 1:26-27
26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Timothy 1:9-11
For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. 10 The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching 11 that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.

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Don’t Jump in Yet

I would love to have you in the discussion! But if you missed out on the earlier articles in the series, you need to read them so we can discuss more meaningfully.

1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 1

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that homosexuality is a sin in Romans 1. In the two references we are discussing today, Paul does not argue why homosexuality is a sin.  One sustained argument is good enough. However, these are the most contested passages by those who say Scripture does not prohibit homosexuality.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul mentions two terms: “male prostitutes” (Greek: malakoi) and those who “practice homosexuality” (Greek: arsenokoitai). The first is mentioned only here in the NT. The fundamental meaning of malakoi is that which is soft; so “effeminate” (KJV). That is polite speech that may give the wrong impression, that males on the softer side are judged. The judgment is not on men who are soft. NLT is right to take this as the one who plays the female role in male homosexuality; probably a polite designation for “male prostitute.” My own preference is that it refers to men who play the female role in homosexuality.

The second word translated “homosexuality” in both 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9, is arsenokoitai (singular: arsenokoites), a word that people, who justify homosexuality, vehemently deny to be referring to homosexuality. For their abundant denial, they have produced scant word study evidence to prove their case. They insist it only refers to pederasty. Almost all lexicographers understand this to be men who practice homosexual acts. This is a compound word arsen (a male, with implication of his sexual role) + koite (bed). This refers to a man who goes to “bed” with a man. Koite/bed as a polite reference to sex, is well known, and today (especially in Chinese), the sexual meaning of koite (bed) has become “coitus” in the English language. The objectors refuse to recognize that the Bible is explicit, but uses polite language.  This is about as explicit as one can expect the Bible to be.

This idea of homosexuality is congruent with the flow of the text. Paul first talks about the sin of the male who plays the part of the female, and then the male who plays the part of the male with another male. I think this discussion on whether the Bible rejects homosexuality suffices. The objectors will never be convinced and this is already too much uncomfortable detail for others.

Now, we come to the crux of this conversation. “What is the Christian approach to homosexuality?” Most Christians accept the point I have been making, that homosexuality is not acceptable in God’s eyes, that it is a sin. This in itself does not frame our attitudes towards people who practice homosexuality. For this, I wish to begin with a passage not directly related to homosexuality. 1 Peter 4:17 says: “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household.” 

[Next Week: Judgment begins with God’s Household]

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