Archive for the ‘ Old Testament ’ Category

What really was the sin of Sodom?

This was written by a friend of mine, and I’m posting this for her.

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Christian or not (especially in a Jamaican context), we’ve heard repeatedly that homosexuality is wrong because God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (hence the term Sodomite). But is that really the honest interpretation we should get out of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah?

Many persons believe that the cities were destroyed because of an attempt by the men to have sex with two apparently male angels.

Pastor Romell D. Weekly, in his article Why Did God Really Destroy Sodom & Gomorrah?[1], tells us that Genesis 19 tells us the circumstances surrounding the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but not actually why God decided to destroy the cities.

I’ve noticed that with many passages of Scripture that have been misinterpreted it’s usually because people chose to read only the passage that directly speaks to the point they’re trying to prove. Having said that, let us look at the passages before the recording in Genesis 19. Genesis 18 tells us why God decided to destroy the cities.

Genesis 18:16-33

New International Version (NIV)

 

16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.[a] 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD.[b]23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[c] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

26 The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

33 When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

Note that nowhere in the passage it is stated that the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah was because of homosexuality. Instead if we turn to Ezekiel 16 we are told what the sin of the cities was.

EZEKIEL 16:49-50

New International Version (NIV)

49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God tells us that the sins of Sodom were:

  1. Arrogance
  2. Gluttony
  3. Haughtiness
  4. Not helping (unconcerned with) the poor and needy
  5. Abundance of idleness
  6. Committing detestable things

God gave us the sins which led to his decision to destroy the cities.

Now, the 6th sin; committing detestable things is ambiguous and can be the cause for the assumption of homosexuality. But this is erroneous. Jumping to conclusions and forcing one interpretation on an ambiguous text does not honour the word of God.

We need to look in other places in Scripture for guidance on how to work with this ambiguous sin; this is following the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture.

Pastor Weekly states that in Jude we find a qualification of the term ‘detestable things’ (NIV) or ‘abomination’ (KJV)

JUDE 1:7

New International Version (NIV)

7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

 

King James Version (KJV)

 7Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

It is in this passage that we get the first distinct mention that one of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah is of a sexual nature. Pastor Weekly goes on to say:

It says that they gave themselves over to fornication, and pursued “strange flesh”. “Fornication” in this passage is the word ekporneuo, which is derived from the word porneuo, which is an umbrella term that is often translated “prostitute”, but which refers more simply to sexual immorality, in general. Think of how we might call a person a “whore” today because he/she is sexually promiscuous, not necessarily because he/she sells the body sexually

They went after “strange flesh”. Once again, we have a fairly generic, ambiguous term that people associate with homosexuality. But why do they associate it with homosexuality? Does the verse indicate homosexual activity? No. It’s associated with homosexuality because that’s how people interpret the intentions of the townsmen in the destruction narrative (Gen. 19). The problem is that that interpretation is grossly inaccurate—a conclusion explained in detail in another study.

So we now begin to question what does Scripture mean by the term ‘strange flesh’? In the same passage of Jude we find that explanation.

JUDE 1:6-9

New International Version (NIV)

6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

 8 In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. 9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Each verse deals with interaction between angels and humans. Reading Jude 1:7 in context, can we really come to an interpretation that verse 7 refers to homosexuals?

Pastor Weekly concludes:

the “strange flesh” that the Sodomites were pursuing sexually wasn’t strange in that it belonged to other men. It was strange in that it belong to another (an other) created kind—that of angels. And before we make the mistake of believing that angels don’t have flesh since they are spiritual entities, let’s remember a few things.

  1. 1.     The angels who sinned in the days of Noah certainly had flesh, in that they were able to copulate and have hybrid children with human women.
  2. 2.     The apostle Paul specifically tells us that angels are able to take human form and interact with humans (Heb. 13:2).
  3. 3.     There are multiple examples in Scripture of angels taking human form, including those of Noah’s day (Point 1), those mentioned by Paul (Point 2), and those who visited Abraham in Gen. 18 (the same ones who later carried out God’s judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah in ch. 19).

To be certain we’re clear Pastor Weekly points out that:

Bestiality was the sexual sin of the Sodomites, not homosexuality. God destroyed them for precisely the same reason He destroyed the world during the days of Noah. They were a wicked people and they committed abomination (Ez. 16:49-50), pursuing sexual activity with angel-beings (beings of another created kind). Interestingly, these very two ingredients were contained within the culture of Noah’s day.

“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.  [5]  And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Genesis 6:4-5

Notice that the giants (Hebrew: Nephilim) were not simply genetic anomalies. They were the hybrid offspring of human women and angels. Yet, verse 4 expressly states that these Nephilim were in the earth “in those days, and also after that…” If they were in the earth after the time of the Flood, that means that these human/angel liasons did not end with the destruction of the old world. Even post-Flood, there were times when angels and humans copulated and had hybrid offspring.

Two aprocryphal books—though not considered inspired by most Protestant Christians—indicate that giants (Nephilim) were in Sodom prior to its destruction (Ecclesiasticus 16:7-9, Book of Jubilees 20:5). If this was the case, it certainly correlates with Jude’s accusation that they pursued angelic flesh, as well as Ezekiel’s prophetic word that they “committed abomination” before God.

So, in concluding lets go over the list God gave regarding the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah.

  1. Arrogance
  2. Gluttony
  3. Haughtiness
  4. Not helping (unconcerned with) the poor and needy
  5. Abundance of idleness
  6. Committing detestable things

Nowhere in this list is homosexuality specifically mentioned, and upon looking at the passages that give light to the context of the one ambiguity there is still no mention of homosexuality.

The notion that the destruction story of Sodom and Gomorrah pertains to homosexuality, is an erroneous one, imposed upon the Biblical text by persons jumping to conclusion by reading the Bible at face value rather than actually studying Scripture, and by persons imposing their interpretation on the text.


[1] Why Did God Really Destroy Sodom & Gomorrah?

(http://gaychristianfellowship.com/articles.php?aid=1011)

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Jamaican Christians And Homosexuality- Response

The In Focus section of the Sunday Gleaner, carried a column wrttiten by Martin Henry entitled : Jamaican Christians And Homosexuality (read it here: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20110918/focus/focus4.html); which seemed to be an article invoking fear and preaching doom and destruction.  He referred to a few well know ‘clobber passages’ including Genesis 2, Leviticus 18 & 20 and Romans 1.  Below is my response to his column, it was also sent to the Gleaner (columns & editor), hopefully it will be published.

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I dare speak for the LGBT Jamaican community, however I must first start by saying shame on you Martin Henry, not shame on you for giving us your opinion, rather shame on you for using fear, deep fear to push what may seem to very many as ‘your agenda’.

You see Mr. Henry; you started right off with the fear that Jamaicans and our churches will be forced to accept homosexuality as normal and have no objections. I disagree; LGBT Jamaicans are calling for the respect of their rights. It is my firm belief that those who oppose homosexuality should be allowed to do so, at the same time those who have differing views should also be allowed to voice those, without threat of physical harm, and/or other forms of discrimination.

There is no dispute that God created male and female; however you seem to be indicating an exclusive plan which is not supported by scripture. You tell us that, ‘the scribe having narrated the creation of woman from a rib of man concluded, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” Jesus clearly had no intention of disturbing that order’, are you therefore saying that it is not God’s plan that anyone remain single? Must we then conclude the prophets Elijah and Elisha, the apostles John and Paul, and even Jesus himself, lived outside of God’s plan? I highly doubt that, the majority of the text simply describes the circumstances surrounding the first marriage, with no judgment being expressed or implied about the diversity of marital forms that would follow.

Sodom and Gomorrah was condemned to destruction before the angels went to the city (Genesis 18:20), this erroneous interpretation that the city was destroyed because of homosexuality is wrong, Ezekiel 16:49-52 tells us what those sins were.

The Old Testament prohibits male same-sex sexual activity, and occurs within the context of idol worship. Only one passage in the New Testament refers to both female and male same-sex sexual activity, again it is referred to within the context of idol worship. The other New Testament passages when read in its context and without the biased interpretation rather than translation of the original words, will give us a much better understanding of what exactly is being condemned contrary to the popular belief that they expressly prohibit and condemn homosexuality.

In countries where state and church are separate, it never ceases to amaze me that churches receive special treatment and special provisions to trample over the rights of those who do not ascribe to the tenets of Christianity, while they cry foul and doom and strike fear into the hearts of many, as LGBT Jamaicans attempt to have their basic human rights respected. Let me reiterate I believe that all should be able to state their disapproval of homosexuality and use the Bible or their holy scripture to advocate such. However, how intolerant and bigoted it is to believe that only your view must be allowed to be heard and seen?

Let’s wrap this up: 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy clearly say homosexuality is wrong!?

We’ve reached the last of the clobber passage. We will now take a look at those that include some of the previous passages; such as those that refer to Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Romans passages. The passages covered in the following article, taken from the Gay Christian Fellowship’s website, covers 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy. Most Christians will tell you that scripture validates scripture and so also, rely on these passages. It is important that you read keenly so you can see exactly what it is the Bible says.

The article can be read at the following website: http://gaychristianfellowship.com/articles.php?aid=1019&cid=6

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The vice lists of the apostle Paul are two passages most commonly used by opponents of affirming theology in their condemnation of homosexuality. At face value, most English translations certainly seem to back up their assertion that homosexuality is condemned in Scripture; but as we have seen with the previous examinations in this series, face value has too often led to misinterpretations and misapplications of Scripture. So, let’s reexamine these vice lists in detail and determine whether or not Paul is, in fact, condemning homosexuality (as an orientation) and/or same-sex sexual activity.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [malakoi], nor abusers of themselves with mankind[arsenokoitai],  [10]  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

1Corinthians 6:9-10

 

“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,  [10]  For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind [arsenokoitais], for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine”

1Timothy 1:9-10

In this installment, we’re going to examine two passages in conjunction with one another. As with Lev. 18:22 and 20:13, these passages so closely mirror one another that it makes sense to consider them together.

As you can see, there are two terms present that are often used by Christians to condemn homosexuals and/or homosexuality—malakoi in 1Co. 6, and arsenokoitai(s) in both passages. While it’s to the entire Church’s benefit to ensure that the traditional translation and interpretation of these terms is accurate, it’s especially important for those who have same-sex sexual attractions to know precisely what Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is condemning here. Consequently, we will reexamine the traditional translations and interpretations to see if, in fact, they are consistent with Paul’s intentions.

What Does arsenokoitai(s) Mean?

Because arsenokoitai(s) is used in both passages, we’ll begin there. It’s important to note right out of the starting gate that arsenokoitai is an exceedingly uncommon term. In fact, many scholars believe that Paul coined the term because there’s no evidence in any ancient documents that the term was used before Paul’s usage.

Let’s start by examining how the most common English translations render this obscure term.

NOTE: Place your mouse pointer over the Bible version abbreviation for the full version name.

Version Translation (1Co. 6:9) Translation (1Ti. 1:10)
KJV abusers of themselves with mankind them that defile themselves with mankind
NKJV sodomites sodomites
NIV homosexual offenders perverts
NASB homosexuals homosexuals
AMP those who participate in homosexuality those who abuse themselves with men
NLT those who… practice homosexuality people… who practice homosexuality
CEV one who… behaves like a homosexual people… who live as homosexuals
NCV men who have sexual relations with other men people… who have sexual relations with people of the same sex
HCS homosexuals homosexuals
ESV combined with malakoi as “men who practice homosexuality” (footnotes as “the passive and active partners in consenual homosexual acts”) men who practice homosexuality
YLT sodomites sodomites

Arsenokoitai(s) – Identifying the Problem

For the most part, this word has been translated consistently from one version to another, and from one passage to another; but there are a few very important exceptions. Before considering them, it’s important to note that these two passages are the only places in the Bible where arsonokoitai(s) is used. So, the fact that these exceptions exist is quite telling in relation to how sure the translators were in deriving the accurate translation of this word.

The New International Version translates arsenokoitai(s) as “homosexual offenders” in 1Co. 6:9, but as the very general term, “perverts”, in 1Ti. 1:10. Now, I’m sure that some Christians are content to consider these terms synonyms; but such a conclusion does not suffice a serious student of Scripture. I was recently told by a friend who worked in a hospital of a young girl who was brought in, pregnant with the child of her grandfather. This filthy man certainly qualifies as a pervert, so is that the type of person Paul was condemning; and if so, should the word have been translated as pervert in 1Co. 6:9, as well, rather than as “homosexual offenders”? Which interpretation is correct; and with such a serious inconsistency, why should we trust either NIV translation?

The Amplified Bible provides a similar inconsistency. It translates arsenokoitai(s) as both “those who participate in homosexuality”, as well as “those who abuse themselves with men”. But, how is the reader to know what kind of “abuse” Paul is referring to? Don’t female prostitutes abuse themselves with men? As with the NIV, we’re left to wonder which translation is accurate, and what basis we have to believe either one.

Also, the New Century Version has a gender ambiguity between the two passages. In one, only male-male sex is condemned (similar to what we saw in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13). In the other, all same-sex sexual activity is condemned. Now, this may not seem like a pertinent distinction to the casual reader; but to someone who is after the truth, and especially to someone to whom these condemnations would apply, I think the ambiguity is, at the very least, just cause for a deeper examination.

A final problem with the way these translations render our term is that from one translation to another, they can’t seem to agree on whether those with a same-sex sexual orientation (homosexuals) are being condemned, or only those who engage in same-sex sexual activity. Once again, we see a distinction that, quite regrettably, wouldn’t concern many Christians, but which is more than concerning for those of us who are gay, and for those of us (despite sexual orientation) who do not want to unjustly terrorize or condemn people for being who they are. While such a considerationshould apply to every Christian, it’s an unfortunate reality that it most certainly does not.

The most disappointing part of this is the fact that the vast majority of Christians have no idea what the Greek term actually is, or where else it was used in Scripture. All they know is what’s printed on the pages of their Bibles. They’re trusting that what they’re reading is accurate; and as we can see, that’s not always the case. Even when a single word is translated only twice in the entire Bible, the translation isn’t always consistent. Yet, we’re told to simply trust the “scholars” because they know the biblical language better than we.

Rather than putting my confidence in man, I’ll take God’s advice. I’ll “study to shew [myself] approved”, so that I can “rightly [divide] the word of truth” (2Ti. 2:15). I strongly encourage you to do the same.

Arsenokoitai(s) – Finding the Correct Translation

Determining the correct translation of arsenokoitai(s) is not as easy as it may seem. One might choose to simply play a numbers game, and conclude that since the majority of common translations render the word “homosexuals”, we should do the same. But, that doesn’t suffice me. Having seen the damage that majority rule has done to the Church time and time again throughout history, I’m inclined to rid myself of the translations offered in the text, and try to construct the proper translation from the ground up. It’s certainly better than putting my trust in scholars who have already demonstrated that they weren’t as absolutely sure about the meaning of this term as so many Christians, by default, believe.

PLEASE NOTE: My intention here is not to besmirch the work done by linguistic and biblical scholars in the translation of these various Bible versions. I don’t doubt that they worked very hard to provide a translation that was, if nothing else, more than adequate for instruction in the things of God. My intention is only to point out the undeniable inconsistencies and inaccuracies in these translations, not to call into question the credentials or intentions of those who served on the translation committees.

The first thing that should be considered with regard to this word’s meaning is that arsenokoitai is a compound word. Paul combines the Greek word for male (arsen) with the word bed (koitus), which is often used as a euphemism for sex, as the verb form of “bed” is used in English. So, the constituent words of arsenokoitai can be translated as meaning “those who have sex with men” or “men who have sex”. Most likely, what is meant is those who have sex with men, male-bedders, as it were.

PLEASE NOTE: The meaning of a compound word cannot always be derived by examining the meaning of its constituent words. For example, a hallmark is not a mark in a hall. A butterfly is not a stick of butter that flies. A ladykiller is not a person who kills ladies, nor a lady who kills people.

But, we have to derive a more precise meaning for this term; because even if male-bedder is an accurate generic simplification of this term, it’s not specific enough to be helpful in interpreting Paul’s intended target. For example, heterosexual wives are male-bedders. Is it Paul’s intention to condemn them, as well? It’s obvious that a more precise meaning must be derived. What type of male bedder is being condemned?

Under most circumstances, the context of a difficult word would give us enough clues to ascertain its meaning. It’s a lesson we learned in reading class. Now, at first glance, we might get a little discouraged when looking at the context of arsenokoitai(s) in these two passages because both passages contain seemingly arbitrary lists of sinful activities. However, let’s not form that conclusion too quickly.

In 1Timothy, Paul grouped the terms in his vice list in such a way as to provide just enough clues to derive the target of “male-bedders” with absolute precision and certainty—and we’d better thank God for this, otherwise we’d have to relegate ourselves to a “best guess”, as so many of our English translations erroneously did.

Think about grouping like this… When I’m preparing to go grocery shopping, I often group my items together so that when I’m in the store, I can find what I’m looking for more quickly. I group all of the dairy products together, all of the meats, all of the vegetables, etc. That way, I don’t have to search my list when I arrive in a particular section of the store, nor do I have to keep going back and forth when I come across another product that I forget to get while I was in a particular section.

Paul uses this very same tactic when addressing his vices in 1Ti. 1:9-10. By examining these groups, we can discern the proper meaning of arsenokoitai(s) once and for all.

“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,  [10]  For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind [arsenokoitais], for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine”

1Timothy 1:9-10

Grouping Analysis
Terms Type of Group
lawless and disobedient synonyms for lawbreakers
ungodly and sinners synonyms for people who transgress God’s word
unholy and profane synonyms for the sacrilegious; those who dishonor the sacred
murderers of fathers/mothers, and manslayers related terms; types of killers
whoremongers [pornois],
male-bedders [arsenokoitais], and
menstealers [andropodistais]
(we’ll examine the connection below)
liars and perjured persons synonyms for people who speak untruths


As you can see, Paul clearly grouped his terms together. Consequently, the question we have to ask ourselves is: What do whores, “male-bedders”, and menstealers have in common? If we can answer this question, we can be fairly certain that we’ve found the definition of arsenokoitais.

Obviously, since we don’t know what type of male-bedders are being condemned—nor do we even know for certain that arsenokoitai(s) can be properly broken apart into its constituent words—we need to focus on finding the link between whores and menstealers first. Then, we’ll be in a better position to discover the role that male-bedders play in this group.

The word translated “menstealers” in the KJV, andropodistais, is translated in other common translations as kidnappers and slave traders. So, we’re basically looking at people who forcibly exploit others, usually for financial gain. Now, the fact that whores (prostitutes) are being condemned in this group indicates that the type of exploitation being spoken of here is sexual exploitation.

So, we have Paul condemning both prostitutes, and those who exploit them for financial gain. Considering modern prostitution, it takes only a small awareness of the industry to quickly identify those who exploit prostitutes. We call them pimps.

Seeing that Paul is, indeed, condemning the participants in a prostitution ring—considering that he condemned both the prostitutes, as well as those who profit from their exploitation—we have to ask one more simple question: Who is the third player in a prostitution ring? Quite obviously, the industry would not exist if it were not for one of its more important players—the customer! So, in this 3-player group in which prostitution is condemned, Paul condemns the prostitutes (pornois), the pimps (andropodistais), and those who “bed” the prostitutes—the customers (arsenokoitais).

Some believe that male-male prostitution, specifically, is what’s actually being condemned here. This is certainly possible when we consider the culture Paul lived in. Pederasty—the sometimes forced sexual relationship between an older and a younger person—most often took a male-on-male form in ancient Greco-Roman culture. So, it’s perfectly consistent with the cultural environment to conclude that Paul was condemning male-male pederastic prostitution. The inconsistency comes into play once we take it upon ourselves to translate and/or interpret this passage as in any way condemning homosexuality in general. Such a leap would be as abusive of the text as seeing a condemnation of opposite-sex prostitution and translating or interpreting it as a condemnation of heterosexuality!

What Does malakoi Mean?

As with arsenokoitai(s), the first thing we need to do is determine whether a reexamination of the meaning of malakoi is justified. Is there sufficient cause to question the translation of this term? To answer this question, we’ll do the same thing we did with arsenokoitai(s)—compare the ways our modern English translations render this term.

Version Translation
KJV effeminate
NKJV homosexuals (footnoted as “catamites”)
NIV male prostitutes
NASB effeminate (footnoted as “effeminate by perversion”)
AMP combined with arsenokoitai as “those who participate in homosexuality”
NLT male prostitutes
CEV pervert
NCV male prostitutes
HCS male prostitutes
ESV combined with arsenokoitai as “men who practice homosexuality” (footnoted as “the passive and active partners in consenual homosexual acts”)
YLT effeminate


It doesn’t take long to realize that a reexamination the translation of malakoi is more than called for. Contrary to what many people would have us believe, it’s exceedingly obvious that the translators were not sure of the proper translation of this term within this context.

Out of the 11 translations considered, 4 completely different terms are used:

  1. effeminate (KJV, NASB, YLT)
  2. some variation of homosexuals, either by orientation or activity (NKJV, AMP, ESV)
  3. male prostitutes (NIV, NLT, NCV, HCS)
  4. perverts (CEV)

Excuse my candor, but this is absolutely ridiculous. These translations are all over the place. In just 11 translations, the word was translated in four completely different ways. That’s an average of a different translation for every two Bible versions. If we made a distinction between the condemnation of “homosexuals” and the condemnation of “homosexual activity” we’d have to add yet another variant translation. If there were ever evidence that a word’s translation requires reexamination, this is it!

Unlike arsenokoitaismalakoi was used elsewhere in Scripture, which allows us to take into consideration its usage in a non-list context. In Matt. 11:8 and Luke 7:25, it (malakois) was used to describe John the Baptist’s clothing. It was translated as “soft” in these verses.

The root word, malakos, actually means soft or feminine. Think of its usage in the gospels as referring to soft apparel, which may seem feminine, like silk. From this perspective, “effeminate” is a fairly accurate rendering of the term in 1Co. 6, in a literal sense. Still, it doesn’t really convey the specific way in which Paul used it. For example, was he intending to condemn anything soft, like the aforementioned clothing worn by John the Baptist? As we had to do with male-bedder, we have to try to identify the specific type of femininity that is being condemned here; for example, all women are, by definition, feminine in one way or another, and we certainly don’t want to think Paul was condemningthem.

Now, we saw in the 1Ti. 1 vice list that Paul grouped his terms together. While there’s no evidence that he did the same in 1Co. 6, the fact that malakoi appears in conjunction with arsenokoitai may lead us to the proper translation of the word.

In fact, it does! Considering that arsenokoitai(s) refers to the customers of prostitutes, it makes perfect sense that Paul would also condemn the prostitutes themselves whenever he condemns their customers. Indeed, as was the case in 1Co. 6, it makes sense that he would condemn the prostitutesbefore he condemned their customers.

Think about modern styles of speech. If I was pastoring a church and condemning certain behavior in a particular sermon, I wouldn’t say, “The customers of prostitutes, and also prostitutes are in sin.” What I would say is, “Prostitutes and their customers are in sin.” The primary subject in such a consideration is the prostitute. Their customers are an extension of them; so it makes sense that in both 1Co. 6 and 1Ti. 1, Paul would condemn prostitutes before he’d condemn their customers—and that’s exactly what he did.

Unlike the English translations’ renderings of arsenokoitai(s) (in which every single translation got it wrong), 7 versions got the translation of malakoi correct (even if not precise), including the KJV, NASB, and YLT (which correctly, albeit imprecisely rendered the term “effeminate”), as well as the NIV, NLT, NCV, and HCS (which more accurately rendered the term “male prostitutes”).

Now, if you’re thinking through this information critically, your next question is likely, Why would Paul refer to male prostitutes by calling them feminine? The answer is found in the type of male-male prostitution Paul was likely condemning—pederasty. The prostitutes were always younger boys, even prepubescent. They would certainly be considered feminine, not only in that they would take the submissive role sexually, but also in that their prepubescent skin was smooth and “soft” (malakos), their voices higher, and their mannerisms not markedly macho.

The Conclusion of the Matter…

Without a doubt, the terms often translated as having something to do with homosexuality, malakoiand arsenokoitai(s), actually have nothing to do with it (in any general sense). To the contrary, what is condemned in these passages is pederastic prostitution, which, although male-male in nature, cannot be seen as in any way analogous to homosexuality in general. Paul was condemning behavior that was familiar to himself and to his readers, and it’s exceedingly unfortunate that our modern English translations have not faithfully preserved his words.

Often hailed as one of the smoking guns of antigay theology, these two Pauline vice lists are an ever-present reminder of the dire need to engage in study before making a theological pronouncement. What’s so sad is that the lists in and of themselves are actually fairly straight-forward. Rather than Paul’s words being the problem, it’s the translation of his words that has held the Church captive to ignorance for so long. But, in the words of Jesus Christ, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free!”

Leviticus seh two man mussen wrap-up inna bed!

If man and man lie down inna bed them must dead! I’m sure you’ve heard that before, from all different types persons. So what exactly does the Bible say about ‘two man wrap up inna bed’? Let’s study Leviticus 18 and 20 and see what the Bible says, not man but God.

The following was written by Pastor Romell Weekly and can be read at its original location here: http://gaychristianfellowship.com/articles.php?aid=1014&cid=6

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Leviticus contains two of the most oft-quoted passages dealing with homosexuality. Their language is clear, their prescribed penalty severe, making them the perfect weapon to use in establishing homosexuality as one of, if not the most horrible sin one can commit against God.

In this first installment in our Clobber Passages series—so called because homosexuals are often metaphorically beaten over the head with these passages—we’ll determine the proper interpretation and application of these two well-known verses. We’re examining them together in one study because they are so similar in content, as well as context. Indeed, they’re practically a repetitive emphasis of the self-same command.

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

Leviticus 18:22

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

Leviticus 20:13

In relatively recent years, the common interpretation of these two passages has been brought into question. The Hebrew word-arrangement in the verses is quite weird (for lack of a better term), leading to multiple alternative translations.

Hebrew Transliteration of 18:22: Ve’et zachar lo tishkav mishkevey ishah to’evah hi.

Literal Translation: And with a male you shall not lay lyings of a woman. It is an abomination (detestable).

As this literal translation demonstrates, the language of the text is anything but absolutely clear. While it may seem obvious to some on the surface, it can be interpreted in a few substantially different ways. For example:

Possible Interpretation #1: And with a male you shall not lay as the lyings of a woman,which can indicate that what’s being condemned is male-male penetrative sex (a male having sex with another man as he would with a woman).

Possible Interpretation #2: And with a male you shall not lay as the lyings of a woman, which can also indicate that what’s being condemned is heterosexual males engaging in male-male penetrative sex (a male having sex with another man as he would normally have sex with a woman).

Possible Interpretation #3: And with a male you shall not lay in the lyings of a woman, indicating that what’s being condemned is male-male sex within a woman’s bed.

What is obvious is that these two passages are condemning male-male sexual intercourse in some way. What is not so obvious is whether all male-male sexual intercouse is being condemned, or simply that which is committed in a certain way (e.g. by a heterosexual male, or in a woman’s bed).

Unfortunately, there is no way to derive the proper translation based on the Hebrew words alone. We’re going to have to yield to a logical review of the text in order to discern which translation makes the most sense within the cultural and textual context.

Beginning at verse 6 and continuing to verse 20, a veritable laundry list of sexual acts are prohibited. In the parallel passage in chapter 20, the context also includes various sexual proscriptions. I don’t think that any sincere inquisitor subscribes to the notion that these various and sundry proscriptions are anything but universal in their intent. For example, no reasonable student of Scripture would conclude that incest is only being condemned within a limited context or scope.

Given the universal condemnation of other sexual activity in the previous verses, the rule of interpretational consistency leads me to believe that this verse is saying exactly what it appears to be saying—that under any and all circumstances, male-male penetrative sex is to be condemned.

Why Is Male-Male Sex Condemned?

Although we now have an understanding of what these two verses are saying, it’s exceedingly important that we do not stop there. A grand mistake Christians make in interpreting a particular verse is in failing to realize that interpretation is only half of the task. When we fail to seek out why a particular command of Scripture is given, we run the risk of obeying or applying the command in a manner that is inconsistent with its original intent.

Consider the example of hair lengths. In 1Co. 11:14-15, the apostle Paul states that it’s shameful for a man to have long hair. He also implies in verse 15 that it’s inappropriate for a woman to have shorthair. Those who fail to understand why these things are said regarding hair lengths would mistakenly apply these proscriptions to modern Christians, despite the fact that they are wholly obsolete!

You see, hair lengths meant something to the world/culture Paul lived in and addressed that it doesn’t mean to us today. Long hair on a man symbolized culturally undesirable feminine qualities in a way that it no longer does. In addition, we no longer view women as property or subservient people who need a “covering” (a symbolic representation of her submission to patriarchal authority). As the world changed, so did the application of these proscriptions, which, although not obvious from the verse itself, contain a socio-religious worldview—applicable in its own place and time, but not in ours.

This potential to misapply properly translated and properly interpreted passages is why it’s so important to ponder what we read—to consider not only what it says, but also why it says it. It’s essential that we apply this rule to our examination of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

The key to getting a fuller picture of the intent of a passage is to consider the cultural and textual context within which it is written. These verses in Leviticus were recorded during a time when the children of Israel were in grave danger of falling into idolatry. Not only had they mischievously exported idolatrous beliefs and practices after their deliverance from enslavement in Egypt (remember the golden calf they made while camped at the foot of Mount Sinai—Ex. 32), but they were also in danger of adopting the idolatrous beliefs of the Canaanite people, where God was bringing them to.

God expressed this concern at the beginning of each respective chapter where these proscriptions are found.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  [2]  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God.  [3]  After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.  [4]  Ye shall do my judgments, and keepmine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God.  [5]  Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.”

Leviticus 18:1-5

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  [2]  Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.  [3]  And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.  [4]  And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not:  [5]  Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.  [6]  And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.  [7]  Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.  [8]  And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.”

Leviticus 20:1-8

[all emphases mine]

In both of the relevant chapters, God expressly laid out His reasons for the proscriptions that would follow; and in both chapters, those reasons are ultimately identical. He desired for His people to be culturally and religiously separated from the world around them. He didn’t want them exporting Egyptian idolatry, or assimilating into the socio-religious culture of the Canaanites. They were Hispeople, and the best way for that to be demonstrated was for them to maintain complete separation from the world/cultures around them.

This explains why only male-male sex was condemned, not female-female sex. Homosexuality (or more precisely, same-sex sexual intercourse) was not being condemned in these passages. What was being condemned was activity that was taking place within the idolatrous cultures of Egypt and/or Canaan. Within the idolatrous worship beliefs and practices of these cultures, men would have sexual intercourse with the male priests of the idol temples (who were often eunuchs) as an act of worship, for the intercourse symbolized the coming together of the idol fertility goddes, Astarte, and the fire god, Molech, who was the male counterpart of Astarte. The sexual intercourse was done for the agricultural blessing of the coming years’ harvest—if Molech, the part played by the male worshiper, planted his seed (semen) within the fertility goddess, Astarte, it would promise a good harvest of crops that year.

Since women did not play a part within this paticular cultic worship practice, it perfectly explains why they were not mentioned in these particular pasasges. Keep in mind that women were mentioned alongside men in the verses preceeding and succeeding the verses in question. But, when it came to these specific proscriptions, they were nowhere to be found. This is the only logical interpretation of the text, which corresponds perfectly to the overall context of God’s intention to keep the Israelites sanctified (separated from the idolatrous beliefs and practices around them).

Cultic Worship, Not Homosexuality? Are You Sure?

How sure can we be that the proscriptions contained in these two verses (18:22 and 20:13), both of which include proscriptions of male-male sex, are referencing cultic worship rites and not all same-sex sexual activity? Well, first of all, one would have to explain why only male-male sex was condemned, if all same-sex sexual activity was supposedly ungodly in the eyes of God.

To claim that the textual intent was to imply condemnation of both sexes engaging in same-sex activity is to stretch the text beyond its expressly stated scope. Remember, women were specifically mentioned in proscriptions prior to and after these specific verses. If the intent was to condemn homosexuality in general, we would expect to see both sexes condemned within these particular verses.

Second, we must remember that God specifically laid out the reasons for these proscriptions in the first few verses of each respective chapter. If we ignore this expressly stated intent, and apply His words more broadly then He originally intended, we will be purposefully twisting Scripture in order to validate our traditional beliefs. I’m not willing to do that. Are you?

Third, not only did God lay out the intent of the text in the first few verses of each chapter, but the worship of idol gods is clearly within the mind of the author (and Author) within these contexts—for in chapter 18, right in the midst of this list of proscribed sexual acts, child sacrifice unto Molech is also condemned. In fact, the text breaks from a listing of proscribed sexual acts, talks about a specific act of Molech worship, and then condemns male-male sex in the very next verse. Remembering that Scripture was not originally written in verses, it’s clear that this is a flowing thought. It flows from the first verses down through the condemnations of male-male sex, including specific mentions of Molech worship in both chapters (18:21, 20:2-5). Clearly, idol worship is in the mind of the writer.

So, male-male sexual activity was representative of idolatrous peoples. As such, they served as symbols of cultural similitude that God was trying to avoid in keeping the Israelites sanctified from the world around them. That is why the acts were condemned within this Leviticus context. To maintain the intent of the text is not to twist or disobey Scripture. In fact, it’s the highest means of ensuring that God’s holy word is not abused or misused.

Does This Mean That All of the Activity Proscribed Here Is Okay Today?

This is a very legitimate question, and I think that the answer is helpful in ensuring that we continue to apply God’s word in a manner consistent with its intent. Here’s the deal. If I condemn activity within a specific context, it should only be viewed as condemnable within that context. That would mean that none of the condemnations within these contexts should be applied outside of the context of idolatrous socio-religious practices. Where such practices are not culturally steeped in idolatry, it would be inconsistent to apply the proscriptions, including those related to incest and other sexual sins listed in these verses.

But, that doesn’t automatically mean that the activities proscribed are perfectly okay today. It only means that we must look elsewhere in Scripture to see if the activity should be condemned universally, because these particular verses clearly and only apply to activity engaged in within the socio-religious cultures of idolatrous people.

As an example, consider racial hate crimes. Now, a law may exist within hate crimes legislation that the murder of an individual for racial reasons is unlawful. Would this mean that murdering someone for non-racial reasons is okay? Of course not! However, we would be forced to look outside of the hate crimes legislation to find legal backing for our case, for those particular provisions are only applicable within a framework of race-based crimes. No court of law would apply the Levitical proscriptions to a modern population, in which idolatrous cultural worship practices are now wholly obsolete (culturally speaking). To do such would be to apply the laws within contexts that they simply do not apply. Secular judges would see this, but studied Bible scholars, pastors, and teachers of Scripture seem to only remember it when the subject isn’t homosexuality!

How Does This Apply To Modern Christians?

We’ve already dealt with the fact that these verses do not apply outside of the context of cultures deeply intertwined with idolatrous activity. However, the reasons behind the inapplicability of these passages do not end there. We also need to consider an important biblical principle that applies to the entire Mosaic Law, and to all the laws contained therein.

In the apostle Paul’s epistle to the Galatian church, he makes as good a case as can be made regarding a Christian’s relationship to the Mosaic Law. I strongly encourage you to read the entire epistle; but the point of Paul’s teaching was that the Law served a purpose during a specific place and time, and for a specific people. When Christ came and died on the cross, the era of the Law was brought to a conclusion. Every single provision of the Law is now, therefore, null and void, just as much as ancient Egyptian law is null and void in 21st century America.

The Law was right and good during the time that it was in force; but for a believer in Christ to live under any provision of it is to, by implication, reject the death of Christ—the horrible price He paid in order to free us from bondage to the Law and deliver us into the liberty of the sons of God. Christians who turn to the books of the Law to determine the code by which we should live are guilty of one of the most egregious errors a Christian can commit. In fact, God considers it spiritual adultery for a person to submit to any portion of the obsolete Law.

“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?  [2]  For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.  [3]  So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.  [4] Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

Romans 7:1-4

What makes this error even more treasonous is that the majority of Christians who turn to the Law to prove that homosexuality is a sin are well aware of the fact that we are no longer under the Law (Ro. 6:14). Yet, they ignore this reality in an attempt to validate their beliefs. Such a blatant and purposeful abuse of Scripture is antithetical to what it means to be a follower of Christ, who is, Himself, the living Word. I pray that God calls this error to their attention, so that they can repent of enforcing a Law that Christ died to fulfill and bring to a conclusion.


For a more comprehensive analysis of Levicus 18:22 and 20:13, as well as a more detailed examination of a Christian’s relationship to the Mosaic Law, I encourage you to order your copy of Homosexianitynow. Lives are being touched by the truths revealed therein. Add your name to the list!

God Made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!

Often times when the religious debate over homosexuality and Christianity rage, one of the first points we hear is that God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. Is this really accurate?

The article below was written by Pastor Romell D. Weekly from the Gay Christian Fellowship. (The entire article can also be read here: http://gaychristianfellowship.com/articles.php?aid=1029)

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Among the few stories in the Bible most people are familiar with, Christian and otherwise, the Creation narrative ranks highly. What makes this narrative so unique is that it is the introduction to everything—the accounting of God’s first actions when stepping outside of the infinite expanse of eternity, inaugurating time and beginning the great saga of mankind.

Recorded in Genesis, which simply means “beginning”, the narrative has become one of the battlegrounds for examinations of God’s intentions for human sexuality. It certainly makes sense that this would be the case, for one might have the best chance of understanding the purpose of a thing by examining its initial stages, before left and right turns over time may have taken it off of its intended course.

So, the point of this examination is not to denounce the Traditionalist tendency to reference Creation as the holy grail of anti-gay theology. To the contrary, I actually believe the Creation narrative is relevant to discussions about human sexuality, but only to the extent that Scripture affirms its relevancy. We can’t force it to apply in ways the text does not justify, so we must be careful not to stain the story with our own worldviews. Let’s apply logic and critical thought to this narrative and see what we can objectively glean from its witness.

For our reading, we’ll examine the relevant parts of the narrative, bypassing the segments dealing with the creation of the cosmos, of plant life, etc. We’ll look specifically at the “short version” recorded toward the end of Chapter 1, and will then look at the more detailed account recorded in Chapter 2.

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’  [27]  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  [28]  God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’  [29]  Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;  [30]  and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so.  [31]  God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

Genesis 1:26-31 (NASB)

“Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  [8]  The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed… [15] Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.  [16]  The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;  [17]  but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’  [18]  Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’  [19]  Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  [20]  The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.  [21]  So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.  [22]  The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.  [23]  The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.’  [24]  For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.  [25]  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Genesis 2:7-8, 15-25 (NASB)

In this passage, we find the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the first marital union. The assumption is that we can examine these circumstances and determine God’s intentions for mankind as it relates to marriage. What we’ll soon discover, however, is that this narrative is not nearly as prescriptive (expressing guidelines or rules) as Traditionalists would have us believe. Indeed, what we learn from the narrative is precious little when it comes to God’s intentions for human sexuality. The majority of the text simply describes the circumstances surrounding the first marriage, with no judgment being expressed or implied about the diversity of marital forms that would follow (even in Scripture itself).

The primary error Traditionalists make when examining this passage is to assume that every point is universally applicable. While this may be the case, assuming anything about anything should never be involved in examinations of Scripture. Therefore, the first thing we’ll do is enumerate the points from the text. We’ll then consider each point in light of the greater biblical witness—as well as a bit of logic and common sense—to see whether it has immediate or universal application.

First, let’s examine the more common points taken from the passage.

  1. (1:28) God commands His human creation to be fruitful and multiply (have many children and numerically expand the human race) to the point of filling the earth.
  2. (2:18) God says that it’s not good for Adam to be alone, so He decides to make him a suitable helper (companion).
  3. (2:21-22) Fashioned from one of Adam’s ribs, Eve is ultimately created to fill Adam’s need for companionship.
  4. (2:21-22) God made one woman for Adam.
  5. (2:23-24) Adam pronounces Eve bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, ultimately serving as type of validation of God’s new creation. It is then stated that man will leave his parents and be joined to his wife, and the two will become as one.

Traditionalists generally take each of these points to be commands that are universally applicable to mankind. Depending on how legalistic they are, they may go as far as demeaning those who do not uphold these points (e.g. those who do not have children, as point #1 states). But, our task is to determine whether these points are simply the historical record, or whether they are actually commands that all mankind must submit to.

1) (1:28) God commands His human creation to be fruitful and multiply (have many children and numerically expand the human race) to the point of filling the earth.

Does the command to “be fruitful and multiply” mean that those who do not have children are disobeying God? One person says yes on the basis that the command applies to all mankind, while someone else just as easily says no because the command was only given to Adam and Eve. Neither interpretation can be proved or disproved by Genesis 1-2; so the first thing we have to acknowledge is that this passage is simply not sufficient to answer this question with any degree of certainty.

But, what does Scripture tell us elsewhere? Actually, it doesn’t emphatically state anywhere whether or not people must have children. That said, we do have plenty of examples of people who did not have children, and there’s no record that a single one of them was ever chastised for it. These examples include people like the hero Samson, the prophet Samuel, the prophet Elijah, the prophet Elisha, John the Baptist, the apostle John, and the apostle Paul.

Now, the fact that there’s no record of God chastising these individuals for not having children doesn’t necessarily mean that they weren’t chastised. It’s possible that they could have been and it just wasn’t recorded in Scripture. It’s not as though they didn’t commit other sins that weren’t explicitly recorded for us. However, we know that Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15), and yet He didn’t have children either.

This proves without a doubt that God’s command was never intended to apply to all mankind, for it obviously didn’t apply to the Son of Man, Jesus. At most, it only applied during a time in which humanity could have been considered an endangered species (consider that God desired that they “fill the earth”). This interpretation concludes that once the human population became stable, this command became obsolete. The only other possible interpretation is that the command applied to Adam and Eve solely. Either way, there’s no biblical grounds for considering it a universal command intended to last indefinitely.

Consequently, it’s a misapplication of Scripture to judge gay people for not being able to naturally reproduce, seeing as they will not “be fruitful and multiply” through marital sex. Humans are under no obligation to have children, so gay people aren’t violating any rule or principle by being among the number of people who do not procreate naturally in marriage.

Of course, some people ridiculously plead, “If nobody has children, the human race will eventually die off.” First of all, no longer considering “be fruitful and multiply” a universal command in no way means that we’re commanded to not have children. Second, gay couples not having children will not supernaturally prevent heterosex couples from doing so. Third, 90%+ of the human population identifies as heterosexual, meaning that more than enough people are still capable of being fruitful and multiplying. So, this alarmist claim, borne of irrational desperation, is not based on sound reasoning. It in no way proves God’s intentions for human sexuality.

But, this isn’t simply a question with implications for gay people. If God’s command is universal, what does it say for married heterosex couples who choose not to have children? Are they living outside of God’s will unless and until they procreate? Why aren’t we hearing sermons condemning such people, considering that they’re perfectly capable of procreating (even their orientation doesn’t preclude it), yet they choose not to. To me, this would be a more blatant violation than a gay person not procreating, seeing as heterosexuals wouldn’t have this added stumbling block, making their violation that much more inexcusable. Still, preachers aren’t hollering about these “sinners”, and it’s precisely because they realize how unfounded this argument is; yet, they choose to ignore logic and sound hermeneutics when it comes to gay people. For shame!

2) (2:18) God says that it’s not good for Adam to be alone, so He decides to make him a suitable helper (companion).

Does God’s determination that it was not good for Adam to be alone equate to it not being good foranyone (or at least, any man) to be alone? In other words, are all humans expected and required to get married? We can use the same logic to answer this question that we used to answer the previous one. There are numerous examples of God-blessed people who were never married, including all of the people mentioned in point #1. Jesus Himself was never married, and we can draw from that fact the conclusion that God’s determination apparently applied to Adam only.

Having said that, there’s actually a second way of interpreting God’s determination—not that Adam necessarily needed a spouse, but that he simply needed other human companionship. This would mean that the determination obviously no longer applies, since there is no longer one human inhabiting the earth.

This is an interesting interpretation, but it doesn’t really fit the context of the narrative. Given the command to “be fruitful and multiply,” it’s clear that God created Eve with the forethought of their procreation. This not only partly explains why He created a woman (as Adam couldn’t have procreated with another man), but it also indicates the type of companionship God intended to provide in Eve. Adam didn’t just need a buddy. He needed a life-partner—a spouse, and he needed one that was suitable for him.

3) (2:21-22) Fashioned from one of Adam’s ribs, Eve is ultimately created to fill Adam’s need for companionship.

Does the fact that Eve was fashioned out of one of Adam’s ribs indicate that man is incomplete without woman, seeing as she symbolically represents a necessary part of the whole? This question is derived from a theory called Complementarity, which states, among other things, that man is incomplete without woman, and that only in marriage and sex are they brought back together into a whole being, into “one flesh”.

This aspect of Complementarity certainly sounds logical on the surface, but it doesn’t stand up well to even a modicum of scrutiny. It indicts every single man as being incomplete and, by extension, of living beneath God’s standard of wholeness. It makes singlehood a theologically undesirable state, despite Scripture’s explicit testimony to the contrary (1Corinthians 7:1, 7, 32-35).

So, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the only one who could possibly be considered incomplete without a woman is Adam himself. Otherwise, we’d have to consider Jesus incomplete. We’d also have to advise all believers to get married so that they can walk in wholeness; yet such a recommendation would directly contradict the 1Co. 7 passage referenced above.

4) (2:21-22) God made one woman for Adam.

Traditionalists view the fact that God made one companion for Adam as a requirement of monogamous marriage only. They also view the fact that God made a woman for Adam (an opposite-sex partner) as a requirement of heterosex coupling. From this, they derive the simple formula that you’ve probably heard before—that marriage must be between one man and one woman, precisely like the Adam-Eve model.

There are a few reasons why this legalistic approach to marriage is not only wrong, but is contradicted by Scripture itself. First of all, if we are required to mimic the initial state, it would require that all humans get married (as we discussed above), seeing as the first man and first woman did not remain single.

In addition, such an approach to the text would require monogamy as the only God-ordained marital union. Most Traditionalists (and even some progressives) would quickly chime in, “Of course!” But Scripture disagrees with this so-called requirement. Some of the most anointed and blessed people in all of Scripture were polygamists—not only having multiple wives, but even multiple extramarital partners (called concubines). Included among them are the patriarch Jacob/Israel (after whom the entire race of God’s chosen people is named), the warrior-poet King David, and his son, Solomon, who was blessed by God with wisdom surpassing all people.

Now, before drawing any conclusions from this fact, we must be careful. As with our previous points, we don’t want to assume that just because something applied to people God used, it means that that particular thing is morally benign. Jacob was a trickster/deceiver. David committed murder. Solomon dabbled in idolatry. All of the people God used were broken goods, just as we are today; so we shouldn’t assume that because they were polygamists, that somehow means that God approved of polygamy.

But, as with our previous points, when God gets involved in something, we can say with absolute certainty that it must be okay, e.g. Jesus (God in the flesh) remaining single. Now, don’t get miffed by the notion that God had many wives, because that’s not what I’m claiming. He did, however, go much further than simply permitting polygamy against His better judgment, as Traditionalists claim when confronted with the evidence of polygamists in the Bible that God blessed. He actually establishedpolygamous unions, taking Him from being a passive, disheartened observer to being an active participant in the polygamous paradigm.

Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.  [8]  ‘I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!

2 Samuel 12:7-8 NASB

[emphasis mine]

Notice in verse 8 that God says to David that He gave him Saul’s wives (plural). Now, the context of this phrase clearly indicates that from God’s perspective, this was a blessing. He’s pointing out to David how He has blessed him, before going on in verse 9 (not quoted) and asking David how he could bring himself to do such an evil thing as having Uriah killed. So then, polygamy is not simply man’s violation of God’s will, which He permitted but didn’t like. He actually gave multiple wives to David, and anyone who has even an inkling of what it means for God to be holy knows that it’s impossible for God to do something against His own will.

This proves without a doubt that the “one” in the Traditionalist’s “one man, one woman” formula is unbiblical. Now, if the numeric requirement isn’t biblical, we certainly can’t assume that the heterosex requirement is, especially considering what we’ll discover when examining point 5…

5) (2:23-24) Adam pronounces Eve bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, ultimately serving as type of validation of God’s new creation. It is then stated that man will leave his parents and be joined to his wife, and the two will become as one.

Does Adam’s pronouncement of Eve as a part of him, as well as the subsequent statement that a man would leave his parents and be joined to his wife, indicate that a woman is the only suitable companion for a man? Can two people of the same sex become one flesh, despite the fact that only woman was taken from man, not another man?

Let’s look at this logically. We’ve already determined that the whole “rib and wholeness” thing applied only to Adam, not to all men. As a consequence, it’s not consistent to conclude that because woman was taken from man, she is the only possible companion for him. Remember, womankind was not taken from mankind. To the contrary, one woman (Eve) was taken from one man (Adam). While it does provide an image of marriage, manifest in the “one flesh” principle, it doesn’t provide some sort of spiritual requirement that two partners be of opposite sexes.

Think about it like this… It’s not as though Adam literally took back his rib when he married Eve, or when they had sex. It was a symbolic representation of the two coming together, forming a new family unit (the man leaves his mother and father…). If the notion of a so-called missing rib doesn’t require all men to get married, it also cannot require all men to marry women if they choose to get married.

“One flesh”, then, has nothing to do with the sex of the people involved, and everything to do with the need that God was fulfilling in Eve—a suitable life-partner. There’s absolutely nothing provided in Eve’s companionship that cannot be provided by a same-sex partner, with the sole exception of procreation, which we’ve already determined isn’t a requirement anyway.

So, we’ve determined that the traditional points taken from the Creation narrative, all of which are interpreted in a prescriptive fashion when it comes to the subject of homosexuality, actually do not prescribe or require what Traditionalists claim. However, there are less common points we can derive from the text, points that shed a new light on the subject of human sexuality and marriage.

  1. (1:27) Both male and female were created in the image of God.
  2. (2:18) God’s decision to create a second human being was borne of Adam’s need for companionship, not procreation.
  3. (2:18-23) Adam determined what made for a suitable companion, not God.

Let’s examine these points in detail.

A) (1:27) Both male and female were created in the image of God.

The fact that male and female were created in God’s image means that they were whole in their created state, not simply in their married state. It’s not as though Eve was created as Adam’s wife. He had to accept her first (notice that God presented her to Adam just as He did all the animals of creation). They were brought together in covenant by Adam’s pronouncement. This means that even before they were married, they were still whole because they were created in God’s image, and God certainly isn’t broken or lacking.

This actually points back to the erroneous theory of Complementarity. Adherents of this theory assert that the union of male and female fully expresses the image of God; however, not only does this imply that Jesus, an unmarried man, did not fully express the image of God (in direct contradiction to2Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15), but it also implies that all believers must get married if they aspire to the image of God state, as all believers should (2Corinthians 3:18).

B) (2:18) God’s decision to create a second human being was borne of Adam’s need for companionship, not procreation.

Sometimes, I think Traditionalists read Gen. 2:18 as though it said, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to not be able to reproduce; I will make him someone who can help him procreate.'” Procreation is not a requirement for marriage; hence, the inability of same-sex couples to procreate naturally does not delegitimize same-sex unions.

C) (2:18-23) Adam determined what made for a suitable companion, not God.

I’m amazed at how much this point gets overlooked. It happens so often because when people recount the story of Eve’s creation, they usually move immediately from God saying that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone (v. 18) to God creating Eve (vs. 21-22). They completely forget about the intermediate verses of 19-20, in which God brings before Adam all the animals He’d created. Even for the few who don’t forget this section, they assume that the only reason God did this was so that Adam could name the animals. But, this is only half the story.

It makes no sense for God to identify a serious problem with Adam, only to engage in the extremely lengthy process of naming every species of animal. What does make sense is that in verse 20, it explicitly states that among all the animals of creation, a suitable companion was not found for Adam. This indicates that finding Adam a companion was still in the mind of God during this intermediary step.

The question we have to ask is why an omniscient (all-knowing) God would need to individually sort through every animal in order to find Adam a companion. Why would He have to find one at all, seeing as He already knew that Eve was that companion? The only answer is that just as Adam was tasked with naming all of the animals God presented before him, he was also tasked with determining which of those animals was a suitable companion. But because he didn’t find one, God went back to the proverbial drawing board and created Eve.

What’s interesting is that even after creating Eve, God still didn’t make this decision for Adam. Just as He’d brought all of the animals before Adam, verse 22 says that He also presented Eve before him. It was Adam, not God, who then declared Eve a fitting companion, saying, “This is now bone of my bones…” He accepted Eve, and I am convinced that if he hadn’t, God would have created something/someone else. The text clearly bears this out.

Some people are hesitant to acknowledge that Adam determined suitability. For one thing, they fear that they’re taking something away from God’s providence. They also fear the implication that if Adam would have determined that a horse or a rabbit were a suitable companion, God would have paired them. As a result, they reject the notion that Adam determined suitability out of hand. But, it’s very poor practice to interpret Scripture from a place of fear. We should interpret it based upon its own witness, and follow the evidence wherever it leads.

As to the implication itself, the fear is actually unfounded. Bestiality (humans having sex with animals) is condemned in Scripture in contexts free and clear from culturally-subjective applicational limitations, making those condemnations universal. So then, we can expect that such a union would not have been approved by God. The same can’t be said of a same-sex union, however, because no biblical condemnation of homosex sex exists free and clear from applicational limits based on culture (specifically, idolatry and sexual exploitation). Therefore, any belief that Adam couldn’t have chosen another male would be based solely on conjecture, not Scripture.

As it should be clear at this point, the Creation narrative does not establish universal rules for all mankind. To the contrary, it simply describes the historical account. Reading commands into the narrative is simply not a sound hermeneutical approach. That said, there is, actually, one principle conveyed in the narrative that is universal. This isn’t determined by reading such a principle into the text, but because it is attested to elsewhere in Scripture as a binding requirement (or better yet, as an expectation from God).

“Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?’  [4]  And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,  [5]  and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’?  [6]  ‘So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.'”

Matthew 19:3-6

In this passage, Jesus responds to an inquiry about divorce. He references the Creation narrative in answering this question. What’s tragic is that many people, in an attempt to force their theological worldview on the text, take His reference to “male and female” as some sort of validation of the male-female marital paradigm. However, this had nothing to do with Jesus’ statement. He was simply describing the first marriage in order to make a point about divorce. Notice that the fact that God created them “male and female” doesn’t imply to these same people that God requires all people to get married!

But, there is, in fact, a reason that Jesus referenced the Creation narrative. His point was that from the beginning, marriage was intended to be a lifelong union. Although divorce was provided by Moses as an accommodation for human weaknesses, it was, by no means, an ideal option.

So then, the only universal principle we can take from the Creation narrative is that divorce is not God’s will. There are definitely circumstances in which it’s permitted, but it’s not the ideal. But then again, neither are some of the circumstances that can lead to divorce in the first place, like adultery, physical or emotional abuse, or abandonment.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that this sole universal principle derived from the Creation narrative in no way precludes same-sex marriage. Consequently, there is absolutely nothing in the account that precludes same-sex marriage, or even implies that it’s a marital form that’s outside of God’s original intent. To the contrary, it does indicate that we determine suitability, rather than God; and it makes sense, considering that we’re the ones who will have to spend the rest of our lives with this person.