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Homosexuality & The Bible
- Continued -   #2
By: Rev. Charles Burnett-Morrow

We started by looking at the term “malakos” (soft) and “arsenokoites” (lift-couch).  I gave one example of a more probable definition for the term “malakos” or soft.  In the course of my writing on this subject matter, I will frequently refer to things written by my friend and fellow minister, as well as author, Rev Samuel Kader who wrote a book, “Openly Gay, Openly Christian” How the Bible Really Is Gay Friendly(Available online at Barnes & Nobel, as well as at local book retailers nationwide)

In Sam’s book, he speaks of another possible definition for the term “malakos;” cowardly and spineless in the face of great tribulation and even the threat of death, as many early church members were.  No matter what definition one chooses to embrace, this one fact remains certain, THERE IS NO SPECIFIC EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER THAT PAUL WAS WRITING IN REFERENCE TO ANY FORM OF HOMOSEXUAL OR HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY.  To make that leap one must literally put words in the mouth of God’s holy apostle, and I am one who believes that to do such a thing is a most grievous of sins.

Moving on to the second term we started looking at yesterday, “arsenokoites.”  Again, the literal definition is “lift-couch.”  Once again taking into account the practices and atmosphere of the times in which this was written, it can clearly be seen that Paul spoke of those who used sexual activity as a means of elevating themselves or securing some blessing.  In Paul’s time many cults existed which employed temple prostitutes.  These individuals offered themselves to any who came to them for their services in exchange for the promise of blessing, fertility, prosperity, etc.  Many of them were actual priests and priestesses in their religion.  Sexual activity was commonly engaged in and/or required if an individual embracing these false gods were to have any hope of attaining that which they needed from the gods.  The God of Israel made it clear that his people and priests were never to engage in such lewd and lascivious behavior.  Israel frequently degenerated to a state where they did indeed employ these same beliefs and practices, but such conduct was flatly rejected by the God of heaven as filthy and a gross misuse and abuse of priestly status and authority.  Even today there are men who occupy positions of religious leadership who use their position as a means of enticing and seducing young boys and girls into performing sexual acts for them, all with the promise that in so doing these children are securing the blessings of God.  It’s in nearly every newspaper today!

Paul’s use of the term “lift-couch” may, in my mind at least, best be compared to the modern concept of a “casting couch.”  We have all heard it said that many a young starlet has gone off to Hollywood to find fame and fortune, only to discover while there that the best parts would only be made available to them if they were to sleep with, or at least perform some sexual favor for, the director or some other prominent figure in a given motion picture.  The concept of sleeping with or performing sexual favors for an individual in an effort to obtain special treatment or preferred status is not at all new to humanity.  It certainly wasn’t new to Paul.  It was a daily occurrence in many temples and within many false religions, as I’m sure it too was commonly engaged in by many non-Christians who believed that such exploitive use of power, position, or authority was perfectly acceptable.  As born again children of God, we know that to physically, sexually exploit another in exchange for our favor or assistance is completely inconsistent with Christian teaching and principle.  It is, in my mind, much more sensible that Paul would be speaking of such practices, as well as those who engaged in such practices when he wrote of “arsenokoites” or “lift-couch.”

In the writings of Jerome, an early church father, he clearly interprets and translates Paul’s newly coined phrase as “temple prostitute.”  Historically, Jerome was certainly much closer on the timetable to the actual life and times of Paul.

Once again, let us use a table provided in Sam Kader’s book to look at the many differing translations offered for the term “arsenokoites.”

KJV                             Abusers of themselves with mankind
NIV                             Male Prostitutes
Living Bible                Homosexuals (Again, bear in mind, this paraphrase of the Bible is so full of inaccuracies in so many areas of doctrine                                                   agreed upon by the majority of Fundamental, Evangelical churches that it should not even be taken seriously in terms of sincere study and careful research!)
Interlinear Bible         Homosexuals
Revised                      Sexual perverts/I Tim. 1:10 sodomites
J.B. Phillips                Pervert   I Tim 1:10 Sexually uncontrolled or perverts
Amplified                   Those who abuse themselves with men
New English Bib.        Perverts
New KJV                    Sodomites (explained as male homosexuals in footnotes)
NAS                            Homosexuals
Barclay                       Homosexuals
Good News                Sexual perverts - I Tim. 1:10
St Joseph New
Catholic Edition         Sodomites

Now bear in mind, according to the Living, Amplified, New English, New King James, and Good News Bibles; the term “malakos” (soft) was to be translated as homosexual.  Now we have the NIV, Living, Interlinear, NKJV, NAS, and Barclay claiming that Paul’s personally coined compound word, “arsenokoites” or “lift-couch” is to be translated in one way or another as homosexual.   Those above who have alluded to perversion can in no wise honestly claim to link perversion with homosexuality per se.  One can be perverted within the context of a heterosexual orientation just as quickly as one may be perverted in a homosexual context.

The New KJV uses the term “sodomite,” but then goes on within the footnotes to more carefully explain that in their definition a “Sodomite” is a male homosexual.  The St. Joseph New Catholic Edition also employs the term “Sodomites.”

The very use by these translations of the term “sodomite” is laughable as it assumes a certain type of behavior to be ascribed to individuals coming from or behaving like those who lived in Sodom.  Therefore, you must first have some misinformed notion of the nature of the people of Sodom and her sister cities before you will ever be able to ascribe to this term the definition they clearly intend to infer.  If I decide within my writing to use the term New Yorker in a negative connotation every time I speak of an individual who is rude, obnoxious, loud, or lacking social graces, I may create the impression that all New Yorkers behave like this.  However, the truth remains that while certain stereotypes may carry the day in any given society, the stereotypes ascribed to that group of people may or may not be accurate, however, the only individuals who will ever know the truth are those who have had the experience of being in New York and around New Yorkers.  In this same way the term “sodomite” implies and assumes a homosexual connotation whether the evidence supports this implication or not.   In our next article we shall begin our look at the truth about Sodom.  We shall then later revisit this issue of the use of the term “sodomite.”