This post of course is intended for Christians who have a problem with homosexuality:
It goes against all common sense and reason to believe homosexuals are unnatural. Homosexuality, homosexual desire, and homosexual sex are 'not' sins in and of themselves. To condemn or treat the way a person was born as a 'sin' is the gravest sin of all. Homosexuals are born in every place around the planet; from the smallest mountain village to the smallest desert village. It is not something 'learned' or 'taught' to them. It is innately the way they were born, as God created them, and it is 'natural' for them to be attracted to, and fall in love with, their own gender, upon reaching puberty, just as it is 'natural' for a heterosexual to feel and do the same with the opposite gender upon reaching puberty.
Levitical purity laws, (which are mistranslated in almost all English Bibles concerning homosexuality) do not apply to Christians, and so the people who bring up Leviticus to attack gay people with are gravely mistaken.
Jesus and homosexuality:
It is worthwhile to check the words attributed to Jesus by the author of the Gospel of Matthew. He created a comprehensive list of sins that would bring doom on a person: Matt 15:18-20: "...those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man..." It is even more worth noting that homosexual behavior is not one of the behaviors that is mentioned in this passage. The conclusion is that Jesus did not consider it a sin.
The options open to a Christian:
A Christian has two options with regard to the Christian Scriptures (New Testament):
1. To accept a favorite (and safely familiar) English translation as accurately containing the words of the original authors. This is a simple and straightforward approach because biblical passages related to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals (LGBT) in English Bibles are universally condemning. No further effort is needed.
2. To base the interpretation of these passages on the most ancient available Greek manuscripts of 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy. This is as close as we are able to get to the original autograph copies written by the author(s). This option is much more demanding, and made even more difficult because the precise meaning of some of the Greek words are unknown and can only be inferred. Even worse, a convincing case can be made that 1 Timothy was written by a second century forger, many decades after Paul was executed.
If Paul had wanted to condemn homosexual behavior in general, the word for it at the time was paiderasste. What he did, rather than simply use one of the many existing, quite precise Greek terms for aspects of homosexuality (or for homosexuality in general) – words that he would have been quite aware of – is create an entirely new word.
The word "arsenokoitai" in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy:
"Arsenokoitai" is a Greek word that appears to have been uniquely created by Paul when he was writing 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. No record remains of any writer having using the term before Paul. It has been translated as "abusers of themselves with mankind" in the King James Version (KJV):
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
The KJV was finished 1611 CE when there was no single word in the English language that referred to homosexuals or homosexuality. The translators were forced to use this awkward phrase. The term "homosexual" was only created in the late 19th century.
More recent versions of the Bible translate arsenokoitai here as:
• "homosexuals," (NASB);
• "homosexual perversion," (NEB);
• "homosexual offenders," (NIV).
In doing this, they appear to have little respect or attention to the actual meaning of the original Greek verse. By using the term "homosexual" the translators changed the scope of the verse. The original Greek refers to men only; the English translation refers to both males and females; i.e. to gays and lesbians. We suspect that the temptation to attack lesbians overcame the translators' desire to be accurate.
The author of 1 Timothy also used "arsenokoitai." The KJV translated it similarly:
"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, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine."
Christian theologians generally agree that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians circa 55 CE. However, they differ on the authorship and date of the three Pastoral Epistles -- 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus.
• Some scholars believe that Paul wrote the Pastoral epistles during the interval 62 to 64 CE just before his death.
• Many other scholars believe that they were written up to 85 years after Paul's execution, circa 100 to 150 CE by an unknown person who pretended to be Paul.
What does "arsenokoitai" really mean?
"Arsenokoitai" is made up of two parts: "arsen" means "man"; "koitai" means "beds."
Although the word in English Bibles is interpreted as referring to homosexuals, we can be fairly certain that this is not the meaning that Paul wanted to convey. If he had, he would have used the word "paiderasste." That was the standard Greek term at the time for sexual activity between males. We can conclude that he probably meant something different than people who engaged in male-male adult sexual behavior.
Many sources have speculated about the meaning of "arsenokoitai:"
• "Homosexual offenders:" The NIV contains this phrase. Suppose for the moment that Paul had attacked "heterosexual offenders" or "heterosexual sexual offenders." We would not interpret this today as a general condemnation of heterosexuality. It would be seen as an attack only on those heterosexuals who commit sexual offences. Perhaps the appropriate interpretation of this verse is that it does not condemn all homosexuals. Rather it condemns only those homosexuals who engage in sexual offences (e.g. child sexual abuse, rape, unsafe sex, manipulative sex, coercive sex, etc).
• Male prostitutes in Pagan temples: One source states that the Septuagint (an ancient, pre-Christian translation of the Old Testament into Greek made between the 3rd and 1st centuryBCE) translated the Hebrew "quadesh" in I Kings 14:24, 15:12 and 22:46 into a Greek word somewhat similar to "arsenokoitai." This passage referred to "male temple prostitutes" -- people who engaged in ritual sex in Pagan temples. Some leaders in the early Christian church also thought 1 Corinthians was referring to temple prostitutes. Some authorities believe that it simply means male prostitutes with female customers - a practice which appears to have been a common practice in the Roman empire.
• Pimp: Another source refers to other writings, written later than 1 Corinthians, which contains the word "arsenokoitai:" This includes the Sibylline Oracles 2.70-77, Acts of John, and Theophilus of Antioch's Ad Autolycum. The source suggests that the term refers "to some kind of economic exploitation by means of sex (but not necessarily homosexual sex)." Probably "pimp" or "man living off of the avails of prostitution" would be the closest English translations. It is worth noting that "Much Greek homosexual erotic literature has survived, none of it contains the word arsenokoitai."
• Masturbators. At the time of Martin Luther, "arsenokoitai" was universally interpreted as masturbator. But by the 20th century, masturbation had become a more generally accepted behavior. So, new translations abandoned references to masturbators and switched the attack to homosexuals. The last religious writing in English that interpreted 1 Corinthians 6:9 as referring to masturbation is believed to be the [Roman] Catholic Encyclopedia of 1967.
• Abusive pedophiles: Many would consider "malakoi" -- the word preceding "arsenokoitai," in 1 Corinthians -- to refer to a catamite: a boy or young male who engaged in sexual activities with men. Such boys were often slaves, owned by rich men as sex partners. The second term might then refer to the men who engaged in sex with the catamites. That is, they were abusive pedophiles or hebephiles. The New American Bible contains a footnote which reads:
"The Greek word translated as 'boy prostitutes' [in 1 Cor. 6:9] designated catamites, i.e. boys or young men who were kept for purposes of prostitution, a practice not uncommon in the Greco-Roman world....The term translated 'practicing homosexuals' refers to adult males who indulged in homosexual practices with such boys."
In their footnote, the translators recognize that the term refers to abusive male pedophiles, but apparently cannot resist the temptation to attack all homosexuals -- both gays and lesbians, non-abusive and abusive.
Harper's Bible Commentary (1998) states that the passage refers to:
"... both the effeminate male prostitute and his partner who hires him to satisfy sexual needs. The two terms used here for homosexuality... specify a special form of pederasty that was generally disapproved of in Greco-Roman and Jewish Literature."
Many religious scholars agree that the center portion of 6:9 might be accurately translated as: "male child abusers and the boys that they sexually abuse." i.e. the two behaviors probably relate to male pedophiles who are also child rapists, and the male children that they victimize. The verse would then refer to the crime of child sexual abuse and has no relation to homosexuality in the normal sense of the term: i.e. to consensual sexual relations between adults of the same gender.
Male prostitutes: One scholar has provided an interesting analysis of 1 Corinthians. He noticed a pattern in verse 9 and 10. They are composed up of pairs or triads of related groups of people:
The lawless & disobedient: two near synonyms
The ungodly & sinners: also two near synonyms
The unholy & profane: two synonyms
The murderers of fathers & murderers of mothers & manslayers: three kinds of murderers
Whoremongers & "arsenokoitai" & menstealers
Liars & perjurers etc.: again, two near synonyms.
From the repeated pairs or triads made up of synonyms or near synonyms, one might expect that whoremongers, "malakoi arsenokoitai," and menstealers are interconnected with a common theme -- just like the other pairs and triads in the list.
In the original Greek, the first of the three words is "pornov." An online Greek lexicon notes that this is Strong's Number 4205, and was derived from the Greek word "pernemi" which means to sell. Its meanings are:
A man who prostitutes his body to another's lust for hire.
A male prostitute.
A man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator.
The second term is "arsenokoitai" which has not been given a Strong Number because it is a made-up word that is almost never found in the Greek language other than in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians.
The last of the three words is "andrapodistes," the stem of the word andrapodistai. It is Strong's Number 405 which means:
A slave-dealer, kidnapper, man-stealer -- one who unjustly reduces free men to slavery or who steals the slaves of others and sells them.
If we assume that the three words refer to a common theme, as the other five groups are, then we have to look for some sense which the words have in common. Cannon suggests:
"pornoi" refers to an enslaved male prostitute.
"arsenokoitai" refers to a man who forces sex on an enslaved male prostitute
"andrapodistes" refers to a person who kidnaps and enslaves people.
The common theme is slavery. Cannon suggests a translation: "It is as if Paul were saying, 'male prostitutes, men who sleep with them, and slave dealers who procure them'." That is, all three words deal with slavery. They are unrelated to homosexual behavior in the modern sense of the term i.e. consensual sex between persons of the same sex.
• A boy sex slave
Again, the common theme is slavery.
Translating "arsenokoitai" as a boy who is kept as a sex slave has some support in at least two Bible translations:
As noted above, a footnote in the New American Bible (NAB), interprets "arsenokoitai" as a " boy prostitute."
The Jerusalem Bible translates the triad in 1 Timothy as: "those who are immoral with women or with boys or with men." In 1 Corinthians 6:9 the same word "arsenokoitai" is translated as "catamite."
An acurate translation of 1 Timothy 1:10 would be: "...male prostitutes, boys who have sex with men, and slave dealers who enslave them both."
As you may have observed by now, attempts to distort the Bible into a message of hate are badly misguided. The passages in Leviticus and Paul's three letters specifically apply to people engaging in ritual activity with pagan priests or sacred prostitutes. The references to 'sodomites' in Deuteronomy, etc., are a clear error in translation that refer to the same thing. The Sodom and Gomorrah references clearly refer to inhospitality and not to homosexuality at all.
Here's the most fundamental weakness in such thinking: the Bible does not condemn lesbians. There is a proscription against women wearing men's clothing, and a letter from Paul 'mentions' "women [who] did change the natural use into that which is against nature" – whatever that means – but nothing else. Any translations that apply to 'homosexuals' (i.e., including females as well as males) are mis-translations, possibly intentional, certainly political.
So it is entirely within Christ's teachings to welcome and celebrate the unique way that God created homosexuals, and to encourage them to find another to marry and live a monogamous life with, rather than to condemn and/or cast them out, which almost inevitably leads to despair, and a promiscuous and dangerous lifestyle in an attempt to gain the physical affection and love they were denied.
For example, here is one verse that many Christians use to persecute gay people with, (even though Levitical purity laws do not apply to Christians) but don't realize that their Bible has it translated falsely.
Leviticus 18:22 - The translations of this verse found in most English Bibles are not supported by the Hebrew text:
"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."(KJV)
The honest and correct translation:
"And with a male, thou shalt not lie down in a woman's bed; it is an abomination."
Below, is a word by word translation of this verse:
ואת זכר לא תשכב משכבי אשה תועבה הִוא
V'et-zachar lo tishkav mishk'vei ishah to'evah hu.
(Transliterated using modern Israeli Sephardic pronunciation.)
V'et - This is two words. First, V', which means and. This word cannot exist by itself, and therefore is attached to the word that comes after it, that is, et. This word means with. So the first two words of this verse are And with.
zachar - This word means male. Hebrew has no indefinite article (a, an), so when the definite article (the) is not used, as in this case, an indefinite article is understood. Therefore, this word translates as a male. The verse so far reads And with a male.
lo - This word is the Hebrew equivalent of our words noand not. It is used in this case to negate the verb that follows it. Because English has a more complicated verb structure than Hebrew, it will take more than one English word to translate the next Hebrew word, and the not will need to go in the middle of those words, so we won't add this word to our translation yet.
tishkav - This is a verb. Unlike English verbs, everything we need to know about tense and person is contained in this one word. No additional pronouns or tense markers are needed.
The root of the verb is the last three letters: sh-k-v, and it meanslie down. The first letter of the word, t, is not part of the root, but indicates person and tense and even gender. To translate tishkav into English will require four words, as well as a parenthetical note to indicate the gender of the pronoun.
The word translates as Thou (male) shalt lie down. The previous Hebrew word, lo, negated the verb, so we have And with a male thou (male) shalt not lie down. mishk'vei - This is a noun. The base form of the noun is mishkav, and it can be seen that the last three letters of the base, sh-k-v, are also the three letters of the verb root above, meaning lie down. This noun means bed. Hebrew nouns have more than one form. In addition to having singular and plural forms, many nouns also have absolute and construct forms. An absolute noun stands alone, with its own meaning. A construct noun is grammatically tied to the noun that follows it. In English it often translates by placing the English word "of" between the two nouns. A good example is the Hebrew Beit Lechem (Bethlehem), which in English translates as House of Bread. This is because the first word, Beit, is in the construct state.Mishk'vei is in the plural construct state, meaning beds of. It would be a good idea here to explain a bit about Hebrew prepositions:
Hebrew has prepositions that correspond to ours, but doesn't always use them the same way. For example, when people leave us, in English we say that we miss them. But in Hebrew, the verb to miss is used with a preposition, and we say that we miss to them. The same works in reverse, that is, sometimes English requires a preposition when Hebrew doesn't. If a preposition can be derived from context, Hebrew will sometimes leave it out. In English, we need it. Therefore, we need to insert the English word in before the words beds of, in order for the sentence to make sense in English.
The verse so far reads And with a male thou shalt not lie down in beds of.
ishah - This is the Hebrew word for woman. Since there is no definite article (the), it is understood to mean a woman.And with a male thou shalt not lie down in beds of a woman.Since this is awkward, we will rephrase it to "in a woman's bed."And with a male thou shalt not lie down in a woman's bed.
(Note: The word mishk'vei only appears three times in scripture: Gen. 49:7; Lev. 18:22; Lev. 20:13. In Genesis, it is paired with the word avicha, which means "thy father," and the phrase is correctly translated in most versions as "to thy father's bed." As in Lev. 18:22, the preposition is derived from context.)
Punctuation as we know it was not part of the original text. Even modern Hebrew Bibles contain only one punctuation mark, which looks like a colon ':', and serves only to point out the end of a verse (but not necessarily the end of a sentence). English is very difficult to read without punctuation marks, so we insert them as we translate. After the word woman, we may insert either a semicolon, or a period, to indicate that the following words are not part of the first phrase, but simply offer further information about it. And with a male thou shalt not lie down in a woman's bed;
to'evah - This is a noun. It translates as abomination. Without a definite article, it translates as an abomination. Hebrew word order often varies from ours, and this is one case where this is true. In English, this will be the last word in the sentence, so we will hold off on adding it to the translation until we have finished with the next word.
hu - This little word serves so many purposes, not only for readers of the Hebrew text, but also for those today who wonder about the accuracy of the Hebrew text. You see, this word is a grammatical error made by Moses. Moses was well schooled in the arts and sciences of ancient Egypt, but not in the tongue of his own people. Although he evidently spoke Hebrew well enough to be understood, like so many today, he did not always use proper grammar. His meaning remained the same, but the grammar was wrong.
I want to repeat that: His meaning remained the same, only the grammar was wrong.The word הוא hu means both he and it. It means it when applied to masculine nouns. But to'evah is a feminine noun, so Moses should have used the word היא hi, which means she and it. It means it when applied to feminine nouns. (All Hebrew nouns are either masculine or feminine; there is no neuter gender. This gender concept is grammatical in nature only, and has nothing to do with men or women, per se. For example, in Hebrew a table is masculine, whereas in the Romance languages, it is feminine. It has nothing to do with the nature of the table; it's simply grammatical.)
The next point of grammar involves the present tense forms of the verb to be. In English these forms are am, art, is and are. Hebrew has such forms, but almost never uses them, except in reference to God, or when absolutely necessary for context.
The reason for this may be that the forms are too close to God's name in Hebrew. While this may seem awkward to us, there are many other languages that don't use the present tense of the verb to be. For example, Russian has become so used to ignoring the forms, that some of them are completely obsolete. The Russian equivalent of am can't even be found in a dictionary or grammar book any more. They get along fine without it, and so does Hebrew. But English can't, so we have to insert the appropriate forms when translating: And with a male thou shalt not lie down in a woman's bed; it is
Finally, we put in the words an abomination: "And with a male thou shalt not lie down in a woman's bed; it is an abomination."
This is the correct translation of Leviticus 18:22. It can be seen that, rather than forbidding male homosexuality, it simply forbids two males to lie down in a woman's bed together, for whatever reason.
The problem is that just because people see a nicely bound 'Bible' in the millions at many churches, it doesn't mean it's a good translation. A bible only sells, if people want to purchase it. There are 'many' different types of English Bibles that say many different things. They are far from infallible.
'Masturbators'. At the time of Martin Luther, "arsenokoitai" was universally interpreted as masturbator. But by the 20th century, masturbation had become a more generally accepted behavior. So, new translations abandoned references to masturbators and switched the attack to homosexuals. The last religious writing in English that interpreted 1 Corinthians 6:9 as referring to masturbation is believed to be the [Roman] Catholic Encyclopedia of 1967.
KJV: (King James Version, 1611): Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination.
LB: (Living Bible, 1971): Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin. (Notice the clear, unjustified extension of the verse to include lesbians; lesbian behavior is entirely absent from the whole of Hebrew scriptures.)
NIV: (New International Version, 1973): Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.
MSG (The Message, 1993): Don't have sex with a man as one does with a woman. That is abhorrent.
NLT: (New Living Translation, 1996): Do not practice homosexuality; it is a detestable sin. (Again, a clear, unjustified extension of the verse to include lesbians.)
NET (New English Translation, 2005): You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it is a detestable act.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the term 'abomination' was an intentionally bad translation, given how far it differs from the meaning of the original Hebrew. It is used with a set of different situations in the King James Bible.
The Living Bible and its revision, the New Living Translation, by using the word 'homosexuality' (for which there was no linguistic or cultural equivalent in Hebrew times) add two further errors. First, they add lesbians to the condemned group with utterly no justification for doing so. Second, since 'homosexuality' includes not just homosexual acts but also the mere fact of being oriented toward the same sex, the translations condemn both. These two translations say that it is a sin to be the way God created gays.
However, when translated exactly word for word into English, it says: 'And with a male you shall not lie [in the] beds of a woman,'which is to say that if two men are going to have sex, they cannot do it in a bed belonging to a woman, i.e., which is reserved only for heterosexual intercourse.
Both this verse and the other from Leviticus (see below) appear in a holiness code that applied to Israel rather than to gentile Christians in an age of grace. Both occur in the clear context of opposition to the practices of the local fertility god Moloch; verse 21 sets the stage for this one by forbidding people from allowing their children to be burned in sacrifice to Moloch, verse 23 prohibits intercourse with animals (the idol of Moloch was in the form of a bull with a man's head and shoulders, so this verse too may refer to idol worship). At the time, in order to get a conviction, Jewish law required four (male) witnesses, so whatever the action condemned in Leviticus was, it was likely a public event (there are no instances recorded in the Talmud of anyone being brought before the Sanhedrin and charged with homosexual activity). Worship of other gods provided a context where sex is very public, and there are 59 other places in the Bible where the worship of other gods is called an abomination (in the KJV). How could these two verses not apply to temple prostitution?
The probability that ritual prostitution is the context of these two verses is underlined by a later mistranslation of the Hebrew word qadesh, which appears in Deuteronomy (23:17), 1 Kings (14:24, 15:12 & 22:46), and 2 Kings (23:7). Literally the word means 'holy one'; it is clearly used in these verses to refer to a man that engages in ritual (pagan) temple prostitution in order to encourage the god(s) to make the earth and its creatures more fertile. By analogy many scholars interpret the verses in Leviticus as specifically referring only to sexual activities in a pagan temple ritual.
In the King James Version the word qadesh was translated for the first time as 'sodomite,' a word that at the time generically referred to any person who engaged in 'unnatural' sexual acts of any type. The New King James and 21st Century King James translations inaccurately retain the word 'sodomite' even though today it refers specifically only to males who engage in anal sex; most other Bibles more accurately translate it as cult, shrine, or temple prostitute.
Translators face a choice between alternative prohibitions of:
-homosexual behavior by either sex
-sexual behavior between two men
-sexual behavior between a man and a married man (or perhaps three people, including at least one man and one woman)
-just anal sex between two men
-just pagan temple ritual sex (between two men?)
sexual activity between two men in a woman's bed
Be aware that post-King James translations fixate on the first two. This has had a self-perpetuating effect; a Bible that strays significantly from this message won't sell, which means it won't get published. Deviating from traditional interpretations would certainly generate a lot of media hype, which would temporarily boost sales because of the publicity generated, but it would also block the use of the translation by many if not most purchasers of large numbers of Bibles.
The fact that for the first 300 years of Christianity, there is evidence of men marrying each other, and that there was no rejection or persecution of homosexuality shows something went very wrong when the bishops at the time finally gained the ear of an emperor, whose word was law. After all, it had been recognized as 'normal' human behavior for thousands of years at the time Christianity burst onto the scene, and they wouldn't have made many converts if they were going to attack or kill (homosexual) people who the majority at the time found perfectly natural.