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Submitted on
March 5, 2013
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Another mention of same-sex activity in the Bible occurs in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy:
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. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and the 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 prejured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. (1 Timothy 1:9-10)
Abusers of themselves with mankind (arsenokoitai in greek) is a controversial compound word consisting of the parts "male" (arsenos) and "bed" (koiten). Its first appearance in history is thought to be this place in the Bible, and it may or may not have been specifically coined by Paul. Many translators, under the assumption that homosexuality is already a sin, assert that such an ambiguous word can and should be translated as "homosexual" (Paul uses no other term in all of his writings that could refer to any same-sex behavior). However, this is nothing more than poor scholarship, and if one wishes to find the true definition of a word, knowing its context is crucial.

Unfortunately, most contexts surrounding the use of arsenokoitai following the Bible are, like the verses above, "vice lists," making it difficult to discern exactly what the word itself means. In most places, it is listed between "effeminate" (malakos) and "thieves." The Acts of John, however, a testament that was written outside of the Bible itself, slightly alters the context:

Likewise also thou poisoner, sorcerer, robber, defrauder, sodomite [arsenokoitai], thief, and as many as are of that band, ye shall come last, as your works do lead you, unto unquenchable fire, and utter darkness, and the pit of punishment, and eternal threatenings. (Acts of John 36)
Apparently, arsenokoitai is more like a defrauder or a thief than a whoremonger, adulterer, fornicator, or especially a homosexual! The word itself, however, implies that it does refer to an act of sex.

A common practice in Paul's day was the slave trade, and in bustling cities like Corinth, which existed in the prime location for business and trade, sexual slave trade was rampant. Traders sold both female and male slaves that were bought and exploited by men. These men were not "homosexual"; they were often married, and attained a sort of status and power by being able to treat other men like women.

The traditional viewpoint also holds that malakoi, when paired with arsenokoitai, refers to passive and active homosexual partners respectively. However, this premise is flawed because it assumes, first of all, that all homosexual partnerships consist of an active and passive member, and secondly, that Paul could not have used any other combination of words to refer to homosexual behavior (erastes and eromenos refer to both pederastic relationships and male consensual adult relationships). This viewpoint also neglects the fact that not once in all of his letters does Paul refer to lesbian relationships, even though women having sexual relationships with other women was well-known and widely practiced in Greek and Roman cultures (the Greek term tribas indicates a woman who takes the "active" role in a lesbian relationship, while lesbiai refers to lesbian activity itself).

Malakoi had been translated across the board as "morally soft" or "weaklings" until the Douay-Rheims Bible was published in 1610, rendering it as "effeminate." It was first used as a term for passive homosexuals in 1869, although prior to this translation it referred to men who indulged themselves in luxury, pleasure, and women. Arsenokoitai, in context, most likely refers to men who sexually exploited both female and male slaves, and in some cases, their own wives.
BlueLetterBible: malakoi

arsenokoitai: [link] [link]

lesbians: [link]

acts of John: [link]

(list of words Paul could have used instead: [link] )
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Very nicely done! Great points. :)
You're very welcome! :D
SeersSword Mar 6, 2013   General Artist
I could cry I'm so happy to read this.
I wrote other things too if you want to read them :)
SeersSword Mar 7, 2013   General Artist
YES!!!!! :iconsquee-loveplz:

*rushes to your page*
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