Posted by: Alicia | December 21, 2008

Homosexuality and the Bible – 1 Corin 6:9-10 and 1 Tim 1:9-10

Two other New Testament texts that have brought about great controversy concerning the condemnation of Homosexuality in the Bible, are in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10. Both texts contain a list of sins that will keep one from inheriting the Kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, no adulterers, nor effeminate (malakos), nor homosexuals (arsenokoitai), nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, no swindlers, shall inherit the Kingdom of God.”

1 Timothy 1:9-10

“realizing the fact that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, and immoral men and homosexuals (arsenokoitai) and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.”

Within these two texts are two words that have been interpreted as “effeminate”, “homosexual”, “sodomite”, etc. in several different translations of the Bible. These two words are:

Malakos: (#3120 in the Strong’s Concordance)
Arsenokoitai (#733 in the Strong’s Concordance)

We will look at each word individually.

Malakos:

The Greek word “malakos” has been interpreted to mean many different things:

  1. Soft as in fine clothing
  2. Sexually loose, wanton and lewd
  3. Masturbator
  4. Effeminate Call Boy

We will look at each of these interpretations. But first, let’s look at the Greek definition of “malakos”: (key #3120 in Strong’s Concordance)

Malakos (mal-ak-os): of uncert. affin; soft, i.e. fine (clothing); fig. a catamite: – effeminate, soft.

According to the Greek definition, the meaning of “malakos” is actually uncertain. But the most commonly accepted definition is “effeminate, soft”.

Soft, as in fine clothing:

There are two other verses in the New Testament that contain the word “malakos”. They are:

Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25

In these two verses, “malakos” is interpreted as “soft, as in fine clothing.” Matthew 11:7-19 and Luke 7:18-28 give us the complete account of what was happening at the time when Jesus used the word “malakos”. Let’s look at the Luke account since it give us more detail:

Luke 7:18-20 tells us that John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus to ask him if he is the “Expected One”, or if they should look for someone else.

Luke 7:21-23 tells us that while John’s disciples were with Jesus, “He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He granted sight to many who were blind.” So Jesus responded to the disciples with this answer to their question:

“the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.”

Luke 7:24-25 tells us that Jesus then addressed the crowd around him asking them “What did you go out in the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken in the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces.”

Jesus was asking the crowd if they came out to see a rich, splendidly dressed person. And then he most likely pointed at either a rich person standing in the crowd or a finely dressed Pharisee or Sadducee.

So “malakos” in this set of verses means soft, as in fine clothing. But how does that help us with 1 Corinthians 6:9-10?

Let’s look at another set of verses in the bible, Matthew 19-23-24:

“Truly I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

As we mentioned in our introduction to our Homosexuality and the Bible series, Jesus was explaining that it is difficult (not impossible) for the rich to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. They first have to unload their material concerns, then they will learn to rely on and trust in God for their needs.

Perhaps, in 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul is referring to the Matthew 19:23-24 teaching of Jesus’ concerning rich people, and not someone who is effeminate or homosexual?

Sexually Loose, Wanton and Lewd:

“Malakos” could be applied to moral matters and could mean “loose”, “wanton”, “unrestrained” or “undisciplined.” In other words, the sin mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9 is in reference to someone who is sexually loose, unrestrained, lacking discipline.

Masturbator:

Please see my notes below on the “Greek Interpretation of Leviticus 18:22.

The Effeminate Call Boy:

“Malakos” can also be linked to a particular expression of the ancient world, “the effeminate call boy.” These were young, free, boys who chose to offer themselves for male-male sex in exchange for money – and for the thrill of it. Mark Anthony, famous for his later romance with Cleopatra, had indulged in such prostitution as a youth. As these men grew older, and tried to preserve their youthful looks, they might style and perfume their hair, rouge their face, and remove facial and body hair. “Effeminate” was, indeed, an insult thrown their way.

Note; There is very little evidence that the term “malakos” was specifically linked to homosexual style. For “malakos” was also applied to heterosexuals who were wanton or loose.

Arenokoitai:

The Greek word “arsenokoitai” has been interpreted to mean many different things also:

  • The active partner in sexual intercourse
  • Male prostitution
  • Pederasty or child abuse
  • Greek interpretation of Leviticus 18:22

We will look at each of these interpretations. But first, let’s look at the Greek definition of “arsenokoitai”: (key #733 in Strong’s Concordance)

Arsenokoitai: Abusers of themselves with mankind

It is a combination of the Greek words:

Ar-sane: Male, man. (#730 in the Strong’s Concordance)
Koy-tay: A couch; by extension, cohabitation; by impl. the male sperm: bed, chambering, X conceive. (#2845 in the Strong’s Concordance)

The literal English translation of arsenokoitai would be “man-lier,” “man-sleeper,” or, more graphically, “man-penetrator”.

However, when the two parts of the word are put together, it is not clear what the word means. Is “man” to emphasize the gender of the sexual agent: male? Or is “man” to emphasize the gender of the sexual act? That is, does arsenokoitai mean a man who has sex with others, or does it mean a man who has sex with men? In the first case, the word would refer to a man who is the active partner in intercourse with anyone, female or male. In the second case the word would refer quite specifically to a man who is the active partner in a homo genital act. But from the word itself, there is no way of telling for certain which of these two meanings – or what other meaning – might have been intended. Language is not always logical. For instance, in English the word “lady-killer” means neither a lady who kills, nor a person who kills ladies, but a man who knows how to charm women.

Male Prostitution:

Most Scholars agree that arsenokoitai was used in reference to male prostitution. However, there is a difference of opinion as to what type of prostitution, and who their clients are:

  • It can be strictly male prostitution with both male and female clients
  • It pertains to male prostitutes who sought out the elderly so that they might inherit their estates. The Roman poet Juvenal makes sport of one such heterosexual affair.

Child Abuse/Pederasty:

I, personally, believe that arsenokoitai has more to do with child abuse or pederasty. The reason behind this belief is the definition of arsenokoitai in “The Pocket Oxford Greek Dictionary”. According to this dictionary it means, pederast.

Also, Webster’s online dictionary gives the following definition of “pederast”:

“A man who has sex (usually sodomy) with a boy as the passive partner.” The connotation is that it is without the boy’s consent.

To me, that clears it up.

Greek Interpretation of Leviticus 18:22:

Though the Greeks had many terms for the various aspects of male homo genital behavior, the Hebrews had no word for it. As a result, the Rabbis had to come up with a phrase to describe this behavior. In Leviticus we read the phrase, “you shall not lie with a male as one lies with a woman.” To shorten this phrase, the Rabbis started speaking of male same-sex acts with the words, “mishkav-zakur” (lying with a male) or “mishkav bzakur” (lying with a male). Translated literally for the Greek speaking Jews, the result could well be “arseno-koitai”, “man-lier,” “those who lie with a male.”

With the above in mind, it is very likely that “arsenokoitai” relates to the prohibition of male same-sex acts in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Which if you recall stems from the Hebrew pre-scientific belief that the male semen contained the whole of nascent life. Hence the spilling of semen for any non-procreative purpose – in coitus interruptus (Genesis 38:9-11), male homosexual acts, or male masturbation — was considered tantamount to abortion or murder. However, if you have not already read my teaching on the verses in Leviticus, I strongly recommend that you do. It covers in greater detail the scriptures within context; something that cannot be understood just by reading the verses alone.

Parallel to the Ten Commandments:

Last, but not least, some believe that the list of sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9 parallels the list of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:3-17. So I thought I’d include that in closing:

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
    1. Idolaters (1 Corinthians 6:9)
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth.
    1. Idolaters (1 Corinthians 6:9)
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
    1. Revilers, profane (1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9)
  4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy
    1. Immoral men (1 Timothy 1:9)
  5. Honor your father and mother
    1. those who kill their fathers or mothers (1 Timothy 1:9)
  6. You shall not commit murder
    1. Murderers (1 Timothy 1:9)
  7. You shall not commit adultery
    1. Adulterers (1 Corinthians 6:9)
  8. You shall not steal
    1. Thieves (1 Corinthians 6:9)
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
    1. Liars, perjurers (1 Timothy 1:9)
  10. You shall not covet
    1. Covetous (1 Corinthians 6:9)

The reference to “homosexual” or “effeminate” once again is an inclusion of what Jesus said about the rich.

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Responses

  1. Dear Friend,

    My Strong’s Concordance has the following definitions for Malakos and Arsenokoites:

    * 3120 Malakos, a. GK: 3434 [–> 3119]. fine, soft; (n.) male prostitue, a male homosexual who is the passive sex partner:-soft [3], effeminate [1]
    * 733 Arsenokoites, n. GK: 780 [–> 730+2749]. one engaging in homosexual acts (likely referring to the active male partner), sexual deviant:-abusers with manking [1], them that defile with manking [1]

    In my opinion, all sex outside of marriage is immoral. At the beginning the Creator made them male and female, for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh (Matthew 19:4-5).

    Marriage is not for all men, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it (Matthew 19:11-12).

    • Tyrone,

      I am happy to see that you went to the trouble to look up the references in your Strong’s Concordance. However, the true Greek meaning of Arsenokoites is “pederast”, which is another word for pedephile. The reference to “homosexual acts” is simply an explanation as to the sex act the pederast is having with male children. That does not make him a homosexual. As a matter of fact, research shows that over 90% of pedephiles are heterosexual, not homosexual.

      As for your quotes concerning marriage .. not sure where you are going with that, except to explain your feelings about gays/lesbians getting married. And that is fine, as marriage is not a religious institution anyway. In order to get married in the United States, you have to have a marriage license, which means it is a civil ceremony. However, if you have the ability to marry people and choose not to marry a couple of the same sex due to your religious beliefs, that is your right and no one will take it away.

      Thank you for commenting on my blog. I hope you will continue to follow my teachings, and perhaps comment again.

      Take care,

      Alicia


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