Matthew Vines on 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

by Matt Slick

Mr. Vines says, "In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul warns against those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. And then he lists 10 different types of people who will not inherit the kingdom. Because the dispute here is about translation, I’ll start with the King James Version of this passage, which was published more than 400 years ago and so predates this modern controversy. It reads: “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. Our key words for the discussion here are the words translated as “effeminate” and “abusers of themselves with mankind.” . . . This changed halfway through the last century, when some Bible translators began connecting these terms directly to homosexuality. The first occurrence of this shift came in 1946, when a translation of the Bible was published that simply stated that “homosexuals” will not inherit the kingdom of God . . . The concept of sexual orientation, and of same-sex orientation in particular, didn’t exist in the ancient world. The English term “homosexual” was not even coined until the end of the 19th century. And so translations of these words that suggest that Paul was using these distinctly modern concepts and categories are highly suspect . . . The word translated as “abusers of themselves with mankind” in the King James is a compound word. In the Greek, it is “arsenokoites,” “arsen” meaning “male,” and “koites” meaning “bed,” generally with a sexual connotation . . . simply looking at a word’s component parts doesn’t necessarily tell us what it means . . . This and some other contextual data indicate that this term referred to some kind of economic exploitation, likely through sexual means. This may have involved forms of same-sex behavior, but coercive and exploitative forms. There is no contextual support for linking this term to loving, faithful relationships." (underline added)

This lengthy quote is necessary in order to clarify Matthew Vine's context.  Mr. Vines is trying to say that the words in question ("effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind") cannot be used against homosexuality because "There is no contextual support for linking this term to loving, faithful relationships."  So, Mr. Vines is saying that homsexuality is okay if it is a "loving, faithful relationship."  There are problems with this approach.  First of all, notice there are other sins listed:  fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, extortioners, etc.  Why then does homosexuality get an exemption in this list of bad things?  Does the text really mean that it is okay for a homosexual to have a partner as long as they are loving each other?  Think about it.  Homosexuality is clearly condemned in the O.T. (Mr. Vines admits this regarding Lev. 18:22), but now it is okay in the New Testament?  Second, if committed "loving, faithful relationships" is the justifying factor that makes homosexuality okay, then does a "loving, faithful relationship" mean that fornication is also okay?  Mr. Vines' logic would require a response in the affirmative--which is absurd.  Third, why has Mr. Vines given the non-married homosexual couple the exemption to be able to have sex and it isn't wrong, yet when a heterosexual couple does it, it is wrong?  Mr. Vines failed to address this serious error in his position.

What do the Bibles say?

Let's take a look at some modern translations of the verses to see what Bible translators are offering us.

  • 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 (malakos), nor abusers of themselves with mankind (arsenokoites), 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
  • NASB, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (malakos), nor homosexuals (arsenokoites), 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
  • ESV, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality (malakos), 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
    •  
      • It is worth noting that the ESV combines the Greek malakoi oute arsenokoitai, which is literally "soft ones nor male bed partners" into the single phrase "men who practice homosexuality."
  • NIV, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes (malakos) nor homosexual offenders (arsenokoites) 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

Of course, some might say that the modern translations are biased.  That would be an easy dismissal.  Nevertheless, let's take a look at some Greek dictionaries.

  • μαλακός,  malakós; fem. malak, neut. malakón, adj. Soft to the touch, spoken of clothing made of soft materials, fine texture (Matt. 11:8; Luke 7:25). Figuratively it means effeminate or a person who allows himself to be sexually abused contrary to nature. Paul, in 1 Cor. 6:9, joins the malakoí, the effeminate, with arsenokoítai (733), homosexuals, Sodomites.
    • Zodhiates, Spiros. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. electronic ed. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000.
  • μαλακός, malakós; soft; (1) of clothes soft (to the touch), delicate (LU 7.25); neuter plural malakoί as a substantive, luxurious clothes (MT 11.8); (2) figuratively, in a bad sense of men effeminate, unmanly; substantivally ? µ. especially of a man or boy who submits his body to homosexual lewdness catamite, homosexual pervert (1C 6.9)
    • Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Vol. 4, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.
  • μαλακός, malakós; m: the passive male partner in homosexual intercourse--'homosexual.’ For a context of malakós, see 1 Cor 6:9–10 in 88.280. As in Greek, a number of other languages also have entirely distinct terms for the active and passive roles in homosexual intercourse.
    • Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.
  • ἀρσενοκοίτης, ου, ὁ, arsenokoítēs;  an adult male who practices sexual intercourse with another adult male or a boy homosexual, sodomite, pederast
    • Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library (76). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.
  • ἀρσενοκοίτης arsenokoítēs; gen. arsenokoítou, masc. noun, from ársēn (730), a male, and koítē (2845), a bed. A man who lies in bed with another male, a homosexual (1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10 [cf. Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:27]).
    • Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.) (G733). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
  • ἀρσενοκοίτης, arsenokoites /ar·sen·ok·oy·tace; n m. From 730 and 2845; GK 780; Two occurrences; AV translates as “abuser of (one’s) self with mankind” once, and “defile (one’s) self with mankind” once. 1 one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual.
    • Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G733). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Is Mr. Matthew Vines correct in his assertion that 1 Cor. 6:9 is not about committed homosexual relationships?  That isn't what the dictionaries seem to imply. 

Focusing on orientation is, according to homosexuals, a means of justifying actions.  In other words, because they're born this way, it's okay to act in a manner according to their orientation.  But again, if orientation is a justification for homosexual behavior, then the heterosexuals orientation to be attracted to someone of an opposite gender can also be used as a justification for fornication.  Of course, this argument doesn't work.  The text of 1 Cor. 6:9 cannot be dismissed based on Mr. Vines' preferential interpretation.

 

 

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