Ethics,  New Testament,  Old Testament

Homosexuality was Added to the Bible in 1946

It is becoming more and more popular to argue that the Bible speaking against homosexuality is a recent innovation that was added to the Bible to make Scripture anti-gay. One very common iteration of the argument is that the word “homosexual” was not in any Bible prior to 1946. The implication of such argumentation is that the Bible does not speak against homosexuality, and that the church should therefore accept a gay lifestyle as being compatible with biblical teaching.

picture of Bible which allegedly did not include homosexuality until 1946

Those who put forward such argumentation typically point to Luther’s German translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9, which uses the word Knabenschänder, or “boy molester” rather than the typical idea of homosexual found in modern translations. Additionally, proponents point to the KJV translation, done in 1611, which translated 1 Corinthians 6:9 as, “nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” It was not until 1946 with the translation of the RSV that the term homosexual came to be utilized in Bible translations.

How should Christians respond to such argumentation? Is it true that the Bible is accepting of homosexual behavior, and that it was only recently (after 1946) when the Bible was twisted to be anti-gay?

There are multiple arguments which are important to work through in order to think accurately about this issue.

First, a translation does not determine meaning, but is a reflection of the translator(s) understanding of a text, conveyed through the capacity of a target language.

This is a very important point at every level. Every translation is ultimately an interpretation by the translator, but it is also limited by the target language. Anybody who knows more than one language understands this. Each language has its own idiosyncrasies, common vocabulary, and idioms which must be accounted for. Most languages do not represent ideas in the same ways.

With regard to Bible translation specifically, there are plenty of examples where Bible translations convey a meaning which is not exactly in line with the original meaning of the Greek or Hebrew. For example, the use of James instead of Jacob in the NT, or even the KJV’s use of “Appearance” in 1 Thessalonians 5:22. In other words, translation is not a simple issue, and there will often be differences in how translations are done.

I would argue the idea of using a particular word in a translation is less important than the question of meaning. Ultimately, the most important question to ask is, what does the text mean. In other words, what did the author mean when he wrote the original words in Greek or Hebrew. Our translations are supposed to be a window through which we can discern that answer, but translations can be imperfect (though thankfully we normally have very good translations). Regardless, the most important question relates to meaning of the original text. The issue of word choice in a target language is secondary because words change and develop in the target language over time.

Let me give a rather easy example to demonstrate how this works. Substitute the word gay for the argument relating to homosexuality in the Bible. The Bible is not against gays, because the Bible doesn’t use the word gay. Obviously, the fact that our Bible translations do not use the word “gay” has little to nothing to do with whether the Bible speaks against the gay lifestyle.

Second (and most importantly), the Bible unequivocally speaks against homosexual behavior.

This is the most important point. Whether English had developed or used the term homosexual is really an unimportant point, because homosexual behavior is described and prohibited in Scripture. For example, the term homosexual is not used in Leviticus 18:22 or 20:13, but it is clearly what is in view, since the sexual relationship described is compared to how a man lies with a woman.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

Leviticus 18:22

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

Leviticus 20:13

The very fact that Leviticus 20:13 speak against both active and passive partners shows that it is the homosexual act itself that is condemned, not a certain aspect of it. Historically pro-LGBT scholars have tried to argue against this point by theorizing that Leviticus 20:13 was a later update of the original law, Leviticus 18:22. Although there is no evidence of such an update, obviously it is necessary to argue that way since the text is problematic the way that it reads for a pro-LGBT viewpoint.

Some pro-LGBT scholars argue that the Levitical prohibitions against homosexuality are outdated and the church has moved beyond those antiquated notions. The problem is that Paul utilizes Leviticus both in Romans 1 as well as 1 Corinthians 6 to formulate his sexual ethics.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:26-27

In fact, the link between Paul and Leviticus is so strong, Beradette J. Brooten, herself a lesbian commentator, writes the following:

Rom 1:26–32 directly recalls Lev 18:22 (“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination”) and 20:13 (“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.”) Even though Romans 1 does not explicitly cite Leviticus 18 and 20, they overlap at three points: (1) Romans 1 and Leviticus 18 and 20 use similar terminology; (2) both Romans and Leviticus contain a general condemnation of sexual relations between men; and (3) both describe those engaging in such relations as worthy of death.

Brooten, Love Between Women, 282–83.

So, does the fact that Leviticus or Romans does not use the English term homosexual mean anything? Any honest student of Scripture would say no. The Bible speaks clearly on the issue, even without using the term homosexuality. Nor has the church moved beyond the sexual ethics of the Old Testament world. Paul seems to rely heavily on Leviticus 18 and 20 in Romans 1, and that connection is even stronger in 1 Corinthians.

Third, Paul’s use of the word translated homosexuals in 1 Cor 6:9 (ἀρσενοκοῖται) is reliant on the Levitical prohibitions against homosexuality.

It is obvious from a study of the surrounding text that Paul had the Levitical prohibitions against same sex relationships in mind when he wrote the book of 1 Corinthians. This is demonstrated in two ways—big picture and small picture.

Related to the big picture, anyone who studies the book of 1 Corinthians notes Paul’s reliance on Leviticus to formulate his ethics on many of the issues. Note the following examples.

IncestLev 18:6–18; 20:111 Cor 5:1–13
HomosexualityLev 18:22; 20:131 Cor 6:9
IdolatryLev 18:21; cf. 19:41 Cor 10:7; cf. 6:9
Imitating GodLev 19:21 Cor 11:1
Not Causing StumblingLev 19:141 Cor 8:9
Warning Against Spiritual ProstitutionLev 20:51 Cor 6:12–20

Clearly Leviticus was on the mind of the Apostle as he worked through the issues that the church of Corinth faced. But there is also evidence in the small details.

In 1 Corinthians 5:1, Paul uses terminology in describing the incest problem at Corinth in a way that matches with the Greek Old Testament text from Leviticus 18.

Lev 18:7aLev 18:81 Cor 5:1c

ἀσχημοσύνην πατρός σου καὶ ἀσχημοσύνην μητρός σου οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις, μήτηρ γάρ σού ἐστιν. (LXX)  

You shall note uncover the nakedness of your father and the nakedness of your mother, for she is your mother (my translation).
ἀσχημοσύνην γυναικὸς πατρός σου οὐκ ἀποκαλύψεις, ἀσχημοσύνη πατρός σού ἐστιν. (LXX)    

You shall not uncover the nakedness of the wife of your father; it is the nakedness of your father (my translation).  
ὥστε γυναῖκά τινα τοῦ πατρὸς ἔχειν. (NA28)        

That someone is having the wife of his father (my translation).

The wording that Paul uses indicates that what was in mind in 1 Corinthians 5 is incest between a son and his mother-in-law, not the biological mother.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9, the text in view on homosexuality, we have another example where Paul relies on the Greek Old Testament for his word choice. The word ἀρσενοκοῖται did not exist prior to its Pauline usage, and is recognized by scholars as a term that Paul invented from the base text of Leviticus 18 and 20.

Leviticus 18:22μετὰ ἄρσενος οὐ κοιμηθήσῃ κοίτην γυναικός  
Leviticus 20:13ὃς ἂν κοιμηθῇ μετὰ ἄρσενος κοίτην γυναικός  
1 Corinthians 6:9ἀρσενοκοῖται  

The idea that Paul coined the term ἀρσενοκοῖται in reference to the Levitical prohibitions against homosexuality is increasingly prevalent among scholars.  It is not strange at all for Paul to form new theological words. There are 179 words found in Paul that occur nowhere else in pre-Christian Greek literature. Eighty-nine of those terms occur only one time.  This data seems to support the idea that Paul was very comfortable with introducing new terminology. Greek is, after all, very conducive to creating new words easily. Given the fact that Paul was heavily influenced by the LXX and Jewish law, it seems a rather logical conclusion that Paul coined the term ἀρσενοκοῖται (which we translate “homosexuals”) so as to call to mind the Levitical prohibitions against homosexuality.

Conclusion on Homosexuality

The argument that translations did not use the word “homosexual” until 1946 is a red herring which distracts from the real issue. The real issue is not whether the word homosexual was used in English translations, but whether the Bible speaks against the issue of homosexuality. When examining the biblical data, there is really no other conclusion—the Bible rejects the idea of homosexuality as compatible with God’s design for humanity.

Photo by Johannes Krupinski on Unsplash

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He loves studying the Bible and helping others understand it. He also runs The Bible Sojourner podcast and Youtube channel.


  • T Shepherd


    It seems you hit the nail on the head. I have been hearing about mistranslations of Martin Luther and the master slave argument very frequently. From a complete overall Biblical view God only created marriage as defined between a man and a woman. Sex outside of marriage is a sin so I have always wondered how the idea that same sex relationships were condemned is a surprise. The scripture uses marriage throughout the New Testament to define the male husband, and female wife, and their roles in the home and in the church. Comparisons are even made that the role of marriage is a parallel between Christ and the church. To remove the male female definition of marriage would destroy the foundation of the gospel that God instituted with the first man and woman.

    I am no scholar but would love to get a copy of your dissertation for a deeper understanding of the subject.
    My Biblics mentors have always told me the Bible reveals itself through study and common threads that connect Old and New Testsment into perfect unity of message. I believe you have perfectly illustrated this in your article.

  • Ravin Wind

    First I will state that you do make some good points in some of what you say. The problem is that you very much fall into the same trap that you accuse others of, which is inserting your own cognitive bias of what you want a partial passage to mean into your interpretations of them, while often ignoring the culture, content, etymology, and context of the passages in your defense of what is known as the clobber passages.

    A good rule of thumb when interpreting the Bible is to ask “does my interpretation of what I am reading fall in line with the new covenant of Christ that commands us to love humanity”. If it doesn’t promote the love of humanity then it probably is not a good interpretation. As a Biblical Scholar you should very well know that several different people can read a passage out of its contextual space (cherry picking) and get as many interpretations of what it means as there are people. Which is why we have such a diverse range of opinions on such subject by scholars, as you point out.

    I agree that intent of a passage is very much what we need to focus on when we research texts from dead languages or cultures since we do not always have appropriate modern cultural comparisons of what is being talked about. Though I will disagree with you that we in general have “though thankfully we normally have very good translations”. While you (unlike many) go back to older language forms for some of what you are talking about, you are quick to bring out to the forefront English translations of the text that we know as fact are highly flawed in their translation into English. And this is where improper translation of things does matter, because it subverts intent of a passage when it is translated wrong, such as by adding words like homosexual that had never been in a piece before.

    For example you bring up the Levitical texts. In which you trot out the English translation of the word “To’evah” as abomination. The problem is we know that the Hebrew word does not have the same connotation as the word abomination. As we know instead to’evah are social taboos that are most typically centered on an idolatry practices. They most typically centered on prohibitions that prevented the Jewish Communities and those that lived in them (and only those people since the rest of society was bound by the Mishpatim instead of the 613 Mitzvot of Sinaitic Law Codes) from engaging in the practices of other religions. This holds great meaning for Leviticus in that passage because bad translation obscures intent, especially when you cherry pick a partial pericope out of its full context.

    In this case your cherry picked partial passage came from the mitzvot lo taaseh that dealt with sexual taboos. Translation is always more an art than an exact science especially when translating things from dead cultures, which is why we always best to ere on the side of love for humanity rather that punishing humanity in our interpretations. And like it or not the surrounding parts in the Levitical Law Codes around the clobber passages of 18:22 (the act) and 20:13 (the penalty) have great meaning to what is being talked about and show us what the context of the idolatry practice that was supposed to be abstained from was. Especially since we know the passage when more accurately translated is dealing with prohibiting people in the Jewish Communities from breaking the sanctity of the marriage bed in an idolatry practice. This is where actually learning about the cultures from which the texts you are studying come from, because we do in fact understand that translations especially English translations that derived from the KJV translations are very, very flawed. Otherwise that whole passage about Moloch just comes out of nowhere and makes no sense in a passage about sexual prohibitions.

    If we study the texts and the culture they came from then we have an understanding that the passages are a lot darker than simply dealing with a topic of sexuality. The full passage deals with prohibiting Jewish Communities from participating in the fertility of rite of Moloch under the penalty of death. The start of which (like many of the rituals to Moloch) involved an element of human sacrifice. In this case it involved throwing a live child who was to be the offering into either a fire pit or a cauldron of boiling oil to be offered up to Moloch to start the beginning of the rite. As part of that ritual there was basically a huge sex orgy that involved the temple prostitutes who were men and women that ranged in age from young children to young adults that had that had been essentially trafficked into human sex slavery. So entailed a bunch of men raping a bunch of young boys and girls in the hope that Moloch wold make them fertile in the coming year. In addition the women that wanted to be blessed would have sex with the animal sacred to Moloch.

    I think we can all agree that murdering a child to kick off the begging of a festival of raping mostly children and having sex with a bull in front of the town are probably things all of us on either side of the political spectrum can agree is something that is bad and should be prohibited.

    But yeah when you pick a part of that whole thing out of context in a badly translated piece you can make it mean what you want to. Even turning it into a hate passage against people you don’t like.

    But you are right that Paul probably was influenced by Leviticus in his speech even though supersessionism invalidated much of the punitive passages of Levitical Code when they were reexamined under the new commandment of love of humanity.

    The problem here of course with your interpretation is that once again context matters as well as does an understanding of etymology and culture.

    When you don’t cherry pick a passage out of its context you understand a lot more about that clobber passage. First off when we read for understanding rather than with the agenda to forward a message of weaponized hate we understand that while yes Paul was speaking out about a problem, in the context of whole thing it was his “gotcha” moment. Where he, like many pastors of even today start off with the “look at that group or that action, isn’t it bad?” and then turn it into the mirror of “don’t judge them because you are just as bad as they are for what you are doing, do better” speeches. It is basically a rehash of the casting of stones story.

    And yes words and translation do matter because you have to understood what words meant then ves now. While Paul was doing a don’t cast stones speech he was also saying that what the temples of Rome and Greece were doing was wrong. Like with the temples of Moloch for the Canaanites, the Greeks and Roman temples also engaged in issues of temple prostitution like many of the religions of that day and age. While the temples were often better places in those Countries they still employed the use of trafficking in often underage children to work as sex slaves for the temples. Paul did have a problem with that.

    Yes Arsenokites in modern Greek has come to mean homosexual, but as we know it didn’t back in Paul’s age, so it is wrong to act as if that is what Paul meant and that it was ok for the printing company to change the word in modern times to that. It was a slang word of that day and age that came from the words arsenos koiten which the Jewish Philosopher Philo (a contemporary of Paul’s) around the year 35 A.D. had already clearly established referred to the acts of Temple Prostitution. The slang word Arsenokoites was still being used to simply describe acts of sex for money as late as the fourth century in places like the “Apocryphal Acts of John” and the “Sibylline Oracles”. It wasn’t until the second and third centuries that the word had also started taking on the negative connotation of homosexual rape as reflected in the works “The Apology of Aristides” and the Refuatio Ominum Haeresium of Hippolytus”. And it wasn’t until much latter that it became synonymous as simply meaning homosexual in the modern vernacular of use.

    As such it is highly disingenuous to act like people are trying to use a technicality of translation to subvert intention when the reality is people like you are using modern meanings of words to subvert the actual meanings of texts when you know full well that the words used meant something else to the culture using them at the time of the stories.

    Each of the 8 clobber passage that are routinely used as hate speech to stir up violence against LGBTQ+ are always taken out of the context of their passages to spread a message of hate. When not a single one deals with a consensual relationship or sex act. All instead dealt with issues of rape, human trafficking, temple prostitution, or sex with minors. Which all of us should be able to agree are bad things.

    In fact that only story in the Bible that we could even speculate at that dealt with a consensual homosexual act was in the story of the Roman Soldier asking Christ to heal his “servant”. And the only reason we suspect that is because the word “Pais” was used. Which while yes is term for a servant, was also in the vernacular of that day and age usually reserved for speaking about a servant that was in a loving relationship with their master. But it didn’t matter to Christ who healed him anyway.

    And that is the whole issue with the clobber passages. It is undeniable that they are routinely misused and weaponized into tools of violence and hate against LGBTQ+ people in acts that turn people away from God (which we do know is a sin). And is why under supersessionism and the creation of the new covenant much of Old Testament Law that was written under man’s interpretation of the 613 Mitzvot became obsolete, because man had interpreted God’s word wrong in which they had been using it as a tool of persecution, so Christ set them on a new path of love for humanity with a new interpretation of how to look at the 613 Mitzvot.

    And is completely hypocritical in how some church members and even scholars wield them. You have 8 partial passages that have a highly contested meaning with only a loose connection to homosexuality taken out of their contextual meaning used to condemn a group of people that you do not find commonality with, while ignoring the hundreds of condemnations about straight sex that people you do find commonality with commit everyday, and whom you do not routinely condemn or discriminate against. It is safe for you to condemn and persecute LGBTQ+ people because their perceived sin is something you wouldn’t personally commit. But even in the Christian Harmartiology those that contend homosexuality is a sin agree that it is a not an immutable sin. Meaning that it is no different than the myriad of other mutable sins that people commit in their daily life as part of the general faults of being born human.

    All in all is pretty sad that someones whose argument about intent mattering more than translation would take a message from a book of love for humanity to mean that we should hate another group of people simply because they were born with traits that are different than own. The modern day hate toward LGBTQ+ people in which people use the Bible as a justification is no different than the hate that turned the Bible into a tool to support slavery, persecution of left handed people, white supremacy, and a host of other atrocities.

    If what you take of Christ’s Command to Love others makes you think you should be oppressing other people and turning them away from God’s Grace then quite frankly you are doing Christianity wrong and it really is that simple. I would rather be judged by God for the error of being to kind in my interpretation of a contested passages than to instead be mistaken and acted in hate because of a passage in which I harmed someone. And let us be clear you do harm to LGBTQ+ people and society when you use the Bible as a weapon of hate against them.

    • Peter Goeman

      Thanks for taking the time to read (and comment) on the passage! That was a very long comment, so you obviously feel very passionate about this. I would like to point out just a few things in response.

      (1) You advocate a hermeneutic of love (very typical argument for pro-LGBT interpretations), but the problem with that position is that you fail to address who gets to determine what love is. Of course if you make love synonymous with acceptance that kind of interpretation seems more plausible. But I would argue that love has already been defined by God in Scripture, and love rejoiced with the truth, not with unrighteousness (1 Cor 13:4-7). When man makes himself the ultimate decision maker on what constitutes love, we are in big trouble.

      (2) No doubt you have heard many people say things such as *arsenakoites* does not refer to homosexuality, but let me just say that I did my PhD dissertation on the subject and no serious scholar would disagree with my assessment above. In fact, almost all evidence that we have uses it the same way as Paul, in a condemnation of same-sex relationships.

      At the end of the day, the evidence is so overwhelming, even LGBT scholar Bernadette J. Brooten, says that Paul was against LGBT relationships (as any fair minded individual WOULD say). Brooten just believes Paul was wrong (which is a position incompatible with inerrancy).

      In sum, thank you for reading and giving a thorough comment. I would just encourage you to keep reading the scholarship on these issues. The evidence is simply overwhelming that Paul (or Jesus) would not have affirmed or supported same sex relationships/marriage.

      • Ravin Wind

        You are right in that I am passionate about the subject. I have studied comparative religious philosophy for over 30 years myself (though will admit that I only minored in Comparative Religious Philosophy and instead my doctorate study was in Biogenetics with an associates in Latin rather than Greek). As such yes, it greatly upsets me when people of any religious faith egregiously use religious doctrine or spiritual practice that is meant to enlighten the soul instead as weaponized tools of hate that push people further away from grace and spiritual fulfillment (and not just on the issue of bigotry against LGBTQ+ people, as it equally applies to hate shown against immigrants, the poor, POC, women, the disabled, and people of other faiths, etc.). And it is always amazing how arrogant and dismissive people like you are of the wider academic community if they happen to not subscribe to your myopic view point of how you think something should be interpreted and try to act like no serious person or scholar would disagree with you when in fact millions do in fact disagree with your interpretation of turning scriptures of love into scriptures of hate. So lets dissect your rebuttal.

        1. In your first point it is kind of funny actually that you point to a Bible verse (that you ultimately dismiss the definition of in your actions), while trying to say that man doesn’t get to define what love is (while you as a man are trying to define what love should mean in a way that actually goes against your presented scripture). I was actually mainly talking about the agape love that Christ was teaching and telling us to have for humanity in our actions toward others. Though I will perfectly agree that yes, I always advocate that critical thinking of any subject is important in which you question preconceptions to see if they hold true if you are going to study it. And I do not find that to be irrational or unreasonable. We should always be open to new information after all. Spiritual growth can only stagnate and grow corrupt if it can not move forward or stand up to rational or logical questioning.

        So let us examine the passage you picked out for us. I mean seriously how much of that passage of what the Bible tells us about what love is do you have to dismiss in order to promote the narrative that God hates LGBTQ+ people? You set the standard of definition you wanted to use so lets hold you accountable to it.

        a. “Love is patient, love is kind”. Is it kind to tell someone that they are hated by God for being born different? Is it kind to foster an atmosphere that turns people of faith to violence against another person for their perceived sins? Is it patient to try and outlaw the existence of a person for being born without examining their value as a whole person? How is the mistreatment of LGBTQ+ people by certain segments of the Church kind or patient in anyway? How is that Love under the definition you want to use?

        b. “It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” If you are shouting out to the world that only you or those like you know what true love is while not even following your own definition of it, how is that not boastful or proud? If you are seeking to shut down the emotional well being and happiness of others because they have something different than you how is that not envy? How is that Love under the definition you want to use?

        c. “It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” This one should be obvious to even the most hypocritical of people that it is not being followed when you are actively engaged in the persecution and bigotry of others. The promotion of hate of another automatically leads to actions of anger and violence. There is nothing but attention seeking and the dishonoring of others in acts that try to violently and hatefully tear the happiness away from others that are causing no harm to anyone simply because they exist differently than you. Bigotry and hate of another for simply existing is by its very definitions an anathema to what Love is. If Love keeps no records of wrongs, then it would not be more concerned about the physical acts of consenting adults in the privacy of their spaces than the people engaged in those acts are (straight or gay). It would not be trying to punish people for existing because of a perceived wrong. It would instead forgive those acts and show compassion and grace regardless because love is selfless. Every action of bigotry goes against the very definition of what this passage on love is. The irony of how much of a fail for you trotting out this passage in trying to justify your actions of bigotry can not possibly be lost on you.

        d. “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” How are the promotion of acts that lead to hate, violence, and even the death of others for the purpose of trying to separate people from God’s love and family because they were born different than you be anything but acts of rejoicing in evil? How is denying the science of biology and genetics that tell us that things like homosexuality and being transgender are natural genetic traits that are found in almost every life form that exist on the planet that reproduces sexually (a much longer in depth conversation) rejoicing in the truth? How is persecuting people with perceived sins you don’t have, while ignoring or trivializing the sins of those that sin like you, not rejoicing in evil or denying truth?

        e. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” How is fighting for the rights and welfare of the person that means more to you than your own life not protective love? How is looking forward to a day when the person you cherish will not have to worry about being harmed be anything but hopeful love? What is placing yourself on a path with a partner that cares for you anything but trustful love? What is standing in the way of harm in defense of a partner from those that would kill or maim them anything but the preservation of love?

        You state that the words written by men in Corinthians is what love is and is what God means by love and that we can not decide differently. If that is so then it is quite clear that by your standard of what love is, you are not a preserver of it but an active destroyer of that trust in Love.

        2. I am quite certain that using liturgical study that allows for only certain translations of words in approved lexicons and codices for translation purposes for the last few hundred years would come to your conclusions. When you are not allowed to question beyond the narrow scope and not look at the actual historical context and growth of a word’s etymologically then you will always come to the preapproved opinion. But we both know that approved liturgical translation sources that are used in most study programs differ greatly from secular translation sources that give a broader range of word choices and possible meanings and history. As such it is simply an outright lie to suggest that any “serious scholar” would agree with you, unless you limit the scope of your definition of “serious scholar” to only people that think and act like you (since many serious scholars do in fact refute your interpretation with as many opinions on the subject as there are people who have studied it). And in fact resources cited already above would at a minimum in a reasonable conversation say that there is definitely room for debate on what you think something means versus what other people have researched. And while I am not overly familiar with Bernadeete J. Brooten’s works other than to know she focuses on Feminist Gender Studies including focusing on Lesbianism in which she tries to erase harmful and toxic patriarchal interpretations of scriptures, it is not surprising that you like many straight men immediately go to look at anything to do with lesbianism (for study of course) while railing against the “evils of homosexuality”.

        But the issue isn’t whether Paul was or was not against homosexuality. Jesus brought together a whole group of flawed people and told them that despite their mistakes they could be better. Including someone that he knew would betray him. Paul’s insecurities are not the issue. The issue is that the clobber passage that people use that is part of Paul’s speech is only part of Paul’s speech. A speech that was about how you need to work on your own issues before trying to pass judgment on others. In which the examples he used to rial up his audience dealt with the idolatry practices surrounding other faiths that involved temple prostitution, which included human sex trafficking of boys and girls among other things.

        Yes, just like now there have always been people that dislike others for simply existing differently than them. Paul very much could have been one of those people and like you could have struggled with the principles of love for everyone that Christ taught. But even Paul’s condemnations that illustrated a different point only dealt tangentially to homosexuality. Out of hundreds of prohibitions about sex found in the Bible only 8 have a loose connection to homosexuality that people like you pounce on. All of which are tied to other specific issues such as rape, idolatry, forced prostitution, pedophilia, and things of that nature.

        But a whole culture of hate and violence has grown up in certain church segments over those cherry picked (often partial) pericopes (regardless of whose interpretation of the passages in question is correct) that is antithetical to Christ’s teachings. In which the very same prohibitions and hundreds of others against straight sex are found in the Bible but in which people are not dragging the divorced dad that remarried a woman behind their ford pickup and stringing up his bloody body to a fence to die in the cold. That is the issue.

        The issue isn’t whether homosexuality is a sin or not. Though I would find it hard to believe that God would create a genetic trait that is part of their biology and then tell them they are evil for it. A God who would be so cruel and capricious frankly would not be worth our worship and we all know God is better than that. It is instead about our actions in regards to the perception of it. Do you ignore your own sins and instead go out of your way to draw attention to and persecute the sins of another whose perceived sin you don’t have in which you contribute to greater sins that lead to spurring others on to violence, hate, murder and in which your own actions tear people away from God’s Grace, or do you treat them like you would any other flawed person you meet on the street. And that is the issue.

        Which was in fact the whole point of Paul’s speech. Which was that yes we can point to the sins of others and make ourselves feel better, but the real work is looking at our own sins instead and doing what we can to be better people. Which usually doesn’t include judging others for their sins, but loving and respecting them despite their flaws.

  • Donald A Cordner

    Hi Peter,

    When you get the time, I would like to also have a copy of your dissertation. Dr. James White has quite a great deal to teach on the subject as well and and I’d appreciate anything that goes deep.

    Thank you very much for your time and a good article.

  • Ben

    Thanks for defending the faith “once and for all delivered to the saints.”

    This issue isn’t about hating others, being mean, or trying to hurt others feelings. It’s about faithfully defending the teachings of historic Christianity. As you are aware, there have been many heresies throughout the history of the Church. I would admit that some issues can lead to confusion, but the scripture’s teaching on this issue is clear.

    Church Fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Aristides, Athenogoras, Tertullian, and Origen also spoke clearly on this issue.

    St. Paul was not unaware of the Greco-Roman culture around him, yet he did not bend on this issue. Those who wish to be faithful to Christianity must follow his example.

    People struggle with all kinds of sin and want to continue to do what they want to. The message of Christianity is to conform one’s will with God’s will, as hard as that may be. The good news is that God sent his Son to show the way. The other good news is that if one rejects Christianity, one does not have to call themselves a Christian or carry the burden of practicing it.

    Love is an attribute of God, but we are also told that He is holy, a law-giver, a creator, a redeemer, and our judge. He calls for all to repent from sin, not to condone others sin or our own.

    Many have come to twists God’s words, they niether know him, nor desire to subject their will to His will, but you are called to be salt in a world prone to decay and a light in the darkness – stand firm and take comfort in knowing that they would have hated Jesus too, which means you are a disciple following in his path. He also taught marriage was between one man and one woman. Mattew 19: 4,5

  • John

    Extreemly well put Peter, factual Biblical teaching which is impossible to misunderstand ……. except as the Apostle states in 2 Peter Ch 3 v 3 “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days walking according to their own lusts”, we are most certainly in the last days.

    There are those who don’t like what the Bible says and try to make it suit themselves, lets prey that they will ask for and receive Godly wisdom and understanding when they study the referenced passages.

    In case some think that your article is your personal suppositions may I point them to the following website for even further reference.

  • Keith Berry

    I recieved a link to this blog post yesterday by someone who questioned my existence in God’s eyes. It appears you have spent a lot of time and energy about the “sin” of homosexuality. Please know, this is a not a threat but a promise, as I have documented the paper trail – if anyone I love, like my husband, is killed by one of your crazies as a result of what you write and/or preach …. well that’s what our civil courts are for. What you are preaching is dangerous. It causes people to be murdered. If someone is killed as a result of a hate crime, loved ones do have legal standing to file suit. Stop. Enough is enough.

    • Peter Goeman


      I’m sorry you feel that way, but I would encourage you to look at the facts and not confuse religions. Christians do not murder. That is a priority one commandment. No matter what we believe God demands of His creation, we are never obligated to force anyone to obey, nor are we obligated to kill those who do not obey.

      There has, historically, always been opportunity in America to talk about these deeply important issues without resorting to violence. I can promise you that if someone does you violence, that is evidence they are not a Christian. You have nothing to fear from us. But I would encourage you to engage with the substance of the argument and not resort to emotionalism.


      • Keith Berry

        I am a Christian and well aware of what some “christians” are capable of. They use words such as yours to justify their hate, to justify their crimes against humanity. Many “christians” have killed in the name of Christ. I do not wish to debate this with you. My only intent is for you to be aware of the possible consequences of what you incessantly preach – murder . . . civil suits as a result of hate crimes. There are a lot of unbalanced people out there taking your dangerous rhetoric to heart. I had an interaciton with one the other day. Not emotional, just facts.

        • Peter Goeman

          Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Keith. It seems you would be okay with my previous statement then, that not all who claim to be followers of Christ actually follow him—something Jesus himself warned would happen (Matt 7:22). At that point then, we need to ask the question what is a real Christian—and of course the point is a Christian obeys Christ and all of Scripture. According to 1 Cor 6:9-10 that means you also would not be a Christian, so I hope you reconsider the relationship you think you have with Christ. You seem thoughtful, so I pray you ask yourself if you say you are a Christian, why don’t you do what Christ says?

  • Jennifer

    Peter, there were a whole bunch of ancient greek words Paul could have used instead of making up arsenokoitai if he were intending to refer to homosexuality. Erastes or its plural form Erastai were greek words referring to two man lovers, that Paul does not use. Words for men having sex with other men in general were androbates, androbateo and androkoitai, again, Paul does not use them. There also existed words for men having sex with males in general that Paul does not use; arrenomanes and arrenomixia. Clearly Paul is not referring to men bedding other men with this word, otherwise he wouldn’t have rejected perfectly good words already in existence. Finally, nothing about arsenokoitai carries with it connotations of lesbianism, so clearly homosexual is a bad translation on that basis alone.

    Let’s now address your argument that Paul derived this word from the LXX translation of Lev 18:22 or Lev 20:13. There is little objective reason to believe this, given the same composite words arsenes and koiten were also found in other LXX verses referring to sexual activity, Num 31:17-18 and Judges 21:11-12. In addition it wouldn’t make much sense for Paul to be referencing gentile believers to jewish laws when Paul spent so much time in his letters denouncing the old testament law. There is also no objective reason to believe that a bunch of newly converted gentile believers would have a copy of the LXX lying around when books of this magnitude back in those days were extremely expensive to acquire. Whilst nobody can make objective claims about what the new testament believers understood ‘arsenokoitai’ as, its unlikely they understood it to be about homosexuality, given the plethora of words already in existence referring to the same thing and the fact that Paul made the word up. Almost all extra scriptural uses of this word refer either to rape of boys (It is used by one early christian author to refer to Zeus abducting the boy Ganymede and raping him) or rape of men (it appears referring both to rosy fingered Dawn goddess Eos abducting and raping multiple men and the demon serpent Naas raping Adam in the garden of Eve). It interestingly also appears paired with ‘barbarian’ in the phrase ‘you shall not fear either the barbarian or the arrenokoitai’ on the walls of an ancient Grecian city where homosexuality was legal. Clearly this word was not understood to be referring to the two gay guys in love down the street.

    Let’s now address Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. In the original hebrew there are two main words of relevance in these verses that pertain to the homosexuality debate. One is ‘ish’ referring to man/ adult male. It is found only at the beginning of Leviticus 20:13, the second is zakar, found in both verses and translated numerous times throughout the old testament as referring to male children, or boys (see the original hebrew of Lev 12:2) It is far more plausible then that these verses were referencing pederasty or paedophilia, a possible interpretation backed up by jewish literature. First century jewish philosopher Philo interpreted these verses as referring to pederasty in his Special Laws III, IV 37-42. Later Jewish writings clearly allow the interpretation of these verses as referring to pederasty/ paedophilia, Babylonian Talmud 54a makes this quite clear by its inclusion of the sentence ‘whether he is a minor boy.’ Babylonian talmud niddah 13b writing upon ceremonial uncleanliness (niddah) of masturbation makes reference to ‘playing with children’ (an apparent euphemism for paedophilia or pederasty) and associates it with homosexuality/ these verses. Further jewish commentaries make references to catamites, or philerasts. Martin Luther in his 1534 Lutherbibel interprets these verses as such:

    Lev 18:22 ‘You shall not lie with a boy as with woman; for it is an abomination’
    Lev 20:13 ‘If anyone sleeps with a boy as with a woman, they have done an abomination and both shall die to death. their blood shall be upon them’

    Clearly these verses were not referring to acts between two men in light of this

    I shall now address Romans 1:26-27 with reference to its broader context. Romans 1:23 quite clearly refers to rejection of God in favour of worshipping physical false idols of fake gods in the form of men and animals. Romans 1:24 makes reference to sex acts of worship to these false gods. probably also referring to temple prostitution. Romans 1:25 makes further reference to this pagan idolatry and the sex acts in the worship of these false gods. Romans 1:26 makes reference to the act being unnatural (para physin) similarly in 1:27 uses physiken with reference to the men going against nature for each other.

    It is clear from the linguistic context here that Paul was only condemning homosexual acts committed in the context of idolatry, sex worship acts and temple prostitution, rather than homosexual acts in general. Homosexuality is something found in multiple animal species and something proven to be biologically caused in humans, so seeing as we know God does not lie or make claims in His book that are untrue (Titus 1:2) amongst other verses, the only logical interpretation of these verses is that Paul is only condemning homosexual acts in a specific idolatrous sexual context, rather than in general. This is further backed up by the fact Paul does not use the greek word Porneia in romans chapter one, the word usually used by him throughout the new testament to identify sexual sins. This would seem to imply that Paul did not think the actions as outlined in 1:26-27 were distinct sexual sins in their own right separated from their context of idolatry and sexual worship. Nor does Paul use any of the already existing greek words for homosexual acts in general here

    The potential counter argument that all the following sins listed after 1:28 must also be permissible outside the context of idolatry if we take this as a view is soundly refutated by the fact that the references to what is natural/unnatural only appear in verses 1:26-27. This isn’t just modern queer revisionism either, this is the interpretation early christians took regarding these verses. In Pelagius’ Commentary on Romans 1:23-24 he makes reference to ritualised sex acts and connects it to the worship of Zeus/ Jupiter. He also clarifies that the reference to ‘lusts of their hearts to impurity’ refers to ‘the filthy rites of idols.’ Athanasius in Contra Gentes (335-337 CE) links Romans 1:26-27 to temple prostitution of both women and men performing unnatural sexual acts with other men to appease the various goddess cults. This passage also makes reference to the self castration of the galli priests that Paul makes reference to in scripture, this is likely what he was referring to in 1:27 (receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.) Other early Christians also link homosexual acts to idol worship and prostitution; Second century apocalpyse of peter describes punishment for both men and woman who have sex with men in the context of idol worship: These are the worshippers of idols, these are they which have cut their flesh as apostles of a man and the women who were with them, and thus are the men who defiled themselves with one another in the fashion of women, all idols, the works of mens hands and what resembles images of cats and lions, of reptiles and wild beasts, and the men and women who manufactured the images shall be in chains of fire.’

    There is more I could say here but I think you get the idea.
    Just food for thought

    • Peter Goeman


      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. If you are interested, I’d be happy to send you my dissertation which deals with most of the points you made. Although it is a little Hebrew intensive in Chapter 2, most of the dissertation is understandable in broad sense showing the connections. I deal specifically with Lev 18:22 and 20:13 and show their relationship to 1 Cor 6:9-11 and Rom 1:23-27 in the NT. Many scholars are supportive of the view that Paul coins the term arsenokoitai from the LXX, and the simple reason Paul would use that term rather than other Greco-Roman terms is that Paul is a Jew and he is drawing specific attention to the standard of morality that God revealed in Leviticus (Leviticus is alluded to many times in 1 Corinthians–he is clearly dependent upon it).

      In any case, appreciate the comment, and if you are interested in seeing some academically peer-reviewed arguments in support of the above post happy to send you my dissertation. I value the fact you spent some considerable time formulating your comment. Would be happy to interact more in the future.


      • Regina

        Dear Peter
        The Bible is clear in saying, “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book”.
        We are looking at Sodom and call them Sodomites, but what about Gomorrah. Were they also Sodomites i.e. Gomorrahites?
        Are we not extinguishing a species because of our understanding? We are damning these people to hell and pushing them away from the love of God.
        By the way, I was saved by a homosexual practicing pastor and I am not gay.
        I do believe that we have to practice the word of God and love thy neighbour like thyself. We are not doing this with gay people.
        Thank you

        • Peter Goeman

          Hi Regina,

          Thanks for reading the post. I’m not really sure I follow your point. It seems like you are saying we don’t call Gomorrah’s citizen Gomorrarites? But I have no clue what that has to do with the issue of homosexuality. The Bible is clear… Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1; 1 Cor 6:9-10 — homosexuality is a sin and those who persist in ANY sin are not followers of God.

          Just a clarification as well. If you are truly a Christian, you are so because Christ saved you. No man (pastor or otherwise) has the power to save you. Only Christ does. And he can use a variety of means at his disposal to teach you about himself, but then he expects you to live in accordance with the revelation of the Bible.

          Thanks for sharing part of your story.

          • CJ

            Hi Peter,

            I too would like to have the dissertation sent to me as well. I’m interested in reading it.

            Thank you!

      • Alexis R

        Hi Peter,

        Could you please send me this dissertation? I am very interested in reading it as a friend of mine has been curious about understanding this issue. I would like to delve into it deeper and would like to see your reply to Jennifer. Thank you!

  • Pastor James Jones

    As I am a minister and want to answer this question in my mind I thank you foe the work you have done. Religion is for ALL that are willing to believe in HIM and obey Him. Praise the Lord and Glory be To God. I have aske Him to to answer this question for me and He has.

  • Joyce

    The best explanation I have ever read on this issue. It is very much needed in today’s society since it has been embraced and made “legal” in many places. God bless you. Thank you very much.

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