Pop culture anthropologist Jessica Joseph attempts to show that the modern Bible is misinterpreted in relation to the LGBTQI movement in Part Two of her response to a Letter to the Editor from Akilah Holder:
Let us then move on to 1 Corinthians 6:9 which 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 (Greek: malakos), nor abusers of themselves with mankind (Greek: arsenokoites).”
As mentioned before, some erroneous modern bibles translate the Greek words “malakoi” and “arsenokoites” as “homosexual.” However, if Paul wanted to describe people whose behaviour would closely parallel those we call gays or lesbians today, there were dozens of popular Greek terms to choose from.
You see, the Greeks wrote extensively about same-sex love. They had epic heroes who were male lovers; they had Sappho and female-loving goddesses. While the medical definition of homosexuality would not be discovered till the 1800s, the ancient Greeks had terms for behaviours or roles.
A “pais” or “paidika” was a popular Greek term for the younger, subordinate male lover of an older man; “erestes” was an older/dominant male lover of a younger man; “eronemous” a younger/passive male lover and “hetairistriai” was a woman who loved women. The Greeks even had a word “euryproktoi,” referring to a man who dressed as a woman, what we would today call a “drag-queen.”
Very, very curious that Paul, a learned man, fluent in Greek, did not use any of these terms in any of his writings. Instead, he used a Greek word “malakoi,” whose root and usage in Greek language never referred to anything remotely resembling homosexuality.
“Malakoi” is a term that literally means “soft ones”. It comes from the Greek root “malaka,” which is used by Jesus in Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25 to describe clothing of soft or luxurious quality. Even the bibles that translate it “effeminate” are wrong because the Greek word for effeminate, meaning “a man who acts like a woman,” is “kinaidos.” Let me just show you the confusing translation journey of the word “malakoi” from Paul’s day to the present:
The Apostle Paul – AD 55 – Greek – malakoi
Wycliffe – 1380 – neische
Tyndale – 1526 – weaklinges
Martin Luther – 1534 – weichlinge (weaklings)
Geneva Bible – 1560 – wantons
Valera Spanish – 1602 – efeminados
Rheims-Douay – 1609 – effeminat
King James Version – 1611 – effeminate
Daniel Mace New Testament – 1729 – the effeminate
Young’s Literal – 1898 – effeminate
Moffat – 1913 – catamites (boy prostitutes)
Amplified – 1958 – those who participate in homosexuality (a major deviation in meaning)
New American Bible – 1970 – boy prostitutes
New English – 1970 – guilty of homosexual perversion
NIV – 1973 – male prostitutes
NKJV – 1979 – homosexuals
JW-NWT – 1984 – men kept for unnatural purposes
Green’s Interlinear – 1986 – abusers
NLT – 1996 – male prostitute
International Standard Version – 2000 – male prostitutes
The Message – 2002 – those who use and abuse each other
World English Bible – 2005 – male prostitutes
God’s Word Translation – 2006 – homosexuals
Look at meanings just for one Greek word! And they are not even synonyms of each other. See how much human error there is in biblical translations?
So, what does “malakoi” mean? Once again, we must refer to contemporary and idiomatic Greek usage of the word.
Aristotle, when writing the Nicomachean Ethics, used “malakos” to describe lack of restraint and excessive enjoyment of bodily pleasures. I quote, “…he who pursues the excesses of things pleasant, and shuns those of things painful, of hunger and thirst and heat and cold and all the objects of touch and taste… that men are called ‘soft’ (“malakos”) with regard to these pleasures…”
Another well-known commentator was Josephus who, in his Wars of The Jews and Antiquities of The Jews, used “malakos” to describe men who appeared soft or weak through lack of courage in battle or who enjoyed too much luxury. That was the common understanding of the word and other scriptures corroborate this.
How did a spoiled, hedonistic, luxuriating, materialistic glutton morph into “homosexual” over time? Obvious human interference in translation.
The other term in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “arsenkoites,” has an even more interesting etymology. Remember, the Greeks wrote extensively about same-sex romance and relationships and yet, not once did the term “arsenokoites” show up to describe “eros” (romantic love) between men, let alone between women.
The term has appeared a total of 56 times since Paul coined the expression and its subsequent use appears first in the Sibylline Oracles in conjugated form: “me arsenokoitein, me sukophantein, mete phoneuein.” There, the context was pederasty (rape and sexual exploitation of young boys by older men), anal rape of men or women, extortion, thievery and murder.
Telling the Sodom story, early Christian commentator Pseudo-Macarius Aegyptius in his Homiliae spirituales IV 4.22 states, “…created the ultimate offence in their evil purpose against the angels, wishing to work arsenokoitia (anal rape) upon them.”
John the Faster, considered to be the Patriarch of Constantinople, uses the word “arsenokoitia” to refer to a man violating members of his family with anal rape.
“One must also ask about the perplexing, beguiling and shadowy sin of incest, of which there are not just one or two varieties but a great many very different ones…. Some even do it with their own mothers, and others with foster sisters or goddaughters. In fact, many men even commit the sin of arsenokoitia with their wives.” (John the Faster, Penitential, circa AD 575.
The term “arsenokoites” only ever appears when speaking about forcible or exploitative sexual encounters involving anal rape of men with men, men with boys or men with women. It has nothing to do with homosexuality and even less to do with lesbians and, unless a LGBT person is also an abuser of boys or a rapist, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 cannot be accurately used to indict them in any way.
In the next instalment, we shall pick up right where we left off, which is on the subject of rape and tackle Akilah’s worst use of eisegesis yet. We shall delve deep into the scriptural doublet about two separate incidents of gang rape in Genesis 19 and Judges 19, which she claims constitutes a modern-day condemnation of all homosexual people by God. We shall learn about the etymology of the words “sodomy” and “sodomite” and learn what the word “abomination” means in Leviticus and the folly of cherry-picking from the 613 Mosaic Laws.
We shall also touch a little on individuals called “born eunuchs” in the Talmud and mentioned in Matthew 19. We shall end on the limits of biblical application to modern, post-scientific, post-Human Rights Charter 21st Century life, and look at why engaging in scriptural legalism and literalism leads to fundamentalism, hypocrisy and human rights abuses and religion’s downfall.
Till then, keep it civil. Be empathetic. Treat others as you would like to be treated.