This post was solicited because I was told I was "not being very understanding of the plight of people that were not like me" and that I was a "narrow-minded anti-intellectual hatemonger" or some other expletives I can't remember. I must clarify, I am a Christian that views sexual immorality of any form as a sin. I can't stand the sin, but the sinner I can love. I hate my own sin the most because I am most acutely aware of it as opposed to other people's sin. I am a person that will maintain an open dialogue with anyone regardless of their opinion or orientation but it doesn't mean I accept their behaviors. Having said this, if this makes me a intolerant "hatemonger" or ignorant backwoods bible thumping hick...so be it. Anyone with an iota of sense can read back through my last 250 posts and see that they can safely remove the hatemonger, intolerant and ignorant adjectives from the repertoire of descriptions for me. They would be a misuse of the adjectives and only be applicable from the point of view of that person that is in conflict with my worldview. This would constitute a specialized usage of the word. In postmodernism it is called a deconstruction of the word meaning. Hence it would be used improperly for personally biased reasons. Conversely, I kind of like the backwoods and bible-thumping descriptions as I view them as badges of honor to my upbringing.
Thesis & Main Crux of My Post
The fact that ANY type of sexuality is openly being discussed in public media outlets and the market square is reprehensible and a sad state of affairs in our country. I cannot even watch the news without sexual immorality of all forms showing up in the evening broadcasts, the worst of which is the passe treatment of adultery (Tiger ring any bells?). It has forced me to get the news from Internet sources so I do not expose my children to this virulent garbage on literally a daily basis. It shows how far our country has fallen in terms of morality. When I see people flaunt their sexuality in public I take great pains to walk wide circles around them for the benefit of my family and myself, as I am not immune to sins reach. There was a time not long ago that the mention of just the word "sex" was reprehensible in public. It has now become blase because more graphic terms have replaced it. In particular Prop 8 and the demand for homosexual marriage has once again been plastered all over the media. Being so, it is the main focus of the sexual immorality aspect of this post along with adultery and fornicators in general as these are all sexual sins.
It is clear the secular and godless world has missed the boat on this one. What is sad is that much of the church may have missed the boat too. We have been tolerant of sexually suggestive wardrobes, immoral or amoral media, adulterous heterosexual relationships and homosexual relationships when they are all sins equally denounced by God. We tend to often turn a blind eye to immoral heterosexual interactions and are dragging out the rhetoric and verbosity when we see an infraction by homosexuals. Many churches then set themselves in a real unhealthy position of hypocrisy and project a double standard to the world when they are found guilty of other sins common to man. We must denounce ALL sin equally, not just certain sins unequally because we find certain sins more objectionable than others. God views all sin as objectionable. They are an affront to His holiness. How God views them is how we should view them if we too expect to have a wholesome relationship with Him which requires our holiness also.
As for the homosexual relationships, I am in no way condoning them. The Bible is abundantly clear on this issue as I have outlined in a series of posts named Cultural Crossroads I to XXX which is my college thesis and starts at the link provided in italics. There are numerous other Biblical citations I can make but the one I need to cite specifically comes from the Apostle Paul and the nuances within it are explicit and distinct from other citations of immoral sexual behavior between two people of the same gender. I have also chosen the following passage because it doesn't just single out homosexuals but also everyone that has ever cheated on a spouse or habitual alcoholics, habitual thieves, etc. You cannot say God singles out certain sins, he judges them all.
I have taken the King James Version of this because I wanted the closest literal English translation from the Greek and the most common.
"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. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. ~1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (KJV)
Please Note: In this passage fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, swindlers are all grouped together because they are all equally viewed the same...as sinners that will not inherit the Kingdom...unless they seek repentance.
Along with the other sins mentioned in the previous passage, homosexuality(Effeminate; Abusers of themselves with mankind) was widespread in the time of the Old and New Testaments (yes, I imagine Jesus ran into a few since he had come to save sinners, not those already saved). Many of the fertility cults allowed for not only male-female temple prostitutes but also male-male and man-animal and every other combination imaginable or unimaginable. They also allowed for non-sexual cult rituals that were more atrocious than the sexual practices (if that's possible) such as human sacrifices that included children (Molech through the fertility goddess Ashteroth). As is the case today it was not unusual to see a homosexual convert to Christianity. We need only read the passage above again to understand this and understand the context Paul wrote it in. He wrote this list of sins to the Gentile world in Corinth. A list of sins that would've been prevalent in a people coming from that culture to become part of the Church.
"Such were some of you"
These words imply something. They imply that these people that converted and became part of the church Paul was writing to at Corinth had previously been one of the types of sinners previously listed. A thief, an adulterer, an effeminate...and some of them probably still were (hence the need to write the letter, duh). What else can we learn from this passage. The word "were", past tense. It was expected that if you had come into the church as the sinner committing the sins listed you were to change and not be committing those sins now because you had been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It also needs to be understood that these people were allowed into the church in their previous sinful conditions with the expectations that they would change and become sanctified (more holy) by stopping these sins or at least fighting them, not openly accepting them or openly flaunting them.
The sexual sin words and in particular the homosexual references are very interesting from a Greek word study point of view, fornication, adultery, and two word/phrases distinctly referring to homosexuality: effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind are mentioned side-by-side or adjacent one another and this is not an accident as they were viewed as closely related or even connected. In Greek the following words, their translation and meaningful tidbits...
The word "fornicator" [Strong's G4205: pornos] man who prostitutes his body to another. The word "adulterer" ....here is where this verse gets real interesting [Strong's G3432: moichos] meaning a (male) porno/paramour; figuratively, apostate. The implication being that this entire passage (v6-11) is leaning towards a male audience or intent. Also by implication, any of the things on this list are considered apostasy or falling away from the faith. In other words they are not getting closer to God performing these sins (adultery, homosexuality, stealing), they are getting farther away from Him. If you did not check this baggage at the door when you came into the faith, perhaps...you never actually came into the faith?
It must be noted here that the next two words are then used in isolation from pornos earlier by the word idolator. Paul then reverts back to another pair of sexual references that should be see as being together not just grammatically but also in real life.
The word "effeminate" [Strong's G3120: μαλακοὶ/malakoi] is an adjective but is referring to males as it is a nominative masculine case ending. As such it would mean (in its 1st century context) a catamite-effeminate (this is often missed by liberal interpretors of this passage) Masculine soft-ones. So what is a catamite? A catamite is the younger, passive partner in a relationship between a man and a boy. Usage of this word includes the effeminate passive partner in a homosexual relationship.
The words "abusers of themselves with mankind" [Strong's G733: ἀρσενοκοῖται / arsenokoitai] this is rare and is only used once in the Bible. It is also a nominative masculine noun. It means one who lies with a male as with a female (in a bed). Even if the grammatical default for Greek is male, Paul made no disambiguation here so it had to have been intentional. Male (malakoi) to male (arsenokoitai). As a masculine noun, this passage has referred to the arsenokoites as nominative 1st person plural that is a man and he is associated with "soft ones". This is a clear allusion to homosexuality and even bisexuality.
According to Gordon Fee the effeminate partner more than likely refers to young men who sold themselves to old men as "mistresses". It also probably refers to young cult prostitutes who took a passive role on pagan alters (Fee). This type of practice was so rampant that Nero (the emperor) was known to have castrated a boy named Sporus. Nero then married him and lived with him as his wife in his palace. To castrate a male is to effectively arrest puberty by removing the testicles. Thereby the young boy maintains his androgynous or effeminate attributes staying a catamite perpetually.
You can see from 1 Corinthians 6 that Paul understood that homosexuals of Corinth had come into the church. He understood their former practices which he denounced on the basis that they were sins that were not compatible with a Christians new life and worldview. He also knew that there was a passive effeminate male and an active masculine male in a homosexual relationship. He probably knew a lot more than he wrote down too. What he did write down in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 he denounced. There is no equivocation in this passage regardless of what modern "experts" have intented by misinterpretation.
To me it is disconcerting to even have to go into this type of explicit detail to get my point across but that is the type of world we now live in. I could've just as easily written this post and used Leviticus 18 to make my points along with Leviticus 18's multiple statements of abomination, sodomites and of wickedness. I chose not to. Although the words in Leviticus are true as is all of the Bible (The Inerrancy of Scripture), those are the passages that immediately erect a brick wall and cease dialogue between the two sides of this often volatile issue. Its no different than if I were a doctor and I walked into my office and told you, "You have cancer, you're chances of survival are zero". Is it telling the truth? Yes. Is it a proper way to do it? NO! Where's the compassion for people? The mind of Christ? Rhetorical bludgeoning of people with their sin can be daunting for people, especially if they have a lot of it in their life and have become conditioned to it. In my case, I was broken in stages of alcohol and drug addiction, anger, vanity, arrogance and egocentricity. Had I been broken completely and all at once it would've literally killed me. In the case of some of these sins, it is an ongoing battle (ego).
Rhetorical bludgeoning is ineffective and I will leave that to God as it is in His perfect judgment if it would be necessary. If I cannot explain to sinners the sin that they are committing and why they will be condemned because of them, what good is being that aggressive and divisive to begin with? It's just plain foolishenss. I'll leave that to Fred Phelps and the Westboro members whom I seriously doubt are in good standing themselves. Why would I attempt to be more divisive than I need to be when the 1 Corinthians 6 passage so clearly elucidates the fact that Paul and the early Christians did indeed understand the homosexual community. Having understood it, the people in the church still accepted homosexuals and other people committing sexual immorality into the church but denounced it and expected a change to non-sinful behavior once a person converted or chances are they had not really converted. To forgive a sinful behavior and expect a change due to a repentant heart is proper, to forgive and not expect that change is appeasement. At that point you stop being a sister or brother and become an enabler to sin...and that my friends is a sin also. Either way, you're playing a game you can't win.
To conclude I must stay this. There are many today (mostly postmodernists) that claim the Bible is a mystery and we can't really know for sure what the original writers like Paul meant when penning there books and letters. The intent is lost to history. This conjecture is nonsense and frankly...intellectually and academically lazy. Any contextual research into the culture surrounding Corinth and an understanding of some basic Greek can certainly understand the passage I have just broke down for the readers of this post. The authorial intent of 1 Corinthians 6 is clearly referring to the sexually immoral as unrighteousness [Strong's G94 ἄδικος-adikosas] wicked, sinful... it is stated directly in the text. How can anyone say this passage is not understandable? Even a hammerhead like me can translate it in its original context.
Fee, Gordon. 1 Corinthians (New International Commentary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987. Print.