In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie teaches the importance of considering the perspective of those with whom there is disagreement. With that goal in mind, I would like to consider the defense that advocates of intersex relationships advance as they challenge the traditional Judeo-Christian teaching on this issue.
Speaking on behalf of the homosexual community, Robyn Provis of All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota speaks against what she calls the “clobbering verses of Scripture.” The first assault on these “clobbering verses” is to make a dramatic distinction between ideas that are relative to any given culture, and ideas that are transcendent of culture and so are normative for Christians, and even non-Christians. In summary, there is a Moral Law of God. The implication, for those defending the homosexual agenda, is that there is no normative principle established in Scripture against intersex relationship that are sincere, loving, and committed. Indiscriminate sexual relationships are acknowledged to be inappropriate.
With a valid guiding principle in mind, the principle of audience relevancy, the argument by intersex advocates advances to specific words used in Scripture to define deviant sexual behavior. Special attention has been focused by intersex advocates on the Greek word, arsenokaitai (ar-sen-ok-oy’-tace) translated, “abusers of themselves with mankind” in the Authorized Version.
“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, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9). –KJV
“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 nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9). –NIV
The argument is that Paul was creating a new word to refer to customers of effeminate call boys, or what might be called today, “dirty old men.”
The first Biblical use of the term “homosexual”, it is argued, came in 1958 when The New Amplified Bible was produced. The idea is that no such word exists in either Greek or Hebrew for homosexual. Therefore, it is only because of a bad translation of a Greek word that has no clear definition that the church is opposing intersex relationships and condemn “God’s gay children”, so called. Intersex advocates insist that responsible homosexuals would join Paul in condemning those who use children for sex, just as gang rape was condemned in Sodom, which is another interesting understanding of the homosexuals. It is a novel theory which is set forth by intersex advocates. But, is it a valid understanding of the Greek word, arsenokaitai?
The Greek word, arsenokaitai, is used by Paul in another passage of Scripture where it is translated “for them that defile themselves with mankind”. “For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:10). –KJV
What is to be said about the word arsenokaitai? Is it really a mysterious word with no clear understanding in Hebrew or Greek culture?
A good starting point would be the Law of God, which Paul was familiar with, and appealed to in his writings. Paul was a master of the Law. He would be familiar with Leviticus.
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Lev. 18:22). –KJV
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (Lev. 20:13). –KJV
Paul was a Greek educated Jew writing to the Corinthian Gentiles in Greek because that was the common language of the day. He was probably using the Septuagin, or LXX for his Scriptural quotations. That is significant because the Greek translation of these passages in Leviticus condemns a man (arseno) lying with (koital) another man (arsen). Paul unites these two words into a neologism, a new word, in order to condemn afresh in Corinth, and when writing to Timothy, what was condemned in Leviticus.
What Paul was condemning in the New Testament era was exactly what Leviticus condemns. Engaging in homosexual sex is a man being a man-lier, a man laying next to a man for sexual pleasure. Paul was not dismissing his cultural Hebrew heritage and understanding of the Law of God as set forth in Leviticus. Paul was affirming a cultural understanding of sexual sin by going to the founding of sexual conduct, a conduct that is prohibited and condemned. Paul was saying in essence, “Do not do what is said not to do in Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13.”
Paul is not insensitive to the attraction of homosexual behavior. On another occasion Paul would acknowledge there is pleasure in sin, but only for a season. Therefore, while Paul condemns men lying with men, he says there is a way out. There is hope, forgiveness, and redemption. “And such were some of you” writes Paul (1 Cor. 6:11).
The conclusion is that Paul was not singling out pedophiles, as intersex advocates try to teach. Had Paul wanted to do that he would have used the well-known Greek word, paiderastis, a reference to sex between a man and a boy. Paul was condemning, in an all-inclusive sense, all men who place an active role in man with man sexual intercourse in any form. By doing this, Paul was being consistent with himself in his letter to the Romans.
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet” (Rom. 1:24). –KJV
One of the inconsistencies of the homosexual advocates is that they scoff at the literal, or plain, interpretation of the Bible in order to protect their novel theories. It will not work. Words have meaning, even obscure Greek words. Homosexual behavior, in all its forms, and in all ages, is condemned in believers and unbelievers. Intersex advocates know they are engaging in unnatural, immoral and reprehensible behavior.
If intersex advocates were honest, they would simply say what the Bible says. They just don’t care what God says, or what the church says. If they were wise, they would repent, and turn away from this self-destructive, and other destructive behavior. Then, they would be numbered among those of whom Paul writes, “And such were some of you.”