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Homosexuality–What does 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 teach?

In these three verses Paul lists ten sins.  The list begins with the rhetorical question:  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  These ten sins are characterized by unrighteousness. Thus, those who practice these sins are unrighteous.

The result of being unrighteous is that one will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  “Kingdom of heaven” refers to the future inheritance all Christians are promised at Christ’s return.  Those who practice the ten sins listed do not have any future hope.

Verse 11 also clearly teaches that these types of sins should be in the Christian’s past, not in their present.  The Christian community in Corinth was made up of people who were identified as thieves, adulterers, fornicators, etc… because of their practicing such sins.  However, these sins are not how they are characterized now, because they have been transformed by the gospel.

The transformation of the gospel is Paul’s main point in this section.  It is the best way of understanding how verses 1-8 flow into verses 9-20.  The gospel transforms our actions.  This is why we do not bring our brothers and sisters in Christ to court.  It is also why we no longer practice these listed sins.

Paul emphasizes the change that took place through the gospel by stating that Christians were washed, sanctified, and justified (made righteous).  People, who have been cleansed from sin and placed into a right relationship with God, are to now live holy lives, avoiding these unrighteous acts.

For our study of this section two words are important.  Those words are translated effeminate and homosexual in the NASB.  The NIV takes these two words together and translate it “men who have sex with men.”  The words refer to both the passive and active participants in homosexuality.  Our best lexicons define the second word as “a male who practices homosexuality” (for example Arndt and Gingrich).  It is clear that Paul is condemning homosexual practice with these words.

Some argue that what Paul is condemning is homosexual relationships that are not love-based.  However, contextually that is not the case.  You have to read that into the text.  And if you decide to read that into the text then you also have to be willing to say that adultery, if love-based, is okay, or any of the rest of the sins for that matter.  The fact of the matter is Paul condemns the act itself. Therefore the the sin is engaging in the act.

The practicing of homosexuality is unrighteous.  Christians today have been made righteous (justified). Thus to practice homosexuality is incongruous with the Christian life.  This is why those who practice it will not receive the blessing of the kingdom of heaven.

However, there is hope in this passage for people who are practicing these sins.  Paul indicates that the transformative work of the gospel is able to aid homosexuals in leaving the lifestyle.  It will not be easy, but it can be done.

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29 Comments

  1. Eric Reynolds

    May 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Can you clarify what you mean by this sentence: “Our best lexicon define the second word as “a male who practices homosexuality” (for example A and G).” Thanks.

  2. Wesley

    May 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Not sure what you mean. My point is that is the Greek definition of the word.

    I used the word ‘best’ instead of ‘all’ because there are always people who claim to be Greek scholars who can pull up some agenda driven definition. Personally, even lexicon I’ve looked at defines it the same way, as does every translation.

  3. Eric Reynolds

    May 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I should have been more specific. The “A and G” part is what I wasn’t clear on. Thanks.

  4. Wesley

    May 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Okay. A and G or sometimes BDAG is an abberviation for Walter Bauer’s A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Writing

  5. One thing that differentiates these sins over “normal day to day” sins is: these are listed as things that you have committed yourself to. The first step of salvation is repentance. Therefore, you can NOT both repent of and commit to the same sin. Obviously we don’t become perfect immediately after Justification, but our heart should change and make us want to change. If a homosexual is saved, he or she should be actively turning away from that lifestyle. Will they stumble? Yes. We all stumble. But there is a difference between stumbling and willingly continuing in sin.

  6. Respectfully, I have to ask why Jesus never addressed homosexuality, aside from “som men are incapable of marriage”?

    If Jesus is the greatest prohet and Son of God, and if homosexuality was such a bar to eternal life, why didn’t Jesus address this?

    He spoke on just about every other human act, and even summed up the commandements into Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.

    It just seems odd to me that God’s only son, who came and died for the salvation of souls, never condemmed homosexuality outright.

  7. Jesus did not need to address the sin of homosexual behavior, because the religious teachers of his day addressed it. He did address the sins that the religious teachers of his day, in one way or another, promoted.

  8. Why was Sodom and Gomorah destroyed ?

  9. Wesley

    May 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I’ve written on that already in this series. The link is below the post.

    http://www.studyyourbibleonline.com/theology/homosexuality-what-was-the-sin-of-sodom/

  10. “Jesus did not need to address the sin of homosexual behavior, because the religious teachers of his day addressed it.” I have heard this repsonse before, and it has no merit. Homosexuality was widely practiced in the 1st century A.D. Is is diificualt for one to argue that Jesus was unaware of this practice. Why then did he not address it?

    Respectfully, you still have not answered the question. . . .

  11. Jesus also did not condemn murder. That, too, was widely practiced in the 1st century A.D. What Jesus DID say was that He came to fulfill the Law, and if you go back to the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible), you’ll find detailed descriptions of what is forbidden in sexual practice–and homosexuality is there as clear as day. There is much that Jesus apparently did not talk about, though it is clear from the New Testament that not everything He did was recorded. Nevertheless, the absence of His specific mention of something already detailed in the Law is not the same as an endorsement. Some things are obviously wrong–patricide, cruelty to your animals, cannibalism. He never mentioned them either. Does that mean they’re OK? Of course not! Hiding behind such an argument is illogical childishness.

  12. You are quibbling. Jesus spoke to the people of Judea and Galilee, who were under the religious direction of the priests and pharisees, who did speak against homosexual behaviour. Are you certain that homosexual behavior was widespread in Judea and Galilee? Your quibble has no merit.

  13. Toby, I certainly did not respond to your post (I see no quibble at all, but only true explication, in it), but to Joseph Crary’s quibble. Apparently, you were able to slip your post in while I was composing mine.

  14. Wasn’t it addressed in the Mosaic Laws in the OT? Didn’t Jesus say that he didn’t come to change the Mosaic Laws? He didn’t come to rewrite what was already written. So, One Jot or Tittle I think it says in the NT when it comes to laws so Jesus wouldn’t address what was already addressed.

  15. It might help to mention that Jesus did point God’s plan for marriage in Genesis 2:24.

    4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
    Matthew 19:4-6

    In saying this, Jesus is making God’s plan for marriage pretty clear. One kind of marriage bond is approved: man and women.

  16. Don’t forget Paul’s statements in Romans chapter 1 about men committing shameful acts with men, and women exchanging their natural use (via lesbian sexual relations).

    As with all too many issues in today’s culture, the relativists & perverts attempt to lead the gullible into mass acceptance of devious acts & philosophies. This is one type of “knowledge falsely called knowledge” which Paul described.

    It is vital to not get sucked into inane debates about what the Bible “really means” when it clearly/plainly says something the other person simply doesn’t want to obey. Those are the very people identified as missing the kingdom of God unless they immediately repent on God’s terms rather than their own!

    The job of the devout Christian (in modern vernacular, sold out for Christ) is to stand firm & resist the devil at all turns. Satan masquerades around as an angel of light to the unsuspecting & uninformed. The children of true light (Jesus) can discern true light from false/Satanic light, hence the distinction between right & wrong, good & evil, God & Satan is patently & crystal clear.

    I have shifted strategies from engaging in wasteful debates with people who have no interest to be open-minded in discussion to instead spending time with those open to repent (therein requiring a true miracle of the Spirit to save their soul).

  17. Is this all means gays will never taste the goodness of heaven… And if so why god gives his people such the feelings… Do it means i have to leave church because i will not enter the kingdom of god… Help

  18. Some people claim that homosexual behavior was only condemned in the Bible because it was associated with idolatry (e.g. 1 Kings 14:24). However, it is clearly condemned apart from idolatry as well (e.g. Leviticus 18:22). It is described in Scripture as an unnatural, immoral perversion.

    “For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another…” (Romans 1:26-27).

    The Greek word arsenokoitai used in 1 Timothy 1:10 literally means “men who sleep with men.” It is the same Greek word used for “homosexual offender” in 1 Corinthians 6:9, variously translated as “abusers of themselves with mankind” (KJV), homosexuals (NASB) or homosexual offender (NIV).

    Some people claim that the sin involved in Sodom was rejecting hospitality customs or selfishness rather than homosexual behavior. Certainly, the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah was great and their reported sin was grievous to God (Genesis 18:20). God sent angels to Sodom and…

    “Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have sex with them” (Genesis 19:4-5).

    “While it is true that the Hebrew word yadha does not necessarily mean ‘to have sex with,’ nonetheless in the context of Sodom and Gommorah, it clearly had this meaning. …It means ‘to know sexually’ in this very chapter when Lot refers to his two daughters not having “known” a man (19:8).” 9 You would not offer virgins to appease a mob if their sin was lack of hospitality, but only if their desire was sexual.

    Although Ezekiel 16:49 condemns Sodom for its selfishness with regard to poverty etc., this does not contradict its condemnation for homosexual practices. “The very next verse of Ezekiel (v. 50) calls their sin an ‘abomination.’ This is the same Hebrew word used to describe homosexual sins in Leviticus 18:22.”10

    It is also used in Scripture to describe such things like the practice of offering children to Moloch, but never such things as mere selfishness or lack of hospitality. Even in legal parlance, the word used to refer to one aspect of homosexual practice is ‘sodomy’.

    The good news is that one can repent, allow Jesus’ into their hearts and live a new life, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them out of situations where they are weak. We all stumble, but you continue to press towards the mark. The thing is this, we all must answer to God according to what is writting. It doesn’t matter how you try to twist it to suit you. My brother is homosexual. I still love him and we have a strong relationship, but that area of his life, he keeps away from me. Not that I’ve told or asked him to. He just does because he’s been taught what the bible says, and he knows that I strive to live accordingly eventhough I’m not perfect.

  19. i have heard this all my life, i am transgendered, when my mom was pregnant( 2nd trimester) she nor the doctor were aware, she was given medication for her thyroid, effecting her hormones( and mine) as well as chromosones, in other words, i was meant to be female, but because of “man” , her doctor, i have dealt with feeling and looking female since the age of ” awareness” ( around 4-5 years old) , even when i try to look male ( short hair, mens clothing, attempt to act masculine) i am either called maam, and at times ive been accused of either being lesbian or being transgendered female to male) i now am happier and feel more” normal” than i ever have, i take estrogen and anti androgens, and i am attractive consistently for the first time in my life!, what did i do to deserve “HELL” or better yet, if you try ( as others) to say that somebody somewhere did some “sin against God” therefore i suffer yet i am supposed to try and “fake my way ” through life?, i am not gay, i tried to date women, but yes, i do date men now, and since the age of 5 or so, all ive ever wanted was to have a normal female life, a good man who treats me right, i missed out on so much because i was inside the womb and changed by ignorrance and idiocy ( the doctor) , how am i to blame for any of this? how can i be wrong for being who i am, i personally dont understand how someone could be gay, but i wont judge, but i am not “gay” i am finally a female who just wants what women want, simple things, had i been born female, i would probably be an avid christian, but because of the judgmental, hipocritical way ive been treated, i cannot justify religion, i have a relationship with the creator, and thats enough for me! it seems so wrong to me, that people are so judgmental, biology is exactly that, but anyone that can explain to me why i should try and climb that “unclimbable mountain” of being male when i so clearly “physically and mentally” am not! , it makes me sick to my stomach to think that i would ever have to give up being, looking female, getting my hair done, nails, going to functions wearing beautiful dresses, trust me, i look alot better in “gucci,maybeline, and heels, with my hair up , jewelry( etc.) , i just cannot see myself in a tux, sorry, i didnt do this , i just want to hear someone explain away how someone like me, or jenna talackova( miss universe contestant) could ever be anything but woman!, its just not in our dna, anyone who cant see this, your ego has gotten in the way, ignorrance and fear as well, i understand what youve all been taught, i was taught this too ( southern baptist til i was 18) but there are things that can get in the way , namely, if your female at heart, if you were meant to be female, explain to me why i should even try to do something as difficult as it is or would be? its just not feasible, fyi, you would be surprised but i bet so many of the men that see this have been around or seen , or been attracted to transgender women, and dont even realize it, sometimes, its more natural than you would ever admit, try and explain it though, it should be good for a laugh or two.

  20. Wesley

    May 10, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Kelli,

    Thanks for visiting the site. You never address what the Scriptures say on the subject. I can’t speak to your personal feelings or what you think you are. However, I can say what God has established in His word and that is that homosexual behavior is sin and that Christians cannot practice such. This means, at times, people must be willing to do hard things. Jesus does say we must “deny ourselves.” If you have homosexual urges, or in your case you are a man who desires to be a woman, then you must deny yourself as Christ commands.

  21. I think Kelli’s real question is, why would a loving God give these feelings to people? Why force a life of sadness upon someone?

  22. Wesley

    October 4, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Confused,

    I’m not sure if I would say that God forced these feelings on anyone. I can say though that people have temptation to do all sorts of sins and people feel unhappy at times when they are not allowed to do all sorts of acts that are sinful. Hopefully, with time, the person will be able to experience the joy God provides.

  23. wesley i like your response to kelli stating “You never address what the Scriptures say on the subject”. reading that message was very confusing to me because it didnt correlate to any scripture nor word in the Holy Bible. not everyone have studied up on transgender, is he or she stating they diliberately had their physical parts hanged to their preference other than that at birth. then say they have a relationship with the creator. i wonder want creator they are talking about. It seem to me man has educated them on want they choose to do.

  24. Aaron Saltzer

    July 18, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    @ Toby-Actually, Jesus outright tells us “Thou shalt not murder” in one of the ten commandments. So yes, he does condemn it. Wesley-You’re response to Kelli shows that you know nothing about transgender people. There are people who were born transgender (i.e. eunuchs) and there are also people who have the body of one gender, but the mind of another. There is even some evidence that people are born like that. I also must mention the word “Abomination” was also defined on a lexicon as a “ritual sense”. God tells the Israellites in the verse right before Leviticus 18:22, not to pass your children over the fire to Molech. Child sacrifices and male homosexual prostitution was a part of worshipping Molech, as well as bestiality which was also condemned by God in Leviticus. Bestiality and child sacrifice is obviously not good in any sense, but is homosexuality really that bad? Some lexicons don’t really define Arsenokoitai as “homosexual”, since it actually has a masculine meaning to it (“male bed”). Some of them define it as a “sodomite”, which was either a male prostitute or resident of Sodom in biblical times according to Wikipedia. Malakoi never had anything to do with homosexuality. It either meant “soft” in a good sense or “having the characteristics of a woman”. Cowardice, weakness, or spinelessness were all considered unmanly in biblical times. I’m not trying to justify anything. I’m just sharing the research I’ve done. I struggle with homosexuality. I just want to know what Jesus really thinks about homosexuals. Not what everyone else says or thinks.

  25. Wesley

    July 18, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    My response to Kelli was simply to say that she never addressed what the Bible says. I cannot speak to her personal temptations since I do not know her.

    I deal with the word abomination in another post. I hope you will take the time to read it. I also have a post on what Jesus said about it.

    As to your assertions with regard to the Greek and Hebrew behind the English translation. I would have to disagree. Abomination does not always have to refer to simply ritual sin or cultic sin. There is no mention in the verse about temple prostitution. As to the words in 1 Corinthians 6 they way they are used together like that is to emphasize that both the passive and active person in homosexual acts are participating in an act outside of God’s will.

  26. Many think that they were “born that way”. Unfortunately, many Christians have focused on this aspect of the debate and, as a result, have lost the hearts and mind of those who have same sex attraction. The truth is, even if you were born that way, it is irrelevant, it does not mean God is the one who made you that way. Maybe it was the enemy? I could say I was born with a temper, would that make it ok for me to give in to angry outbursts? Many claim that men are naturally more prone to cheat on their spouses than women are, even some truly love the women there are cheating on their wife with. None of this makes it ok. Denying the flesh is an essential part of the christian life (in many aspects, not just sexuality). Just because something makes you feel good, or normal and just because you have urges doesn’t mean you should give in to them. Many struggle with same sex attraction, I wish there was some way the Church could be of more help to those who struggle, maybe some day we will truly find a way to reach out to those who do. Please just remember, follow Christ, because the heart can be deceived without Him.

  27. Joni and Friends. A website for believers with disabilities. They love God. They were born with these problems or maybe suffered trama halfway through life. WATCH them. They are examples of real faith. They are not asking for sympathy, but instead — they are smiling because they have Him! The only reason for living a sad life is ones own self pity and faithlessness. We ALL pay for sin. Do you want a break from it? Tell others about the TRUTH of the Bible – help Jesus save them! 🙂 Most importantly you yourself must aim to live HOLY. Avoid temptation! Avoid sin. You CAN be transformed no matter what your sin struggles are. I KNOW, it’s not EASY. ASK HIM! BEG HIM! Children born addicted to drugs or with violent tendencies or whatever they are born with are still not Biblically allowed to do drugs or murder or whatever it is they are cursed with. REPENT! ASK FOR YOUR HEART TO BE WASHED OF DARKNESS AND for His light to illuminate it. Pray! Prayer WORKS! And spread the word so God can stop having to give us our earned punishments, and our world can be saved. We can do this! Be open minded. Nobody is perfect

    Romans 3:23 (NKJV) 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

    Homosexuals and transgenders are NOT being singled out, but if we are going to live righteously, Corinthians 6:9, tells us, and we KNOW, they are not acceptable behaviors.

  28. I happened upon your website while looking for the passage from Corinthians because I am planning a college lecture for Marriage and the Family and we will be discussing an article in which the author asserts that he loves gays and then goes on to say that gays are broken like all of humanity, but they can be saved as all broken people can, but they shouldn’t claim that God approves of their life style or will give them a pass if they choose to live their “life style.” This author goes on to say he can’t see why gays should be offended, because after all, we are all broken. What I don’t think the author gets, nor do most of the people debating it on this forum, is that the gays I know don’t consider their sexual orientation a life style, like getting a tatoo. It is an essential part of their humanity. Not all Christians interpret biblical passages literally. They recognize that Paul, among other authorities, were writing 2000 years ago. Many Modern Christians do not believe that their Christianity requires that they subscribe to others’ interpretations of exactly what behaviors are required of them. They believe in a loving God that does not require that they sacrifice an essential part of their humanity in order to be saved. But more important, their self esteem is such that they do not feel compelled to surrender their own power to decide for themselves what God does and does not require of them. This is, ultimately the difference between a fundamentalist interpretation and a more “protestant” one if you will. Such a sense of one’s own power allows one to live comfortably in the knowledge that others think he/she will burn in eternal hell-fire because those others have a different understanding of what is required to be a Christian.

  29. So if you willingly sin and have no intention to stop (in my case acting on lust in a manner that only requires myself, cussing, and being entertained by fictional violence, the last of which I’m not exactly sure if it’s sin or not), does that mean you actually aren’t a christian even if you believe Jesus is the messiah? Iv’e never been entirely sure if you have to simply believe in Jesus, or that and consistently try to stop every sin you do. I’m sure every person, christian or not, willingly sins a lot by doing something, because the willingness to do so is exactly why we sin to begin with. How does one reconcile John 3:16 with 1 Corinthians 6:9-11? I know believing in Jesus doesn’t excuse sin, but if he came to die for us knowing that we can’t meet his standards for works precisely because we’ve sinned and sends us to hell anyway because we were less willing to stop some of them, then what was the point of his sacrifice? Is it that we need works as well as faith to be saved from the second death, since faith without works is dead, or simply that only faith can make any works we do worth something ?

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