My Favourite Translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

My favourite translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is from The Message.

Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom.

Translating the vice lists in Paul’s letters is hard. Even if we know exactly what a particular word means in the context of the 1st Century (and we often don’t) it isn’t clear how to understand a 1st Century sin in a 21st Century context. For practical purposes, the vice lists shouldn’t be understood as lists of specific prohibitions, but rather as general guidelines on how to behave. I think The Message translates this vice list perfectly. It covers the general meanings of the terms, and it is in harmony with the types of behaviour that mean we do qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom.

My Least Favourite Translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

I think my least favourite translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is the New King James translation:

 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

Neither homosexuals nor sodomites will inherit the kingdom of God?  I’m not sure I know what the difference between a homosexual and a sodomite is…

For more about the translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, see Same-Sex Relationships: 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, and Same-Sex Relationships: 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy Revisited.

Why I’m Not Going to See Ender’s Game

A few years ago I read the novel Ender’s Game. It is a good, if somewhat odd, book about a child soldier in the year 2070.

There is a movie based on the book, which is currently on general release in the UK. I’m not going to see the movie.

Why? Because Orson Scott Card, the author of Ender’s Game, is a homophobe. He isn’t just a run-of-the-mill homophobe either. He’s quite an extreme one. Up until recently he was on the board of the National Organisation for Marriage, a US body that opposes same-sex marriage, and he has said that same-sex marriage marks the end of democracy in America.

Even though it turns out that the money that Orson Scott Card will make from the film will not be affected by the number of people who see the film, I’m still not going to see it. My reasons for not seeing the film are not primarily economic. I don’t want to see the film because I don’t want to be associated with Orson Scott Card and his deeply offensive views, even indirectly by seeing a film based on one of his books.


Andrew McFarland Campbell’s Very Short Guide to Debunking The Six Traditional Clobber Passages

There are six passages traditionally used to say you can’t be gay and Christian: Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and 1 Timothy 1:9-10.

Genesis 19 is about gang rape. Anyone who says this has anything to say about consensual relationships has bigger problems than Biblical interpretation.

Leviticus is part of the Law of Moses, which is not binding on Christians. In any case the verses use an obscure Hebrew idiom that is rather unclear (as can been seen in the KJV translation).

Romans 1 26 and 27 does speak about same-sex relationships in a negative light, but then again verses 25 and 25 speak about opposite-sex relationships in an equally negative light. Nobody believes that Romans 1 teaches you can’t be straight and Christian.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 use an obscure Greek word, arsenokoites, which is also used to refer to heterosexual sin. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 also uses the word malakos, which is not a sexual term. If these passages were supposed to be about same-sex relationships, the writer could have used a lot of other, more common, terms.

The Man I Want to be When I Grow Up

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In 2009, I decided to get involved with running Belfast Pride, so I showed up at their AGM. I was sitting in my seat, looking round me, waiting for the meeting to begin. I looked up and saw I was being stared at, by an eccentric older gentleman, who was peering over his glasses at me. He quickly moved on and peered at the next person in the row. He shuffled over to another seat and sat down.

That was the first time I met PA Maglochlainn.

At the AGM I stood for election and duly became a committee member, and through the committee I came to know PA. He would often fall asleep during committee meetings, and then suddenly, when a relevant question was asked, he would wake up and make an insightful observation that showed he had been listening to everything that was said, even if he were resting his eyes.

Cast your mind back 20, 25 years. Imagine that you are a young gay man in Northern Ireland. You have just been arrested for doing something innocuous, something that wouldn’t be a problem if you were straight. The charges won’t stick, but you still need to defend yourself. Who do you call? Or maybe you are the subject of homophobic abuse at home, or in the office. Who will help you? The answer, for so many people, was PA. If you were in trouble, you picked up the phone and you called him.

When somebody is old and they die, there is a terrible tendency to remember the old person, and not the person that they were. PA, when he was younger, was a remarkable man. But here’s the thing. PA, when he was older was still a remarkable man. Nowadays (partly thanks to PA’s work) gay men don’t have to fear arrest, but we still face trouble because of who we are. When that trouble came, who did you call? Even in 2012, at the end of his life, when there were many other people and agencies you could call, you could still pick up the phone and call PA.

It is a truism to say that a funeral is a celebration of someone’s life, but when you look back at what PA achieved, when you think about the people he helped, you can’t help but be joyful that he lived. He touched so many lives in so many positive ways.

Tonight I get to go home to the house that I share with my husband. I get to do that because of the work that PA did. All across Northern Ireland, thousands of LGBT people’s candles burn brighter because of him.

This entry was posted on 15 November, 2012, in Gay. 1 Comment

Same-Sex Relationships: 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy

This is the text of the talk I gave to the Accepting Sexuality group.


There are two passages from the New Testament that are often quoted as proof that you cannot be gay and Christian: 1 Corinthians 6.9–10 and 1 Timothy 1.9–10. The New International Version of the former says “men who have sex with men … will [not] inherit the kingdom of God.” If the understanding of these passages was as simple as a superficial reading suggests, then the gay Christian movement would never have started. However, their message is more equivocal, and there are many conflicting translations.

It can be shown that the key words in these passages, malakos and arsenokoites, are not about sex between men, and the latter can even be connected to sex between a husband and wife.

By considering the wider Christian context of these passages, in particular what Christ said about inheriting the Kingdom of God, and allowing this context to guide our lives we can be confident that we have not broken the prohibitions in these passages, whatever they mean.

Download the complete text…

See also:

Who is Harmed by Same-Sex Marriage?

Imagine that the law was changed tomorrow. Instead of  the law defining marriage as being a union between a man and a woman, the law changed its definition of marriage to being a union between two adults. The rules regarding everything else—age, degree of consanguinity, and so on—remain as they are now. The only change is that now two people of the same sex can get married, not just two people of the opposite sex.

Now, ask yourself this question: who is actually harmed by this?

Every existing marriage continues as it was before. Nobody’s relationship is harmed. Nobody’s family is harmed.  No religious group is harmed: those religions that had been allowed to perform marriages on behalf of the state (as long as the couple meets the religion’s requirements for marriage) will still be able to perform marriages on behalf of the state (as long as the couple meets the religion’s requirements for marriage).

Sure, some people may feel uncomfortable at the thought, but am I harmed because you make me feel uncomfortable? True, there will be some people who hold a religious objection to same-sex marriage, but not allowing me to impose my religious views on you is not harming me. Yes, it might become harder to discriminate against same-sex couples, but making it more difficult for me to be prejudiced is not harming me.

So, who is harmed by same-sex marriage?