The word “homosexual” is currently in many translations of the bible, but before 1946, the word was never included. It was first added the 1946 Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the bible for the verses 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Other publishers followed suit and by the 1990’s the word homosexual is in 6 different passages that it shouldn’t be in. The RSV translators later fixed the mistake but the damage had already been done.
What Scriptures Talk About Homosexuality?
For the entirety of the bible, there are 6 passages that refer to same-sex activity. These are often referred at the “clobber passages” and are used to condemn the LGBTQ+ community. The passages are as follows:
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
- 1 Timothy 1:9-11
- Romans 1:18-32
- Genesis 19:1-29
- Leviticus 18:22
- Leviticus 20:13
How did it start?
In 1946, the Revised Standard Version translators combined two words arsenokoîtai and malakos from the original Greek in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and incorrectly translated it as ‘homosexuals’. What they really should have translated it to is the word ‘pedophiles‘ or even ‘male prostitution’.
Here’s why. Paul, the speaker in this verse, coined the word arsenokoîtai by combining two words from the Greek; Arsen + Koite. Arsen means ‘man’ and Koite means ‘lie with’. Paul created this new word by drawing from an earlier part of the bible called the Torah that condemns same-sex behavior with a child and temple prostitutes.
The 1940s effect
The thing you should know about the 1940s when this translation was written, is that homosexuality at the time was defined more or less as a perverted mental illness and the mass majority of homosexuals in the US were closeted. There was NO understanding or recognition that anyone could have a loving committed relationship with the same sex. In the eyes of 1940s America, only a homosexual engages in perverse acts of sex like; a man with a boy, a man raping a man, and same-sex acts outside of a committed relationship. Therefore, calling these acts ‘homosexual’ made sense to the translators.
But wait, there is more!
A theology student at the time sent a letter to the translators pointing out the incorrect translation to the RSV translation team. Recognizing the mistake, the team fixed it in a revised version (though published to late after the mistake). By the time the revision was published, the standard of translating arsenokoîtai as homosexuals was being used in many different translation versions. The damage had already been done.
1946 RSV Version
1 Cor 6:9-10 [RSV] – 9Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.
1952 RSV Version – Fixed
1 Cor 6:9-10 [RSV] 9Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Besides the movie, there are other great resources you can follow on your own. Here are a few I suggest to get you started:
- How the Bible Became Anti-Gay: Forging a Sacred Weapon by Kathy Baldock.
- Included in Christ by Cristy Perdue, MD
- A complete timeline of Homosexuality in culture and the bible! Watch Kathy Baldock’s presentation titled Untangling the Mess
The following is required to quote from the various scriptures above.
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.comThe “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™