Recently a couple of Christian musicians announced they were homosexual. The most recent was Jennifer Knapp, who was a rising star on the Christian music scene a decade ago, then disappeared for about seven years, only to reappear with the announcement that she was lesbian. Knapp appeared on Larry King’s television show, along with Ted Haggard and another Christian pastor. Knapp had apparently been reading pro-homosexual teachers, for she mentioned a couple of Greek terms that are used in the New Testament in passages which mention homosexuality.
I was reminded of a few years back when I attended a public lecture held at a local Episcopal church which featured L. Michael White, whose day job was being a professor of religion at a large public university. White spoke on the topic “The Bible and the “H” Word: What Does The Bible Really Say About Homosexuality?” By the end of the two hour talk, White had concluded that every English translation was wrong, the Bible did not speak against homosexuality per se, but only against temple prostitution and child abuse. At the Q&A session at the end, I submitted a question that quoted a Greek lexicon (Bauer, Danker, Arndt, & Gingrich) which specifically refuted White’s position. His response was that the lexicon was wrong, and suggested we refer to Liddell & Scott lexicon. I have since checked Liddell, Scott, & Jones and three others, including Luow Nida, Thayers, and Strongs, for a total of five Greek lexicons, including the one to which White referred. I have also checked every English translation I could find; White’s own materials listed about a dozen. Keep in mind that modern translations are the work of committees of language scholars, and cannot reflect the biases of any one person. So the lexicons and the translations make up the best of the scholarly findings on what the terms mean. The Greek words in question are arsenokoites and malakos (Strongs 733 and 3120), and the passages in question are Romans 1:26ff and 1 Cor. 6:9. What is the conclusion?
Of all the sources I checked, none of the published Greek scholars agree with the pro-homosexual position. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. I found NO scholars who will put their name on the line for the pro-homosexual rendering of the text. They all disagree, every last one. By “scholar” I mean someone who has published a Greek grammar, lexicon, or text that is being used in an accredited university anywhere to teach Greek. I’ve found every English translation committee and 5 lexicons that specifically disagree, including the one to which the pro-homosexual person referred. There is another Greek word, paidophthoreo, that specifically means “sex with boys.” The inspired Apostle did not use this word, but used the terms that mean the passive and aggressive roles in a homosexual relationship. So if there are any published scholars that disagree with this, I’d like to see them, for all I’ve seen is a unified body of Greek experts that disagree, stating that the original meaning is to blanketly condemn homosexuality. Don’t give me some writer, for there are many “experts” that simply re-define the terms to fit their own goals. I’m looking for a published textbook that is used to teach Greek that will refute the unified body of scholarship that I’ve given here. So far, all the sources I’ve found are unified that the passages in the Bible condemn homosexuality.
I take no confidence in a liberal professor, a musician, or any one else who tells me that every English translation is wrong, all the lexicons are wrong (including the one to which I was referred) but they are somehow right.
The response of whole ‘possible other interpretations’ and ‘translating is difficult and we can’t be sure what it means’ is baloney, or at least a red herring. Just like we can be sure of what people mean in Spanish, Italian, or pig latin, we can spend the time to do the homework and be certain of what the text means. The issue is NOT interpretation; it’s a definition in a dictionary plus Greek grammar, both of which anyone can learn. It’s also an exercise in keeping our own biases out of the process.
But bottom line, the pastor on Larry King was right. Larry King’s position was “she feels this way, so it must be right” and the pastor was trying to say “we can’t judge morality or truth by our feelings.” If we could, someone somewhere could justify anything and everything just because they feel it. Instead, we must align our sense of right and wrong to what the Bible says. Period.
So I challenge everyone: Please don’t go by your feelings. We can’t let our feelings of love for our friends and family cloud our judgment about what the scripture teaches, which is a clear, blanket condemnation of homosexuality. We have no right to beat up others over their struggles with sin. But we must be true to the scriptures, and change ourselves to what the Bible says, not the other way around.
We do not have permission to use rudeness or vitriol against homosexual people. We must speak the truth in love, and be respectful to all, even to those with whom we disagree. It helps no one to exercise rudeness and insult, nor does it help the work of the kingdom.