At 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, Paul profiles the types of people that ‘won’t inherit God’s Kingdom.’ Also, at 1 Timothy 1:10, he makes a similar list.
In the Greek source texts, one of these is arsenokoitai at 1 Corinthians, and arsenokoitais in 1 Timothy (the difference in spelling is due to the dative grammatical case, but the meaning is identical). These terms literally translate as male-bed-ers. This is a compound word made from the same words used in the Greek Septuagint version of Leviticus 20:13 which forbids a man lying with another male as one would lie with a woman.
The the Aramaic sources, we have shakbay ham dekreh, which literally translates as sleepers with males.
We translate these terms as ‘men that have sex with men.’ This refers to men who engage in sexual activities with other males, even if they don’t identify as gay. This could include the men of Sodom who may have had wives and families, but then attempted male rape. That’s why we don’t use the term ‘homosexuals,’ as some translations do, because even heterosexuals may sometimes engage in homosexual acts. The description is of actions, not identities.
Therefore, this word would not apply to someone who merely has homosexual attractions. It only applies to those who carry out homosexual acts. So it would not describe someone who identifies as gay, but is celibate. Yet it would apply to an imprisoned heterosexual man who gets sexual favors from other male prisoners.
Are these verses politically correct?
No. However, our job as translators is to faithfully translate the text into Modern English so that you, the reader, can know what was written. We must translate the words no matter what they may say. Otherwise we would be deceiving you.
For further discussion, please see the commentaries:
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