Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ἀρσενοκοίτης

On Thursday, Rabbi Rami brought a guest speaker to our American Spirituality class to talk a bit about the Pre-Modern, Modern, and Post-Modern views on religion. Greg Bullard, senior pastor at Covenant of the Cross from Madison, Tennessee, began by stating he is a homosexual man, and as a gay man he had to not only wrestle with scripture but also with those who would use scripture to attack him. What I found incredibly fascinating is that he researched the original Greek words that referenced homosexuality to discover the meaning of the word and its use in the first and second centuries. Now I've heard many preachers do this to support their sermons or their cause but Greg went above and beyond researching homosexuality in Greek and Roman history, mythology, and literature.

ἀρσενοκοίτης (arsenokoitēs)
arsenokoitai: "arsen" means "man"; "koitai" means "beds."

Used in both 1 Timothy 1:9-10 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 this word has been translated as referencing homosexuality or sodomy. It is actually a feminine word in the Greek, someone who assumes the position of a woman. It is a sexual behavior and not an orientation issue. It is used 73 times outside of scripture, 44 times used to describe the buying and selling of slaves used for temple prostitution.
malakoi literally means "soft."

Used in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 this word has been translated as the effeminate, or male prostitute.

Pastor Greg goes into detail in a sermon podcast on his church's site, The Covenant of the Cross, entitled "It's All Greek to Me".




Very enlightening information on a topic that has become fueled by so much blind rage. Not many of us have the time or the education to research the original Greek, but what if we did? What if we uncovered something other than what we've been taught by the church and centuries of tradition? Would we fight against it and brush it off holding on to what WE BELIEVE instead of considering that church and tradition (both maintained by fallible men) may be wrong? To quote Pastor Greg "we just like an easy comfortable explanation for what we don't understand." As human beings I believe it is our duty to understand each other especially if we as Christians consider love and compassion to be at the core of Christianity. I thoroughly enjoyed his talk even though there were a few who were uncomfortable with his presence. Sadly, soon after I left class I overheard two of my fellow "Christian" classmates (the two most opposed and outspoken against Greg's talk) snickering over the fact that they knew he was gay as soon as he walked in the door. Fear and hate spreads too easily when it should be a terrible burden.


Note: I'm currently in the process of moving back home to Chattanooga so it may be some time before my next post. Until then Peace and Blessings.

7 comments:

Don said...

Thanks for this enlightening post.

Doug Robertson said...

Summed it up nicely, and I tend to agree with most of what the pastor had to say. I spent some time a few years ago researching the Greek root words and meaning, not necessarily to validate myself for being gay (I figured that's a done deal whatever I would have discovered) but just to get to the base of it without all the religious noise. Good to know, whether or not much attention will be paid to it, that some out there are teaching at least a different perspective on the issue.

Brandon and Jenny said...

I realize that I am a year late on reading this, but I just came across it while doing some research. I guess I don't understand something: In speaking of ἀρσενοκοίτης (arsenokoitēs), if it means man and bed and the feminine form, and referring to a sexual act, why does that not refer to men lying (sexually) with men as with a woman? That is the definition of that Greek word given by mainstream Christian resources. Please know that I am not attacking homosexuals, but it seems that what you wrote about the definition of that word supports the idea that the Bible condemns the sexual practice of homosexuality. How should that word have been translated into the English language? Thank you and I look forward to your response.

Eruesso said...

@Brandon

That's quite alright. If you want a more detailed history on the Greek word arsenokoitēs, I highly recommend some of the links I've posted on how that word has been historically used (I'm not a Biblical historian nor do I speak Greek myself). The argument made here by Pastor Greg is that arsenokoitēs is translated as someone who assumes the position of a woman. Keep in mind that in the 1st century Palestine women were more seen as property than people. In this instance the word may be referring to not homosexuality but towards male prostitutes with either male or female customers which was common in the Roman empire. These prostitutes were slaves which were often used in temple prostitution something which Paul would be familiar with enough to condemn in his writings. As for homosexuality in the Bible there are only 7-8 verses total which have been used in reference to condemning homosexuality. Even in those instances we need to look into the context (the time and place) in which these verses are used. But of course, I'm not an expert on the matter but I do find the topic very intriguing. Thanks for commenting.

MindTinker said...

arsenokoitēs in classical Greek literature always means male bedding male as a male would bed a female. Biblical Greek derives meaning from the classical.

Anonymous said...

I believe that you have done gymnastics with hermeneutics in order to arrive at such an idea to defend homosexuality. The evidence shows that when you look at the Bible with a straight forward approach, you will find the condemnation of homosexuality in all places where it is mentioned. All have sinned; but, God calls for us to forsake or abandon (not to revel in) our practice of sin and follow Him. I have written this in love.

S S S-I said...

Oh, I get to comment! Ok! Well, I pretty much have to agree with the couple or so people on here who have already noted the obvious: you who posted this article & also the so-called "pastor" are trying your hardest to escape the fact that the Almighty has condemned homosexuality & that this is the undeniable message within His Holy Writ & declared in so many ways!
ἀρσενοκοίτης (arsenokoitēs) definitely is referring to "a man laying sexually with another man as if with a woman," which is therefore but another designation for what the word "homosexuality" refers to. Evidently female homosexuality is simultaneously condemned &, if one wants directness regarding that, Romans 1:26. So, guess what? Whoever is involved in homosexuality "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
And the "effeminate" think is also irrefutably about a male behaving "soft (like a female)," "a male behaving feminine like a woman instead of masculine."
As to the folly of saying, "Oh the word 'homosexuality' is not in the Bible, therefore that which 'homosexuality' refers to in our times is not in the Bible!", I don't have time to tackle right now, except to say even mere common sense rebuts that, just as a beginning premise. I am studying out, I'll also say, through the Greek & so on, to show how ridiculous that argument is.
Lastly, I serve not the "New Age Jesus" which this wayward world culture teaches about, the "another Jesus," who tells everybody they are alright & there is no such thing as "the wages of sin," but rather the Jesus who looked devilish religious leaders in the eyes & called them "hypocrites" & methodically plaited a whip to drive the offenders out of His Temple.
In a sense, though, this article worked for my purpose for I wondered how homosexuals were "wresting" (I thought it ironic that "wrestling" was used in reference to what this "pastor" was doing in relation to the Scriptures, when Simon Peter prophesied that some do exactly this "to their own destruction") the 1 Corinthians 6:9 & now I see. Very pathetic, their effort.

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