of ancient Corinth
The Greek word malakoi, which is the plural of malakos, and the Greek word arsenokoites are both used in 1 Cor 6:9.
Here is how the KJV translates 1 Cor 6:9.
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (malakoi), nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (arsenokoites)" -1 Cor 6:9, KJV
Malakoi In 44 Translations
The remarkable semantic shift
in the meaning of malakoi, which by 1958, came to equate malakoi with homosexuality instead of softness, moral weakness or the effeminacy of temple prostitutes, was not prompted by new linguistic evidence. Instead, cultural factors influenced modern translators to inject anti-gay bias into their translation. In ancient times, the malakos stem never referred exclusively to gays and lesbians. In fact, the malakos stem rarely, if ever, referred to gay behavior. In ancient times, it was used to refer to heterosexual men who followed the Greek custom of shaving the face daily.
Hey guys, do you shave daily?
"Until Scipio Aemilianus (185-129 BC) made it fashionable, daily shaving was considered an affectation of the effeminate Greeks."
Many preachers believe that effeminate in 1 Cor 6:9 condemns gay men. Yet in cultural and historical context, men who shaved daily were the effeminate ones. Isn't it odd that preachers who shave their face every day love to make fun of and attack gay men as effeminate?
"Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards." Leviticus 19:27, New Living Translation
"But for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, to arrange his hair at the looking-glass, to shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them, how womanly!"
"It is therefore impious to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness. But the embellishment of smoothing (for I am warned by the Word), if it is to attract men, is the act of an effeminate person, if to attract women, is the act of an adulterer; and both must be driven as far as possible from our society." - Clement of Alexandria, AD 195, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, p. 276
Clement explains precisely what he means by "effeminate" and "to attract men" in another sermon, Exhortation to the Greeks. It has nothing to do with being a gay man and everything to do with worshiping the fertility goddess.
"Blessings be upon the Scythian king, whoever he Noble was. When a countryman of his own was imitating among the Scythians the rite of the Mother of the Scythian Gods as practised at Cyzicus by beating a drum and clanging a cymbal, and by having images of the goddess suspended from his neck after the manner of a priest of Cybele, this king slew him with an arrow, on the ground that the man, having been deprived of his own virility in Greece, was now communicating the effeminate disease to his fellow Scythians." - Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks
It should be clearly understood that most anti-gay Christians misinterpret 1 Cor 6:9 as a universal prohibition of homosexuality including lesbian relationships, this in spite of the fact that most of our spiritual ancestors did not understand the text to say that. They understood malakoi or effeminate as a reference to pagans who worshiped Cybele the fertility goddess.
Scripture cannot mean now
Here malakia referred to intellect, not homosexuality.
-Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, 431 BC, Book Two, Chapter VI.
Plato expressed an ancient Greek concept, that too much music made a man soft, not homosexual. -Plato, The Republic, 360 BC, Book III.
Aristotle wrote: He “who pursues the excesses of things pleasant, and shuns those of things painful, of hunger and thirst and heat and cold and all the objects of touch and taste... that men are called 'soft' [malakos] with regard to these pleasures...
Now of appetites and pleasures... with reference to all objects whether of this or of the intermediate kind men are not blamed for being affected by them, for desiring and loving them, but for doing so in a certain way, i.e. for going to excess.” -Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 7.4.4.
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 60-7 BC, in Roman Antiquities, explains how Aristodemus Malacus, 504 BC, tyrant of Cumae [situated northwest of Naples, the first Greek colony on the Italian mainland], made the male children of Cumae effeminate (meaning soft or womanly, not homosexual), so they would not rise up against him.
Young men were educated by older male friends of the family, who taught sports, ethics, fighting and philosophy in the gymnasium.
Aristodemus suppressed the all-male gymnasiums and limited male influence by giving male children into the care of female governesses.
“3 These children, accordingly, forsaking the houses of their fathers, were brought up in the country like slaves, serving the murderers of their fathers. And to the end that no noble or manly spirit might spring up in any of the rest of the citizens, he resolved to make effeminate by means of their upbringing all the youths who were being reared in the city, and with that view he suppressed the gymnasiums and the practice of arms and changed the manner of life previously followed by the children.
4 For he ordered the boys to wear their hair long like the girls, adorn it with flowers, to keep it curled and to bind up the tresses with hair-nets, to wear embroidered robes that reached down to their feet, and, over these, thin and soft mantles, and to pass their lives in the shade.
And when they went to the schools kept by dancing-masters, flute-players and others who, like these, pay court to the Muses, their governesses attended them, taking along parasols and fans; and these women bathed them, carrying into the baths combs, alabaster pots filled with perfumes, and looking-glasses.
5 By such training he continued to enervate the youth till they had completed their twentieth year, and from that time permitted them to be considered as men.”
-Dionysius, Roman Antiquities, Book VII.9.3, p. 172.
This usage does not indicate homosexuality. -Wars of The Jews, 7.338; Antiquities of The Jews, 5.246; 10.194.
This usage does not indicate homosexuality. -Epictetus, Discourse 3:9.
Dio Chrysostom, AD 40-120, used malakos to refer to those made soft by too much learning.
This usage does not indicate homosexuality. -Dio Chrysostom 49:25.
John The Faster, around AD 575. For centuries, malakia was said to mean masturbation. Use of malakia, with the meaning of masturbation, is attributed to John the Faster around AD 575. The Catholic Church has long interpreted malakia to mean masturbation. -John The Faster, Penitential. This usage does not indicate homosexuality.
When anti-gay conservative Calvinists like Phil Johnson support the gay Christian view, that the cultural, historical, religious context of 1 Corinthians 6 was temple prostitution, that is an important admission. Honest students of the Bible should pay attention to Phil Johnson on this issue and consider the possibility that malakoi and arsenokoitai described shrine prostitutes who served pagan gods in the idol temples of Corinth. That form of idolatry was a problem for Jews in the Old Testament and Christians in the New Testament.
It is historically inaccurate and factually incorrect to translate the malakos word group to mean homosexual. The evidence indicates that 1 Corinthians 6 is dealing with temple prostitution - even our most ardent foes agree with us about that.
Christian honesty requires non-gay Christians to come clean on this issue. Non-gay Christians must stop wresting 1 Corinthians 6:9 from its context to assault gay and lesbian Christians.
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