Malakoi is NEVER used in the Bible to mean homosexual
Malakoi - The cultural historical religious context of 1 Cor 6:9 was temple prostitution.
Anti-gay Calvinist Phil Johnson admits the context of 1 Cor 6:9 was temple prostitution.
Anti-gay Calvinist Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs Blog says some very interesting things.
Johnson is Executive Director of Grace To You, the audio/video ministry of Pastor John MacArthur, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA, one of the most influential Calvinist conservative, anti-gay mega-churches in the world.
I love it when our most ardent foes make unintentional arguments which support our gay Christian teaching on these important verses. Phil's boss, John MacArthur also agrees with us that the context of Leviticus 18:21-22 was shrine prostitution or temple prostitution. Thanks guys!
Phil Johnson says:
“At the heart of all the problems in the church at Corinth... a city filled with both temples and brothels—where fornication was literally deemed a religious rite...
The vast majority of the Jewish community in Corinth had rejected the gospel (Acts 18:6). So the church was made up of mostly Gentiles who, of course, came from a culture that was not inclined to see sexual sin as unspiritual. Just the opposite.
-Phil Johnson on Pyromaniacs Blog, January 31, 2011.
Wildflowers in the ruins 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 I 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 Corinthians 6:9, KJV
Malakoi In 44 Translations
The Apostle Paul - AD 55 - Greek - malakoi
Wycliffe - 1380 - neische
Wycliffe - 1388 - letchouris ayen kinde
Tyndale - 1526 - weaklinges
Martin Luther - 1534 - weichlinge
Coverdale - 1535 - weaklinges
Matthews - 1537 - weaklinges
Great Bible - 1539 - weaklynges
Swedish Version - 1541 - weaklingar
Geneva Bible - 1560 - wantons
Bishops Bible - 1568 - weaklinges
Valera Spanish - 1602 - effeminados
Rheims-Douay - 1609 - effeminat
King James Version - 1611 - effeminate
Portuguese - 1690 - efeminados
Daniel Mace New Testament - 1729 - the effeminate
Darby - 1884 - those who make women of themselves
Darby French - 1885 - effemines
Young’s Literal - 1898 - effeminate
ASV - 1901 - effeminate
Weymouth - 1903 - any who are guilty of unnatural crime
Louis Segund French - 1910 - effemines
Moffat - 1913 - catamites (boys who have sex with men)
Lamsa Translation - 1933 - men who lie down with males
New American - 1941 - sodomites
Revised Standard - 1952 - sexual perverts
Amplified - 1958 - those who participate in homosexuality
NASB - 1963 - effeminate
New American Bible - 1970 - boy prostitutes
New English - 1970 - guilty of homosexual perversion
NIV - 1973 - male prostitutes
NKJV - 1979 - homosexuals
JW-NWT - 1984 - men kept for unnatural purposes
New Century - 1987 - male prostitutes
Green’s Interlinear - 1986 - abusers
NRSV - 1989 - male prostitutes
Bible In Basic English - 1994 - one who is less than a man
CEV - 1995 - pervert
NLT - 1996 - male prostitute
Complete Jewish Bible - 1998 - active or passive homosexuality
International Standard Version - 2000 - male prostitutes
The Message - 2002 - those who use and abuse each other
World English Bible - 2005 - male prostitutes
God’s Word Translation - 2006 - homosexuals
The NET Bible - 2006 - passive homosexual partners
The Remarkable Semantic Shift
The remarkable semantic shift in the meaning of malakoi, which by 1958, came to equate malakoi with homosexuality instead of softness, moral weakness or effeminacy, was not prompted by new linguistic evidence. Instead, cultural factors influenced modern translators to inject anti-homosexual bias into their translation.
For example: "Until Scipio Aemilianus (185-129 BC) made it fashionable, daily shaving was considered an affectation of the effeminate Greeks." The Immense Majesty, A History of Rome and the Roman Empire, Thomas W. Africa, 1991, Harlan Davidson, Inc, p. 148. How times have changed. Few these days regard daily shaving of facial hair as effeminate.
It should be clearly understood that most antigay Christians today interpret 1 Corinthians 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.
Scripture cannot mean now what it did not mean then.
Translating malakoi as homosexuals imposes a twentieth or twenty first century cultural meaning on the text which malakoi did not mean in the first century. In 1 Cor 6:9-10 in the Greek text, Paul uses nine masculine nouns to describe people who will not inherit the kingdom yet the masculine nouns he uses in this case can apply to both genders.
The issue is grammatical gender vs. biological gender. In the Greek language, masculine nouns (grammatical gender) include males (biological gender) but are not limited to or restricted to males. Masculine nouns sometimes include females.
If translators focus on grammatical gender and specify male for each of the nine masculine nouns Paul uses here, that would have Paul by implication, telling us that adulterous thieving females (biological gender) CAN inherit the kingdom. Do you see the theological problem we create if we specify male in this case?
When translating malakoi, we must be careful not to give the word a meaning in the twenty first century that it did not have in the first century. One of the meanings of malakoi in the first century AD was: a man who pretties himself with daily shaving of the face in the Greek manner, using makeup, hair coloring and fancy clothing to attract females with whom to have sex. If malakoi was not a universally understood reference to gays and lesbians in the first century when Paul used it, but instead often described heterosexual men who followed Greek customs like daily shaving of facial hair, then malakoi does not mean homosexual today.
The Malakos Word Group
The word malaka, with the general meaning soft, is used three times in the New Testament, Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 10:1. It is translated disease in the KJV and sickness in the NAS.
The Greek word malaka has nothing to do with homosexuality
The word malakos occurs four times, in three verses in the New Testament. In Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25, Jesus uses the word to refer to soft clothing.
In the Bible, Jesus never used the malakos word group to mean homosexual.
Paul uses malakoi (the plural of malakos) in 1 Corinthians 6:9.
Some translations translate malakoi as "male prostitutes." (NIV, New Century, NRSV, NLT, ISV, WEB).
However, that malakoi means male prostitutes in Paul's usage is unlikely since Paul has already mentioned pornoi, meaning male prostitutes, in this vice list. Because Paul's reasoning is tight and his writing style spare, it is unlikely Paul would repeat himself by using malakoi with the meaning of male prostitutes. English translations did not translate malakoi to mean homosexual until the Amplified Bible in 1958.
The word malakoi in New Testament times, was sometimes an epithet for being effeminate, not homosexual. In ancient times, an effeminate man was a heterosexual, not a gay or homosexual male.
The ancients did not equate effeminate with homosexuality.
Some of the mightiest warriors in ancient times were homosexuals yet they were not called malakoi. Our ancestors used the malakos word group in a way similar to a high school baseball coach who chides a lazy jock by saying,
“You throw like a girl”
or a drill instructor barking at his male, boot camp recruits,
“Okay ladies, drop and give me 50”
[push ups]. The coach isn't calling his players homosexuals and the drill instructor isn't calling his recruits homosexuals.
The truth is, the word malakoi, in antiquity, was rarely, if ever, used to indicate homosexuals.
How Was Malakoi Used In Ancient Times?
Pericles, 495-429 BC, in his funeral oration, lauded the Greeks because they cultivated knowledge without malakia, meaning softness or effeminacy.
Here malakia referred to intellect, not homosexuality.
-Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, 431 BC, Book Two, Chapter VI.
Plato, 427-347 BC, in The Republic, has Socrates opine that too much music effeminates a warrior, causing him to be malakoteroi, soft, feeble, sensitive.
Plato expressed an ancient Greek concept, that too much music made a man soft, not homosexual. -Plato, The Republic, 360 BC, Book III.
Aristotle, 384-322 BC, in Nicomachean Ethics, used malakos to describe lack of restraint and excessive enjoyment of bodily pleasures.
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.
In ancient Greek society, the education of young men involved separation from effeminizing, womanly influence.
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.
Josephus, AD 37-100, used malakos to describe men who appeared soft or weak through lack of courage in battle or who were reluctant to commit suicide in defeat or who enjoyed too much luxury.
This usage does not indicate homosexuality. -Wars of The Jews, 7.338; Antiquities of The Jews, 5.246; 10.194.
Epictetus, AD 55-135, used malakos to refer to soft-headed persons, whom he regarded as unable to absorb true philosophy.
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. Does not indicate homosexuality.
Our honest factual conclusion about malakoi
The citations on this page indicate that the malakos word group was not used by our ancestors as a general reference to gay men and lesbians.
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.