The Metropolitan Congregation

- serving and celebrating the LGBT communities of Manchester and the North West

Understanding and Using the Bible

The Letters to the Corinthian Church and to Timothy

The church in Corinth had written to Paul for advice on some particular issues and whilst the original letter is lost, Paul's answer has been preserved for us in the Bible. Likewise, the letter to Timothy was advice from Paul to a young Overseer, or Bishop, who was responsible for spreading the Christian message. In both letters Paul uses a word to describe gay men which is very unusual and which modern Bibles cannot agree on how to translate into English.

BibleThe word ("arsenokoitai") appears in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10. Many think it just means homosexual men. If this is the case then the arguments presented above about the passage in Romans still apply here. However, some scholars, notably the late Professor John Boswell of Yale University, have said that the word refers to sacred prostitutes. These would have been young men who worked in the temples of the fertility gods popular in the ancient world. Their function was to play the part of the god whilst the worshipper/client had sex with them. This was supposed to ensure a good harvest and was seen as a form of worship! Obviously Paul would not recommend such interesting worship services to those who were committed to following the life and example of Jesus.

The Letters of Jude and Peter

There are two texts, one in the Letter of Jude and one in the Second Letter of Peter, which are clearly related to each other - in fact the text in 2 Peter is dependent on Jude.  Both take their examples from the Sodom and Gomorrah story and both are designed to show how God will destroy those who do not believe (Jude) or those who teach heresy (2 Peter).  The relevant texts are:

"Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire."  (Jude 1:7)

"...and if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example of what is coming to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the lawless ..., then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment - especially those who indulge their flesh in depraved lust, and who despise authority."  (2 Peter 2:6-10)

The irrelevance of the 'unnatural lust' and 'depraved lust' in the texts with regard to modern-day gay and lesbian relationships is affirmed by the arguments applied to the Sodom and Gomorrah story which have been put forward previously.

Read on to "Summary"

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