"Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers -- none of these will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)That's quite the statement. Those not in that list, raise your hand. Hmmm....squinting my eyes, I see in the distance....5!
There is little in the New Testament about homosexuality because, as my Pastor put it, it was completely unacceptable in first century Jewish society so what's there to talk about? Having said that, there are a few passages promoted as sounding off against homosexuals, the one above being one of them.
To understand it better, it might be useful to have a few dictionary definitions. I quote from the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, First Edition:
fornicators: those who fornicate. Fornicate: (of people not married or not married to each other) have sexual intercourse.
So basically anyone who has had sex outside of marriage will not inherit the kingdom of God, whether or not you've been married before or are engaged to your partner. When I was growing up, many subscribed to the idea that once you've been married, it's OK to have sex after your marriage has ended whether through divorce or death. That's a myth.
idolaters: 1. a worshipper of idols. 2 a devoted admirer.
Back in the day, idolaters worshipped a "false god" as SG-1 puts it. Today, we don't worship god-idols; instead we worship money, the acquisition of things, the Harrod's bag, the Gucci shoes, the Armani suit, the hippest chef, the coolest car, a house in the right neighbourhood, the people whose names we drop.
adulterers: a person who commits adultery. Adultery: 1 voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person (married or not) other than his or her spouse. 2 an instance of this; an adulterous relationship.
This is pretty self-explanatory. All you cheats out there, you ain't going to inherit the kingdom of heaven!
male prostitutes: 1 a a woman or girl who engages in sexual activity for payment, b a man or boy who engages in sexual activity, esp. with men, for payment. 2 a person who misuses his or her talents or skills esp. for money.
Basically a person who makes themselves an object for another person's pleasure so as to earn some money. (Are there any female johns?) Why does Paul single out male prostitutes? If you're female and prostitute yourself, that's OK? Is it supposedly OK because women were not seen as persons, had no power, and therefore God understood the tragic circumstances that would lead to such a state for females; but males had a choice, given that they had power over their lives, and thus God was less tolerant of them doing that to themselves? Or is it simply because same-sex intercourse is a no-no? But then we go back to the first word in Paul's list, which clearly encompasses any type of sex outside of marriage and thus would include female prostitutes. Maybe it's just that people have to be banged over the head and told the same thing a few different ways in order to get the idea.
sodomites: a person who engages in sodomy. Sodomy: anal intercourse performed between two males or a male and a female.
As I was saying about Paul telling the same thing in different ways... Seriously though, this item is about behaviour. This behaviour is not confined to male-male or female-female (OK sodomy in the strict sense is impossible in that instance). It includes male-female. That means this item cannot be construed as saying that homosexuality is a sin. Anal intercourse is the sin. Practicing anal intercourse is what will prevent you from inheriting the kingdom of heaven. But from this item, simply being homosexual is not a sin.
thieves: a person who steals esp. secretly and without violence.
I suppose that covers pens from the office.
the greedy: 1 wanting wealth to excess. 2 having or showing an excessive appetite for food or drink. 3 very keen or eager; needing intensely (greedy for affection).
This is the grass is greener on the other side set. This is the wanting more, taking it, and not even trying for a hint of self-control set. This defines our society.
drunkards: a person who is drunk, esp. habitually.
revilers: 1 abuse; criticize abusively. 2 talk abusively; rail.
Nice to know God doesn't like abusers of any sort, child or spousal.
robbers: a person who commits robbery. Robbery: 1 a the act or process of robbing, esp. with force or threat of force. b an instance of this. 2 excessive financial demand or cost. Rob: 1 take unlawfully from, esp. by force or threat of force...4 overcharge.
Kind of makes me think of banks and insurance companies. But I digress.
As I've gone through these passages from the Old Testament to the New Testament,* I conclude that God condemns the behaviour -- not the state of being. If we accept that God creates life, then He created people who encompass the spectrum of sexual orientation from heterosexual to hermaphrodite to homosexual. If we accept God creates life, then all life is sacred. Thus no matter what your sexual orientation, you are sacred.
However, God also has the right to proscribe behaviour. He gave us life. He knows how to live well. Jesus took God's law one step further and gave us the Holy Spirit to change our very thinking and desires so that our behaviour comes into line with God's will. Whether we listen to Him and respond to the Holy Spirit or not depends upon whether we have a relationship with God or not. Our views are shaped by our relationship with God, or lack thereof. When He is a meaningful presence in our lives, then His opinion matters to us. When we don't believe that God created us, then His opinion is just one of many, and life becomes a survival of the fittest; we go with the opinion we like the best and will help us fit into society best. The problem is we were created to live a certain way, and when we break God's laws and go against Jesus' teachings, it isn't the law that's damaged. It's us.
But all is not lost.
Paul continues: "And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11)To get back to the question of "is same-sex marriage a sin?" We are not meant to have sex outside of marriage. Period. Being homosexual does not give an out to that rule. I think all the broken hearts and broken children, the natural consequences of fornicating, are testament to that. And so the question becomes how does God define marriage?
I'll look at that question next time.
*In chronological order, these posts explore related passages in the Bible:
Tags: Bible, Christianity, Same-Sex Marriage