Blog Post

What does the Bible have to say about LGBTQ+ Christians?

(The author of this content prefers to remain anonymous, but it is being shared with the author’s permission.)

Arsenokoitai, malakoi, and more harmful mistranslation.

Apologies for the lack of polish. Hopefully this is helpful as you consider God’s Word: there is no grounding to the assertion that a foundation for human sexuality excludes LGBTQ+ Christians.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither PORNOI nor idolaters nor adulterers nor MALAKOI nor ARESENOKOITAI nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

I’m going to be called a revisionist for the following exegetical work. I do not accept the label. If we study the translation of these words with honesty and integrity then what we find is that translations that render them “sexually immoral” and “homosexual” are the revisions.

(A bit of an afterward here: I want to emphasize that modern translations DO NOT represent the vast majority of historical interpretation. There is a false narrative being asserted that the church throughout the world and its history have been definitively against LGBTQ+ Christians. The fact is that for most of the church’s history it hasn’t dealt with the question, and when it has, it hasn’t considered it in light of the original text nor in the light of what we understand today regarding the inborn identity of our dear siblings in Jesus. We are not REVISIONISTS. We are semper reformandi – always reforming – turning back to the Scriptures – especially when human tradition has failed and caused great harm.)


  • from a previous article on unchastity we saw that the original meaning of this word is not about sex. It is about selling yourself for something less than God.

  • Note the pairing with idolatry (think food sacrificed to idols). This is deliberate. Selling out or buying in to other gods is the religious problem of the day.

  • A better rendering is prostitutes and idolaters. Sexually immoral is a modern mistranslation.


  • if you want to know whether your pastor is studying or parroting hermeneutical urban legends listen to see if they repeat this falsehood: that malakoi refers to the receiving person in homosexual sex, the soft ones.

  • There is no historical evidence for this. From Pericles to Dio Chrysostom the word means weak, soft or we might say effeminate in the historical sense of lacking courage, conviction or indulging too much in personal gratification.

  • The first time it is associated with homosexuality is 1913. Revisionist indeed. The modern translation breaks from what the church worldwide has believed for most of its history.

  • A better rendering is something like “those who lack the discipline to refrain from indulgence”.

ARSENOKOITAI (This covers 1 Timothy 1:10 as well)

  • This is the big one.

  • Not a Greek word. It is a compound of two Greek words found in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. άρσενος and κοίτην.

  • In the Hebrew scriptures Leviticus 20 uses the following:

    וְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב אֶת־זָכָר

  • The important words are ISH (man) and ZACHAR (male).

  • There is no reason why it shouldn’t read ISH and ISH. It doesn’t. Why?

  • In context: Leviticus uses ZACHAR to describe offerings. In a book concerned about ritual this is significant. These offerings were young and unblemished. Innocence and purity is conveyed by the word.

  • The longer history of interpreting this passage (in both Jewish and Christian traditions) is as a reference to pedastery (child abuse). Talmud in Sanhedrin 54b puts the age at 9 years plus a day as the limit here (ick!).

  • In Paul – as he is dealing with the temple cult where prostitution is, again, a part of the religious culture – the notion of defiling the innocent was an abomination and a warning against pederasty – the buying of children for sex – would be a more likely scenario that Paul was addressing.

  • Why would he use aresenokoitai instead of παιδεραστία? Why wouldn’t he? Paul is a Jewish thinker, brought up with Torah, educated under Gamaliel. Why use a Greek word that lacks grounding in the Law when a perfectly good Septuagint concept exists to express the same thing?

  • Again this is the majority translation for most of history and across languages. The upcoming documentary 1946 highlights much of the background for this. While there may be points to quibble with here and there, I have followed their work for a number of years and it is both useful and generally sound.

  • The best rendering of this word would be “those who defile children.” This fits the language, context, and majority tradition where “homosexual” does not.

Why does this matter?

Our significant ethical task is to ask whether this is that. Does the Biblical text address the current context. Today we are being asked a particular question:

What does the Bible have to say about LGBTQ+ Christians?

Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:10 are all brought forward as the main textual objections using revisionist translations that are foreign to the original text. If we are true to God’s Word, however, and academically honest in our approach we realize that these renderings are inappropriate.

To answer the question properly we need to answer these questions:

  1. Are LGTBQ+ Christians PORNOI? The answer is a resounding no. They are not trading their relationship with God for other gods.

  2. Are LGTBQ+ Christians MALAKOI? The answer is again no. They do not lack discipline in their faith (and, in fact, tend to show more courage and resilience than most).

  3. Are LGTBQ+ Christians ARSENOKOITAI? Obviously not. Two adults of consenting age, desiring to follow Christ and finding healthy expression for their inborn desires through covenant relationship in marriage is not what this word has meant up until the last century.

Since this isn’t that, there is no grounding to the assertion that a foundation for human sexuality excludes LGBTQ+ Christians.