Debunking the Clobber Verse in First Corinthian Chapter 6

In First Corinthian Chapter 6 Paul wrote about some of the problems in the Corinthian church. Apparently members of the Corinthian church have been attacking each other in the courts.  Paul wrote that such lawsuits should be stopped, because they are wicked behaviors.  Paul gave a list of other examples that are also wicked in verse 9 and 10.

Surely you know that the wicked will not possess God’s Kingdom. Do not fool yourselves; people who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves — none of these will possess God’s Kingdom. (1 Cor 6:9-10)

This Bible verse is known as one of the few Bible verses that clobbers the gay people.  When Paul wrote his pastoral letters he used the Greek language.  In this instance Paul decided to use a constructed compound word man-beds that translated to “homosexual perverts” in the GNT translation.  As far as we know this compound word was invented by Paul, and he had a specific meaning in mind.  He assumed his reader would be able to understand what he wrote given the cultural context in his time.  However, that cultural context has been partially lost in two thousand years’ time.  According to word fragment construction man-beds could either mean “man bedders” (gays), or “man with multiple bed partners” (bed hoppers).

To see which of the definitions produce the best fit we can also introduce verse 11 into the picture:

Some of you were like that. But you have been purified from sin; you have been dedicated to God; you have been put right with God by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:11)

We then can see that the specified behavior not only must be wicked, but it also must be stoppable once someone believes in Jesus.

Bed hopping is wicked, and that behavior could be stopped by going into a dedicated relationship. When we look at a married gay couple we can no longer assign the wickedness label without knowing who they are as real persons.  When the gay couple become believers of Jesus I hope their marriage will become stronger, rather than getting a divorce!  This is exactly the opposite of what is implied in verse 11.

We can then conclude that the translation usually seen in 1 Cor 6:9 does not fit when it refers to gay people, but it has a better fit when it refers to men with multiple bed partners.

The scriptures are more revealing when we read larger sections together, rather than few verses in isolation.

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