1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and “Homosexual Offenders”

Proponents of King James Onlyism aren’t always known for making thoughtful statements. That isn’t a blanket-statement for all of them, as I know many who are very thoughtful, and provide great conversations. But, unfortunately for them, the unthoughtful ones greatly outweigh the others.

Nor “those who hurt other people’s feelings”?

Today I heard the statement from a King James Onlyist claiming “the NIV says all Christians who preach against homosexuality will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” This set me back, as I hadn’t heard this argument yet, but like the others, I was sure it would be superfluous and lacking any real substance. The scriptural reference was 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Note the emphasis on “nor homosexual offenders.” My friend claims that this means “those who offend homosexuals.” Now, the Bible being a book that speaks of all types of sin is very offensive to our sin-nature. We are offended when the Bible calls us liars, thieves, adulterers, and more. Likewise, many homosexuals may also be offended when their sin is pointed out as well. For instance in Romans 1:26-27:

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Note here that God gave up this group of people to go with their desires, and contrary to what is expected of them. The women went in unto other women, and men in unto other men. Many homosexuals may find this to be offensive, since it speaks of their relationships with others of the same gender as a sinful act.

So, here we have the Word of God, saying something that may indeed offend homosexuals. What we can see here is that the NIV isn’t soft when it comes to the sin of homosexuality – it still deals with it very plainly. But according to my KJVO friend, the Apostle Paul is a “homosexual offender,” since some homosexuals will be offended by his words.

When Arguments Backfire

As is the case often times, many of these arguments backfire on the KJVO proponent. This is one great example. If the word “offender” in 1 Corinthians 6:9 means “one who hurts anothers feelings,” then we have a problem.

Paul uses this term in the KJV in Acts 25:11:

For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.

Paul says that if “if be an offender,” that he would “not refuse to die.” In Paul’s mind here, an “offender” is “worthy of death,” so he would welcome his punishment if in deed he were an “offender.” So the question is, did Paul ever offend anybody? Of course, he preached the truth. Paul was the author of Romans 1, where we happen to find this text that may offend some homosexuals. So if Paul meant “offender” as “one who hurts other people’s feelings,” then he would have gladly accepted that he deserved punishment. But that isn’t what paul means.

The word “offender” in the KJV here is dereived from adikeō. When we look at the meaning of this word, we see what Paul meant when he used it:

  • to act unjustly or wickedly, to sin,
  • to be a criminal, to have violated the laws in some way
  • to do wrong
  • to do hurt

So what did Paul mean when he said “if I be an offender”? I think it’s pretty clear. He meant, “If I have broken the law, sinned, or acted wickedly, and am worthy of death, I will not refuse it.”

So when the NIV uses the term “homosexual offender” it means the “offender” is guilty of “homosexual” activity. Not that the homosexual was offended. What astounds me is that this causes confusion at all. In English we say things like “big house” and we understand that “big” describes “house.” As such, “homosexual offender” describes the offender in this context.

…but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety

One thing I tend to do when I come across these types of objections and potentially ambiguous language is to consult more translations, and even foreign ones I have access.  I speak Portuguese, so I’m able to cross-reference this type of stuff in a language that is structured differently than English, helping me understand what the English is communicating at times. Unfortunately I don’t have access to a Portuguese NIV (Nova Versao Internacional) online, but I do have access to the NIV in Spanish online, where we read 1 Corintios 6:9

¿No saben que los malvados no heredarán el reino de Dios? ¡No se dejen engañar! Ni los fornicarios, ni los idólatras, ni los adúlteros, ni los sodomitas, ni los pervertidos sexuales,

Now I understand that many of you may not understand Spanish, but the last two statements should be pretty evident to most English speakers: los sodomitas, and los pervertidos sexuales.

Notice how it doesn’t speak of anybody offending anybody else. It merely says “nor the sodomites, nor the sexually-perverse.” This is one of the great advantages of using many versions, editions, and languages to your advantage. Unfortunately, KJVO proponents have vetoed this arbitrarily in their assumption that all others are at best incompetent, and at worst Satanic devices.

So in the end we see that the text makes complete sense, and is not a charge against those who happen to offend homosexuals. Instead, anybody making this argument should be ashamed, and perhaps consider studying English a bit more.