The Condemnation of Homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9 -- By: David E. Malick

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 150:600 (Oct 1993)
Article: The Condemnation of Homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9
Author: David E. Malick

The Condemnation of Homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9

David E. Malick

[David E. Malick is Assistant Professor of Field Education, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.]

The cultural sweep of theological thought toward leniency with respect to moral absolutes requires that Paul’s prohibitions against homosexual activity be examined in more depth. The primary argument posed by those who desire to see a more accepting Christian community is that the Apostle Paul did not write general prohibitions against homosexual activity, but against abuses in homosexual activity-specifically pederasty. The purpose of this study is to affirm through an exegetical examination of 1 Corinthians 6:9 that Paul’s prohibitions against homosexuality were indeed against all forms of sexual relationships between persons of the same sex.

Within this debate various aspects of abuse are purported to be in view: abuses in general,1 pederasty,2 cult prostitution,3 and male, bisexual prostitution.4 While all these alternatives to a general prohibition against homosexuality have their own areas of emphasis, the first two are foundational to a discussion of the latter two. Therefore only “abuses in general” and “pederasty” are the subject of this article.

A Critique of Contemporary Views

General Abuse

The position. This first argument is a logical and theological objection (more than exegetical) to understanding Paul’s vice-list in 1 Corinthians 6:9 as prohibiting all homosexuality.

Blair affirms that Paul was not against homosexuality per se but against homosexual abuse, or perhaps better—homosexual sins related to abuse of the body and comparable to heterosexual sins such as adultery and fornication. Blair says Paul’s discussion of homosexuality is like Paul’s allowance for temperance in drinking without requiring abstinence (cf. 1 Tim 5:23).

One should not assume uncritically that there is in the Corinthian passage a proof-text against all homosexuality or even all homosexual acts. Of course, homosexual behavior can be perverted and sinful and exploitative just as heterosexual activity can be—or any kind of activity can be—but this is not the same as rejecting either sexual orientation or specific acts as sinful as such.5

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