-Robert L. Brawley


In 1 Cor. 6: 9-10, Paul gives a long list of “wrongdoers [who] will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Presbyterian New Testament scholars Paul Achtemeier and Marion Soards, whom I hold in high esteem, think that when 1 Cor 6:9 uses the Greek terms

malakoi and arsenokoitai among males and excluding such people from being heirs of God’s kingdom. Thus, in the contemporary debate about the ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians, they use this text to limit the issue to “homoerotic practice” aside from any other criteria that make people hold interpersonal relationships dear.

But is it really so clear that 1 Cor 6:9 is about “homoerotic practice” and is it really so clear who is excluded from being heirs of God’s kingdom? I suggest that there is actually a lack of clarity. The lack of clarity shows up in several ways. One is in the variety among translations. Another is the difficulty we have in making direct correlations between biblical texts and the way we construe reality today. Most importantly, however, the argument about clarity does not adequately consider the context in 1 Corinthians 6, and this context is eye-opening with respect to how Paul deals with sexual behavior among the Corinthians…

Read the whole essay.