Is the condemnation of homosexuality in 1 Timothy a modern invention?
On our television program Christ in Prophecy, we asked this question of Dr. Ron Rhodes, the founder and director of a ministry called Reasoning from the Scriptures, located in Frisco, Texas. His ministry specializes in defending Christianity against Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, the cults, world religions, and about any group that teaches false doctrine. He is a seminary professor and an excellent writer who has written more than 70 books! His latest one is titled, The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy.
Dr. Rhodes addressed some of the outlandish statements Newsweek magazine had made in a recent article that distort the Bible and treat Christianity with contempt.
The Homosexuality Isn’t Condemned in the Bible Argument
“The condemnation of homosexuality in 1 Timothy is a modern invention, since the word ‘homosexual’ did not exist until 1,800 years after 1 Timothy was written.”
It is true that in the history of the English language the word “homosexual” has been a fairly recent development. It’s a compound word meaning “same-sex.” That recent developments have caused such a word is in and of itself a sign of the times right there. But, the thing of it is, is that this argument has been presented as a smokescreen argument to do away with the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality. I’m sorry, but that just won’t work.
In 1 Timothy, the Greek word that is used there, if you look in the most accurate Greek lexicons like Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich as the standards, is that the word means “men who engage in sexual relations with other men.” That’s what the word means. Now, whether or not you want to say the whole phrase, or use the word homosexual, the meaning of 1 Timothy 1:10 is the same, and that is that God is condemning homosexuality.
I might mention to you what Paul says there in 1 Timothy 1:10 is in perfect keeping with what he says elsewhere. For example, in Romans 1 the author talks about unnatural affections between men and men and unnatural affections between women and women. Paul makes the same point in 1 Corinthians 6 where he says that homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Now, to be fair, a number of different kinds of sinners are mentioned in that context, so we are not ganging up on homosexuals. Still, homosexuality is one of a number of sins that could keep you out of the Kingdom of God.
The interesting thing there is what Paul says to the Corinthians right there in 1 Corinthians 6. He said some of you used to be homosexuals, but you’ve been delivered by the power of the Lord Jesus and you’ve been sanctified. Therefore, both Paul and I am certainly wishing for all homosexuals to be delivered from their lifestyle.
I’m not trying to come across as mean-spirited, or unfair, or narrow minded, or any of those things. We must be clear on what the Bible actually teaches on this, because eternal souls are at stake. We need the truth. What we need today is for Christians to be bold enough to tell the truth in the name of Jesus. This is what Scripture teaches on homosexuality, and so, if I might add, the Scriptures also speak strongly against same-sex marriage.
Look to Matthew 19:4-5 when people claim that Jesus never talked about homosexuality. It says, “‘Haven’t you read,’ He replied, ‘that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female. And it also said for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh.'” It’d be correct to say that Jesus Himself, by defining what marriage is, was saying that homosexuality, adultery and fornication are not the definition of marriage.
Of course, Jesus is pointing back to Genesis 2 where marriage is invented. God is the one who invented it. And, as the Inventor of marriage, God is the One who determined the genders that participate in it. Marriage is for one male and one female.
Marriage between one man and one woman is seen throughout the rest of the Bible. Take 1 Corinthians 7 for example. There Paul is giving instructions to husbands and wives about meeting each other’s needs. He says the man must meet the needs of the woman, and the woman must meet the needs of the man. There’s a very clear gender distinction between the two.
I could go a lot more on this, for it is very clear from the Bible that homosexuality is a sin. By virtue of that fact, same-sex marriages are a sin as well. And, so is adultery and so is fornication The Bible makes it very clear the only moral sex is that between a husband and a wife.
I think that too often one of the problems that we see in the Church to be fair is that there will be individuals speaking out against homosexuality when they haven’t dealt first with their own problems.