Will Homosexuals Inherit the Kingdom?

Will Homosexuals Inherit the Kingdom? August 23, 2018

In this blog I’ll be answering an honest question from someone online who asked me:

“Do you believe effeminate homosexuals will inherit the kingdom?”

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind…” 1 Corinthians 6:9 (KJV)


Answer: This is a great question, but the answer isn’t a simple “Yes” or “No” since you’ve made so many assumptions in asking the question the way you have here.

First, you’ve correctly quoted the KJV here which reflects the more accurate translation of the terms “malakoi” and “arsenokoitai”, neither of which should be rendered as “Homosexual” as most modern English Bibles have them.

Secondly, the term “arsenokoitai” is most likely a reference to men who sexually abuse young boys, which is paedophilia, not homosexuality.

David Bentley Hart, in his new translation of the New Testament says this about the meaning of the word “arsenokoitai” as used by Paul [and later translated as “homosexual” in our English Bibles around 1946]:

“Precisely what an arsenokoitai is has long been a matter of speculation and argument. Literally, it means a man who “beds” – that is “couples with” – “males”. But there is no evidence of its use before Paul’s text. There is one known instance in the sixth century AD of penance being prescribed for a man who commits “arsenokoitai” upon his wife (sodomy, presumably), but that does not tell us with certainty how the word was used in the first century (if indeed it was used by anyone before Paul). It would not mean “homosexual” in the modern sense of a person of a specific erotic disposition, for the simple reason that the ancient world possessed no comparable concept of a specifically homoerotic sexual identity; it would refer to a particular sexual behavior, but we cannot say exactly which one. The Clementine Vulgate interprets the word as referring to users of male concubines; Luther’s German Bible interprets it as referring to paedophiles,; and a great many version of the New Testament interpret it as meaning “sodomites.” My guess as the proper connotation of the word is based simply upon the reality that in the first century the most common and readily available form of male homoerotic sexual activity was a master’s or patron’s exploitation of young male slaves.” [notes on 1 Cor. 6:9]


Third, the term “malakoi” as you point out in your question, refers to men who are “effeminate”. In other words, straight men who appear or act “girly”. The term throughout all texts from this time period [and long before and after as well] always is used to shame a straight male for behaving, or appearing as a woman. It is never used to describe a gay male. Never. [See more on this topic here]

In other words, in that culture, if you were to shave your beard, Paul and others would have called you “malakoi”. So, your question would better be phrased: “Keith, do you believe that men with long hair or a clean-shaven face will inherit the Kingdom of God?” and I would say, “Of course!”

So, why does Paul seem to think that a man without a beard, or with a clean shave will not inherit the Kingdom? For the same reason that Paul demands that women in Corinth in the First Century cover their heads when they pray, or that they not cut their hair short, etc. Because to do so, in his own words “goes against nature” or is “unnatural.” [See 1 Cor. 11:14-15]

It’s was a cultural conviction, not a theological one.

In the same way that you and I don’t greet one another with a holy kiss – something Paul commands us to do in his epistles at least 4 times – we do not need to regard men who shave their beards or have long hair [malakoi] as being in sin – Why? Because we recognize that these are cultural prohibitions, not universally authoritative commands for everyone, everywhere.

Also: Please note that the very next verse after the one you quoted does actually suggest that Paul himself DID believe that one could enter the Kingdom of God if they were guilty of those “unrighteous” deeds, because he notes that “such were some of you” and that they “were washed, and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.”

So, in other words: There were people in the Corinthian church who were “malakoi” [effeminate, clean-shaven, etc.] and yet were loved and accepted by Christ, and by the ekklesia there.

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that Paul would have been A-Ok with same-sex attraction, or gay marriage as we see it today. But not because of anything theologically-motivated as much as it would be culturally-informed by Paul’s first-century framework.

Honestly, I don’t see Paul as an infallible or inerrant prophet. I see Paul as a person who, like you and I, encountered Christ and experienced a transformation in his life; someone who heard from God as an Apostle and did his best to communicate his experience of Christ to everyone else around him.

But your experience of Christ, and my experience of Christ, is no less valuable and authoritative as Paul’s or anyone else.

We all have the mind of Christ. We all have an anointing from Christ that teaches us and leads us into all Truth. We can all hear the voice of the Good Shepherd if we are His sheep. [And the Scriptures support each and every one of these statements].

So, it’s less important for me to know what Paul thought about something nearly 2,000 years ago, as it is to know what the Holy Spirit says about it right now.

As long as we are constricted by what God was doing or saying 2,000 years ago, I’m afraid we might miss what God wants to do here and now in 2018.

Remember: “The word of God [Christ] is living, and active…”, and God is not bound in any book, or confined to any culture.

Christ abides in us, today. Let’s allow Christ to make all things new in us and through us. The old has gone and the new is here.

We can’t be transformed by the renewal of our minds if we never consider anything outside the status quo.

At least, that’s what I think. Your mileage may vary.


Keith Giles new book Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

JOIN ME IN BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA: Sept. 15 at “Proactive Love: How Loving Our Enemies Changes Everything”Register HERE>

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • To add to malakoi: I also read the term was used to refer to a lack of courage, in a failure to stand for what is right. Paul could also have meant it in that sense. (There are a lot of implications there!)

    To keep on the LGBT theme, for Side B, their big clobber verse is in Romans 1: it is important to note that this chapter is not an accurate depiction of same-sex relations as we know them today, and there is a possibility Paul was taking shots at Caesar or other leaders. So, it is more about corruption and abuse of power than Teh Geyz.

  • Summers-lad

    “Remember: “The word of God [Christ] is living, and active…”, and God is not bound in any book, or confined to any culture.

    “Christ abides in us, today. Let’s allow Christ to make all things new in us and through us. The old has gone and the new is here.”


  • Iain Lovejoy

    My understanding of what the 1st century Greek and Roman world understood as “effeminate” was being vain and pleasure-seeking and “soft” in the sense of weak-willed. It was often associated with men who preferred to company of women to men, ironically.

  • Etranger

    “That’s a great question” Hmmm, not so sure it is. Well, maybe for a close-minded person (i.e., Christian). A better response, without having to analyze some literary work, might be to ask, “Does it make sense to you that God would discriminate against someone for how they act outwardly? Discriminate based on the way they talk or walk which has nothing to do with anything they have control over?” It baffles me how much wasted time happens in an analysis of the words of Paul when simple rational thinking on the matter gets to a simple answer in no time at all.

  • I was trying to be gracious.

  • Etranger


  • Chris Schene

    Progressive churches, such as the Episcopal and Methodist, are nothing more than friends of common culture and all its perversions,

    They are enemies of Jesus Christ and of His church.

  • Chris Schene

    If course you would not view Paul’s writings as inspired becasue Paul’s writings do not agree with YOUR theology.

    Perhaps your are an idolater who worships a God of his own definition and self projection.

  • Chris Schene

    It looks more to me that those who call themselves Christian who take your position are more about being friends of the World and whose belief system is pretty much indistinguishable from modern culture. For many their objects of idolatry are science and going along to get along. Ironically, most know nothing about science.

  • Theodore A. Jones

    Since there are only a few that find the gate to become a Christian, according to Jesus, actually encountering a Christian is slim.

  • Chris Schene

    I my local company office of 175 or so people, only 5 self-identify as Christian—-roughly 3%. They have “gay pride” celebrations from time to time, which I excuse myself from. I was somewhat encouraged that only a few people attended and the attendance was so bad, they had to reschedule it 3 times.

    In the churches I have attended, they would defrock a pastor or leader for so much as attending a gay pride celebration or wedding.

    If a propagandist lie, such as “gays are born that way”, over a period of time those with no moral framework will start to repeat it and believe it In the same way they say they are born that way, a very lustful man could offer that same reason for “sleeping around” with many women.

    It’s nonsense: The behavior is a choice and inappropriate for a Christian: repent, ask for forgiveness and stop.

    And so I know what the classical response will be “What about greed, divorce, etc”. Sins of the spirit (Greed, lust, pride, covetousness, …) are really hard to identify and know for a certainty and often even unknown by the person guilty of them. Sins of behavior are the only things that were even punished in the OT or disciplined in the NT because they are obvious: you know if you are committing adultery or having sex with member of the opposite sex you are not married to. In most cases we know if a divorce is unscriptural, and some churches will expel a member for such sin.

  • Stephen Richards

    As Paul condemns the Old Testament Leviticus 20:13 warning against men sleeping with other men through the New Testament Corinthians 6:9-11 saving grace, “Some of you were gay and had no problems,” he proclaims that Jesus saves gay people. Therefore, you must believe in Jesus to know God’s love for gay people, but some people dwell on the Old Testament as the truth. The Old Testament, however, is of the world before, not after, the birth of the Savior.

  • Theodore A. Jones

    I did not say anything about homosexuality. What I reminded you of is that there are only a few that ever find the gate and therefore actually crossing paths with an authentic Christian is a rarity.

  • The destroyer

    God says no.

  • Evermyrtle

    HE only abides in those who believe in HIM and strive to follow what HE tells us that HE expects out of HIS people, to refuse the evils of the world as best as we can! Those people who have CHRIST living in their hearts refuse to deliberately go against HIS teachings!

    Do we believe in Satan’s hell? Makes no difference, sadly, it is there, waiting on Satan’s followers,those who deny GOD and HIS WORD!!

    For GOD’S WORD on this subject, see Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:20-32; 2 Peter 2:1-10; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 1:6-7! We cannot re-write HIS WORD to suit ourselves! To GOD “homosexuality is an abomination”! He did not make HIS people that way; mankind allowed Satan to change some of them, into GOD defying fools!! You cannot change HIS WORD to fit, what you believe, which Satan tried to get his followers to believe! Following Satan, causes people to continuously, to change GOD’S WORD to suit ideas! See Proverbs 30:5-6

  • Chris Schene


  • jekylldoc

    Solid stuff. At some point I think a person has to ask themselves, if they find it important to reject and exclude someone else, what spirit is really behind that. I have reached the conclusion that it is the same spirit that led to burning witches.

  • jekylldoc

    My prayer for you is that you will someday actually experience the love of God and come to know the surpassing peace that God gives to those who can accept their fellow humans.

  • Widuran

    No of course not. The Bible says so

  • Widuran


  • Phil McCarthy

    Keith – love this and love your work. But a friend points out, without arguing with the main thrust of the article, that if you want to make the point about arsenokoitoi in this context (church history), you’ll need to engage how the word was translated int Latin over 1500 years, and what the English equivalent(s) was/were. Care to comment?