Some Bible prophecy teachers used to insist that the book of Daniel says the final Antichrist will be homosexual. It was mostly because Daniel 11.37 in the King James Version of the Bible reads concerning “the king” of v. 36, “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.” These teachers were right in thinking this king refers to the Antichrist. But they thought the phrase, “nor the desire of women,” meant he will not have sexual desire toward women, suggesting he will be homosexual.
That, however, is an unwarranted assumption. Just because a human being does not have sexual desire toward members of the opposite sex does necessarily indicate that person is homosexual. Some people are asexual, meaning they don’t have sexual desire toward either men or women. Thus, Dan 11.36 does not indicate the final Antichrist will be homosexual. Yet, I concede that the KJV’s rendering does suggest he will not have any sexual desire toward women. Is that what the text is supposed to mean?
This situation is an example of why Bible readers should not restrict themselves to reading only one version of the Bible. Unless you can read the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) or the Greek New Testament, you have to read a Bible translation in your native tongue. So, English speakers usually read an English translation of the Bible. But we should always understand that it is a translation. Other versions may differ at certain points.
That is the case with this phrase in Dan 11.37. The NASB is similar to the KJV by rendering it, “or for the desire of women.” But the NIV has, “or for the one desired by women.” And both the NRSV and ESV have, “or to the one beloved by women.” These last three versions obviously have a different subject in the phrase. That is, while the KJV and NASB refer to the desire of the king, the other three versions refer to female desire for some object or entity. The Hebrew text in question is chemdat nashim. The Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon says (p. 326) nashim in Dan 11.37 “apparently refers to some object of idolatrous worship.” What is that object? The context helps us to know.
The context of Dan 11.36-37 is the Antichrist and his view of gods. It reads in the NRSV, “The king shall act as he pleases. He shall exalt himself and consider himself greater than any god, and shall speak horrendous things against the God of gods. He shall prosper until the period of wrath is completed, for what is determined shall be done. He shall pay no respect to the gods of his ancestors, or to the one beloved by women; he shall pay no respect to any other god, for he shall consider himself greater than all.”The “God of gods” in Dan 11.36 refers to the God of Daniel, who is the God of the Jews, the God of the Bible. This text recognizes the existence of other gods and that this God is greater than the other gods. But does the text say this from the perspective of pagans in Babylonia, where Daniel resides? They are polytheists who believe in many gods. Or does Daniel say this from his own perspective, so that he himself believes in the existence of a multiplicity of gods, with the God of Israel being superior to all? I don’t think this is an easy question to answer. It depends mostly on whether or not you identify certain other beings mentioned in the Bible, such as chief angels, as gods.
I think Daniel here refers to chief angels. Accordingly, where Dan 11.37 says, “greater than all,” it means the Antichrist will claim to be greater than all angels. However, I think this text has a caveat. The next verse states, “He shall honor the god of fortresses instead of these; a god whom his ancestors did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts” (v. 38). I think this “god of fortresses” is Satan. So, Dan 11.36-38 is about gods, who I understand as select angels.
The “god beloved by women,” in Dan 11.37, seems to refer to some pagan god of antiquity whom Babylonian and perhaps other women particularly adored. That could refer to Asherah, the Ugaritic mother-goddess who was a consort of the god named El. The Old Testament has multiple references to this goddess. The OT especially rebukes occasional Hebrew cultures that departed from total loyalty to Yahweh as sole God by setting up wooden poles as icons to be worshipped representing Asherah. For example, God said to the Prophet Jeremiah concerning Asherah, whom her worshippers called the Queen of Heaven, “Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, [all] to make cakes for the queen of heaven” (Jeremiah 7.17-18).
In conclusion, interpreting the phrase about women in Dan 11.37 to mean that the Antichrist will be homosexual is wrong because it ignores the immediate context. The Antichrist will not only be heterosexual, he will have children. But that is a subject for another day.