NOTE 1: I see people showing me their resoning that homosexuality deserves condemnation, I know that and fully endorse, the question is about meaning of these verses, not judgement of homosexuals, as the answer for this is widely known.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

In context Paul is writing about going away from God and giving honor to idols. People interpret this passage as condemnation of homosexuality. And it does that for men, it's clearly written. But how worshiping gods can lead to homosexuality? I believe it must mean religious prostitution, then it makes perfect sense.

My question: Can original greek text be interpreted that women exchaged natural sexual relations (which is sex within marriage) to unnatural (prostitution regardless of gender)? And that men, having abandoned natural relations with women (marriage) were inflamed with lust for one another (which also means prostitution, as men were giving their body to whoever wanted)?

NOTE 2: I asked this question mainly because we have direct condemnation of homosexual men in both OT and NT, yet OT lacks any mention of lesbianism and the passages in Leviticus etc. clearly adress men only. I began to think what if lesbianism is allowable in polygynous marriage and thus not condemned, because here, Paul, when writing about shameful acts speaks of men, and men only.

Folks, again, this question is not about homosexuality, but meaning of the verses. Look at it from a perspective free from any particular views, only that way Scripture should be interpreted.

  • 2
    Men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men . . This can only mean one thing. And since the Apostle says previously likewise also the men then he was saying the same thing, previously, of the women. I don't think there is any valid question to answer, here.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 29, 2018 at 22:24
  • I edited the question slightly to make it more clear. If I missed the point of your question please just refuse the edit or indicate it here and I'll reverse it. Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 30, 2018 at 3:05
  • Would it seem even remotely plausible to you to conclude that the various characteristics described in the immediately following verses (29-31) are only sinful in the context of temple idolatry ? If unfaithfulness were what the Apostle had in mind, then the text should be expected to read and likewise the men abandoned their own wives for other women.
    – Lucian
    Oct 1, 2018 at 13:58

8 Answers 8


'Unnatural sexual relations' for women

Lesbianism would not have been a concern for men in such a patriarchal society. The intimate relations of women, whether sexual or simply conversation, carried with it negligible power at the time: a woman's pleasure (within a marriage or not) was hardly a man's concern. There appears to be no evidence anywhere else in the bible to suggest that 'unnatural' as opposed to 'natural sexual relations' refers specifically to lesbianism or same-sex relations between women.

Nor would it likely refer to prostitution, which would have been considered a 'natural' service for men to have available - although these women had no standing in society whatsoever, they were still considered to be performing 'natural' sexual relations, as men availing themselves of this service has not deemed 'unnatural', 'perversion', 'abomination', or similar. Becoming a 'shrine prostitute' is expressly forbidden for Israelites (Deuteronomy 27:13), but foreigners or slaves becoming one is apparently not prevented, nor is making use of them expressly forbidden.

In exploring other biblical references that might condemn women for 'unnatural' sexual relations, one that comes up specifically is bestiality, which directly follows the law against (male) homosexuality:

“‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.'" Leviticus 18: 22-23

Men 'defile' themselves (suggesting impurity), whereas women commit a 'perversion' (a sexual act considered abnormal or unacceptable). Separate punishments for men and women are detailed later:

“‘If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he is to be put to death, and you must kill the animal.

“‘If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.'" Leviticus 20:15-16

It seems that while a man must perform the act to attract a death penalty, a woman need only approach an animal - suggesting that she can be accused of bestiality and put to death without even performing the act itself (one would imagine if her husband, betrothed, father or brother thought to make the association).

Not religious prostitution in this context

"But how worshiping gods can lead to homosexuality? I believe it must mean religious prostitution, then it makes perfect sense."

The term 'prostitution' has indeed been used figuratively in specific reference to worshipping idols (Leviticus 20), but to draw this parallel here would be reading religious 'prostitution' in a figurative sense into the text - whereas it specifically refers to 'sexual relations'.

Paul's Letter to the Romans

Paul appears in this letter to be specifically addressing the Roman church community's judgement of the Greeks, and later their misunderstanding of the significance of Jewish law. At the time this letter was written, Paul was on his third visit to the Greek growth centres of Christianity, but had yet to visit Rome. His introduction suggests that he may be explaining his neglect of this particular growth centre for the early church:

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians [non-Greeks], both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1: 8-17

Paul's connection between idolatry and sins of the flesh

He then goes on to makes a connection between idolatry and these many and varied sins of the flesh suggesting that one act may inevitably lead to the other. But he also points out that both the society he addresses (Romans) and 'them' who are judged (ie. Greeks), by practising idolatry, have so far not seen fit to acknowledge God, who has therefore 'given them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done'.

It may be significant to note that most documented instances of bestiality involving women around the time the NT was written were found to be either ritualistic or involved the worship of gods, including the Greek legends of women performing sexual relations with 'gods' in animal form, eg. swan, bull, etc). Likewise, homosexual relations were found to be an accepted norm in Greek society at the time. The young male nude was worshipped in Greece as a symbol of perfection, and adolescent boys were regularly 'courted' to submit to an elder sexually in exchange for knowledge.

So this initial description of 'shameful lusts' may be attributed specifically to Greek society, setting 'them' apart in judgement by the Romans. But the next section describes sin that the Romans certainly cannot declare themselves free from in their own society:

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:26-32

Paul makes continual reference later in this letter to the dual influences of the flesh and the spirit on our actions:

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8

For Paul, either we are striving to live by the spirit - rejecting sin as 'what the flesh desires' - or we are living by the flesh, ruled by sin (or by the law which cannot defeat sin) and by death.

He leads into the dichotomy in this first chapter: either we strive to be wholly committed to God and life in the spirit, rejecting the worship of idols, or we turn our face from God and are thereby 'given over' to be commanded by the flesh instead of by the spirit.

At the start of the second chapter, therefore, Paul makes it clear that those he addresses, who apparently judge 'someone else' (ie. the Greeks) by their 'shameful lusts', do the same things (sin in the flesh) and are given over to be ruled by sin because they also practise idolatry.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:1-4

Here, Paul suggests that worshipping idols - tantamount to rejecting God - is a first step towards being ruled by sin. So those who worship idols and yet pass judgement on others who commit any of these sins have essentially turned away from God - ie. done the same thing as those sinners (the Greeks) whom they apparently judge.


While there is no evidence to support the interpretation of 'unnatural sexual relations' performed by women to specifically mean either lesbianism or prostitution, there are suggestions in Jewish law that it may in fact mean bestiality - considered a perversion in women (while only impure in men).

Paul's connection between worshipping idols and these specific 'shameful lusts' of bestiality by women and homosexuality by men is supported by historical evidence of both acts in connection with Greek mythology and customs.

While the passage agrees with the condemnation of these acts according to Jewish law, Paul's intention is not to reiterate these laws, but to point out that the Romans and those they judge for these 'shameful lusts' are in fact both in need of repentance.

  • Finally someone who understood a question. Thanks, that's what I wanted. Oct 4, 2018 at 5:52

I would bet a great sum of money (I jest; I wouldn't bet as a Christian) that St. Paul was reading Wisdom shortly before writing Romans, since the crossover of subject matter, themes, and so forth, are far too similar to be 'coincidence.'

Wisdom 15:7 (DRB) The potter also tempering soft earth, with labour fashioneth every vessel for our service, and of the same clay he maketh both vessels that are for clean uses, and likewise such as serve to the contrary: but what is the use of these vessels, the potter is the judge.

Wisdom 12:12 (DRB) For who shall say to thee: What hast thou done? or who shall withstand thy judgment? or who shall come before thee to be a revenger of wicked men? or who shall accuse thee, if the nations perish, which thou hast made?

Romans 9:19-21 (DRB) Thou wilt say therefore to me: Why doth he then find fault? for who resisteth his will? 20 O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it: Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Or hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Wisdom 13:5, 8-9 (DRB) For by the greatness of the beauty, and of the creature, the creator of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby. .. 8 But then again they are not to be pardoned. 9 For if they were able to know so much as to make a judgment of the world: how did they not more easily find out the Lord thereof?

Romans 1:19-20 (DRB) Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.

Wisdom 14:12 (DRB) For the beginning of fornication is the devising of idols: and the invention of them is the corruption of life.

Romans 1:23-27 (DRB) And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things. 24 Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. 27 And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error.

Wisdom 14:22-26 (DRB) And it was not enough for them to err about the knowledge of God, but whereas they lived in a great war of ignorance, they call so many and so great evils peace. 23 For either they sacrifice their own children, or use hidden sacrifices, or keep watches full of madness, 24 So that now they neither keep life, nor marriage undefiled, but one killeth another through envy, or grieveth him by adultery: 25 And all things are mingled together, blood, murder, theft and dissimulation, corruption and unfaithfulness, tumults and perjury, disquieting of the good, 26 Forgetfulness of God, defiling of souls, changing of nature, disorder in marriage, and the irregularity of adultery and uncleaness.

Romans 1:28-32 (DRB) And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, 30 Detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. 32 Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them.


As with Wisdom, St. Paul only mentions sexual immorality in general, not 'prostitution.'

This has nothing to do with prostitution. At least, St. Paul doesn't. He doesn't include this in his Letter when he condemned homosexual activity. Nor did homosexuality not exist outside of prostitution or pederasty. And to somehow expect St. Paul would retract the moral prohibition of homosexual activity contained in the Old Testament is strange. Sexual activity with those of the other sex isn't a 'dietary law.' And in addition, he reiterates Leviticus in saying that αρσενοκοιται (men who lie sexually with men) will not enter heaven.

He only mentions or writes of sexual immorality/fornication which He here identifies as women or men lusting after those of their own sex as opposed to "the natural," which is of course, "in the beginning God created them male and female," which if you find yourself in a predicament of lacking attraction to women, or having it for men, should not be 'emprovising' with—male and female anatomy allows for intercourse to the creation of offspring: not so homosexual activity, which lacks procreative value altogether and leaves you with basically just lust.

I'm going to be respectful and say that claiming specifically women are exempt from the immorality of homosexual activity is absurd.

  • Yet, you must admit that Paul, when speaking of shameful acts adresses men only. There must be reason for it. Another thing - if lesbianism was not condemned in OT, which served as moral guide for Jews, then that must mean something. Please read my notes in updated question, especially last sentence. Sep 30, 2018 at 16:38
  • No, it's not necessarily significant, since it doesn't deviate from the norm: the Old and NT view women in terms of men, not so much as 'separate' entities (e.g., "a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh"). As such, all of the laws given are stated in terms of 'he who' or 'if a man,' but which clearly apply to both—unless clearly indicated otherwise. E.g. John 3:36 ("He who believes in the Son has eternal life.."), Mark 8:37 ("..what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"), Luke 14:11 ("..he that humbles himself shall be exalted"). Sep 30, 2018 at 17:49
  • You speak truth, but in Leviticus 18:22-23 (Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion) it is written about condemnation of male having sex with another male, thus it's directed to men only, it's clear from nature. Later we have a passage about animals, if you are right, then why it speaks to both men and women? Interesting thing, these verses are right under each other. Sep 30, 2018 at 18:02
  • 1
    I guess we are at a point where if "Men lying with men, instead of women, is an abomination, that's why I'm wiping out these pagan nations" isn't sufficiently clear for you, I am really at a struggle as to what you expect the Bible to say. 'Men, don't murder. Women, you shall not murder?' To be clear, this logic necessitates that you believe it is not forbidden for a man to be mounted by an animal, since for the man it says "you shall not give your seed to an animal, defiling yourself with it." Whereas for women it says, you shall not stand before an animal to copulate with it." Sep 30, 2018 at 20:02
  • If "it's clear from nature" is important, why is the incompatibility of male-on-male and female-on-female genitalia, and the purpose of intercourse to begin with, being completely ignored? We're not saying doing vaguely sexual activities is intercourse, or assumed to be licit, are we? Where does it stop? Can God say sodomy is wrong, for example? Can people view it as repulsive and immoral? If not, why not? What are the defined protected modes of 'sex'ual activity so I know which not to be of the opinion they are immoral? I think we need to take a fresh read of the actual words. Sep 30, 2018 at 20:09

But how worshiping gods can lead to homosexuality?

Paul states in other letters that the forgetting of divine truth results in the expression of sensual passion. So this is something he (as well as I myself) believed regarding human nature. Proof:

"So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do with their minds emptied [of the truth]. They are darkened in their thinking, separated from the life of God because of this [willful] ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts [against the truth], who, when once they have lost all sensitivity [for what is right – the truth], have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. This is not how you learned to follow Christ." (Ephesians 4:17-20)


I think the answer lies within the verse (bold type):-

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

"In the same way" seems to impliy that men follow the wrong actions of women. So as men had sexual relations with other men thus in seems to say the women had sex with other women.

As Paul aslo penned the following which supports for the above:-

1 Cor. 6:9.

"Don’t you know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers of themselves as women, nor homosexuals,..."-https://afaithfulversion.org/1-corinthians-6/

Then the same must apply to lesbianism.

  • In 1 Corinthians 6:9 we have ἀρσενοκοίτης, which means 'one who lies with a male as with a female'. You made a fragment bold, my turn - men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. These men were doing all the sins of women mentioned, but they had one more, that is homosexuality. Think about OT, it had to contain all moral guides necessary for salvation, that means, from OT rules alone we may be just, OT rules are full. You won't find a condemnation of lesbianism there, while male homosexuality is condemned clearly. Oct 27, 2018 at 18:13
  • I will go further, Romans 2:14-15. If the Law is written in the hearts of men, and conscience guides them to good, then consider one thing. Enormous amount of men like to see two women together, but they are disgusted with two males. A lot of women would want to have sex with other woman. This led me to thinking that lesbianism is natural and the Bible suggests so. It does not condemn polygyny and it does not condemn women having sex with other women, and these two things fit together well. Man with many wives, like David, can father many children, a woman with many husands cannot. Oct 27, 2018 at 18:28
  • 1
    Genesis KJV 13:13 “But the men of Sodom [were] wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” From dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/sodomite “Meaning of “sodomite” in English – sodomite noun UK /ˈsɒd.ə.maɪt/ US /ˈsɑː.də.maɪt/ a word, usually used as an insult, for a person who practises sodomy(= anal sex):.” As all the males & females were also put to death by God in Sodom as “wicked” then its reasonable to condlude the both sexes practcied same sex relations which God was not going to totarate so put them to death of thier wickedness.
    – user26950
    Oct 28, 2018 at 14:14
  • How was anal sex a Sodom's sin? Where is it written? You used word homosexuals in place of arsenokoites and now sodomite? How can you prove evidence from ancient text using modern dictionaries? People of Sodom were wicked in many ways, and they got destroyed, not because of sexual sins alone, but of all kinds of sins. Show me evidence from Scripture, I did that, you did not respond to any of my arguments. Oct 28, 2018 at 17:16
  • @Konrad Scipura Genesis 19:4, 5 NIV "But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the MEN from every part of the city of SODOM—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the MEN who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have SEX WITH THEM.”
    – user26950
    Oct 28, 2018 at 18:11

The parallelism in the sentence of unnatural relationships of on the one hand between men and on the other hand between women is clear. Thus, with consideration of this logic, if the unnaturalness in case of men is conditioned by their having sex with each other, then it is only natural to interpret the unnaturalness of women's relationship by the same token of having sexual relationship with each other. Thus, yes, lesbianism is implied here, unless one wishes to twist the text at will.

Now, the temple prostitutes are no different from any other prostitutes with regard of Jewish religion's censuring of adultery; thus, a man could commit a natural adulterous act with both a temple prostitute and a street prostitute, for "natural" here does not mean non-sinful, but simply heterosexual. Therefore, the temple prostitution is hardly implied in the term of "unnatural" relationships.


The original question is framed as a proposal for a solution to the following interesting question:

"...But how [does] worshiping [false] gods can [sic] lead to homosexuality?..."

The original question then proposes that perhaps idolatrous rites involving temple prostitution might be what Paul is saying corrupted relations between men and women:

"...I believe it must mean religious prostitution, then it makes perfect sense..."

In defense of this explanation of the passage in Romans it should be noted that temple prostitution was a thing at that time and throughout history and is in fact the subject of prohibition in the Torah:

NIV Deuteronomy 23:

17 No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute. 18 You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the Lord your God to pay any vow, because the Lord your God detests them both.

So is that what Paul is explaining?

As I read it, Paul is not saying that idolatry causes prostitution but rather that by ignoring God they devolve into spiritual "darkness":

NIV Romans 1:

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

It is as if the heart, denied its proper source of nourishment begins to feed on unsuitable things.

Verse 21 says "for although they knew God" possibly suggesting he is referring to the Jews rather than the gentiles but that's not altogether clear to me. But regardless, by turning away the light, these sinners are cast into spiritual darkness which Paul says leads them to become idolaters.

It appears then that God, in judgment, has for most of history judged the Jews for their deviation and "trained them" to worship him alone but the gentiles he has left to their own devices:

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

NIV Romans 1:

26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Again, by ignoring God they were left with nothing to satisfy them so they looked to bodily passions to fill the empty spot within themselves - that "God-shaped hole" within.

So to answer the question I believe that Paul would say that BOTH idolatry and sexual deviance are symptoms of ignorance of God and the resulting emptiness rather than idolatry being the source of shameful lusts and behavior.

  • I fully agree. Read my updated question, please, maybe we can take this further, as I don't have strong enough contrargument for my thesis. Sep 30, 2018 at 16:41
  • You seem to be going beyond the purpose and format of this site. I'm going to have to bow out from your research. Please note that this site is not about "theology" but interpretation. Peace.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 30, 2018 at 20:20
  • Didn't I specify "this question is not about homosexuality, but meaning of the verses"? I asked if it's possible that the passage speaks about temple prostitution and does it clearly condemn lesbianism. You and Sola Gratia didn't answer fully. I expected to read if original text allows itself to be read that way and judging by greek grammar say if this interpretation is valid. I added notes because Sola Gratia gave too much attention to moral aspect of homosexuality, while I wanted to see annalysis of original text. I cannot understand how you consider it "theology". Hope it's clear now. Sep 30, 2018 at 21:14
  • Perhaps someone else is interested in pursuing this further. Peace.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 30, 2018 at 21:18

Paul likely lived in Ephesus in 52-54AD. Ephesus was home of the Seventh Wonder of the World, the Temple of Artemis. At that temple, Artemis was distinctly different than the Greek version of Artemis in Macedonia. In Macedonia Artemis was worshiped as a hunter, and one with nature. In Ephesus, Artemis was a Fertility Goddess. It is likely that temple prostitution existed in the great Temple of Artemis. And since there is little prohibition against homosexuality, there would have likely been male temple prostitutes as well. ACTS records much activity at Ephesus. And Ephesians was Paul's epistle to the Jewish Church there.

Paul likely wrote Romans several years after his life in Ephesus. He would have been knowledgeable of the culture at Ephesus, including any Shrine Prostitutes there, both male and female. The male prostitutes were called "Dog" in Hebrew colloquial. This is explained in the NRSV Bible footnotes for DEUTERONOMY 23.17-18, which is a prohibition of temple prostitution, or their wages, within the House of Yahweh. Also, "Dog" is a traditional colloquial for a sexual "dog" position. Missionaries famously banned that position in areas colonized by Christian nations, punishing those found not to be using required position, which we colloquially call "missionary" position. It might be speculated that male temple prostitutes were expected to assume the "dog" position. And that female prostitutes assumed the "missionary" position in Ephesus, and that using other positions were contrary to cultural practice, or "backwards".

That may explain the Greek word ἀρσενοκοίτης which translates literally to "manbed". This was used by Paul in the espistle to the CORINTHIANS and to TIMOTHY. ἀρσενοκοίτης earliest found usage is in the Greek New Testament codex. Since then, the word has been defined specifically by Christians. We have zero definitions of ἀρσενοκοίτης by those within Ancient Hellenistic Culture, who weren't of Jewish or Christian faith.

The first translation of ἀρσενοκοίτης is in the Old Latin translations of the Bible, and then in the 382AD Latin Vulgate. This was the Latin word "masculorum" which translates to "male-prostitute" without much debate. At any rate, because of the lack of usage of "ἀρσενοκοίτης" in any other ancient Greek works, the Biblical prohibition against ἀρσενοκοίτης has always been considered ambiguous.

That changed with the 1946 edition of the RSV New Testament (before it was revised in 1972) when ἀρσενοκοίτης was defined as "male homosexual". At first, this seems to be simply an advancement in scholarly understanding of ancient Greek words. However, it's easy to debate that the Romans of 300AD understood that "ἀρσενοκοίτης" meant "masculorum", since at that time Greek was still considered the top choice for Internationally Used Language, of the Roman Empire, and Latin was used primarily in Roman Law (and the Vulgate, for the Common People, which is the Latin meaning of "Vulgate", or their law)

Paul likely wrote Romans BEFORE he wrote the Corinthians, much early than he wrote to Timothy (it was the letters to the Corinthians and to Timothy that he used "ἀρσενοκοίτης". People consolidate their understandings as they age, so it's possible that Paul coined this word, ἀρσενοκοίτης, as his unique worldly beliefs, and they likely are the same as those expressed in Romans.

Without much debate, it could be argued that Paul was discussing Male Temple Prostitution, with the connotation of his words being implied, or already understood by his church to be about, those Male Temple Prostitutes.

As late as 1901, with the American Standard Version being published, the New Testament had frequent use of the word, "Fornication" or "Fornicator". This goes back through Biblical Interpretation History, all the way into Old Latin translations of Greek New Testament Codex. The Latin Vulgate uses variations of admonitions against Fornication numerous times. within 1 CORINTHIANS 6, the Latin Vulgate has 4 instances for fornication ["fornicarii", "fornicationi", "fornicationem", and "fornicatur"].

"Fornication" may have been a general prohibition against the use of Female Temple Prostitutes, especially considering that the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was Fertility Goddess Temple, and in the tradition of keeping females virgin till marriage according to Jewish norms. However, males had not held accountable, and thus the prohibition against fornication would make males accountable for their actions.

Post World War 2, with the advent of common interpretation of the ambiguous word ἀρσενοκοίτης to mean "male homosexuality" also came the elimination of the word "Fornication" from modern Bible translations. This was a totally different scholarly tactic to take, considering that "homosexuality" was added, supposedly in order to make clear, and remove ambiguity.

"Fornication" was replaced in post World War 2, modern translations, with either "sexual immorality" or the starkly simply word "immorality" alone.

What could be going on with Scholarly Bible Interpretation post World War Two?

One needs to understand Our Culture, and what was going on at That Time Period, to understand this.

1901 was the last year that Fornication was in common usage in the New Testament, with the ASV Bible publication. After that time period the English speaking nations experienced World War One and World War Two. Over 100 million lives were lost worldwide. Authorities wanted Re-birth to take place.

After World War One, soldiers came home happily single and were loath to marry and make families. During World War Two the translators of the 1946 edition of the Revised Standard Version New Testament were told to soften the admonishments against Fornication, and to make clearer that the norm was marriage and family making. This was to become an actual cultural effort as part of the post World War Two recovery. And so fornication was removed and made ambiguous, and an ambiguous word was clarified to mean "homosexuality", and in turn the new ambiguous meaning of what was once "fornication" would become associated with the sin of "homosexuality."

Following World War 2, single males of family making age were fired from federal government in mass, as "suspect homosexuals". Likewise, the military dishonorably discharged hundreds per year into San Francisco on the same grounds of "suspect homosexuals." Churches around the nation focused away from the sin of Fornication, and refocused on Homosexuality, sometimes with fire and brimstone. And, in schools a new emphasis was placed on boy-girl relationships, dances, home-comings, proms, etc. Bullying of normal boys for not having crushes on girls became common, and calling boys that liked other boys "sissies" became epidemic in most schools.

There was a cultural backlash, with many protesting the new culture. The political system was strengthened, and McCarthyism made common calling such cultural renegades communist sympathizers, and "pinko-communists" became a common phrase for that era. Cultural complaints were squashed with the help of that technique.

Paradoxically, it appears that the use of Cultural tactics for Rebirth may have been largely influenced by the same Soviet tactic, employed in 1933 by Joseph Stalin, with the introduction of Article 121 under the Criminal Code, outlawing homosexuality. And the following year, abortion was also outlawed. This was after the depressive growth rates of the Soviets following World War One, the Revolution, and the Purges to stamp out decent. And the Soviet cultural tactic worked to give rise to improved birthrates.

The cultural shift away from focus on Fornication, and the refocus on Homosexuality, in post World War Two America, gave rise to the success of the Baby Boomer birthrate increases.

State Universities commonly explain the increased birthrate as pent up desire for making families during the war years. However, the Ivy League counter is that that does not account for the post World War One lull in family making.

And so taking all this into account, considering out culture and translations, and Paul's culture and writings, I do believe that he was writing with the connotation being "Temple Prostitution" as the context of his admonitions, which today we call "fornication" (female temple prostitution) or"homosexuality" (male temple prostitution)


I think a key point to consider is that "adultery" is quite clearly defined as the mingling of seed, or the placing of seed where it doesn't belong. To illustrate, when we look at the sexual laws of Leviticus 18 we see in every case prohibition against defilement by seed. Even two men can defile each other with their seed. This is further illustrated by the cleanliness laws found in Leviticus 15. The seed of copulation is meant only to be touched by a man and his woman. It is unclean to anyone else.

With this in mind, it is worth considering that two women engaged in sexual activity with each other do not fall under this category. Nothing is adulterated, as they cannot give or receive seed.

As has been pointed out in previous comments, the Law clearly, and repeatedly, forbids male homosexuality and condemns it with death, while female homosexuality is not so much as mentioned. If sin is transgression of the Law (I John 3:4), and if female homosexuality is a sin, then it stands to reason that we would find it in the Law. We do not.

If Paul was not adding to the Law (as forbidden in Deuteronomy 4:2), then we need to ask ourselves how we can harmonize Paul's statements with the Pentateuch.

If we allow the Bible to be its own commentary, we find the "natural use" of a woman is to be (1) man's helpmeet, (2) subject to man, and (3) bearer of man's offspring. We nowhere in Scripture find the "natural use" of a woman being laid forth strictly as a sexual function. In this light, feminism can fall under Romans 1:26.

This is further supported by Romans 1:27, which, speaking of the men, says they "likewise" left the "natural use of the woman" -- ie, they rejected woman as their helpmeet, rejected their divine appointment as woman's authoritative head, and rejected fatherhood. This naturally led to the next step in their refusal to pursue God's plan -- they "burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error." The "due penalty" being, I have little doubt, the venereal disease and genetic confusion that comes about as a result of male homosexuality.

Notice that women are said to "leave their natural use", while men correspondingly are said to "leave the natural use of the woman" AND "burn in desire toward one another".

Following this, I would contend that female/female activity is not forbidden among women who are submissive under patriarchal headship, such as co-wives or concubines in a polygynous house. As a final point, I ask that we consider such men as David or Solomon, who had more wives than they could possibly have kept sexually contented. Either the women would have been plagued by frustration, or they would have been free to relieve their sexual tensions among themselves, which would in fact help curb said frustration and lead to deeper and more harmonious relationships among the wives.

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