1 Cor 6:9 says, "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." (KJV)

The greek word for effeminate according to the textus receptus is malakos which is a nominative plural masculine adjective which is defined as being soft.

Knowing that sin is the transgression of the law according to 1 John 3:4, where in the Torah does it claim effeminacy as a sin?

  • Related : neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. Deuteronomy 22:5.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 15 at 0:31

2 Answers 2


The operative adjective in 1 Cor 6:9 is μαλακός (malakos) which means: "soft".

It occurs four times in the NT as is usually applied to soft clothing such as was worn by wealthy people (as opposed to the cheap rough cloth worn by the poor), see Matt 11:8 (twice) and Luke 7:25.

In 1 Cor 6:9, BDAG offers this meaning:

pertaining to being passive in a same-sex relationship, effeminate, especially of catamites of men and boys who are sodomized by other males in such a relationship [See also Thayer and Strong's lexicons]

Thus, various versions translate the word as:

  • male prostitutes (ie compliant in a male-male sex act), NLT
  • men who submit to homosexuality, BSB
  • homosexuals, NKJV
  • effeminate (ie, in sense of being compliant in the male-male sex act), KJV, BLB, LSB, etc

Such a meaning appears to be a direct allusion to one of the forms of homosexuality that was common in Roman times and was a direct transgression of the instructions in the Torah such as:

  • Lev 18:22 - You must not lie with a man as with a woman; that is an abomination.
  • Lev 20:13 - If a man lies with a man as with a woman, they have both committed an abomination. They must surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
  • the condemnation of the Sodomites concerning the incident recorded in Gen 19
  • To clarify, I'm not asking whether or not it's a sin for a male to engage in homsexual acts with another male. I guess what I'm really asking is, would it be a sin for a male to have soft or delicate qualities (ex: reduced physical muscle composition or a naturally high pitched voice) but engages in heterosexual activity under the governance of a biblical marriage?
    – user59189
    Commented Jan 14 at 22:04
  • 1
    @user59189 - I do not thing being effeminate of itself is a sin - it is what Paul is alluding to that is a sin, ie, being a catamite. Indeed, the KJV is less than helpful. The BSB is better - "Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who submit to or perform homosexual acts, ..." The "submit to" are the catamites.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 14 at 22:10

Neither fornication (as opposed to adultery) nor effeminacy (as opposed to homosexual acts) is specifically against the law of the Torah. However, as a Pharisee, Paul was very familiar with the Oral Torah, called the "traditions of the elders" elsewhere in the New Testament. This probably accounts for his reference to fornication and effeminacy as unrighteous. In the case of effeminacy, one relevant OT law is Deut. 22:5:

A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for anyone who does such things is an abomination to the Lord, your God.

Later rabbinical tradition (e.g. Berakhot 42b) discusses such issues as whether men may perfume themselves and Josephus (The War of the Jews 7:8) reported on the demoralizing effects of effeminacy in times of war.

Finally, some translators understand Paul to have referred not to mere effeminacy. Rather he used the term as a euphemism for either male prostitution or engaging in homosexual acts:

  • NABRE: Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites

  • NIV: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men

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