During his recent appearance on Q&A, Rob Bower of Gosford Anglican Church was asked how he reconciled his stance on same-sex marriage with the biblical view of homosexuality. The question was put to Bower by an audience member who referred to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 in particular.
The verse reads: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
In response to the question, Bower claimed the concept of homosexuality is fairly recent. “It’s only one that has been available to us since probably the late 19th century into the 20th century,” he said.
“So, when biblical writers are talking about these issues—you can’t really translate that word you translated as ‘homosexual,’” Bower went on to explain.
The phrase ‘men who practice homosexuality’ was not employed by translators without good reason. There are two Greek words involved here, arsenokoitai and malakoi.
The Apostle Paul’s use of the word arsenokoitai is the first known occurrence in Greek literature. The Apostle most likely coined the term himself, deriving it from two words found in the Greek translation of Leviticus 18:22 (also 20:13).
The infamous verse reads: “Do not (koite) bed a (arsenos) man as you would bed your wife.” The term arsenokoitai is clearly a compound word which literally means man-bedding.
Thomas Schreiner, professor of New Testament at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said, “it is a vivid way of denoting same-sex intercourse between males.”
Paul adds further clarity to the text by pairing the word arsenokoitai with another word, malakoi.
According to Schreiner, “this word refers to the passive partner sexually, an effeminate male who plays the role of a female.”
In short, it’s clear the Apostle is referring to men who bed males, as a husband would his wife, and men who are bedded by males, as a wife would her husband.
So, how does Bower avoid the obvious? By incorrectly suggesting, “[homosexuality was] not a concept that’s available to the writer.”
What he is most likely referring to here is homosexual “orientation,” — the notion that because a person is born with a strong inclination towards something, that inclination ought to be embraced and regarded as natural.
In 2016 a major report was published in the journal The New Atlantis challenging the “born that way” narrative.
The 143-page report, co-authored by two of the leading scholars on mental health and sexuality, examined over 200 peer-reviewed studies in biology, psychological, and social sciences.
According to the editor, the report “shows that some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence.”
The report lists at least four key findings in regards to sexual orientation:
First, “the understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings – the idea that people are ‘born that way’ – is not supported by scientific evidence.”
Second, “…there are no compelling causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation. While minor differences in the brain structures and brain activity between homosexual and heterosexual individuals have been identified by research, such neurobiological findings do not demonstrate whether these differences are innate or are the result of environmental and psychological factors.”
Third, “longitudinal studies of adolescents suggest that sexual orientation may be quite fluid over the life course for some people, with one study estimating that as many as 80% of male adolescents who report same-sex attractions no longer do so as adults (although the extent to which this figure reflects actual changes in same-sex attractions and not just artifacts of the survey process has been contested by some researchers).”
Fourth, “compared to heterosexuals, non-heterosexuals are about two to three times as likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse.”
In his book Blame it on the Brain, Dr Edward Welch explains, “The problem is that the idea of homosexual orientation does not rest on any foundation that can be discussed. It relies on neither biblical data nor medical research.”
According to Welch, “it is a political premise for gaining homosexual rights and is rooted in personal experience. Therefore, neither biblical data nor refutation of the medical literature will persuade most homosexual advocates.”
It’s not surprising then, that Bower would go on to absurdly suggest that even if passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Romans 1:26-28 forbid homosexual acts, it is limited only to those with a heterosexual orientation.
“What the Bible is really saying, if anything is that heterosexual people shouldn’t have gay sex. And I’m OK with that,” Bower said.
Is Bower suggesting that practicing homosexuals in the Bible were involved in homosexuality contrary to their own personal inclinations?
A man of the cloth ought to know, the nature of sin is that people sin because they want to (James 1:13-15). Heterosexuals in biblical times were not forced to act contrary to their own inclinations. Homosexuality exists and has always existed because people have enjoyed it.
In his response, Bower proved himself at odds with both science and the Bible. It’s time for Rod Bower to be honest. He presents himself as a man of God with one hand while undermining the Word of God with the other.
You can disagree with the Bible. You can say Jesus and Paul did not know what they were talking about. You can write off Christianity entirely. But let’s stop pretending the Bible is not clear on the issue.