Love: A Sensitive Subject–What Does “Homosexual” Refer to in 1 Corinthians 6:9?

I’m sure you’ve noticed–There are a LOT of words in the Bible that we don’t use in our typical conversations. I tend to call them “church words.” You know…the ones we act like we know (and we do have an idea, sometimes), because we’ve heard them so much. Yet, if someone asked us, “What’s that mean?” we’d have a hard time coming up with a confident answer. First Corinthians 6:9 has a bunch of those words, for me. Yes, I know what “homosexual” means, but I learned that, Biblically, this word’s referring to more than we tend to think it is.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

I’ve been digging into some of God’s standards, since 1 Corinthians 13:6 says “Love doesn’t celebrate or enjoy violating God’s justice or abusing God’s standards.” People, saved and unsaved, have varying views of what His standards are. Since Paul talks, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, about those who are guilty, in God’s court, of violating God’s standards, because He’s holy, I figured that’s a good place to start. Here’s what I found some of those “big church words” in Verse 9 mean, since they relate to this topic of love in more ways than one:

  • HomosexualAccording to its Greek word, “arsenokoités,” this refers to men (“arsen”) who have non-procreative sexual activity (i.e., anal or oral)–“Sodomites.” However, when I looked at “koité,” one part of this compound word, I see it refers to so much more:
    • Voluntarily defiling the marriage bed by having sexual relations with someone outside of marriage (Heb. 13:4)
      • Adulterersomeone who’s married having sex with someone he/she isn’t married to; being unfaithful to God, even in the mind and heart-levels (Matthew 5:27-30)
      • FornicatorSomeone who isn’t married having sex with someone else who isn’t married; this includes prostitution, but it’s also referring to those who are sold out to (a slave of, under the control of) sin
    • Having various types of sexual intercourses or a collection of sexual intercourses, lasting only for a short time, without careful judgment, lacking morals
    • Those living together, who aren’t married
    • Handing oneself over to feeding his/her strong sexual desires (emotions and/or thoughts related to sex; the force that mobilizes someone to willingly act on those sexual emotions and thoughts; one’s mood), which violate God’s laws; this causes sexual excitement and can include both feeding his/her desires on the inside, by pleasing the senses, or actually satisfying them on the outside with physical pleasure
    • Ruining the purity of sexuality, which God created to be special when shared by a man and a woman within marriage, by contaminating it with sin (engaging in sexual activities outside of God’s boundaries)
    • Talking or writing about sex in a “humorous” way
  • Idolatorsomeone sold out to (a slave of, under the control of) sin, respecting and promising to be loyal to a master other than God, and/or worshipping (serving, literally or figuratively) a false god; also includes fornication and adultery, as they’re considered prostituting yourself to another god
  • Effeminate
    • A pre-teen or teen boy kept by a man who desires or, actually, experiences sexual activities with the boy
    • A male submitting his body to unnatural sexual conduct that’s considered indecent or offensive to God
      • Having various types of sexual intercourses or a collection of sexual intercourses, lasting only for a short time, without careful judgment, lacking morals
      • Includes feelings of sexual desire as well as sexual behavior or gestures that are considered indecent and/or offensive to God
      • Encompasses sexually abusing a child
    • A boy or man having qualities typical of a woman, whether they be behaviors, gestures, body movements, style, etc., rather than traditionally masculine attributes
    • Men having softer, more delicate features, like a woman, rather than course, rough features, typical of a man

I had these definitions fresh in my mind, as I thought about the following Biblical interpretation.

Interpretation: Authors of the Bible probably didn’t have any idea of sexual orientation (being who a person thinks they are because of whom they’re attracted to romantically/sexually), since the person who came up with the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” didn’t do so until the 1800s.

The individual who is said to have come up with the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” didn’t like the current terms of the day, believing them to be more suppressive. This individual was a gay rights activist and supporter, believing the nation-state, now called Germany, should have minimal rights when it came to interfering in a person’s private life. So, while the terms we know of as “homosexual” and “heterosexual” weren’t, apparently, around, taking a look at the “big church words” above and their meanings, we see these desires and behaviors were also around in Bible times.

What word/definition in the above list of “big church words” meant something different…or included something more…than you originally thought? LEAVE A COMMENT! I’D LIKE TO KNOW!

2 Comments on “Love: A Sensitive Subject–What Does “Homosexual” Refer to in 1 Corinthians 6:9?

  1. Fascinating discovery! I learned so much through these words and definitions, and will be absorbing this for some time as there is so much here! Thank you continually follow the Spirit, and then teaching us the Biblical truth He shows you.


    • I’m elated that God used this to show you deeper meanings, too!! You’re right! There is SO much there! My eyes were like bug eyes, seeing how much is in there that I’ve glazed over for years! Thank you for sharing this with me!! 💚


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