The Softening of Sin in the ESV?

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SeekerOfTruth

Puritan Board Freshman
I was listening to a podcast, and on the podcast, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 was being read in the ESV translation. There was something that bothered me. Here is the text:

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[a] 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. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

What bothered me was the phrase “men who practice homosexuality”. This brought to mind the recent trend of so-called “same sex attracted Christians” who claim to be Christians that suffer from same sex attraction but do not act on it. Sinful desires are sins themselves that should be mortified. This text appears to support the idea of having desires that are not acted on with the use of the words “who practice”. I then looked at the NKJV translation of this text:

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [a]homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were [c]sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Here the NKJV says “nor homosexuals, nor sodomites”. The footnote from the ESV translation says “the two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts”. So it seems that the NKJV translates the passive as homosexuals and the active as sodomites. The ESV combines the listing of two different types of sinners into one listing as “men who practice homosexuality”. The ESV appears to mistranslate the text to follow the modern trend of softening sin.
 
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Taylor

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The ESV appears to mistranslate the text to follow the modern trend of softening sin.
If this is true, then so does the KJV, which also translates the term as an action: “abusers of themselves with mankind.”

I am of the opinion that either translation is fine. We develop our sexual ethic and corresponding hamartiology on more than just 1 Corinthians 6. For instance, Romans 1 speaks of the sinfulness of the vile passions, not just the actions.

Frankly, I do prefer the NKJV here, but the ESV is just fine.
 

jw

j
Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul does not conflate the two, but distinguishes. There are those who are effeminate (soft, given to luxury/indulgence, ease, -think Ezekiel 16:49ff here), and those who are abusers of themselves with mankind (sodomites, homosexuals). Not all homosexuals are necessarily effeminate, and not all effeminate persons are necessarily homosexuals, but both are sins which are incommensurate with those who will be inheriting the kingdom of God. While it is true that the SSA crowd has flown the coup on the need vigorously to hate and mortify wicked affections, giving no quarter in any way to such things, the nature of the catalog of these sins is obviously speaking of folks who continue to indulge any of them. Because, the truth is, God's people will not ultimately be those who persist in such things, but rather will scrape, fight, struggle, hate, and ever war with any such things until the Lord brings them home, and there will be progress in this side of glory against such things, including in their thoughts & speech, not just their actions. I don't like the ESV, but I am more concerned about the lack of distinction than I am the use of those who practice, because we can say with most certainty -any who practice any of these sins are not "partakers of the inheritance of the Saints in light," (Col. 1.12).
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
The ESV translation works. It just includes both the active and passive partners in the term "men who practice."
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Paul does not conflate the two, but distinguishes. There are those who are effeminate (soft, given to luxury/indulgence, ease, -think Ezekiel 16:49ff here),

Are you sure that's what 1600s translators meant by "effeminate" when they used that word?
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Logan's point is well-taken here. There is a way towards what Josh is getting at, but it's a bit round about. The OED does not have any direct evidence that "effeminate" was ever directly used to mean what Josh is implying it means. You would have to get there through a metaphorical use of the term meaning "behaving like a woman." The term "malakos" in Greek can certainly refer to the passive partner in a homosexual relationship. BDAG says regarding the translation of this verse that the NRSV's translation "male prostitutes" is too narrow a rendering, while the REB's "sexual pervert" is too broad. However, in favor of Josh's understanding, it must be said that it would be difficult to limit the term's meaning to something like "being a wimp," because that would hardly constitute grounds for not inheriting the kingdom of God. Look at the company this term keeps. Cowardliness and being a wimp just doesn't seem to be in the same category as the rest of the terms.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
For what it's worth, Calvin seems to tie the last two together, seeing the "effeminate" as those who betray they are homosexuals or sexually perverse by their manner and dress, but do so more secretly.
 

aaronsk

Puritan Board Freshman
Perhaps I misread Calvin or misunderstand Logan here but isn't Calvin making distinction between the terms but grouping them by category as he does with "fornicators and adulterers"? Calvin seems to be clear that the fourth description of “crime” (which refers to "abusers of themselves with mankind") is distinct and markedly worse.

The difference between fornicators and adulterers is sufficiently well known. By effeminate
persons I understand those who, although they do not openly abandon themselves to impurity,
discover, nevertheless, their unchastity by blandishments of speech, by lightness of gesture and
apparel, and other allurements. The fourth description of crime is the most abominable of all —
that monstrous pollution which was but too prevalent in Greece.

John Calvin - Commentary on 1Cor6:9
 
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