Letter: Gays and St Paul

Sir: Michael Halls (letter, 13 August) claims that the Greek word arsenokoites, used critically by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:10 and 1 Corinthians 6:9 , "has no known meaning at all" because it is seldom used.

However, the word arsen (males) is often used, for example by Paul himself in Romans 1:27 when he speaks of males burning with illicit lust for other men. Koites is also a common word - literally "bed", which (like the English phrase "going to bed with") can in some contexts connote having sex or an act leading to conception Thus when Hebrews 13:4 says that in marriage the "bed" is pure its meaning is very clear.

The compound word arsenokoites cannot mean anything except "going to bed with a male", and in the context refers to male homosexual acts.

Two further points. First, the word focuses on the act, not the inclination. There may be many in churches whose "natural inclination" is to homosexual acts or adultery but this neither means that they should be censured for the inclination nor that they should indulge it. Second, Paul does not make arsenokoites any kind of "special" sin, he sets it alongside idolatry and adultery.

I am not a "traditionalist" and try not to be a "bigot". I remain convinced, however, that the words of both Jesus and Paul rule out adultery, homosexual acts and idolatry.

Dr PAUL MARSTON

Preston, Lancashire

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