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God’s Terms of Homosexuality

Contributed by the Editors of UM Faith Update, the newsletter of the Central PA Evangelical Fellowship, Revs. Bradley C. Knepp and John S. Mullen


While there are many hair splitting terms being tossed around today on homosexuality, let’s remind ourselves of the terms God uses in His Word to define homosexuality. There are at least 13 separate terms or phrases that depict God’s perspective or definition of homosexuality. Because of the brevity of the English terms and phrases of the King James Version, those terms are here listed along with brief root meanings and their scriptural context. The meanings below come from the following standard references: Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Definitions, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, and Brown Driver and Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon.

  • Sodomy, Sodomite – Hebrew "qadesh" – "devoted to evil, devoted to licentious idolatry" – refers to male prostitutes loyal to the worship of pagan fertility gods – Deut. 23:17; 1 Kings 15:11-12; 2 Kings 23:7
  • Abomination – Hebrew "toebah" – "that which is morally abhorrent; provoking of disgust" – sodomy is an abomination, morally abhorrent, to God – Lev. 18:22; Deut. 22:5; 1 Kings 14:24
  • Wickedness – Hebrew "rah" – "evil, harmful, hurtful; causing misery, sorrow, trouble" – God uses this word to identify the men of Sodom and those who would repeat their sin – Gen. 13:13; 19:7; Judg. 19:22
  • Vile Affections – Greek "atimia pathos" – "inordinate evil affections, sexual lust, evil emotions which bring infamy, disgrace, shame" – identifies the perversion of sodomy – Rom. 1:26-27
  • Burning with Lust – Greek "orexis ekkaio" – "inflame deeply, to set on fire, to consume with great force by the unlawful desire of the emotions and mind with sensual pleasure" – Rom. 1:27
  • Dishonoring the Body – Greek "atimazo soma" – "to treat the body with contempt as something worthless, to abuse, to treat roughly, mistreat" – the by-product of rejecting God-given moral restraints – Rom. 1:24
  • Lusting for Strange Flesh – Greek "heteros sarx" – "carnal human nature desire for that which is foreign, inappropriate, improper" – outcome of rejecting God’s moral Law – Jude 7
  • Filthy Dreamers – Greek "enupniazomai" – "one who conceives vile and impure thoughts, mental pictures, and imaginations which can lead to an impious course of conduct" – a depiction of the evil men of Sodom and Gomorrah – Jude 8
  • Abusers of Themselves, Defilers of Themselves – Greek "arsenokoites" – "one who engages in unnatural carnal copulation, a sodomite, a homosexual, one who lies with a male as with a female" – the New Testament term for sodomite – 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:9-10
  • Violating Nature – Greek "para phusis" – "against, contrary to growth by reproduction, against physical birth or origin, to go beyond that which God designed as normal, wholesome, healthy" – departure from God’s established limits of natural law – Rom. 1:26-27
  • Unseemly, Shameful Lusts – Greek "aschemosune" – "indecent, shameful, morally offensive; used of a woman’s genitals, i.e., the function of a woman’s genitals replaced shamefully by that of a man" – descriptive of violations of God’s moral Law, sodomy – Rom. 1:27
  • Effeminate – Greek "malakos" – "a man who takes on the soft qualities, characteristics, or appearance of a woman; a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness" – 1 Cor. 6:9-10
  • Reprobate – Greek "adokimos" – "unapproved, rejected, castaway, morally worthless, a mind void of moral judgment" – refers to strong delusion because of moral impurity – Rom. 1:28

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