Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pastor Warren Has Saddelback Website Updated - But Not Enough

On Friday this screen shot from the Saddleback Church website really got the gays angry

And now it's gone. Apparently after all the heat put on him for comparing homosexuality to incest and pedophilia he has decided to take a look at exactly what it is he is saying. This weekend both he and Melissa Etheridge were an event for the Muslim Public Affairs Council. According to Etheridge in her piece at the Huffington Post Warren had this to say,
He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays.
Ok so it appears that progress is being made. However, many gays are still upset that he didn't take the opportunity to say that in a public statement to just to a famous gay person while getting an autograph. Whatever his motive is at least it's out there and there is a chance that the shift has begun.

So then why is this what they are teaching. Below is a clip from the Saddleback website under sexual purity.

Don't you know that those doing such things have no share in the Kingdom of God?  Don't fool yourselves.  Those who live immoral lives, who are idol worshippers, adulterers, or homosexuals will have no share in His Kingdom.  Neither will thieves or greedy people, drunkards, slanderers, or robbers.  1 Corinthians 6:9-10 TLB

The King James wording is
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
 There is actually quite a bit of trouble getting people to agree on the translation here. In "What does 1 Corinthians 6:9 teach about sexuality, and how should we live in response?" Robert L. Brawley of the McCormick Theological Seminary seems to sum up what many people think.
But is it really so clear that 1 Cor 6:9 is about “homoerotic practice” and is it really so clear who is excluded from being heirs of God’s kingdom? I suggest that there is actually a lack of clarity. The lack of clarity shows up in several ways. One is in the variety among translations. Another is the difficulty we have in making direct correlations between biblical texts and the way we construe reality today. Most importantly, however, the argument about clarity does not adequately consider the context in 1 Corinthians 6, and this context is eye-opening with respect to how Paul deals with sexual behavior among the Corinthians.

Translations. Though malakoi literally means soft, it is often used in Greek to describe effeminate men, and many interpreters suggest that this identifies receptive partners in same-sex erotic behavior among males. One would be hard pressed to deduce anything about a receptive partner from the King James translation which simply says “effeminate” or from Luther’s translation quite literally as “weakling.” The Revised Standard Version combines the two terms malakoi and arsenokoitai into one translation as “sexual perverts,” a questionable move in translating, which the New Revised Standard Version tries to “correct” by reverting to two terms. With respect to malakoi the NRSV translation is “male prostitutes.” When the translation tradition moves between the extremes of “weakling” and “male prostitutes,” this indicates lack of clarity in our understanding of the term. Simply the variety in translations is one indication that the church has no sustained tradition of clarity about the meaning of malakoi in 1 Cor 6:9.

The problem of clarity is perhaps even more difficult with arsenokoitai. 1 Cor 6:9 is the first place we know of in all of Greek literature in which this term is used. Paul apparently coined it. So how does one know what a word means the first time it ever appears? Granted, we know some things from the formation of the word. It is compounded from a term for “bed” and a term for “male” with an agency ending—implicitly one who beds a male. Again, a quick review of
translations shows the uncertainty in the meaning. The King James Version has “abusers of themselves with mankind”; Luther has an equivalent of “violators of boys,” perhaps implying pederasty; and the NRSV introduces “sodomites,” an astonishing innovation in the translation tradition.
Religioustolerance.org goes on to say,
Although "homosexual" is a very common translation, it is almost certain to be inaccurate:
If Paul wanted to refer to homosexual behavior, he would have used the word "paiderasste." That was the standard Greek term at the time for sexual behavior between males.
There are many more places that say the use of homosexual in this passage is incorrect. So if Pastor Warren is so progressive and as he says "loves gays and straights" then why not choose to use a more correct and up to date translation on his site? I am starting to like this pick of Obama more and more. If Warren really is interested in being "America's Pastor" and he truely feels he helps gays by all the work he does with HIV/AIDS then maybe he can learn how the words he chooses are more important than ever at this time.

Hopefully, he'll also start to make his appologies and changes more public instead of just to the rich and famous.


  1. I really don't consider his "apology" to Melissa Etheridge nor his removal of the "gays must repent" clause from his site that much evidence of any true change on the part of him or his church. I think it's a concession, his very tiny step in the right direction that's really only surface deep. When he starts trying to make public, national amends, I might begin to believe him, but pulling in Melissa Etheridge as his token gay woman (oh, look, I have a gay friend, so I'm not a bigot!) doesn't impress me at all.

  2. I agree. I'm just not buying it yet. I don't want the wording on the website erased, I want the policy changed and for gays to truly be welcomed!

  3. Gays to be welcomed in a place where the pastor has to apologize for comparing homosexuality to incest and pedophilia and they sanitize their website only under pressure? That's like David Duke saying he welcomes African-Americans into the KKK and they hurry up to scrub all the lynching talk off his website. Jesus said, "From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" and that's a nicer way of saying first impressions are a bitch.

  4. "First impressions are a bitch." I LOVE it. I agree it will be interesting to see how this develops. I'm not holding my breath.

  5. Until Rick Warren makes a public statement renouncing his comment that gay relationships are like child molesting, there is no reason to believe he has changed his mind and every reason to believe he has not.

    For the record, the arsenokoit stem (Greek) has never been used to refer to two women or two men in committed, faithful, non-cultic, same sex partnership. On my website, I list the first 60 historical uses of the arsenokoit stem.


    In extant Greek literature from ancient times, the arsenokoit stem is never used to refer to a partnered same sex couple.

    That fact should put to rest the religious blather about the meaning of arsenokoitai in 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10 but sadly, some folks never allow facts to impact their beliefs.

    Rick Brentlinger

  6. Rick
    Thanks for the insight. I find it sad that many religious leaders won't look at the historical facts. I hope to see more and more people bring the truth to light.