How The Word ‘Homosexual’ Ended Up In The Bible

Emily Brown

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How The Word ‘Homosexual’ Ended Up In The Bible

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With the word 'homosexual' not being coined until the late 19th century, researchers have delved into how the term came to end up in the Bible.

It's no secret that the Bible is an extremely old text, but millions of people across the globe rely on various versions of it to guide their beliefs and form their judgements about the world.

As a result of Bible interpretation, same-sex marriage is not typically practised in Christian churches and is not allowed in Catholicism, however the word 'homosexual' was not mentioned in original versions, and in fact appears to be entirely inaccurate in relation to the way we use the term now.

Hear more about how it ended up in the Bible below:

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Ed Oxford, a gay Christian and a researcher in how the Bible has been weaponised against LGBTQ+ communities, told Forge the word homosexual first showed up as a translation for the original Greek word 'arsenokoitai' in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible in 1952.

This finding prompted Oxford to wonder how other translations depicted the same verses, so he began collecting old Bibles which were translated during the Reformation 500 years ago before asking a German friend if he could help translate passages in a German Bible from the 1800s.

The pair focused on the verse Leviticus 18:22, the English version of which reads 'Man shall not lie with man, for it is an abomination'. In the German version, however, the verse reads: 'Man shall not lie with young boys as he does with a woman, for it is an abomination.'

Bible (Pixabay)
Bible (Pixabay)

Oxford and his friend found that the translation read the same in other versus, and made similar discoveries in 1 Corinthians, when 'arsenokoitai' did not refer to homosexuals and instead read 'Boy molesters will not inherit the kingdom of God.'

Oxford learned that the first time the word 'homosexual' appeared in a German translation was in 1983 after Americans paid for the change, prompting Oxford to express belief 'there is a 'gay agenda' after all'.

Speaking to Forge, he said: 'So for most of history, most translations thought these verses were obviously referring the pederasty, not homosexuality!'

The Human Rights Campaign has noted that any reading of the Bible results in personal interpretation, but added that while the passages that seemingly address same-sex eroticism are 'negative about the practices they mention, there is no evidence that these in any way speak to same-sex relationships of love and mutuality.'

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or you can email them here

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Emily Brown
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