by Tony Palacio of GoodFight Ministries
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said…?” (Genesis 3:1)
In yet another “Has God said?” challenge over a controversial issue, an anonymous group known only as “The Editors” has released a new bible “translation” called The Queen James Bible to “prevent homophobic misinterpretation of God’s word.” They erroneously claim the following:
“[H]omosexuality was first mentioned in the Bible in 1946 in the Revised Standard Version. There is no mention of or reference to homosexuality in any Bible prior to this – only interpretations have been made.” (queenjamesbible.com)
The “Editors” based their new bible on the 1769 version of the King James Bible because, “everyone knows the King James Bible; it is arguably the most popular Bible in history and the basis of many other translations.”On their website, on the “Editor’s Notes” page, listed as reason number 3 as to why they chose the King James Bible, they cite a most ironic reason for using this version to “translate” from:
“Most English bible translations that actively condemn homosexuality have based themselves on the King James Version and have erroneously adapted its words to support their own agenda. We wanted to return to the clean source and start there.” (queenjamesbible.com, Emphasis added)
Do they not see the irony in that statement? Are they not doing exactly what they are accusing others of doing by “adapt[ing] its (the Bible’s) words to support their own agenda”? And then in an almost laughable pious declaration, they claim to be returning “to the clean source” and starting there. Really?
While there are many more troubling statements and declarations made on their website, in this article, I’d like to focus on who or what these supposed “clean sources” are for which “The Editors” use to justify changing God’s word.
On their “Editor’s Notes” page, the “Editors” list eight verses for which they’ve changed: Genesis 19:5,Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26, Romans 27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Corinthians 6:10, 1Timothy 10, Jude 1:7 (for anyone keeping track, that’s actually nine verses).
We begin with Genesis 19:5, for which the Editor’s “clean source” is apparently “…most Bible scholars who understand the story of Sodom and Gomorra to be about bullying strangers.” (Emphasis added) They then proceed to set up their straw man argument by playing some word games with Genesis 19:7 for which they then base their support for changing the text.
They write, “We know Lot asks that the men do not ‘know’ the angel visitors ‘wickedly’ (Genesis 19:7).”
So are we to determine from this (faulty) reasoning that had the men wanted to “know” the angel visitors in a “nice” manner that this would have been okay? But since they wished to “know” the angels “wickedly” that this somehow changes the moral law of God? It’s wrong either way!
In Genesis 19, this is what we read:
“and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.” But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.” (Genesis 19:5-7)
These verses clearly speak for themselves. The men at Lot’s door wanted to have sex with the angel visitors, whom they knew only to be common men and not angels. The Editor’s reworking of the text by claiming that Lot asks the men “do not ‘know’ the angel visitors ‘wickedly’” is not even accurate and changes the scripture before even moving on to their argument.
It is worth noting that the word “know” is also used as a sexual euphemism earlier in the book of Genesis with reference to Adam having sexual relations with Eve. Therefor it is rather ridiculous to claim that God rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah simply for a lack of hospitality (with reference to The Editor’s “bullying strangers” assertion above).
The book of Jude confirms the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah:
“Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7)
The Greek word for “strange” is “heteros,” which can be translated “of uncertain affinity,” “different,” “other” or “another.” The New Analytical Greek Lexicon defines “heteros” in Jude 7 as “illicit” (Wesley Perschbacher ed., 1990, The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson). Henry Alford correctly translated the Greek as “other flesh,” and defined the phrase as “[other] than that appointed by God for the fulfillment of natural desire” (Henry Alford, 1875, Greek Testament, 4:533, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint).
Even the self-described “liberal evangelical,” William Barclay (1907-1978), a theologian and Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism, who held very controversial and often unbiblical positions, wrote the following concerning Jude 1:7:
“What the men of Sodom were bent on was unnatural sexual intercourse, homosexual intercourse, with Lot’s two visitors. They were bent on sodomy, the word in which their sin is dreadfully commemorated.” (William Barclay, 1958, “The Letters of John and Jude,” p. 218, Philadelphia, PA: Westminster)
So who/what are the Editor’s “clean source” for their justification and conclusion for re-translating Genesis 19:5-7? That’s not entirely clear, other than the mention of “most scholars,” whoever they may be. (They could simply be referring to each other, as we will see later.)
Next they explain (away) Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. They start by exclaiming, “Leviticus is outdated as a moral code…” They call those of us who believe what the bible has to say on this issue “anti-LGBT religious activists.” (No explanation or response needed for this label.)
The bible teaches that God’s moral law never changes, but civil and ceremonial laws are another matter (a subject which is too much to get into in this article). So while we would agree that we wouldn’t put homosexuals to death (the reasons for which they did in Old Testament times is an entirely different topic of discussion), we would not agree with changing God’s moral standard, which never changes. However, for this discussion, we’re looking for the “clean sources” they are using to justify the changing of God’s word.
While we would agree that going to the original Hebrew is a good source, they proceed to improperly assign a definition to the word “abomination” in Leviticus 18:22, stating that it “simply means something that is ‘ritually unclean,’ or a ‘taboo’.” (This definition makes it rather convenient in justifying the changing of this verse.) However, any serious study of this word in the Hebrew, which is “tow’ebah,” would reveal its meaning to be “something disgusting (morally).” It is a feminine noun meaning an abomination, and while it is commonly used in the context of idolatry, child sacrifice, religious activities of the wicked, etc., it is also defined in the context of homosexuality. Additionally, this Hebrew word is actually the feminine active participle of the Hebrew variation of the word (“ta’ab”) which means “to loathe, ie. (morally) detest.” It is clear that God has a moral standard which never changes or becomes “taboo.”
Compounding the problem with the “Editors” seemingly “clean source” is how they justify their changing of these verses in Leviticus. They seem to cite themselves as a source by stating, “we suggest that by today’s standards, a biblical abomination would be understood to be ‘scandalous’.” (Emphasis added.) Really? So what happened to the Hebrew definitions given? It appears they have simply ditched it for a definition of their own. They go on to state:
“To simply replace ‘abomination’ with ‘taboo’ would only address [Leviticus] 18:22, and not the death penalty proposed in [Leviticus] 20:13. Furthermore, we do not believe homosexual relations to be taboo, so that solution would have been unsatisfactory.” (queenjamesbible.com)
A more accurate statement would have been to simply state the obvious: “we do not believe homosexual relations to be a sin.” So how do they deal with this? They simply state that they were led “to believe that there was translative error at some point:” They conveniently neglect to mention their source for coming to this convenient conclusion. They curiously then declare, “If having sex with a man is punishable by death, it wouldn’t be called an abomination.” (Confused yet? You’re not alone.) So what did they decide to do? “…we left the word abomination as is, and found a much more elegant and logically clear solution to this interpretive ambiguity…” What is their “more elegant and logically clear solution”? They declare the following:
“We assert that Leviticus 18:21 refers to “lying” with these pagan male prostitutes as a form of pagan idolatry.” (Ibid., Emphasis added)
They assert that these verses in Leviticus actually have to do with a pagan ritual of worship to Molech by having sex with male prostitutes in pagan temples. However, Leviticus 18:21 says nothing about this. It only states, “Neither shall you give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech…” It says nothing about “lying with these pagan male prostitutes.” This is what is commonly known as eisegesis (the interpretation of a text by reading into it one’s own idea). Based on this false interpretation of Leviticus 18:21, they decide to alter the next verse in Leviticus 18:22, which clearly states:
“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”(Leviticus 18:22)
There is no mention of “prostitutes” or “pagan idol worship.” In fact, Leviticus chapter 18 is a long list of God’s law on immoral relations. Verse 22 is simply one amongst that long list. It also doesn’t stand to reason that this verse falls on the heels of verse 21 (and is therefor somehow connected, as The Editors assert), since they are both two entirely different laws being given, again with no mention of male prostitutes.
In fact, if we are to apply the same set of standards to “The Editor’s” reasoning, then we must also conclude that they believe Leviticus 18:23 only refers to having sex with animals as part of pagan worship to Molech in a pagan temple to be an abomination. In other circumstances it must be perfectly acceptable to have sex with animals, as this is the same standard they have placed on verse 22 to justify homosexuality as being acceptable. Obviously this reasoning doesn’t make any sense for verse 23, so why is it acceptable to make this argument for verse 22? Simple: because they are attempting to justify their sin.
Next up is Romans 1:26-27:
“For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Romans 1:24-27)
What “clean source” did they use for their justification of changing these verses? That’s easy, they simply declared:
“Romans is written in some of the most obtuse language in the entire Bible making it very difficult to interpret and translate. As such, its translations are usually some of the most incredibly stretched to support homophobic agendas.” (Ibid.)
I don’t know about you, but when I read these verses they seem awfully clear and unambiguous to me. But I digress…
The “Editors” go on to explain what Romans really means, using convenient phrases such as “we know that…”, “it is much more likely that…”, “we can be pretty sure…”, “it would not be unreasonable to assume…”. So…what happened to their “clean sources”?
Their final determination is the following:
“Most scholars (us included), agree that the sin in Romans 1 isn’t being gay or lesbian or having gay sex. The sin was worshiping pagan idols instead of God, as it was in Leviticus, as it is everywhere in the Bible.” (Ibid., Emphasis added)
We have no idea who “most scholars” are here, but apparently since the Editors declare themselves as scholars, they only need cite themselves as their “clean source.” And given that Romans appears to give them the most trouble (for obvious reasons), they emphatically declare the following regarding their “translation” of these verses:
“Romans is our most major editing, but also one of our most powerfully free of interpretive ambiguity; it has been made very clear, yet retains all of the content of the original.” (Ibid.)
Next we come to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
“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.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 KJV, Emphasis added)
“Or 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 effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NASB, Emphasis added)
The word from which is translated “homosexual” (NASB) or “abusers of themselves with mankind” (KJV) is taken from the Greek word “arsenokoitais.” The “Editors” of The Queen James Bible state that they“specifically…went to the Greek translations, where the subject of interpretation is most famous with Corinthians.” In doing so, they conclude that the Greek word “arsenokoitais” actually means “the male who has many beds,” and “wherever else ‘koitais’ is used in the Greek translations, it implies what we would use as ‘promiscuity’ for in modern English.”
While it is true that this Greek word is heavily debated, further study reveals that “Arsenokoites” is also translated, “one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual” (Greek Transliteration-Pronunciation Etymology & Grammar). Thayer’s New testament Greek-English Lexicon translates this word as “a sodomite:––abuser of (that defile) self with mankind” (G0730 & G2845). Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament also lists this word as “a sodomite.”
The “Editors” conveniently dismiss these other translations in favor of “promiscuity” as their final translation. So while they claim to use the “clean source” of the Greek (which we have no problem with), they fail to exhaust a complete study of the word which is in keeping with the context and consistency of God’s entire Word and moral law.
As we come to the “Editor’s” final two verses, 1 Timothy 1:10 and Jude 1:7, we find that there are no sources given at all. They simply state that they have stayed within “the context and theme of all our edits” and “given our clarification of the story of Sodom” (for each verse respectively) for the justification of altering these two final verses.
In their closing, they lob a loaded accusation about scripture, stating, “the bible is filled with inequality and even contradiction that we have not addressed.” Their only honest statement made is, “we wanted to make a book…that nobody could use to…condemn God’s LGBT children…” I’ll admit, I used ellipses here to remove some words in this last quote, because I do not believe they have “a book filled with the word of God,” neither do bible-believing Christians “incorrectly” condemn homosexuality (although methodology can certainly be questioned), nor do I believe that the Editors “succeeded” with their new “translation.” By questioning God’s word, they feel empowered to do with it what they please, and make it suitable for their own sinful desires.
I realize I did not get into long theological rebuttals to their many assertions about the scriptures they altered, that was not the point of this piece (though I couldn’t resist commenting on a few). Rather, it is to show what passes as “clean sources” to those who attempt to thwart the word of God in exchange for justifying what God deems as sin. It shows the lengths to which people will go to please self, please man, and refuse what God clearly states in His word. Sadly, too many people formulate or shape a god to suit the benefit of their own sin. After all, if it’s God’s word that is getting in the way of someone’s sin, then it is His word that must be attacked.
It’s the oldest ploy by the enemy to get us to doubt what God actually says, which dates all the way back to the Garden of Eden: “Has God said…?”