“Effeminate” and “abusers of themselves with mankind” doesn’t refer to homosexuality

This week, I’m teaching the Gospel Doctrine lesson on 1 Corinthians 1–6. While I was preparing my lesson, I came across 1 Corinthians 6:9, a popular scripture among Christians who oppose homosexuality (or more specifically, anything that isn’t heteronormative):

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,

Specifically, those who use this scripture to justify their opposition to homosexuality, point out the mention of “effeminate” and “abusers of themselves with mankind.”

The problem with this interpretation is that it’s inaccurate.

What we translate as “effeminate” was in the Greek version malakoi. This word is more accurately translated as softness or moral weakness. Likewise, what we translate as “abusers of themselves with mankind” is arsenokoitai in the Greek, which more accurately describes something like shrine prostitution.

This is one of the problems with using modern cultural paradigms to understand ancient ones.