Thank God for Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile...
A week or two ago, Thabiti Anyabwile, a faithful Reformed pastor from the Cayman Islands, ran a post calling for Reformed Christians to recover their ability to feel shame and revulsion at sodomitic practices (The Importance of Your Gag Reflex When Discussing Homosexuality and "Gay Marriage"). Pastor Anyabwile pointed out how those practices perverted God's sexual design and this made his readers mad, so they inundated Pastor Anyabwile's blog with catcalls and rotten tomatoes and Pastor Anyabwile apologized.
Through many years working with men and women fighting against temptations to same-sex intimacy, I've learned the precious truth that the straight and narrow road of Christian faith runs right next to the straight and narrow road of body parts and shame... For orthodox Christians fighting against the homosexual temptation, the restoration of shame and revulsion requires discussion of body parts. This is good pastoral ministry.
The Apostle Paul loved sodomites as Pastor Anyabwile does, and thus he pointed to body parts when he used two words to describe those in the bondage of sodomy:
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 (malakoi), nor homosexuals (arsenakoitai), nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1Corinthians 6:9-11)
Together, malakoi and arsenakoitai poin to the sexual partner who receives and the one who takes the initiative (shall we say). "Malakoi" is translated "effeminate" because men who receive are using male body parts in feminine ways, and this is the very heart of effeminacy.
But today we're so precious we can't bear the truth. Our decadent sensibilities refuse to allow any discussion of the physiology of sexuality, so we demand the ESV remove the Apostle Paul's words pointing to those very physical acts that comprise sodomitic perversion—the malakoi and the arsenakoitai.
Then, emboldened by our great success gagging God at the pressure points of Christian witness, we move on to gagging ministers of the Word who dare to teach what God, the Holy Spirit, and the Apostle Paul wrote. Pastor Anyabwile is so very insensitive. He's obviously unloving. He must be a hater. He can't help himself from giving vent to a "gay rant." Pastor Anyabwile must apologize or he'll lose his place at the head table in the Reformed banquet hall.
"He's throwing his dinner rolls. Tell him if he doesn't say he's sorry, we'll kick him out," they whisper to their footmen. "He's ruining our party."
Back in 1988, we Evangelicals in the Presbyterian Church (USA) were working to oppose our denominational leaders' attempts to approve the ordination of malakoi and arsenakoitai as elders and pastors. As part of that work, the board of Presbyterians Pro-Life asked me to write up a position statement on sexuality. After consultation with others, the proposed statement came to the board for approval. Prior to the vote, a board member asked for the word 'perversion' to be added. The room went silent. We were embarrassed by the man's request.
We had intended to publish our statement and we knew any use of the word 'perversion' in the context of the endless debate over gayness would cause everyone—but especially our fellow Evangelicals—to turn away from us in disgust. They would consider our use of "perversion" a sign we were incapable of thinking strategically; that we were rubes and country bumpkins who couldn't help making a public display of our bondage to nativist, dichotomous patterns of thought.
None of us wanted to add the word 'perversion' but we did.
Because of the weight of moral authority carried by the man proposing the addition; it was more than enough to cause the amendment to be adopted unanimously. So who was the man?
I'll withhold his name, but this dear brother was a black African pastor who served a small church in a rural community down in our nation's deep, deep South. The second he proposed the addition of "perversion," I distinctly remember thinking to myself what I assume every woman and man at the table also thought: coming of age in Africa and ministering in the rural deep south, our brother has escaped our northern white cultural decadence and is still able to think and speak and write Biblically. Thus he's prophetic while we're desperately trying to earn the approval of fellow Evangelicals as decadent as we are.
Dear reader, you see the moral of the story. We must not be ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God for salvation, to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Also the fornicator, the idolater, the adulterer, the thief, the man who covets, the drunkard, the reviler, the swindler, the arsenakoitai, and the malakoi.
No follower of Jesus Christ should make it his aim to improve upon the preaching methods and words used by the Apostle Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit.