Gay Man Sues Bible Publishers Over “Homosexual” Reference
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, the New King James text reads:
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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (emp. added).
Bradley Fowler, a homosexual from Michigan, claims that the Zondervan Publishing Company and Thomas Nelson Publishing have violated his rights by distributing Bibles that use the word “homosexuals” in 1 Corinthians 6:9. In fact, he insists that he and other homosexuals have suffered “verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence…including murder” because of this particular translation (Pedraza, 2008). Since he believes that his constitutional rights have been violated, he is suing the two companies for a combined total of 70 million dollars.
Several issues about this situation need to be addressed. First, any legitimate translation of the Bible is an attempt to render the original Greek text into the closest modern English terms available. The New King James Version (in which the word “homosexuals” appears) is not a haphazardly thrown together fly-by-night translation. It is the result of countless hours of scholarly work done by credible Bible researchers. No less than 21 textual scholars converged to combine their efforts to produce the version. Those scholars held respected positions at such institutions as the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Grace Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Concordia Seminary, Biola College, Asbury Theological Seminary, and Cincinnati Seminary (“New King…,” n.d.). These revisers brought to the table several centuries of combined scholarly and academic experience specifically in the study of the Greek language and manuscripts of the biblical text. To sue the publishers of the NKJV based on an alleged mistake by Greek scholars of such inestimable repute as those involved in the NKJV translation is unprecedented. In Zondervan’s publicly issued statement, the company declared: “We rely on scholarly judgment of the highly respected and credible translation committees behind each translation and never alter the text of the translations we are licensed to publish…. We only publish credible translations produced by credible Biblical scholars” (Pedraza, 2008).
Second, we must simply ask whether or not the Bible does, in fact, condemn homosexuality. The answer to that is a resounding “Yes.” We have previously documented copious biblical evidence establishing the fact that homosexuality is viewed by the Bible writers as a sin that, if unrepented of, will result in the homosexual forfeiting the Kingdom of God, exactly as stated in 1 Corinthians 6 (see Miller and Harrub, 2004).
The fact that Fowler’s outlandish lawsuit has been viewed as credible enough to reach the media is troubling. Suppose that Fowler wins. Who will be next to sue Bible publishers? Will drunkards have a right to seek grievances for the many times their actions are condemned in the New Testament (Ephesians 5:18, 1 Peter 4:3, etc.)? Will liars be able to seek restitution from the courts, since their practice is repeatedly condemned (Revelation 21:8, Ephesians 4:25, etc)? Will the door be opened for murderers to seek financial redress for the many years of “abuse” they have suffered because the Bible condemns their actions?
Thankfully, the court seems to be keeping its head in this case. “U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr., who will hear Fowler’s case against Thomas Nelson, says the court ‘has some very genuine concerns about the nature and efficacy of [Fowler’s] claims’” (as quoted in Pedraza). In truth, Fowler’s tactic is nothing more than an attempt to “elevate” homosexuality to a sacrosanct lifestyle that cannot be criticized without negative ramifications. Unfortunately, other countries, under the guise of hate speech laws, have already severely restricted what can legally be said against homosexuality (Butt, 2004). Pray that the day never comes in the United States of America when a person cannot stand in an assembly and read a scholarly translation of the Greek New Testament that condemns homosexuality.
Butt, Kyle (2004), “Hate Crimes, Homosexuality, and Preaching the Gospel,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2617.
Miller, Dave and Brad Harrub (2004), “An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2577.
Pedraza, Rick (2008), “Bible Publishers Sued for Anti-Gay References,” Newsmax, [On-line], URL: http://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/man_sues_bible_publishers/2008/07/ 10/111626.html?s=al&promo_code=65BF-1.
“New King James Version” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.bible-researcher.com/nkjv.html#translators.