In case you haven’t heard the news, there is a new edition of the King James Bible that rewrites eight key verses that speak against homosexual practice. It’s called the Queen James Bible (I kid you not), and the editors state that, “We edited those eight verses in a way that makes homophobic interpretations impossible.”
Yes, you can now practice homosexuality and read your Bible without feeling condemned, although you still have to deal with the hundreds of verses affirming only heterosexual marriage and family (including one of the Ten Commandments that says, “Honor your father and mother” rather than, “Honor your father and father”).
And then there are the thousands of verses that assume the importance of male-female gender distinctions, beginning with the first chapter of the Bible, which states, “God created man in His own image ... male and female He created them”(Gen. 1:27). But why quibble?
On the genuinely positive side, it is good see a hunger for the Scriptures in the LGBT community, and the editors boast that the Queen James Bible (QJB) “is the perfect Bible for ceremony, study, sermon, gift-giving or simply to put on display in the home or church.”
On the totally negative side, to the extent professing LGBT Christians believe this translation to be accurate, they are deceiving themselves. And that would be tragic.
Take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of a Christian struggling with homosexuality. You want to follow Jesus and obey the Scriptures, but you find yourself attracted to the same sex, through no conscious choice of your own. You pray for God to change you and often cry yourself to sleep, only to wake up the next morning with the same unwanted attractions.
You wonder if God hates you and has singled you out for condemnation: God, why won’t you change me and make me normal?
You hit rock bottom and are considering suicide when someone tells you that your homosexuality is a gift, that God made you this way, and that preachers are misinterpreting the Bible when they say you can’t be a practicing homosexual and a Christian at the same time. Then they hand you your very own copy of the QJB, and voila, all those negative verses are gone.
Can you imagine how tempting it would be to embrace this new “revelation”?
So, Leviticus 18:22 doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination” (King James Version). It really says, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind in the temple of Molech: it is an abomination” (QJB; Molech was a pagan idol).
And Paul didn’t actually write that “men who practice homosexuality” will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9; ESV). What he really said was that neither “morally weak, nor promiscuous” people will inherit God’s kingdom (QJB).
The problem, of course, is that the original Hebrew of Leviticus and the original Greek of 1 Corinthians do not say what the QJB says. Not a chance.
The editors have simply changed the Bible to fit their sexuality, opening up a Pandora’s Box of potential mistranslation. It would be like changing “Thou shalt not commit adultery” into “Thou shalt not commit adultery unless you are deeply in love and willing to divorce your spouse to marry your adulterous partner.”
Interestingly, the QJB editors recognize the difficulty of translating the Hebrew word to’evah in Leviticus 18:22 with something less than “abomination.” But they bypass this difficulty by claiming that the abomination was not a man having sex with another man. Rather, it was only an abomination for two men to have sex if they did it as an act of pagan worship in the temple of an idol.
Really? Well, the very next verse (Lev. 18:23) condemns bestiality, calling it “perversion” (tevel). Using the same logic, would the QJB editors argue that bestiality is only wrong if carried out in an idolatrous temple?
In point of fact, all of Leviticus 18 deals with forbidden sexual unions (according to Leviticus 18:24-30, these practices were wrong for both pagan nations and Israel), with only one reference to the practice of sacrificing children to idols (Lev. 18:21). And there is not a hint in the chapter that adultery or incest or bestiality or homosexual practice are condemned only if committed in a pagan temple. Strikingly, even though all of these practices are called to’evot, abominations, in Leviticus 18:26-29, only homosexual practice is singled out as a to’evah, abomination, within the chapter.
Other reviews have exposed additional, serious errors in this new mistranslation of the sacred Scriptures, but, to sum things up, we can say that the Queen James Bible accomplishes the exact opposite of what it sets out to do: It provides eloquent testimony that the Bible and homosexual practice are incompatible.
Does Jesus love the homosexual? Unequivocally yes. Does he affirm homosexuality? Unequivocally no. The Bible (as in the real deal, not the QJB) tells me so.
Michael Brown is the author of The Real Kosher Jesus and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience.