1 Corinthians 6:9—Was Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality merely his private opinion?
Problem: Paul told the Corinthians that “neither fornicators ... nor homosexuals ... will inherit the kingdom of God” (6:9–10). But in the same book he admitted that he was only giving his private “opinion” (1 Cor. 7:25, nasb). In fact, Paul admitted, “I have no commandment from the Lord” (v. 25), and “I [say this], not the Lord” (v. 10). Was not this, by his own confession, merely Paul’s own nonbinding opinion on this issue?
Solution: Paul’s condemnation against homosexuality is divinely authoritative and not merely his private opinion. This is made plain once the evidence is fully examined. First of all, Paul’s clearest condemnation of homosexuality is in Romans 1:26–27, the divine authority of which is not challenged by anyone who accepts the inspiration of Scripture.
Second, Paul’s apostolic credentials are firmly established in Scripture. He delcared in Galatians that his revelations were not something that man made up, but were “received ... by revelation from Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:12).
Third, Paul declared to the Corinthians that, “The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders, and miracles—were done among you” (2 Cor. 12:12, niv). In short, he had exercised apostolic authority in his ministry to the Corinthian Christians.
Fourth, even here in the Book of 1 Corinthians where Paul’s authority is severely challenged by his critics, his divine authority is made evident in three ways. (1) He begins the book by claiming that he has “words taught by the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:13, niv). (2) He concludes the books claiming, “what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command” (14:37, niv). (3) Even in the disputed chapter 7 where Paul is alleged to be giving his own uninspired opinion, he declares “I too have the Spirit of God” (v. 40, niv). Indeed, when he said “I, not the Lord” he does not mean his words are not from the Lord; this would contradict everything he says elsewhere. Rather, it means that Jesus did not speak directly to this matter while on earth. But Jesus promised His apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). And Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians was a fulfillment of that promise.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.