Bradley LaShawn Fowler sues Zondervan over use of the word ‘homosexual’


I know I am probably going to get myself into trouble for posting anything on this particular case, but I sometimes can’t help myself. I wonder if my position will manage to tick off people from both sides of this issue. Wink

 

Here is the jist of the case from Bradley LaShawn Fowler’s site:

 

Zonderan Corp. LLC., a leading Christian publishing company in Grand Rapids,MI. are named as the defendant in a sixty million dollar law suit.

 

Michigan author Bradley-Almighty has compiled astounding research from within the pages of the bible, that will change the face of religion across the globe. So much, on Monday, July 7, 2008, Bradley marched into the Eastern District Court house of Ann Arbor, MI. and filed a Federal Law suit on the grounds of malicious negligence, strict liability, malice, libel, and violating his rights under the 14th Amendment.

 

"Lack of sincerity from bible readers has helped this conspiracy go on this long." Bradley comments during a brief interview with Michigan Front Page Newspaper, Executive Editor Janaya Black.

 

In 1964, the scripture found in 1 Corinthians Six, verse Nine read as followed:

 

Know ye not that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminates, nor abusers of themselves with mankind…

 

In 1982, the same scripture read like this:

 

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexuals…

 

In 1987, the same scripture read as followed:

 

Do you not know that the unrightoues and the wrong doers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be decieved(misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexual behavior…

 

But the 1994 editioin reads like this:

 

Know ye not that he unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulteres, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind…

 

Which one of these is truth? Which one is not?

 

And this is from a site that has posted one of his press releases:

 

Imposing terminology that conveys a message of hate and discrimination towards a particular sector or group of individuals, solely based on bias opinions, has caused Bradley and countless of other homosexual men to be assaulted, discriminated against, and or, even murdered. History proves many Christian’s believe biblical scriptures are the "authentic word of God". Yet it seems the bible has become the authentic word of Zondervan Corp. LLC, and its editorial staff, who willfully manipulated society into mistreating homosexuals, by revising the scriptures to reflect homosexuality, is a sin. This could very well open the door for same-sex couples to wed nationally. Since biblical scripture has been used against same-sex couples to prevent them from marrying in Michigan and other states, this new evidence could enforce states to recognize same-sex marriage.

I agree with Mr. Fowler that many Christian groups have taken an incorrect stance on homosexuality. Scripturally speaking, we all carry around many sins, including "lifestyle" sins or "uber" sins. And, I do agree with him that some have taken this to an extreme and used this reasoning to discriminate against, pummel or even kill homosexuals.

I also agree with Mr. Fowler’s assessment that Zondervan has issued different versions of the NIV, which have translated some Greek words differently. I find this to be common practice as groups of scholars get together to determine whether or not a particular passage conveys the correct meaning. This is especially true with the NIV, which is a thought-by-thought translation, rather than a word-for-word translation.

Having said that, I see no basis for the lawsuit. I also see no personal affront from Zondervan to Mr. Fowler, other than the one he reads into it. This is true even if his assertion that Zondervan has slanted the words for an agenda is true. Of course, the proof is in the pudding, so we should examine the translation against other translations and determine if Zondervan is unique.

Scriptual Basis

When one looks at the bible, we see various differences in the words chosen. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the most common are:

·         No direct correlary word for the term – this is true in any translation, even with modern lanaguages, but is especially true of a language that is no longer spoken. Yes, Greek is still spoken, but the Koine (common) version of the first century is radically different from what we see today.

·         Some versions use a word for word translation, others use a thought for thought translation, and some are in between. There are also a few translations that are designed as narratives, which are more thought-by-thought, but expounded for modern readers (The Message and World English Bible fit this model). Whether one searches for the larger meaning or a direct translation of individual words has a huge bearing on how the translation works.

My point here is the individual translator(s) [generally these are teams] have a difficult time getting everything translated without some loss of fidelity. IF one truly wants to study the bible, without this loss, he has to consult he original material. Fowler’s primary complaint is against the NIV (a thought for thought translation) and the New King James bible (a word for word translation). He is largely focused on the word "homosexual" being used.

The word used here is ρσενοκοται, which is a greek word that strong’s defines as "a sodomite – abuser of (that defil) self with mankind"; it is also commonly translated homosexual, as in the Strong’s Online site I have linked. The word is a combination of the words ρσεν meaning male and κοίται which is translated in strongs as "bed, chambering, conceive"; also the male sperm. Putting the two words together, you have the concept of a man bedding down with a man or taking on a man’s sperm. Yes, this is perhaps a bit graphic for this blog, but it is the word’s meaning.

This word is found in two bible passages: 1 Corinthians 6:9, cited by Mr. Fowler, and 1 Timothy 1:10. Mr. Fowler has stated problems with only two translations, the NIV and the New King James, and has issue with different editions of a bible "changing" the words. I find this baseless, as it is a translation. But, we should examine his argument at face value and see whether or not this is unique to Zondervan (and Thomas Nelson – sued for $10 million) or if this is common of translations. For this, we will compare a wide number of English translations spanning more than 400 years of history.

1 Corinthians 6:9 translations of ρσενοκοται

homosexual offenders – NIV, NIV:UK
homosexuals – NASB, NKJV, HCSB
men who commit homosexual acts – NIRV
participants in/practicers of homosexuality – Amp, NLT, ESV, TNIV
behaves like a homosexual – CEV
sex abusers – The message
abusers of self with men – AV (King James), 21KJV, ASV, Darby 
men who have sexual relations with other men – NCV
sodomites – YLT
people who do sex sins with their own sex – NLV
they that do lechery with men – Wycliffe
those who commit adultery of any kind – WEB (this one is very loose)

Other than the World English Bible (WEB) and The Message, both of which are very loose translations (narrative), all focus on the idea of men having sex with men (or at least one having sex with one’s own sex). How about Timothy 1:10?

perverts – NIV, NIV:UK
homosexuals – NASB, HCSB
immoral persons - Amp
participants in/practicers of homosexuality – NLT, ESV, TNIV
them that defile themselves with mankind – AV, 21KJV
live as homosexuals – CEV
sodomites – NKJV, YLT, Darby
[those] who have sexual relations with people of the same sex – NCV
abusers of themselves with men – ASV
people who do sex sins with their own sex
NLV
those who have a twisted view of sex – NIRV
them that do lechery with men – Wycliffe
men who have sex with other men – WEB

This time we see a bit more disparity. The Message is completely out of the race, as it distills the list tremendously.

It gets even worse for Mr. Fowlers case, when one expands beyond the English translations and finds the concepts are fairly universal. In Spanish, the word is Sodomitas (Sodomite), the Italian bible translates as homosexual, while the German’s use a word that means boy violator (pedophile?).

If one wants to take this even further, it could be argued that all of the English translations actually soften the wording, as the Greek word μαλακο is translated as effiminate. In Strong’s the word is translated "Of uncertain affinity; soft, i.e. Fine (clothing); figuratively, a catamite — effeminate, soft. ". Of interest here is the word Catamite, which was the younger male in a pedastric relationship, which were quite common in ancient Greece.

Does he have a case?

 On the basis of bible references provided (have not seen the full complaint yet), I do not see Mr. Fowler’s case as a reasonable one. I do not see a printed bible, especially one that contains the same ideas that pretty much all other bibles include, as a source for a violation of civil rights. This is especially true when one considers this particular version was originally translated in 1973 with at least one English version containing the same basic concept as old as 1604.

Hopefully Mr. Fowler is using this case to attempt to cry out against social injustice. If so, I applaud the effort. Unfortunately, it is more likely to backfire on him, as the case is probably going to be deemed baseless. Very little social change occurs when one uses flawed material to attempt to get one’s point across.

While I see the lawsuit as a nuisance suit, at best, I would like to see some light on this particular issue. The church I currently attend is Southern Baptist, a group which has a pitiful record on this particular issue. I am not stating that the SBC is incorrect about its views that Paul regarded homosexuality as a sin, as it is quite evident he did. My issue is with the SBC, or at least a good number of its members, regarding homosexuality as some special "uber" sin that requires full attention, while turning its back on many other sins committed by its members.

Well, let’s see if the fireworks start on this one. Sarcastic

Peace and Grace,
Greg

 

Follow up (4:07 PM CST): While I am more inclined to focus on truth as truth rather than "is this guy reliable", I was just sent a link that I find interesting:

http://www.state.mi.us/mdoc/asp/otis2profile.asp?mdocNumber=184830

This is the rap sheet for Mr. Fowler. I am not going to write in any opinions on this; I will let your own minds wander.

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5 Responses to Bradley LaShawn Fowler sues Zondervan over use of the word ‘homosexual’

  1. Donna says:

    Fireworks should be started! This is getting more and more prevelant as time wears on! People who call themselves Christian should stop being so lukewarm (in which Christ WILL spew you out of His mouth Rev 3:16) and start standing against the very things that God Himself was against!
    This doesn’t mean one has to be ‘judgemental’. However, we are commanded to reprove and rebuke sin and to do it righteously. "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment… John 7:24"
     
    “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; REPROVE, REBUKE, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 2 Tim 4:2.” and also in Ephesians 5:11 where it states: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them]. (12) For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. (13) But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light."
     
    Those Christians preaching tolerance to sin are not following Biblical doctrine. Bringing someone’s sin to light is not judging, as you are not giving the punishment which is reserved only for God. However, you are bringing the sin to light and trying to correct the person into righteousness.
    Christian’s ‘tolerance’ is what has led this country to being just the opposite! Because we have been so tolerant, we have allowed people to trample on us and thus doing the things that not only should offend us, but offends God. Everything offends everyone. People are suing for things like this Fowler guy (who is not Christian, if he was, he wouldn’t be doing the opposite of what God asks) and making a mockery of our FATHER people!
    How many of you when you were kids, would have stood up to the bully down the street when they insulted your father? Our mom? But yet the Christians today allow people to trash our Heavenly Father, and He deserves a whole lot more than our worldly parents!
     
    Fireworks indeed. We need fireworks to wake the sleeping Christians up and stand for their rights and to stand for the God of Heaven…who after all, without Him, none of us would be here.
     
    This lawsuit needs to be thrown right out as frivilous. It is obvious that he is out to look for a quick dollar. It is ridiculous things like this that makes America the laughing stock of the world. And worse, it is this type of thing that makes God cry…and angered, and His hand will strike us further for being disobediant children.
     
    Come Lord Jesus, Come quickly.

  2. Gregory says:

    Wow, you said quite a mouthful.
     
    First, I think we should understand that part of the "oppression" Christians suffer is self-inflicted. I am not saying that people would not pick on the church, or its members, if we were living the life in a proper manner, but that it is much easier to make a target out of Christians when we are not living the life. What do I mean by this? Simply that we are not following in the footsteps of Christ, nor the early church. This does not mean all Christians, nor does it mean every Christian at all times. It does, however, mean that many of us fall back on the promise of salvation and stop focusing on our service, which is one of the most visible signs we are God’s children.
     
    I also agree with preaching the word, but we do have to understand two things about rebuke. First, we find rebuke most commonly used on believers. Second, that rebuke is focused on the good of those you are rebuking. It is very easy to get into judgment when one rebukes someone. In many cases, "bringing sin to light" is not rebuke, but judgment. It is all about focus. If you are calling out sin to truly help the other, you might be rebuking. If you are calling it out for other reasons, it is most likely judgment. Judgment and punishment are two separate concepts. God will judge and God will punish, but we can judge (and even punish), even though we are not God. It is a very thin line.
     
    Tolerance is what we should preach, but we have to understand what the word tolerance truly means. Tolerance is acceptance that an act you abhor occurs. It is not refusing to state that you abhor the act, refusing to stand up to laws against the act, etc. I agree wholeheartedly that one refusing to speak the truth in the name of tolerance is an incorrect action, but if we use the word tolerance correctly, then we are called to be tolerant.
     
    I am not sure where I stand on Christians becomming motivated. On the surface I agree, but human nature is we are sheep. Unfortunately, sheep tend to have a herd mentality, and stop thinking as individuals. This is not uniquely a Christian trait, as you see people drinking kool aid in all "congregations", including many of the conclaves on the Internet. If people are willing to spend the time necessary to truly understand the issues, then standing up and getting loud is a correct action. If one is not well informed, it can be dangerous. As I stated in my post, it is one of the things I personally feel the SBC has done a great diservice in. It is not that I agree with the intent, necessarily, but the delivery was pretty poor.
     
    Peace and Grace,Greg

  3. Donna says:

    When did Christ tolerate sin? He didn’t. He merely said to the person to repent and walk with Him. God commands us to bring all sin to light, not just that of the believer. I personally, do it with good intentions, as to show what God can do for a sinner, and not just homosexual people, but all of the lost.
     
    I personally also do not attend a ‘church’ because today’s ‘church’ (using the term church here is strictly for the use of the name of the building, as the actual "Church" is the body of Christ) is not based upon God’s word anymore. There are too many man-made traditions, fallicies, and blatant smacks to God at a service. We home worship instead.
     
    Christ did indeed say to love your neighbor as you have loved Me. But He also did not tolerate sin either. He preached His Word, and walked away. You either followed or you didn’t. Plain and simple. And what He does, is what I do as well. I say my say, and walk away.
    And, when you actually study the Bible, the word rebuke in many cases is indeed towards fellow believers. However in those two passages, it is intended to show the sin of the lost so they know what righteousness is. Rebuking someone doesn’t mean you have to be mean, but you should do it with the intent to help the person come to the Light. However, the inspired writers evidentally had a few meanings in mind when they wrote the word (the following is taken from BlueLetterbible.org and is part of the shortened Strong’s concordance, emphasis mine) …….
    elegchō (reprove and also rebuke)
    1) to convict, refute, confutea) generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convictedb) by conviction to bring to the light, to expose
    2) to find fault with, correcta) by word
    1) to reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove
    2) to call to account, show one his fault, demand an explanation
    b) by deed
    1) to chasten, to punish
     
    We also see in 1 Tim 5:20 "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear." The context here is showing that it is speaking of all people, not just believers, but we are to do so without partiality and without hypocritical judgement. The ultimate Judge of course is, God. However, we are also to point out each others sin, bringing them to light so the sinner knows how to go about living a righteous life. This goes for all people, not just the believer.
    I have aquaintences that are homosexual. They know my literal stance on it, and I don’t pressure them about it once I make myself clear. However, I call them aquaintences because we are not to be equally yoked to the unbeliever. If they don’t hear the Word that you are preaching, then you must move on like the disciples did. They preached, and if it was unaccepted, they wiped the dust off their feet and preached there no more. We need to understand that God does not want us to save the sinner, that’s His duty. But, we are to preach His Word and bring the Light to the dark.
    Since you spoke about the cool aid, can I assume you are a non-believer?

  4. Gregory says:

    > When did Christ tolerate sin?
     
    Christ did not tolerate sin, but he did tolerate sinners. Without sinners, there is no sin, as an action cannot occur without an actor. As for Jesus tolerating sinners, one of the best examples is John 21, where Christ lifts Peter up, despite his rejection. If you want another, examine who he chose as some of his apostles, or even the way he approached the woman caught in the act of adultery. All of these fit the definition of tolerance. They, of course, do not fit the popular myth of what tolerance is (i.e., full acceptance and approval of all behavior).
     
    >I personally also do not attend a ‘church’
    There is a potential danger in this position, as we (believers) are strengthened by gathering together with others. I have seen ample evidence this is true. Paul also exhorts this position many times in his epistles. If you are truly being lead to worship outside of a corporate body, then that is where God is leading you. But make sure it is God and not personal preference.
    > Since you spoke about the cool aid, can I assume you are a non-believer?
    I would say that is a bad assumption.
    I find the evidence overwhelming Jesus walked the earth. It is also quite evident that the “original” Christianity, at least for the first two decades or so, was firmly committed to the idea that Jesus was God. The original apostles, and some original followers, were so convinced that they were willing to die for their beliefs. I find life too complex to be caused by evolution alone, despite reading numerous treatises to the contrary. And, I find our place in the Universe to be so precise for our type of life that I find the idea that this is an accident to be ridiculous.
     
    But, that does not make me a believer, does it? No, my becoming a believer (believe in) from a convinced person (believe that) took a personal touch I can explain in no other way than God touching my life. When it happened, I even ran the odds, wanting to be sure there was no logical way what happened could be a coincidence.
     
    And, what of the kool aid? There are far too many who jump on ideas without thinking. I know a great many “anti-science” Christians, who believe all astronomy and life sciences are garbage, simply because they do not accept the postulate that all life was “created” through a series of small changes in DNA. I also find a great many Christians who support legislation based on ideals without thinking through the consequences and alternatives. I also know a great many who don’t like other flavors of kool aid, to the point where they will firmly assert that “{Fill_in_denomination_here}’s members are all going straight to hell”. It is this legalistic approach to scripture that led the Jewish power structure to take such hard lined stances in the gospels.
     
    In short, people are sheep. And, this was detailed in John, where Jesus stated he was the shepherd and his sheep here his voice. But, like real sheep, when you are not sure what the voice of your master sounds like, you might follow any shepherd. Thus, ideologues bend the ideas presented in the gospels and the sheep follow, bleating all the way.
     
    For the record, all groups are sheep. This is not something uniquely true of Christians. :-)
     
    Peace and Grace,Greg

  5. Donna says:

    >There is a potential danger in this position, as we (believers) are strengthened by gathering together with others.<
    I couldn’t agree more, and therefore we do not home church alone. We are gathered with other believers who wish to preserve the assembly that Christ initially set out to have. And I can guarantee you that none of our lives are led by our own thoughts, but are guided by God Almighty. We do nothing without the idea that all things are done for God first.
     
    As for your definition of tolerance, again, I couldn’t agree more. But today’s problem lies in the extreme version of tolerance. Too many just sit idly by watching their own rights go down the drain for the sake of tolerance. Although I do not believe in the Islamic religion, I do give them cudos for not taking the god-slamming that Christians do.  However, tolerance is one thing, but we are indeed commanded to rebuke all sin. Sin of the believer as well as the sin of the lost. If the lost do not know that what they are doing is considered sin, how will they ever understand their need to be reconciled to God? That is why they are to be rebuked…and in the same manner in which Christ used.
     
    My apologies for the bad assumptions. Usually, when in the past I have dealt with non-believers, they refer to the good ol’ kool-aid. My bad. I am glad you have found God through whatever ways you were called.
     
    >I also know a great many who don’t like other flavors of kool aid, to the point where they will firmly assert that “{Fill_in_denomination_here}’s members are all going straight to hell”. It is this legalistic approach to scripture that led the Jewish power structure to take such hard lined stances in the gospels.<
     
    Well, I guess you would then call me the legalistic-type then. However, there is always a chance for everyone to come to God at some point in their lives. However I do not consider myself legalistic. The Bible is VERY clear on who will go to hell and who wont. And it is even more clear on the ONE and ONLY way to get to Heaven, and that is through the belief and acknowledgement of Christ and the blood He shed for our sins. If there are any out there that believe that ‘all roads lead to God’ then they are being misled or chasing after some other god. There is only ONE road to God, the only God, the God of the Bible, and that is through Christ Jesus. If you want to get to a god, you choose your own way to do so, and according to my belief in God and His Holy Word, you will go to hell. It isn’t legalistic, it is the Truth according to the Word Of God. If you want to go to the heaven of the Bible, then you must follow the guidelines set out in the Bible to get there. You can’t play baseball using football rules, and you can’t get to the biblical heaven without following the guidelines there either.
    As for the science part of your post, I personally believe science is a good thing until it tries to take away the glory from God. I do not believe one can be a Christian and believe in evolution, because if you can’t believe the beginning of His Word, how possibly will you believe any of the rest of it? Science is ok, if it is used for the good of mankind, but is not trying to dump God out of where He belongs.
     
    Although I believe most groups are sheep, there are some of us who believe differently. One of the main reasons why we do not attend a ‘church’ is because it is led by men and their traditions. We (my family and I) are led by Christ and Christ alone. I, as you can probably see, am not your typical mild-mannered- sheep-following Christian. Indeed, Christ is my Shepherd and in that I am a sheep, but it is His voice and tendings that I follow. :)
     
    What it boils down to is that for far too long, Christians have been ‘tolerating’ way too much. If someone trashed your father when you were a kid, odds are you would have stood up for him (and if you didn’t you would lose my respect). Well, our Heavenly Father deserves at least that much, if not more, yet we don’t stand up for Him at all. We get embarrassed when in the company of others to speak about Him, we allow people to stop us from speaking out, we allow people to come up with laws that will enable people to consider Christians criminals just for reading their Bibles in a public place. And the tolerance shown is the reason why this man thinks he can sue the publishing companies for changing words and wording that meant homosexual 2000 years ago into the actual word homosexual.
     
    I would bet a million dollars that if he decided to sue the publishers of the Koran for having homosexual references as sin, he would probably be killed for it. You can’t even talk a smidgen bad about their Koran witout severe consequences…yet it’s ok for the Christian faith and Bible to be bashed from one end to another. And that is why I post things like this about things like this…because it is time for Christians to stand up for their Father.

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