A young 21-year-old seminary student alerted the RSV committee of the mistake and they committed to change the error.
Every single word in the Bible holds immense weight and power, and in some cases huge ramifications. Churches and conservatives have for long preached that homosexuality is a sin, citing the word of God but new evidence suggests it was based on a mistranslation of a single word in the Bible. The Bible said, "homosexuals shall not inherit the kingdom of God." It appears the word "homosexual" was a very recent addition and found its way into the Bible for the first time on February 11, 1946. The revelation was made in a new documentary titled 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted a Culture. The inclusion of the word "homosexual" in the Bible was and still continues to be the core of the hate and persecution against the LGBTQ+ community. That one single mistake triggered the anti-gay movement within American conservative Christians.
Today, more than 45,000 churches preach that homosexuality is a sin, according to the documentary's website. The documentary will explore the truth behind the mistake, which was acknowledged by the RSV translation committee at the time. A team of researchers who worked on the documentary found that one man had raised objections to the translation of the word and alerted the committee of it, even alerting them to the potential weaponization of the mistake. This revelation challenges the deeply-held beliefs about LGBTQ+ people and their place in God’s kingdom.
In the RSV's translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9, the word “homosexual” was used in lieu of the Greek words “malakoi” and “arsenokoitai.” The word was translated to "homosexual" when researchers today agree that it loosely translates to “sexual pervert." A 21-year-old seminary student alerted the RSV committee of the error. "I write this after many months of serious thought to point out that which to me is a serious weakness in translation. Misinformed and misguided people may use the RSV translation of 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 as a scared weapon, wrote seminarian, who identified himself as David S. The letter was among 90 boxes of notes from the archives at Yale University.
The makers of the documentary tracked him down and he's still alive. He appears in the documentary and confirmed that he received a reply back from Dr. Luther Weigle, the head of the translation committee. Dr. Weigle admitted to the mistake and promised to implement the change, but much of the mainline biblical texts didn't carry the change, which set in motion the conservative's anti-gay movement. The revised version of the Bible replacing the word "homosexual" with "sexual perverts" would only be published in 1971, 25 years after countless copies of the faulty mistranslation were circulated.
Many religious leaders have since used these biblical texts to condemn and marginalize LGBTQ+ Christians. The makers say the documentary 1946 "is not an attack on Christianity or the Bible. It is a quest to discover biblical truth and honor God’s Word." The makers are hoping Churches will revise the text and their stance on the LGBTQ+ community. "The church is doubling down on the issue because they have so politicized it," a woman can be heard saying in the documentary.
For Sharon “Rocky” Roggio, the director of the film, it was also a very personal issue. “As a lesbian Christian, I have been navigating a religious environment that views me as “other,” “less than,” and “not equal,” for too long. These beliefs, held by many dear to my heart, have cast a dark, dangerous shadow over my life. After years of searching for my voice, and calling, as a storyteller, my path has led me here. It is my goal to change the Christian narrative and liberate the many LGBTQIA+ people living in the dark; oppressed by bad theology. I want us all to live and be acknowledged as equals, under God's love. There are truths that must be shared. We are here to share those truths,” said Roggio.