Temple prostitution in 1 Kings
1 Kings 14:24 and 1 Kings 15:12 again refer to temple prostitution. The original word qadesh is mistranslated as “sodomite” (homosexual) in the King James Version, but as male prostitute, male cult prostitutes, and male shrine prostitutes in more accurate versions. As mentioned before, there is little evidence that homosexuality was involved. Again, the text has nothing to say about consensual homosexual relationships.
To reiterate, these passages are often translated as if they refer to homosexuals, however the actual word that is being translated is qadesh, which means “holy one” or “someone set apart for a holy purpose.” In this case the word is referring to people who commit ritual acts of prostitution in order to honor their deity. The clearest translation of this concept would simply be “temple (or ritual) prostitute.”
These passages do not condemn homosexuality; for that matter they don’t even condemn prostitution. Instead, they condemn the practice of religious prostitution connected with the worship of a foreign god.
At this point the reader should be able to see a pattern developing. In the Genesis and Judges accounts some people choose to ignore the actual issue of hospitality and construe the accounts to condemn homosexuality. In the Deuteronomy and 1 Kings passages the actual issue of idolatry is ignored in favor of construing them as passages condemning homosexuality.
Founder of Motley Mystic and the Jubilee! Circle interfaith spiritual community In Columbia, S.C., Candace Chellew (she/her) is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, she earned her masters of theological studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, was ordained by Gentle Spirit Christian Church in December 2003, and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She is also a musician and animal lover.