Unfortunately, this method of translation often leads people astray. A better way to understand what Paul may have meant by arsenokoitai is to look for other instances of the word in the subsequent writings of his time. First, two early church writers who dealt with the subject of homosexual behavior extensively, Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom, never used the word in their discussions of same-sex behavior. A similar pattern is found in other writings of the time.
For example, imagine a future translator coming across the word “lady-killer” two thousand years from now and wanting to know what it means. The difficulty in obtaining a good translation is clear — particularly when we know lady-killer was a term used in the 1970s to refer to men whom women supposedly found irresistible. The word shows up in their writing, but only in places where they appear to be quoting the list of sins found in 1 Corinthians 6, not in places where they discuss homosexuality. There are hundreds of Greek writings from this period that refer to homosexual activity using terms other than arsenokoitai. This conclusion is reinforced by a survey of the actual uses of arsenokoitai in Greek literature.
In terms of morality, it generally referred to something like laziness, degeneracy, decadence, or lack of courage.
(See note 2.) The connotation was of being “soft like a woman” or like the delicate expensive fabrics worn by rich men.
Paul wasn’t condemning men who swish and carry purses; he was condemning a type of moral weakness.
The ancient Roman and Greek understanding of what it meant to be manly or womanly was quite different from today.
The word is malakoi, and it literally means “soft.” (See note 1.) So Paul is saying “soft people” will not inherit the kingdom of God. Nissinen also offers “frailty of body or character, illness, sentimentality, or moral weakness” as other possibilities for the meaning of this word in other contexts (page 117).
Since we know Paul was not talking about the Pillsbury Dough Boy, we have to ask what he meant. This common Greek word had different connotations depending on the context in which it was used.First there is the reference to “effeminate” persons, which is often viewed as a reference to nelly gay men.In truth, however, the Greek word translated “effeminate” in verse 9 is quite broad. Brawley; Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville Kentucky, 1996), page 124.First-century Romans didn’t think of effeminacy as merely a homosexual trait.In that culture, any man who was more interested in pleasure than in duty was considered to be woman-like.They would be viewed as sexually indulgent (a trait associated with women) and as the ones who played a receptive role in intercourse (again, associated with women).