Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sodom and Gomorrah

The Story of Sodom and Gomorrah has been used and overused to condemn homosexuality in the Church.  It is surprising actually that it still used today by many Christians, when many theologians have agreed that the Story of Sodom and Gomorrah isn't really a story about sexuality.  But it still comes up as an argument against homosexuality, so I decided to share my two cents...

Sodom was not about sex. And if it were, it still really wouldn’t be about sex.

Sodom's sins range from inhospitality and opulence to adultery and strengthening the hand of evil.

Ezekiel 16:48-49 says that the sins of these two cities are said to be excess of wealth, failure to provide for the poor, and inhospitality. The materialistic nature of the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah is exemplified by what happened to Lot’s wife. She looked back at the city, longing for the possessions she had left behind. Consequently, she was petrified, or turned into a pillar of salt as the story goes.

Isaiah 19:13 compares Sodom and Gomorrah to Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, thus making ungodly pride the crux of their immorality.

Deuteronomy 29:23 mentions that Admah and Zeboiim were also destroyed due to God’s wrath. The account of Sodom and Gomorrah is important in that it introduces Israel’s rival relatives from across the Jordan and east of the Dead Sea. The children born of the incestuous rape of Lot are Moab, which means ‘son of my father’, and Ben-Ammi or Ammon, which means son of my kin. The tribes born of them were constantly in conflict with the Israelites. Zephaniah 2:9 compares Moab (Moabites) to Sodom and Ammon (Ammonites) to Gomorrah. Thus, important historical context and genealogical reference was provided by the often misunderstood account of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 14:8-11 – Defeated warring nations included Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 18:33 – Clearly, homosexuals did not comprise two entire towns. God promises Abraham that he would spare the city on account of ten righteous souls – not heterosexual.

Genesis 19:1 – Sodom was a gated community.

Genesis 19:3 – Lot presses the Angels strongly to sojourn with him because he saw their staying the night in a public location as a precarious risk.

Genesis 19:8 – “They have come under the shadow of my roof.”
Lot was charged with the protection of the angel messengers.

Matthew 10:13-15 – Jesus referred to Sodom and Gomorrah. His focus, however, was on how to deal with inhospitality. If his disciples were not welcomed as guests, despite being strangers, they were to shake the dust off of their feet. He continued to say that the punishment for those who rejected them would be worse than it was for Sodom and Gomorrah.

Furthermore, there are several linguistic inconsistencies when dealing with the Sodom and Gomorrah story.

Implication of Sexual Sins:

In Jude 1:7, fornication and the desiring of “strange flesh” is mentioned as the sin of Sodom.

With that in mind, there are several important facts to consider:
  • The angels with whom the men wanted to fornicate were not human.
  • Sexual intimacy between humans and angels was condemned earlier in the Genesis. Prior to the great deluge, spirit creatures took corporeal form to have sexual relations with people. The result was a race of genetic hybrids that terrorized the human population.
  • If fornication is implied, the men of the city wanted to forcibly know the angels, or gang-rape them. Rape is a violent crime that has little to do with loving expression and does not reflect sexual orientation or identity. Genesis 19:9
  • But fornication clearly was not the core of their iniquity. Lot later had sex with his daughters while intoxicated after being spared by God.
  • According to Genesis 19:8, Lot offered his virgin daughters to the crowd, possibly as valuable sacrifices.
  • The men of Sodom and Gomorrah believed the angels to be spies. Their greed and their selfish concern with their wealth led to such thoughts. Therefore, their inhospitality and deviant intentions were fueled by greed.
  • And finally, the term heterosexual is derived from the term Greek sarkos heteras, which has been translated into strange flesh, perversion, and unnatural lust.
The Men of the City

The word ‘enowsh is used in Genesis 19:4, and is the first reference to the ‘men’ of the city. In actuality, it refers to any mortal in general. The following sentence says ‘even the men of the city’, specifically referring to the masculine gender. In verse 5, Sodom residents ask for the ‘enowsh so that they may know them.

And in verse 8 when describing his daughters as virgins, Lot uses the more definite ‘iysh to refer to men.

Knowing "To Know"

The Hebrew word yada, used to suggest a desire to know the men sexually, appears 943 times in the Hebrew text. All but 11 were used in the sense of literally becoming acquainted with strangers. 10 of those 11 times were used in clear reference to heterosexual sex. The word shakab more vividly and specifically denotes sexual relations.

(Thanks Jarrett)