God and Homosexuality: Part 2 – Genesis 19

Genesis Chapter 19
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earthand said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.”But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

This passage is one of the passages most often used to condemn homosexuality. If you read the passage through you will notice that it says “the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house.” Think about that, young and old to the last man. In San Francisco, almost 20% of the males over 15 years old gay. Are we to believe that 100% of the males over 15 years old in Sodom were gay? Hold that thought. Now think about this, Lot knows people in this crowd, he lives in this town. If these men (and boys) were all homosexuals why did Lot offer them his daughters? If you wanted to appease a crowd made up entirely of homosexual men would you try to appease them with the offer of sex with beautiful women? It doesn’t seem plausible.

Ok, so if the sin of Sodom is not homosexuality what is it?

Perhaps mob violence and the mistreatment and rape of those most vulnerable, in this case, strangers. I have been reading a book called “The Children are Free” by Rev. Jeff Miner and Rev. John Connoley. They use a rather brutal example to illustrate their point; in 1997 two white police officers used a broomstick to sodomize a Haitian immigrant named Abner Louima. While they perpetrated their violent act they yelled things like “We’re gonna teach you n****rs to respect police officers!” No one accused these officers of being homosexual. People understood that the assault was motivated by hate and fear. There is “no better way to demean and humiliate an enemy than to sexually violate them.”

Archeologists and historians teach us that it was common practice in the Near Eastern cultures of ancient times to use homosexual rape to humiliate and subdue conquered enemies.  This brutality was not motivated by homosexual desire but rather hate and the desire to humiliate.

This practice is still carried out among the prison population and even in the Abu Ghraib torture and humiliation of prisoners.

In The Children are Free the authors ask this simple question:

Suppose the two angels in the story had been women, but the story otherwise unfolded exactly the same: The men of Sodom clamored to have sex with the two female angels and God destroyed the city. Do you think anyone would conclude this story was a blanket condemnation of heterosexuality?  Of course not! Instead we would conclude (correctly) that the wickedness of Sodom was shown by their desire to sexually violate two strangers in their midst.

Good point isn’t it? We often say that rape isn’t about sex or sexual desire but power and violence. It doesn’t change whether the rape is homosexual or heterosexual in nature.

None of the almost 20 references to the city of Sodom in the scriptures mention homosexuality. In Ezekiel 16:49-50 it says, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.” Why then do we assume Genesis 19 is about homosexuality? If it is about anything close, it could be called a condemnation of homosexual rape; however, I think the assertion that it is a condemnation of violence and mistreatment of those most vulnerable is most accurate.

Jesus also references Sodom and Gomorrah, where he warns those who do not receive them peacefully will be judged more harshly than those of Sodom and Gomorrah in Matthew 10:5-15.

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.  Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

According to The Real Meaning of Sodomy by Nick Gier, Professor Emeritus, University of Idaho:

the Wisdom of Solomon says that they “refused to receive strangers when they came to them” (19:14). On the other hand, and early Christian book 1 Clement states that Lot was saved “because of his hospitality and piety” (11:11).

He also points out that it is significant that in the Leviticus passages that we covered last Monday, it does not mention the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Miner and Connoley also make this brilliant observation:

It is ironic that the story of Sodom is now used by Christians to justify the hatred toward another vulnerable group – gay people.

It is also interesting to note that several of the leading voices in theology on the anti-gay marriage side of the conversation agree that this passage should not be used as a proof text against consensual marital homosexual intercourse. I found this list on gaychristian101

Dr Richard Hayes is a well-known evangelical author. He wrote The Moral Vision Of The New Testament,in which he defends the anti-gay viewpoint. Yet in spite of the fact that he regards all gay relationships as sinful, Dr. Hayes admits that:

the Sodom story “is actually irrelevant to the topic.” [of homosexuality].

According to Dr. Hayes, the attempted gang rape in Genesis 19 shows the depravity of the Canaanite people who lived in the cities of the plain but:

“there is nothing in the passage pertinent to a judgment about the morality of consensual homosexual intercourse.”

(From Dr. Richard Hayes, in an article entitled, “Awaiting the Redemption of Our Bodies”).

Dr. Robert Gagnon, of Pittsburg Theological Seminaryand perhaps the most prominent anti-gay author today, admits the same thing in The Bible And Homosexual Practice

Although he too believes all gay relationships are sinful, on page 71 of his book, Dr. Gagnon tells us,

The Sodom story in Genesis 19 is usually viewed by modern Christians, as the classic Bible story about homosexuality. However, to the extent that the story does not deal directly with consensual homosexual relationships, it is not an “ideal” text to guide contemporary Christian sexual ethics.

Dr. Mark Allan Powell, of Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, OH expresses a similar view. Writing on page 23 of the book, Faithful Conversation – Christian Perspectives On Homosexuality,Dr. Powell says concerning the rape stories in Genesis 19 and Judges 19:

“Such stories reflect a mindset that regards the rape of men by other men as abhorrent, but with regard to current questions concerning homosexuality, these texts have little to offer. The stories speak only of the sin of homosexual rape and say nothing at all about consensual relations between persons of the same sex.”

Dr. William Brownlee, 1917-1983, of Claremont Graduate University, Claremont CA, an internationally renowned expert on the Hebrew language and the Dead Sea Scrollssaid about the Sodom story:

“The oppression of the stranger is the basic element of Genesis 19:1-9 [and] ‘sodomy’ in Genesis is basically oppression of the weak and helpless.”

Bob Davies, Former Executive Director of Exodus International, the largest Ex-Gay group in the world, in his book Coming Out Of Homosexuality, published in 1993.

“Pro-gay theologians are correct in saying that this passage [Genesis 19] does not provide a strong argument [for] prohibiting all homosexual acts.”

It is remarkable that one of the most theologically conservative national leaders of the largest Ex-Gay group on earth openly admits that the S@dom story does not provide a strong argument for prohibiting all homosexual acts.

Many scholars make the point that this is the first mention of any type of homosexuality in the scriptures and that it is featured in a violent and sin-filled story. While this is true, I believe that the foregoing analysis confirms one thing:  The story of Sodom and Gomorrah clearly has no significant bearing on whether or not God blesses consensual, marital, homosexual intercourse.

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11 thoughts on “God and Homosexuality: Part 2 – Genesis 19

  1. Vince says:

    Sodom is referenced multiple times in the Bible, and not one of the references talks about homosexuality being why Sodom was destroyed. In Isaiah 1:10-17 the Lord says “your hands are full of blood” and tells them to “cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow”, suggesting these are things they are failing to to do. In Jeremiah 23:14 the Lord talks about the lying prophets of Jerusalem, saying they commit adultery, live a lie, and strengthen the hand of evildoers, becoming like Sodom to Him. Ezekiel 16:48-49 says “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” Zephaniah 2:8-11 suggests the sin is bullying, boasting and pride.

  2. Another point to make about the Sodom story is that God had decided to destroy Sodom before he even sent the angels there. He was having a debate about it with Abraham in Genesis 18. If you are to find 50, 40, 30, 20, or even just 10 righteous men will you spare the city. The angels were there to warn Lot and his family to get out. The incident with the angels and the men of the town has nothing to do with the decision of God to destroy the town.

  3. Rob W says:

    Another point, supporting the one that Curtis made, is that the city of Gomorrah was also destroyed. It also was part of the decision that happened before the angels visited Lot TO SAVE HIM. If the destruction was the result of the events that night, Gomorrah would not have been destroyed as it was uninvolved.
    The biggest evidence that the events of that night were not homosexual has most to do with the term “know” that is the only justification the homosexual angle people have to imply that it is. That word has become cliche … “you know… he knows her BIBLICALLY”.
    While there are times that the word “know” was used as a sexual euphemism, in the vast majority of uses it meant as it does now…. “to know”. And, in the rare cases that it did mean sexual initmacy…every other one of those were in the marital context.
    SO…. for the story to actually mean that all the men of the town wanted sex with the angels, they would have been having to ask to marry them,

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