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  • Patti

Sodomy - Really?

One of the most prominent passages that can be thrown at the LGBTQ community is the passage in Genesis 19 that refers to the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Non-believers know this story. Laws refer to sodomites - not as a historical people from a destroyed city, but as an action that was threatened to the two angelic visitors to Abraham. It didn’t take much for me to read, ponder and come to the conclusion that this passage did not have the clout that people would like it to have.

Several people told me “God destroyed an entire city because of homosexuality. It has to be wrong.” What year was that? Perhaps around 2000 BC. and was it truly because of homosexuality?

Reading several commentaries and then pondering the passage didn’t take too much work. These angelic visitors to Abraham were called out as “other worldly” when Abraham bowed down to honor them. There was a core value of hospitality to the stranger in the culture of the Ancient Near East (ANE) (and this remains to be true in the Middle East.) And yet when these angelic visitors came to Sodom the men of the town came to Lot and called upon him to send out the visitors for sex. Could there really have been an entire town full of gay men? And yet this point was never specified previously? Lot’s response was to protect these angelic visitors, honoring the value of hospitality; while at the same time he offered his virgin daughter(s) in exchange, reflecting the low value of women in the ANE.

This description, as well as common references to the passage, even by Jesus in Matthew 10:14-15 demonstrate that this was an affront to the cultural value placed on hospitality. Ezekiel 16:49 says the sin of Sodom was that they were arrogant, over-fed, complacent and did not help the poor and needy.

Yes, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, but it wasn’t for homosexuality.

For years this passage was interpreted just as Ezekiel spelled it out - Sodom was destroyed for their overall behavior of ungodliness and refusal to care for others and provide aid and hospitality.

It was in the late 4th century when John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople and during the 5th century when Augustine was writing, that a same-sex explanation was developed.

The most powerful set of verses to reference is what Jesus, himself said about Sodom in Luke 10:1-12. This is all about hospitality. Read on.

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Does Jesus reference sexual behavior? Seems to me to be all about the Ancient Near East value of hospitality offered to the stranger. This is the same hospitality that continues today in that area of the world.

Now, what do you think the message of Sodom is?

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