Sodom and Gomorrah – What Needs To Be Said

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 Let’s dispel once and for all the misunderstanding that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a story about condemning homosexuality!

The Story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a story condemning gang-rape, not sex. Most people don’t look at passages of the Bible that condemn raping a woman and then say it is wrong to have sex. Why? Because most people know that rape is not sex. Rape is imposed; sex is mutual. Rape is violent, sex is (or should be) loving. Rape is the stronger taking advantage and abusing someone weaker; sex is mutuality and mutual submission to the other. So rape is not sex, and when we read passages condemning rape, we generally don’t read them as passages condemning sex.

So why then do people read a story of a group of men trying to gang-rape some other men, and threatening the man who tries to stop it with receiving even worse, as a story condemning homosexuality? Surely there is a difference between rape and two men in love having sex, just as there is a difference between raping a woman and having sex with a woman.

The condemnation of the cities was not that there were gay men living in them, it was that there were abusive, violent men that preyed on weaker and vulnerable people. It was because they wanted to impose violence on the strangers (who happened to be angels), and that they were threatening Lot with worse.

If you back up a chapter, you’ll find Abraham negotiating with God, and God agreeing that if there are ten good people in Sodom the city would not be destroyed. There were less than ten, the good people were led out of the city and the city was destroyed, not because they were gay but because they were “wicked” – they were abusive, violent, unwelcoming, uncharitable, predatory, dangerous people, who hurt, raped, and killed visitors to their city.

So the story of Sodom and Gomorrah cannot be used to condemn homosexuality because it is not about homosexuality. It is about abuse and violence and preying on vulnerable people.

The story also cannot be used to justify the logic that if we allow gay people to live and get married and have rights then God will destroy us because God does not destroy Sodom because they are gay, God destroys Sodom because they are intolerant, violent, abusive, predatory people, preying on the vulnerable – which sounds a lot like the way “good” Christians are treating homosexuals.

Finally, Abraham’s response should be our response. Abraham does not ask God to destroy the “wicked,” neither does he celebrate the destruction of the wicked, nor does he participate in it. Abraham intercedes for the city. The story actually opposes the idea that God will destroy the good to punish the wicked.

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So the faithful response, if you think that others are not living in a manner according to your standards, or how you think they should be living based on your understanding of the Bible is not to punish them, condemn them, hurt them, or abuse them – because that’s what the wicked people in the story are doing. The faithful response is to pray for them and to make sure you are good, and help others to be good, because if there are just a few good people, those people who you think are not living right will be spared too. Maybe THAT is the point! Maybe you just do not want anyone you do not like to be spared, and maybe your hatred for them is so great, you are willing to let those you love go down with those you hate, just to be sure that those you hate are punished. You are willing to light a match that will burn down the barn with you in it just to make sure that those whom you do not like get singed. That is neither Christian, nor is it loving. It is just mean.

So if you think homosexuality is a sin – as is your right to think that – the faithful response is to pray for them and to be a good person. The faithful response is not to abuse them, attack them, malign them, hurt them, or threaten them or others — that is the wicked response, and the response that brings about destruction.

So let me sum this up:

  • Sodom and Gomorrah is not about homosexuality, so don’t use it to justify your bigotry.
  • Being abusive, mean, violent, threatening, and predatory is what wicked people in the story do, so if your response to homosexuality is to be mean, abusive, violent, threatening, then you are not a “good” Christian, a “good” person, or a “good” anything else, you are wicked, no better than the people of Sodom and Gomorrah because that is how they were.
  • The story does not teach that God will destroy America or anything else if homosexuals can marry and have equal rights. The story actually says that God won’t destroy the “wicked” for the sake of the “good.” So if you are worried about God destroying America, then FOCUS ON BEING GOOD, not on condemning those whom you deem to be “wicked.”
  • Abraham, our spiritual father, intercedes with God on behalf of the city. So if you really think that people are sinning, or not living in a way that you think is right, pray for them and show them how to live. It doesn’t matter that others aren’t living the way you think God wants them to live; it only matters that you live the way you think God wants YOU to live.

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