Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Sinners of Sodom

Here at the Beaker Folk, we tend not to think too much about serious moral issues if we can help it.

I mean, obviously I give my fortnightly talk on the love of money being a root of all kinds of evil. But we prefer to stick to the fluffy-bunny kind of general well-meaning vagueness rather than real, specific, life-changing moral thinking. I say it's because we like people to make their minds up, but it's really because we have no real desire to make them better people. After all, if the Beaker people start having moral compasses, we're never gonna have a quiet moment.

But I was brought up short by the suggestion from somebody today that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality.

See, let's have a look at the passage in Gen 9:

"The two angels entered Sodom at sunset while Lot was sitting in the gate area of the city. When Lot saw them, he got up, greeted them, bowed low with his face to the ground and said, “Look, my lords! Please come inside your servant’s house, wash your feet, and spend the night. Then you can get up early and be on your way.” But they responded, “No, we would rather spend the night in the town square.” But Lot kept urging them strongly, so they turned aside and entered his house. He prepared a festival and baked unleavened flat bread for them, and they ate. Before they could lie down, all the men of Sodom and its outskirts, both young and old, surrounded the house. They called out to Lot and asked, “Where are the men who came to visit you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” Lot went outside to them, shut the door behind him, and said, “I urge you, my brothers, don’t do such a wicked thing. Look here, I have two daughters who are virgins. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them whatever you wish, only don’t do anything to these men, because they’re here under my protection.” But they replied, “Get out of the way! This man came here as a foreigner, and now he’s acting like a judge! So we’re going to deal more harshly with you than with them.” Then they pushed hard against the man (that is, against Lot), intending to break down the door. But the angels inside reached out, dragged Lot back into the house with them, shut the door,  and blinded the men who were at the entrance of the house, from the least important to the greatest, so they were unable to find the doorway."

Thing is, it strikes me that, even if the Bible were generally opposed to homosexuality - and it doesn't seem that interested, compared to its views on real sins, like greed - and even if you personally think homosexuality is sinful, this passage isn't actually about anything of the kind. The people wanting to rape the angels wouldn't have related to Dorothy, listened to Abba or developed an urge to grow impressive moustaches. They wanted to rape the foreigners as an act of power, oppression - keeping the strangers in their place. The story of the destruction of Sodom has got nothing to do with God wanting to teach gay people a lesson. It's about God hating oppression, loathing the unjust power that the strong have over the weak.

Now you may think God's gone a bit over the top here, wiping out several towns as a demonstration of his anger. But my personal suspicion is that maybe God was a bit of a big-hammer man in the Old Testament. His aim's improved, since he tried things out on a human scale himself. These days he'd prefer a surgical strike that merely took out the odd suburb.

Or am I confusing God with America here?


  1. This blog post is a surgical strike.

    Kudos and well said.

  2. In Ezekiel chapter 16, the prophet says the iniquity of Sodom was "pride, fulness of bread, and abundance, and the idleness of her, and of her daughters: and they did not put forth their hand to the needy, and to the poor" yes it isn't about a particular sin but that deadly sins are born of idleness and plenty, and it doesn't get much more deadly than lusting after angels.

    Good post....


Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl