SODOM
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Summary of this page


The story of Sodom is often used as a
condemnation of all homosexual sex.  But a
careful examination shows that it is mainly
condemning only men who try to force other
men to have sex with them, i.e.
same-sex  
rape
.

The story is found in Genesis 19:1-29

The New International Version of the Bible gives
the highlight of the story as:

    Before they [Lot, his family and guests]
    had gone to bed, all the men from every
    part of the city of Sodom – both young and
    old – surrounded the house.  They called
    to Lot, "Where are the men who came to
    you tonight? Bring them out to us so that
    we can have sex with them."

    Lot went outside to meet them and shut the
    door behind him and said, "No, my friends.  
    Don't do this wicked thing.  Look, I have
    two daughters who have never slept with a
    man.  Let me bring them out to you, and
    you can do what you like with them.  But
    don't do anything to these men, for they
    have come under the protection of my
    roof." (Genesis 19:4-8).


Excellent
accounts and interpretations of the
Sodom story
are given by:
Deacon Maccubbin
Rev Neil Dawson
Rev Dr Robert Goss and  
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.

Further discussion about the use of the word
“know”
to mean “have sex with” in Genesis 19:
5.

Michael Carden* gives a
comprehensive
history of interpretations of the Sodom
story
in Genesis 19 and the parallel Gibeah
story in Judges 19.  Among other things, he
points out that Philo, a contemporary of Jesus,
is the first person known to state that one of the
reasons for the destruction of Sodom was the
practice of male-male sex.  Prior to that time,
Sodom had been thought of mainly as a cruel
and unjust city whose people abused the poor
and outsiders.

*
Sodomy: A History of a Christian Biblical
Myth
, 2004.  Also see here.  

Picture: Lot and his daughters fleeing from
Sodom

This site shows that the men of Sodom, instead
of being gay, could actually have been
gay-
bashers
.

Here is a humorous account of the Sodom
story.


Motive of the mob

Genesis 19 does not tell us why the mob
wanted to gang rape the strangers.  However 2
motives can be surmised.

One possible motive is that the rape would be
mainly for sexual pleasure or lust.  Another
possible motive is that the mob feared or
disliked strangers being in their town and gang
rape would show the rapists’ power over the
vulnerable strangers.  Anal penetration by a
gang would be an act of humiliation lowering the
strangers’ male status to that of women.  Being
forced to take the female role in sexual activity
would be the ultimate insult.  Under the code of
hospitality, Lot offered the mob his virgin
daughters as a substitute for his guests to
protect their male honor and also his own honor
as a host.  This shows the paramount
importance of honor in that culture.


False views or misconceptions about the
Sodom story

Most of the following views (in italics) are those
of people who are anti-homosexual.

The Sodom story shows that God condemns
homosexuality or all sex between men (this is
false)

The Sodom story is no more a condemnation of
all sex between men than the similar story in
Judges 19, where men gang rape a (female)
concubine to death, is a condemnation of all sex
between men and women. Instead both stories
are condemnations of rape, not of consenting
sex.

The Sodom story does not explicitly or implicitly

condemn sex between men except where rape
is involved.

The reference in Jude 7 to the people of Sodom
having gone after strange or other flesh refers
to homosexual sex (this is false)

The true situation is explained by Richard Hays
in
The Moral Vision of the New Testament.  He
states that the phrase "went after other flesh"
(
apelqousai opisw sarkos heteras) refers to
their pursuit of non-human (i.e. angelic) flesh.  
The expression
sarkos heteras means "flesh of
another kind". Thus, it is impossible to construe
this passage as a condemnation of homosexual
desire, which entails precisely the pursuit of the
same kind. (p. 404).  Further, just as verses 6
and 8 are both talking about angels, so verse 7
is also talking about angels.

The reference in Ezekiel 16: 50 to the people of
Sodom having committed abomination refers to
homosexual sex as in Leviticus 18 and 20 (this
is false)

The use of “haughty and committed
abomination” in verse 50 does not refer to new
sins but merely sums up the sins in verse 49
(arrogance and not helping the poor and
needy).  The two verses are constructed in the
common Hebrew pattern of parallel repetition.

The men of Sodom were all homosexuals (this
is false)

Genesis 19:4 says that all the men from every
part of the city of Sodom surrounded Lot’s
house. Lot knew these men and would not have
offered them his virgin daughters for sex as a
substitute for having sex with his guests if all or
most of them were homosexuals.

The mob surrounding Lot’s house did not want
to rape the men (angels) sheltering in the
house but simply wanted to get acquainted with
them or interrogate them (this is false)

Lot would not have offered the mob his virgin
daughters for sex if the mob simply wanted to
get acquainted with his guests or interrogate
them.


The similar Gibeah story

The story of the attempted rape of a visiting
man at Gibeah is very similar to the story of the
attempted rape of 2 visiting men at Sodom.  The
Gibeah story is told in Judges 19:14-29.  The
details and implications of this story are
here.



Author: Colin Smith
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