19 July 2006

The Sin Of Sodom

GENESIS 19:1-9
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. He said, "Please, my lords, turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night, and wash your feet. Then you can rise early and go on your way . . ." 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, so that we may know them!" Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly! Look, I have two daughters who have not known a 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 replied, "Stand back! . . . this fellow (Lot) came here as an alien, and he would play the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them!"

I have just finished re-reading the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah. This, of course, is the infamous story from the book of Genesis that is used most often to demonize Gay people in general and Gay men in particular. Homosexual males are portrayed as psychotic rapists, a characterization that religious fundamentalists have no trouble accepting.

But is that really the way Gay men are characterized in the story? Some think not. In recent times, Liberal theologians have interpreted the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as not being about homosexuality at all. They say it's about the sin of being "inhospitable." To their minds, it conveys a warning against being unkind to foreigners. I do not agree with the Liberal interpretation. The story does concern homosexuality! However, it is not about homosexuality in the way people have been led to think.

To understand what I mean, you have to know something about angels. From information found in Gnostic Gospels such as the Secret Book of John, we can discern that angels are androgynous beings who appear as males. In all likelihood, their androgynous nature would make them look effeminate to humans. In ancient times, angels would probably have been mistaken for eunuchs, which were the equivalent of what we call Gay men today (see my post titled "Strange Fruit"). Eunuchs were hated then, just as Gay men are now hated in much of the world.

When the predatory men of Sodom and Gomorrah laid eyes on these androgynous angels, they no doubt said: "Look! That man Lot has eunuchs in his house. We despise those kinds of men! They don't have sex with women. They are an abomination to God! Let's go and give them the treatment they deserve. Let's treat them like female whores, and then drive them out of our city, or kill them!" The text of the story makes their hostile intentions clear. They did not go to Lot's house to invite the angels to participate in an orgy! They didn't have anything consensual in mind. Their intent was to force themselves upon the angels.

Is that what most sane people would think of as typical homosexual behavior? No. It's similar to what heterosexual jail inmates do when they find perceptibly Gay men in their midst. They rape and humiliate these poor men, often forcing them into sexual slavery. They don't act out of lust. They act out of a bestial desire to violate another human being!

The very idea of a city populated entirely by Gay men is absurd! Some of the mob that surrounded Lot's house may well have been homosexual, or Bisexual. After all, you can't always tell from appearances. However, you can be sure that none of them identified as eunuchs! Not convinced? Then consider this: If the mob were comprised of crazed eunuchs (homosexual men), why would Lot offer his daughters to them? If his mandate were to protect the angels from harm, and he knew that the mob only had sexual interest in men, why didn't he offer them his own body, or that of another male in his house? (That Lot would give up his own daughters to be raped is something I find abhorrent, but that's a whole other discussion.)

Here's the reason: Lot knew that these men were not eunuchs. Most of them were no doubt married and had children. They weren't in the habit of using their penises to give or get pleasure exclusively from other men. However, they evidently were in the habit of using their penises to inflict pain and degradation on men who didn't conform to their idea of manhood.

Let me make myself perfectly clear: The mob at Sodom and Gomorrah attacked the angels because they believed them to be what we now call Gay men. Therefore, the sin of Sodom is not homosexuality. The sin of Sodom is the hatred of homosexuality! I believe that the ultimate sin that caused God to destroy the twin cities was essentially an attempted Gay bashing! Think about that the next time you hear someone rail against "Sodomites."

The book of Genesis is historical narrative. It documents the history of the ancient Israelites, beginning with the creation of Adam in the Garden of Eden and ending with the death of Joseph in Egypt. It includes the incident at Babel, the first murder (Cain killing Abel), the story of Joseph's coat of many colors, the founding of the Islamic faith, and several other important events.

Let me tell you, it makes for very spicy reading! It's literally dripping with adultery, fratricide, jealousy, deceit, drunkenness, prostitution, polygamy, lust, rape, and incest! In my opinion, it's not fit reading for a child without parental supervision. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't understand most of it when I read it as a youngster. However, there is nothing in the Genesis narrative that an adult Lesbian or a Gay man need fear to read. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that condemns the act of same-gender love. Anyone who thinks otherwise must have a very twisted concept of what love is!

The next time a Fundie accuses you of being a Sodomite, why not offer to call the cops?  It's clear from the Bible story that a Sodomite is a rapist, and rape is what you're being accused of. Let them do their civic duty and bring you to justice. They should be prepared to press sexual assault charges, and to provide evidence of same to the arresting officer when he arrives. If they're dumb enough to do as you say, then they'll be in a big mess of trouble, and you can slap them in the face with a false arrest charge!

If they decline (which I suspect is more likely), then suggest they study the Old Testament until they understand what kind of violent act sodomy really is (there are separate accounts of it found in both Genesis 19 and Judges 19). Tell them to keep their scandalous accusations to themselves unless they've got evidence to support it, and do so with an implied threat in your tone. Then remind these so-called messengers of God that throwing libelous statements around could land them in jail someday, where they might learn the true definition of sodomy by experiencing it firsthand!