Monday, September 30th, 2013
I’ve added the following article to a syncroblog included on the following website:
I’m really angry today. I feel frustrated, incensed, and irate!
I’ve always been taught that humans are created in God’s image. But what is God’s image anyway? Is is a collection of humans that represent the many facets of God? Is this image a tangible figure, or is it a soul image? I hope to find out some day. But for me, I’ve spent a good two decades trying to figure our what part of God’s image is represented in my homosexuality? Was I created gay, in God’s image?
At this point in my life I believe that some of us were gay from the point of our created being in our mother’s womb. No one has proven otherwise and for some of us there is no other origin that we can find.
Due to the unique qualities of gay people there are some who have attempted to erase our existence, ignore us, and in some cases abuse us religiously through an erroneous interpretation of certain passages of scripture. From close to the very beginning of the bible there is a story about some men who decide they want to overtly “rape” some guests in their town. All of my life I’ve heard the word “Sodom” used to refer to gay people. Sodomites, those who commit sodomy, are said to refer to people who are full of demons, trapped in the sin of sodomy, controlled by the demon of homosexuality.
The shame, and degradation that has been put upon men that have been called sodomites has wounded so many people, almost always in the name of religion, in the name of God, and often in the name of Jesus.
There have been state laws that have been historically constructed in the United States of America called sodomy laws. These laws have been established to make sexual behavior between two men illegal and punishable by penalty of the law. In other countries there are laws that if broken, can be punishable by death! Yes, DEATH!
Where did this word Sodom come from? What is its origin? I am not going to try to be an English major, nor a Bible scholar. I am just a simple human being. I want to point out something that isn’t difficult to understand, nor is it complicated.
The word Sodom in our culture came from a few verses in the book of Genesis in the bible. I will quote several versions of these verses so that I can show a spectrum of interpretation that has been shown in different bible versions. These verses come from chapter 19 verses 1-7.
King James Version
And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; and he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.
And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter. And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
New International Version
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”
But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they 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.
English Standard Version
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; 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, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.
American Standard Version
And the two angels came to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot saw them, and rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face to the earth; and he said, Behold now, my lords, turn aside, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your way. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he urged them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men that came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out unto them to the door, and shut the door after him. And he said, I pray you, my brethren, do not so wickedly.
This is what is making me so angry! There’s been so much emphasis on the word Sodom as it relates to gay men that has been a defining factor of shame, degradation, judgment, and accusations. I decided I wanted to look at the origin of this word in these passages to try to see where this perspective came from. In many Christian circles, and teachings, I’ve heard that it was homosexual behavior that caused the fall of Sodom. That understanding has carried on for centuries as the reason homosexuals have been labeled sodomites.
As I read them, I discovered something quite profound. These verses all refer to an action of forced, non relational sexual behavior that is directed to the men (angels) who are visiting Sodom. But who is it that wants to have sex with the visitors?
Is it men who are asking to date these visitors to see if they might find one that they could have a significant relationship with that is loving, kind, and faithful? NO! Is it gay men in the town who are looking for a one night sexual encounter for lustful pleasure? NO! Is this what the author is saying about this night in Sodom?
So, who was it that wanted to have sex with the visitors? The passages I’ve referenced above say this:
the men of Sodom (KJV)
all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old (NIV)
the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man (ESV)
the men of the city, even the men of Sodom (ASV)
Okay, reading these passages for what they say, it is very obvious to me that it was ALL the men of Sodom, EVERY man, young and old. Let’s look at this honestly. Certainly not ALL of the men of Sodom were homosexuals. Young and old men of Sodom weren’t interested in a same gender relationship with one of these men who were visiting. Was Sodom a city of all gay men, only gay men?
It’s easy to say that would not have been the case. So what did these men, young and old, want with the men who were visiting? I’ll leave that for the cultural historians to figure out. But for me, this passage, so very often quoted to condemn gay men, wasn’t about gay men at all. It wasn’t speaking to gay relationships, or gay culture that we understand today.
So, with all of the education, experience, and rich resources that we have available to us today, why is this passage still used to condemn men who are gay? I think that is the better question.
Frankly I used to say it condemned homosexuality because I hadn’t really read it for what it says. I just spewed out the concept I’d been taught without reading it for myself. I promoted the modern cultural interpretation of the message through Sodom.
Yes, I’m angry. I’m angry that I didn’t read it for myself and use the common English language to tell me so clearly what was being said, and what wasn’t being said through this passage in Genesis. I’m angry that so many Christian leaders, pastors and theologians have taught it wrongly, and interpreted it without using the common intelligence that is available to us all to read this correctly.
Genesis 19 is NOT a passage that can ever be used to condemn men who engage in a homosexual relationship. It just can’t! It must be removed from our religious culture as one of the hammer passages against homosexuality.
I’m frustrated because it has been handed down year after year, decade after decade and religious people all over the world have bought into the false message.
I’m really angry about the thousands who have been beat over the head with condemnation when this passage was erroneously used as the club.
When I read this for what it really says, I then went on to look at other passages of the bible that have been used as clubs. Suffice it to say, there are many others that are taught wrongly with an anti homosexual bias.
Would you consider reading Genesis 19 for yourself? Read it without a biased preconceived understanding. Read it for what it actually says. I know you will not come up with any other conclusion than I have because this is what it says, and doesn’t say about homosexuality.
All of the men of Sodom, young and old, for some reason wanted to forcefully have sex with two visitors in the house of Lot that were angels appearing as men. They were enraged with some motivation to have their way. They were a mob of ALL of the men of Sodom that had an agenda of dominance or power. This is certainly not a story of men wanting to have homosexual sex as we would understand it in society today. Especially that of genuine relationship or respect. Its not even a story about two men getting together for casual sex. It has nothing to do with that. Nothing!
So, the next time your preacher, pastor, or minister gets up to preach on the book of Genesis with a focus on chapter 19 and attaches it to a condemnation of gay relationships today, you will know that he is wrong, his teaching or reflection on this chapter and verse is clearly out of line! He has wrongly divided the bible with an emphasis or interpretation that has come from somewhere other than intelligent reading of these verses.
Other posts connected to this Syncroblog are: