I’m Really Angry!

I’m Really Angry!

I’ve added the following article to a syncroblog included on the following website:

Queer Theology Syncroblog 2013

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.

sodomy-1--48597-20121006-182There 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!

gay pride-sodomSo, 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:

Coming Out As She Was Created by Alicia Jeffers

Queering Our Reading of the Bible by Dwight Welch

Queer Creation in art: Who says God didn’t create Adam and Steve? by Kittrdge Cherry

Of The Creation of Identity (Also the Creation of Religion) by Colin & Terri

God, the Garden, & Gays: Homosexuality in Genesis by Brian G. Murphy, for Queer Theology

Created Queerly–Living My Truth by Casey O’Leary

Creating Theology by Fr. Shannon Kearns

Initiation by Blessed Harlot

B’reishit: The Divine Act of Self-Creation by Emily Aviva Kapor

Queer Creation: Queering the Image of God by Alan Hooker

Queer Creation by Ric Stott

Eunuch-Inclusive Esther–Queer Theology 101 by Peterson Toscano

Valley of Dry Bones by Jane Brazelle

Queer Creation: Queer Angel by Tony Street

The Great Welcoming by Anna Spencer

Queer Creation by Billy Flood

The Mystery of an Outlandishly Queer Creation by Susan Cottrell

We’ve Been Here All Along by Brian Gerald Murphy

God Hirself: A Theology by T. Thorn Coyle

The Objectification of God by Marg Herder

Coming Out As Embodiments of God Herself by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott

An Interview by Katy

On Creation and Belonging by Andrew Watson

Creation by Liam Haakon Smith

Practically Creating Practical Queer Theology by Talia Johnson

Inspired Possibility: Opening the Gift of the Queer Soul by Keisha McKenzie

Oh What A Difference A Pope Makes! by Hilary Howes

I’m Really Angry by John Smid

Focus on the (Chosen) Family by Brian Cubbage

The Goddex by Thorin Sorensen

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16 Responses to “I’m Really Angry!”

  1. James says:

    Who is to say that all the young and old men didn’t include young and old women? Is it possible that women were also waiting outside that door to sexually assault, rape, degrade, and humiliate these angels?

  2. James says:

    Let’s not forget about the PRIDE of “religious” Pharisees and Scribes who also got FRIED by Jesus’ reproof and correction!

  3. Scott says:

    I agree with you John. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is NOT about a city destroyed by homosexuality. However it is about a city destroyed by sin.

    To say that homosexuality was the reason this city was destroyed is misleading at best. Ezekiel 16:49 “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me, Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”

    Arrogant, overfed, unconcerned, didn’t help the poor, haughty and did detestable things, these were the reasons they were destroyed. Did he specifically say homosexuality? No. I do admit that homosexuality could have been one of those “detestable things before me”. If the homosexuality of Sodom was the sole reason that the city was destroyed, wouldn’t it have been mentioned in Ezekiel or at least pointed out somewhere else as the reason?

    Finally, until Genesis 19:5 there is no mention of homosexuality. God had already sent the angles to destroy the city. The city was to be destroyed BEFORE the men of Sodom went to Lot’s house to have sex with the angles, therefore how could that act be the cause of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah?

    No verse anywhere specifically says that homosexuality was the cause of the destruction. It is an assumption made by homophobic leaders throughout the last century. Equating Sodom to a private adult relationship has no Biblical basis.

  4. Peterson Toscano says:

    The story of Sodom is one of the most disturbing in all of the Bible. It mirrors the horrific story in Judges 19 which is strangely similar in many aspects. If one just reads the Sodom story as is without any prejudice over who is good and bad in the story, one will find that their are few virtuous characters in it. As mentioned above, it is not a story about gays and lesbians and our lives and families. It is a story that gets interrpreted repeatedly in the Prophets and by Jesus himself. Modern readers will understand that it is a story that is not thoughtful at all when it comes to women and girls, in fact, it is a very anti-female text.

    Some could argue that the most virtuous person in the story is Lot’s wife. Sure she is portrayed as a nameless woman disobeying orders, but I see her as a woman who is unable to turn her back on the destruction of all of the other women and children who are not a consideration when taking a census of good and evil people in the city.

    As part of my own recovery from anti-gay theology and ex-gay treatment, I took a look at this passage. Here is a short video where I recount the events in the Sodom story. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipmgd7grgu0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  5. Tim says:

    Looking back at my Bible as an ex-ex-gay I finally see the bigger picture. The “sins” we Evangelicals harp on don’t appear to be the sins that garnered God’s attention. He hates arrogance, self-righteousness and judgment, lack of love for others, not taking care of the poor, widows, and outcasts. Basically, it appears God sees sin as anything that doesn’t propsper humanity and build relationships. Same-sex love doesn’t seem to be anywhere on God’s lists of sins if you look at it that way.

  6. Focus on the (Chosen) Family | Thought Required; Pants Optional. says:

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  7. Steven says:

    Thank you, John for expressing your anger over Gen 19:1-7. What has helped me understand these scriptures better is to read the chapters beforehand where the angels were sent by the Lord already before the evening of the destruction; therefore, whatever happened on this night the Lord was already going to destroy Sodom for the following sins/iniquities listed in Ezekiel 16:49 “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Does not mention anything about sexual sins.

    Also, in Luke 10:1-10, Jesus sending out the disciples to towns and mentioned the destruction of Sodom when the people reject the message/ministry of Christ, which is the opposite of the message of the sins/iniquity listed in Ezekiel 16:49.

    As I continue to read/study scriptures, God wants to destroy or wipe out the sins(Ezekiel 16:49) of Sodom in my life; so I can become more God and Christ like while living in this World. My anger is toward the people(including myself) in the Christian church who commit the sins listed in Ezekiel 16:49, do not take on the name of Sodomites, and repent.

  8. Liz says:

    I’m angry about it too, John! And like you some of that anger is at myself BUT in our defense we were trusting people that should have been trustworthy when we accepted what we were taught about this story. Like someone else pointed out, the city was destroyed because of sin but the sin wasn’t same sex sex, the sin was being inhospitable in the most heinous of ways.

  9. Katy STenta says:

    Biblical Scholars have often noted that Sodom and Gomorrah is about GANG RAPE (and who isn’t against that) Not homosexuality. Plus Greek Society Societal Men used sex to dominate and control younger men, so that whole sodomy thing might be referring to that abusive power structure, instead of homosexuality itself. (Yay for Oberlin sociological history of sex and homosexuality for that fact.)

    Unfortunately not many Christians have received a wonderful education (I went to Princeton! YAY!), even pastors. They are stuck with uneducated translations, or worse uneducated interpretations based on these uneducated translations. If Christians could worry less about sin and more about justice, if we could put all the energy we put into the gay issue or the abortion issue into feeding the poor and stopping rape, imagine how much better the world would be.

  10. Queer Creation: A synchroblog!!! | katyandtheword says:

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  13. Terri says:

    Sometimes I think growing up unchurched was a blessing. Coming at these clobber scriptures as an adult frees me from these horrible interpretations that link the sin of Sodom with homosexuality.

    I am glad you were able to find freedom.

  14. Jerry Reiter says:

    The bible has a different explanation than the usual one for what the sin of Sodom was: the bible says the citizens of Sodom were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned for the poor. Ezekiel 16:49, so fundies don’t even follow the bible itself. Next, there is zero historical evidence Sodom and Gomorrah existed in the real world. And you can still see “Lot’s wife” today. “She” is actually just a 75 foot tall rock formation that resembles a woman’s form. This whole story is merely a common Nature myth.

  15. Chris McCrea says:

    John, I had to laugh out loud when I saw your entry because I went through the EXACT same outrage when I came out 2 years ago. A believer of 27 years at that point, and it took me coming out to actually sit down and read the passage for myself..and I was horrified!

    How in tarnation could I (and essentially 95% of the evangelical world) believe that the Sodom and Gomorrah account was about gays?? But, alas, they’ve preached it..and we believed it…and worse: regurgitated it. Such appropriate outrage is merited when actually discovering the PLAIN truth. And we still see the “Sodomy Train” rolling down the tracks through churches and radio shows and anti-gay pride protests… into 2014. All aboard??

    Travesty alert: we all should know better by now.

    The damage done by this “tradition of misappropriation” is just devastating. Could we even measure it? Impossible. All I can do, moving forward, is just educate educate educate. Let people know the obvious error. But sadly, we all know that those poisoned by this flavor of “orthodoxy” are not tripping on their “stuff” to learn the truth.

    Righteous anger has many edges, doesn’t it?

  16. Euphoria says:

    I am a Christian and I would just like to say that ALL Christians need to stop judging pelope and causing division. Christ died for EVERYONE and God is the ultimate judge, not us. The number one thing we need to focus on is the Gospel, telling the world about it, allowing for rejection of it (because pelope are going to reject it) moving on and allowing God to judge. That’s what Christ told us to do and we should do nothing else besides that. We are not judges and we need to accept that. The end

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