(3 of 7 from the Biblical verses “condemning” homosexuality in the documentary Fish Out Of Water.)
It’s been an unconscionably long time since I worked on this series of posts, feel free to harass me for that.
I’ve already done one post about Sodom and Gomorrah, but I did want to address the topic again because of some of the arguments used by the scholars in the documentary. It amazes me that sometimes a new argument can still come out of left field and surprises me. With a lot of these verses I thought I knew all of the arguments for and against them.
So the verses that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah come from can be found here.
Now, I highly doubt that anyone who knows anything about Christian mythology/theology is unaware of the story of Sodom. The term “Sodomites” (coined in the late 13th or early 14th century) is pulled from the name of this city, based on an idea that Sodom was destroyed for sexual immorality.
But that’s simply not true, not based on the translations and interpretations that modern Biblical scholars have found.
Sodom was the story of the failure to provide hospitality. It is the failure to honor the stranger in your midst.
-Rev. Gregory Dell
My favorite animation in the entire documentary begins here, to go along with Bishop John Shelby Spong’s rather snarky telling of the Sodom and Gomorrah story. Why is it my favorite? Because the two angel’s are complete and total hipsters…nothing is better than that.
These two angels go into Sodom and they sit on the curb in the town square, waiting to see if someone will offer them hospitality and as it gets later and later in the evening, the people in the village begin to say “ah, we’re gonna have some entertainment tonight.” You know, they didn’t have television of the Yankees to watch.
And then Lot, around sundown, comes out and offers the hospitality of his home. That frustrates all these people ans so they go storming to Lot’s home, every man in the village it says, including the two sons who are engaged to be married to Lot’s daughters.
Hmm…I guess they weren’t all exactly homosexuals then were they.
And they beat on the tent of Lot and demanded that these visitors be brought out so that they might “know” them. The word “know in Hebrew carried sexual connotations. “And Adam knew Eve and she conceived” is sort of the same word.
And Lot refuses, because he says “I’ve given my word.”
Of course Lot isn’t exactly blameless, not when you see what he says in verse 8.
8 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.”
The angels suddenly discover they have angelic power at that time and they blind everybody in the crowd. Then the angel says to Lot and his wife and their two daughters.
“12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” “
Of course, if you know the story. The two son-in-laws believe that Lot is crazy and for some reason God decides that if any of Lot’s family looks back at Sodom while fleeing they will be turned into a pillar of salt. So by the end of their escape, the only people left are Lot and his two daughters.
Spong continues with the story…this being the part that people generally leave out, since it sort of destroys the whole moral high ground that Lot’s family had in this situation.
But where do you go? They wanted to go to the next village, but they knew what happened to strangers when you come into a village without protection. So they decided they wouldn’t do that. So they decided to go up into the mountains to live in a cave.
And the two daughters suddenly awaken to the fact that in the law of the world in which they live the only place they can get husbands was from their tribe.
And so this is what happens in verses 31 through 36.
31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”
33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father.
Spong ends by saying, with a rather incredulous look on his face. “That story is used to condemn homosexuality?”
Yeah, I’m a little iffy on how that works as well.
The Sodom and Gomorrah story is, by all modern Biblical scholars, primarily a story about violations of hospitality.
– Rev. Dr. Fred Neidner
Well there’s a kind of irony about that, because, in fact, it’s used to condemn people who are often considered to be strangers from the majority of society.
– Rev. Gregory Dell
A very good point. But probably the best point, and one that I feel goes back to a point I made in my original post on Sodom and Gomorrah, is the point made by Dr. Amy Jill Levine.
It is about lack of hospitality, it is about violence. The true since in the Sodom and Gomorrah story, to me, is when Lot says ‘here are my two virgin daughters, why don’t you gang-rape them instead’.
That, I think, would be something we’d want to talk about. Thereby preventing abuse of children or parents marketing their children as sex slaves.
To elevate these texts and say the real concern is homosexuality is to show that our priorities are messed up.