Understanding and Using the Bible
The Sodom and Gomorrah Story
In the book of Genesis (Chapter 19) the story is told of two visitors to the city of Sodom, who were in fact angels in disguise, visiting the house of Lot - a Jewish, and hence foreign, inhabitant of the city. The story goes:
"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 out 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 them saying: 'No, my friends, don't do this wicked thing......'"
After this Lot offers his daughters to appease the crowd. Eventually the angels step in and manage to defeat the mob. Later on in the story, Sodom is destroyed because of the actions of the inhabitants of the city.
It is interesting to note that Lot is portrayed as the good man, the spiritual one, and yet his actions of offering his daughters to the crowd are reported without comment. To approve of this is to approve of rape!
To say the city was destroyed because of homosexuality is misleading, and ignores other parts of the Bible and a long tradition of interpretation of these texts.
Firstly the Book of Isaiah (1:10 & 3:9) and Ezekiel (16:49) claim that social injustice and oppression of the poor was the root cause. Other parts of the Bible say that it was the city's treatment of visitors which was wrong. In the ancient world it was imperative in most cultures to treat visitors with respect and honour. Gang raping them would be quite silly! Jesus says, in Luke's Gospel, that Sodom was destroyed because of inhospitality (Lk 10:12).
This interpretation continued in the Early Church and also in Jewish interpretations. The Midrash, a Jewish commentary, and an Early Church theologian called Origen, both state that it was this breaking of the rules on how to treat visitors that got Sodom into trouble.
Therefore, it can be argued - from within the Bible itself - that the destruction of Sodom was because of oppression of the poor and mistreatment of outsiders: nothing to do with Lesbians and Gays. Feminist theologians will also want to question Lot's apparent willingness to hand his daughters over to a mad crowd to face certain death. To claim that trying to commit gang rape on strangers is equivalent to consenting gay or lesbian sex is to fly in the face of what the Bible itself says.
Read on to "Leviticus".