February 11, 2020
Scripture: Genesis 19:4-5
Before they went to bed, the men of the city of Sodom—everyone from the youngest to the oldest—surrounded the house and called to Lot, “Where are the men who arrived tonight? Bring them out to us so that we may have sex with them.”
Thought for the Day: This Sunday, we are going to have a serious conversation on same-sex attraction – what the Bible says and what it does not say. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the passages people are quick to uphold as a clear expression of how unethical homosexuality is. In fact, I was flipping through the channels two or three weeks ago only to hear the words “evils of Sodom,” and so I returned to the channel to hear a minister retell the story in such a way that he ignored 90% of the story. Sadly, this is one of the great tools of preachers. First, it is a story of hospitality to the stranger. Hospitality is a central belief within Judaism and most all cultures in that part of the world. So when divine messengers appeared (possibly angels), Lot did what his faith required – he opened his home. In that part of the world, having sex with someone – as the dominate one in the relationship – you were showing your power. In fact, it was thought that you were taking power from the other. The scripture says all the men of the community came to Lot’s house. Is every male in this city gay? I doubt it. What we have is a gang attempting to rape the strangers as a way of showing their power and to drain the power of these outsiders. Ezekiel 16 called out the sin of Sodom. The sin had nothing to do with sex. It was arrogance and a refusal to help the poor and the needy. And even more troubling was how Lot, in trying to protect the strangers under his care, offered his daughters to the crowd. It is very difficult to hold up this story as a model of any ethical idea when a father says to a mob, “Here, take my daughters, they are virgins.” I don’t know about you, but I cannot imagine any father suggesting such a thing. Why didn’t he offer himself? Let’s be very careful how we use scripture, especially when it is used to injure and marginalize people. We will talk about some other passages in the days ahead.
Prayer: Teach me the way of your divine life, O Holy One. Provide me space to wrestle with scripture, and not simply take the word of anyone who seeks to simplify a rather complicated text. May I always recognize the danger of taking a few words out of context and creating an entire ethical system that condemns some of your beloved. Amen.
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