A name synonymous with disdain for LGBTQIA+ communities from those of religious ilk, Sodom, along with Gomorrah, has long been used as a club to prove that the old testament, namely in the Book of Genesis, amongst others – the Christian faithful are taught that Homosexuality is a sin.
I have to say, at this point, a rather well know Apostle, St Paul, once had to answer charges of Heresy for questioning the validity of the Books of Moses under the Gospel of good news brought by the teachings of Jesus. Still, like him, I question the interpretation of human beings in the hope that others will hear and not feel excluded by the actual teachings of history, not the pseudo-politicking of those seeking to close the doors of faith to vast swathes of people they deem unfit.
The term ‘Sodomy’ originates in the unfortunate city of the unclean, so you would be forgiven for assuming that the word’s definition wholly reflects the actions of those sinners of a city torn down by biblical fire and brimstone. But, unfortunately, the truth is far from as clear-cut and straightforward as some would have you believe. Simply put, it is yet another example of influential, homophobic scholars peddling their agenda rather than the truth. Nevertheless, the way the name is used today would prove enough to the curious observer if you were to do a little digging and scratch the surface.
The etymology of Sodom is simply; “unclean place”.
Sodom & Gomorrah were, quite frankly, diabolical places; not even ten decent people could be found, and that is why it had to burn, we are told.
One day, two angels disguised as men were sent to find just 10 of the faithful and the good in the city, hoping to save it. But instead, they met with Lot (the nephew of Abraham), who had been living there. He invited the angels to stay the night at his house, but they wished to remain in the city square to observe the sickening revery for themselves, one only can assume.
Lot it seemed, reading between the lines, was worried about that choice, insisting they come home. Justifiably it turned out, as not long after, men from all over the city came to the house of Lot, calling the two angels out because, putting it bluntly, they wanted to ‘know them’, as in intimately, with or without their consent. After the questionable and equally sickening offering of his two virgin daughters for some ‘knowing’ in exchange for leaving the angels alone, it is said the angels helped Lot and his family escape the cataclysm.
So where are the stories of the people of Sodom walking hand in hand, having been out for a romantic meal or trip to the cinema? How about the vile freedom of expression of a street party with brightly coloured banners and trailers for coming together to celebrate the freedom of expressing love?
Guess what – they aren’t there!
Sodom was a vile and foul place, without question. However, the only actual reference to a male with male “knowing” is that of groups forcing non-consensual sex upon others. There are, of course, those scholarly types, yet again, who will say that the absence of mention of mutual consent does not prove that it is not included in the horrific crimes of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah; furthermore, that it is implied that homosexual intercourse is a crucial reason for the destruction of the cities. But where is this even suggested?
As for lack of evidence not proving it: try that one in a court of law, why don’t you!
Yet, this story, or at least the attitudes surrounding it, has impacted society more than the casual observer might think. The definition of Sodomy equally draws no difference between forced or consensual. Hence, nowadays, the word and city are absolutely and incorrectly synonymous.
Even a simple (yet painful and cruel) playground insult shows evidence of the attitude behind this story. If, like me, when it is known that you are gay, comments will inevitably come; “Backs to the wall!” as though all gay men are baying for the next liaison no matter who, where, with or without permission like some crazed vampire out for blood. This attitude is reflected in the inaccurate interpretation of the story of Sodom & Gomorrah, passed down through the annals of history and taught as ‘gospel’. If you read it, there is no proof that the modern life of the LGBTQIA+ community is in ANY way similar to the actions of the citizens of Sodom.
What it demonstrates is that it is deemed okay to offer your virgin daughters to a crowd of rapists in exchange for leaving the men alone, without even a single mention of that being wrong or sinful. In fact, Lot was the good guy!
I guess in this case, as ever, context is King!
In the final analysis, there is not one single scriptural word that backs up the claim that Genesis 18 in any way shows that homosexuality, as it exists in modern society, is an abomination in the eyes of God.
Indeed, on a side note, there are those who, in their ignorance of simple scripture, claim that floods around the world are a sign of God’s wrath at laws supportive of LGBTQIA+ equality.
They have never read the story of Noah and God’s Covenant with humanity, where he promised never to harm another living creature with a flood. The irony is not lost that the symbol of that covenant was a Rainbow!
Whilst touching on “other scriptural passages”, one other area of the bible is well used as a club. Leviticus and his fellow cohorts. The laws that include us as against God. I will go into detail another day, but once again, get some context. Setting aside the lack of enforcement of eating shellfish, touching the skin of a dead pig, mixing crops in the same field, or working on the Sabbath (which is, in fact, Saturday, not Sunday) and bigotry that goes with these selective enforcements, the simple truth is, these rules were designed to increase the population, first of the formerly enslaved people now looking for a home, and then the general population.
Did you know that around 5000BC, there were estimated to have only been 18 million people on the planet? That is equivalent to the current population of London and New York but no one else. Or in 1AD, there were 188 million? That is more than Bangladesh’s population but less than Brazil’s population! Or that we didn’t even hit 1 billion until the 1800s? There is more than that in China alone now! In November 2022, we passed 8 billion!
I think we are long passed needing to grow the population.
But for now, should anyone ever attempt to use the story of Sodom & Gomorrah to justify religious intolerance and homophobia, ask them to quote the exact passage that specifies “consensual same-sex relationships”. And when they can’t, because there isn’t one, tell them simply with tongue in cheek, to ‘Sod Off!’