August 24, 2014: What is Sodom & Gomorrah REALLY about?

Posted on : Aug 21st, 2014 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

I may be going a little too far out on a limb in saying this, but here I go: No story in the entire Bible has been so manipulated, misquoted, politicized, or used so abusively, as the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the early days of the LGBT spiritual liberation movement, we called this one of the “clobber” texts. It was one of four to six texts that were used to “clobber” gay and lesbian people. “Clobber” as in, to whack one in the head, to hit somebody or something with great force, to defeat somebody decisively, to deal with somebody or something in a harsh or critical way.

Of course that “somebody” was specific. It was us. It was our spiritual lives and sense of self that was under attack.

When I would meet with a gay or lesbian person who had come to me to discuss their sexuality and spirituality, this story would usually be the first thing they’d ask about. So I’d ask the person to tell me what they thought this story was about. Each person would tell me the exact same story, word for word, as everyone else. Perfect recitation. The only problem was, hardly a word of what they would tell me was in the Bible! They were telling me exactly what they were told this story said, but nobody knew what the story was REALLY about!!!

Now, how in the world could any passage in the Bible be used so abusively and so destructively, yet no one had the insight to even go and read what the story was about as it was told in the Bible? Even today most of the people who were battered by this story didn’t even know where in the heck it was found in the Bible.

This story is so far removed from our current understanding of sexual orientation that it is simply mind boggling that it has been manipulated, misquoted, politicized, and used so abusively. The way this story has been used is so grievous and idolatrous to the factual content of the story itself that one can only come to the conclusion that it was intentionally used this way. The similarity between the way the story is told in the bible and the way it was (and sometimes still is) used to abuse gay and lesbian people is like comparing apples and Tyrannosauruses.

In other words, they don’t compare. So luckily for us, this Sunday, George Lynch, our Moderator and one of the brightest religious scholars and church historians I know, will be debunking the misinformation about this story while at the same time opening our hearts and minds to what this story really is about.

BTW, if Lot is the only righteous man in Sodom, somebody needs to redefine schmuck.




~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Genesis 18:16 – 19:29

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah

Then the men travelers set out from Abraham’s home, and they looked towards Sodom; and Abraham went with them to set them on their way. God said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? No, for I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of their God by doing righteousness and justice; so that I, God, may bring about for Abraham what I have promised him.’ Then God said, ‘How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.’

 So the men turned from there, and went towards Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before God. Then Abraham came near and said, ‘Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?’ And God said, ‘If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.’ Abraham answered, ‘Let me take it upon myself to speak to God, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?’ And God said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.’ Again Abraham spoke to God, ‘Suppose forty are found there.’ God answered, ‘For the sake of forty I will not do it.’ Then Abraham said, ‘Oh do not let God be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there.’ God answered, ‘I will not do it, if I find thirty there.’ Abraham said, ‘Let me take it upon myself to speak to God. Suppose twenty are found there.’ God answered, ‘For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.’ Then Abraham said, ‘Oh do not let God be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.’ God answered, ‘For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.’ Then God went on God’s way having finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

The two angels (or men) came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and bowed down with his face to the ground. He said, ‘Please, my lords, turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you can rise early and go on your way.’ They said, ‘No; we will spend the night in the square.’ But he urged 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, so that we may know them.’ Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, ‘I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.

Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.’ But they replied, ‘Stand back!’ And they said, ‘This fellow came here as an alien, and he would play the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.’ Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near the door to break it down. But the men inside reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the door of the house, both small and great, so that they were unable to find the door.

Then the angels (or men) said to Lot, ‘Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city—bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before our God, and God has sent us to destroy it.’ So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, ‘Up, get out of this place; for God is about to destroy the city.’ But Lot seemed to his sons-in-law to be joking.

When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Get up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else you will be consumed in the punishment of the city.’ But Lot lingered; so the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, God being merciful to him, and they brought him out and left him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, they said, ‘Flee for your life; do not look back or stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, or else you will be consumed.’ And Lot said to them, ‘Oh, no, my lords; your servant has found favor with you, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, for fear the disaster will overtake me and I die. Look, that city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!’ God said to him, ‘Very well, I grant you this favor too, and will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there, for I can do nothing until you arrive there.’ Therefore the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.

Then God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from out of heaven; and God overthrew those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, who was behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before God; and he looked down towards Sodom and Gomorrah and towards all the land of the Plain, and saw the smoke of the land going up like the smoke of a furnace.

So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain, God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when God overthrew the cities in which Lot had settled.

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