Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sodom’s Sin: A Question of Interpretation?

Do our Bible interpretations merely serve to justify our own agenda or God’s? Are we using the Bible or abusing it for our own purposes? One blog – God’s Rainbow Coalition – conveniently denies that Sodom’s sin had anything to do with homosexuality or homosexual rape, but rape merely as a way to “humiliate someone”:

  • Show me where it says that Sodom was destroyed for homosexuality. In Genesis, it does not say what Sodom did to be destroyed other than Genesis 18:20-21, (which was said before the incident at Lot’s house) “Then the Lord said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.’” It doesn’t say homosexuality. In other parts of the Bible we find that the sin of Sodom was pride and inhospitality, not homosexuality. In fact, Ezekiel tells us the sin of Sodom in chapter 16:49-51. “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”

But what were these “detestable things” (“toebah” in the Hebrew)? This is the same word used to describe homosexuality in Leviticus:

  • You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion. (Lev. 18:22-23)

  • If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. (Lev. 20:13-14)

These teachings against homosexuality have also been carried over into the New Testament, except without any mention of the death penalty. The Book of Jude is particularly revealing about Sodom’s sin:

  • Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh (“perversion;” NIV), are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 7)

God’s Rainbow Coalition wrongly concludes:

  • The reason people equate Sodom with homosexuality is because of the gang rape scene that almost occurred. Back then, it was common to humiliate someone by raping them. 

Evidently, Sodom’s sin went far beyond an attempt to merely “humiliate someone.” Why then does God’s Rainbow Coalition conclude otherwise? Are they coercing the text into conformity with their own views and interests?

Doesn’t Scripture have to come first? Such an inversion of biblical priorities costs! I also had coerced the text into saying what I had wanted to find, and I suffered greatly for this. Now my prayer is this: “Lord, I just want your truths and your ways, even when they oppose my agenda. Lead me accordingly!”

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