The Bible Says What About Sodom?

I may or may not take on this at a later date, but for now I wanted to focus on one thing:

“Sodomy” as a term for gay male sex began to be commonly used only in the 11th century and would have surprised early religious commentators. They attributed Sodom’s problems with God to many different causes, including idolatry, threats toward strangers and general lack of compassion for the downtrodden. Ezekiel 16:49 suggests that Sodomites “had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”

Religion and Sex Quiz – NYTimes.com.

A lot of that is true, actually. Further, the use of ‘sodomites’ have transfigured our understand of that word. It is circular, to be sure.

But, I wanted to dig a little deeper into Ezekiel 16.49:

“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. (NASB)

Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. (NLT)

Yep. So far, so good.

But, what about the next verse…

“Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it. (NASB)

She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen. (NLT)

It’s that word that bothers me… So how else is it used? (BDB lexicon)

  • ritual sense: of physical repugnance, to God and his people, of unclean food, worshipper of idols,
  • various objectionable acts: offering of children. witchcraft, idolatrous practices, with other illegal acts, intermarriage with idolaters, of idols, idolatrous objects,
  • ethical sense: to God and his people,  of sacrifice of wicked, his prayers, of various kinds of wickedness, unchastity,

Nothing in that really about homosexuality. Or ‘sodomites’. Or even, better, cultic prostitution.

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4 Replies to “The Bible Says What About Sodom?”

  1. Joel,

    Seeing as this is one of the “hammer” verses from the OT re: ‘homosexuality as a sin,’ would you refer to this reading as ‘fringe’ or more along the lines of a mainstream translation consensus? By “mainstream” I mean, agreed upon by translators and scholars NOT “believed by many in the church.” Basically, where do the people who do this kind of examination/translation for a living -Christian, Jew, secular, etc…- come down as a scholarly opinion?

    I come down on the side of the biological/psychological evidence pointing toward homosexuality is in your DNA (at the risk of WAY oversimplifying) and not a something that can be chosen, or changed, any more so than you could choose to be a different race or gender.

    I’ll admit that there is a part of me that is looking forward to Biblical scholarship also coming to this conclusion and relegating the homophobia to the fringes with the likes of Ken Ham and the YEC crowd.

  2. Will be interesting how you interpret Genesis 19:4-8, where Lot says he will let the men of Sodom rape his daughters rather than giving them the men they want to have sex with.

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