What is this story actually about? Gay men or…? The Prophet Ezekiel explains Genesis 19, the first of the “clobber verses.”
Elton: Please join me as we discuss one of the most misused stories in the history of Christendom.
Episode one: Sodom and Gomorrah. I'm Elton Sherwin, your host for this series. And I am so glad you have joined us today. No story has had a greater influence on the Western views of the LGBTQ+ community than the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Sodom and Gomorrah: The Story Begins…
Let me summarize the beginning of Genesis 19: Two foreigners arrive in Sodom. They are angels disguised as foreigners. Lot, the servant of the Lord, insists they stay at his house and not sleep in the town square. We continue in Scripture.
Scripture Reader: From Genesis chapter 19, verses four and five: “The men from every part of the city of Sodom, both young and old, surrounded the house. They called out to Lot: “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
Elton: The story ends badly for Sodom. The angels save Lot and some of his relatives. And then God destroys the city. What was God's message? Is it the condemnation of mob violence and gang rape? Of course, but there were additional reasons God was angry with Sodom and the prophet Ezekiel tells us…
Scripture Reader: “Sodom's sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.” Ezekiel 16: 49.
Elton: Let's listen to that again.
Scripture Reader: “Sodom's sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.”
Where Is All the Sodomy?
Elton: Wait, where is all the sodomy? Where all the gay men? Not there.
This is a story about mob violence, attempted gang rape and the poor treatment of foreigners.
No Gay Guys in the Story…
No gay guys in it. Wow. Here I quote from theologian, Derrick Sherwin Bailey, not a relative. As far as I know, even though his middle name, Sherwin, is my family name.
This is from his 1955 classic:
Theologian Derrick Sherwin Bailey: Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition. “There is not the least reason to believe as a matter of either historical fact or revealed truth that the city of Sodom and its neighbors were destroyed because of their homosexual practices.”
Elton: Wow. Let's listen to that one more time.
Theologian Derrick Sherwin Bailey: “There is not the least reason to believe as a matter of either historical fact or revealed truth that the city of Sodom and its neighbors were destroyed because of their homosexual practices.”
Elton: The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is the first of what are now called the “clobber verses.” Seven scriptures use to condemn people’s sexual orientation.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah has been missed, used so frequently, and so confidently, it is embedded in our language. Except it has nothing to do with consensual sex, same sex or otherwise.
Attempted Gang Rape
Genesis 19 tells of the inhospitable treatment of foreign visitors, the disguised angels, by the men of Sodom, and the attempted gang rape of these foreign visitors. In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah we learn that God dislikes: pride, excessive consumption, inattentiveness to the poor and the needy and hostility to the foreigner.
These are all sins that we should be mindful of in our current age:
Scripture Reader: “Sodom's sins were: pride, gluttony and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.”
Misused to: Condemn Gay Men, Forbid Same-Sex Marriage and Prevent Ordination
Elton: The story of Sodom and Gomorrah has been used by conservative churches to condemn gay men, forbid same-sex marriages and prevent members of the LGBTQ community from being ordained.
Even though the story has nothing to do with consensual adult relationships.
Why have so many conservative churches gotten it so wrong? Perhaps because a truthful accounting would hit too close to home.
The True Meaning of the Story of Sodom and Gomorrah…
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is the story of God's vengeance on a wealthy city, which ignored the poor and the needy. A wealthy city that made a sport of abusing foreigners.
Is there an even deeper meaning to this story? A message specifically for the LGBTQ+ community? The Reverend Dave Barnhart thinks there is. And we will review that in episode three.
But first in episode two, we discuss the second clobber verse, The Murder of the Levite’s Concubine.
Then in episode three, we will take a deeper look at the meaning of these first two clobber verses: Why do people keep blaming gay men for the atrocities in these stories with no gay men in them?
Then in episodes four and five, we will look at the two clobber verses in Leviticus. These give gay men and many pastors so much trouble. Then in episode six and seven, we will review what Jesus said about sexual minorities.
If this material is not how you were taught, I have put several links in the notes (below) to articles that you can read.
A lot more coming up.
This is Elton Sherwin, and I'm excited that you've joined us for this fascinating series.
An older version of this episode is available on YouTube (the audio is not quite as good as the podcast):
References and URLs for this podcast on Sodom and Gomorrah:
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