We dive deeper into these first two clobber verses: “Sodom and Gomorrah” in Genesis 19 and “The Murder of the Levite’s Concubine” in Judges 19-21.
What is really going on in these two stories? Are these mobs of gay rapists…? And what should we learn from these stories?
Elton: Episode three: Blame the Gay Guys. In this episode we discuss the first two clobber verses, both are used to condemn gay men, despite the absence of gay men in the stories
I'm Elton Sherwin, your host for this series. And I'm delighted you have joined us.
Not About Consensual Same-Sex Relationships
Today, we look at the deeper meaning and the connections between the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the book of Genesis, and The Murder of The Levite's Concubine, in the Book of Judges. As we have seen these two stories have nothing to do with the consensual same sex relationships and marriages we see today.
Both of these stories are about sexual violence, deeply troubling, sexual atrocities that have been twisted to blame gay men. Even though there are no gay men in either story.
Sexual Violence Blamed on Gay Guys Who Weren’t There
These stories have been distorted to take the focus off of the straight men who acted so shamefully, so sinfully and so criminally.
Both stories have similar elements; Mobs of men surrounding homes with out-of-town visitors. And the mobs want to sexually abuse and rape their neighbor’s visitors. This is what connects the two stories. In both stories, the mobs were offered the virgin daughters of the homeowners to rape in place of the visitors.
Young Women Sacrificed to Protect Men
I've heard it claimed that ancient Hebrew culture protected the rights of women more than the surrounding peoples. But you would never know that from the speed with which these two fathers offered up their daughters to the mobs of men. First from the Book of Genesis: The scene where Lot, God's servant, talks to the mob and tries to protect the visiting angels.
Scripture Reader: “Lot went outside to meet them, and shut the door behind him, and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” Genesis 19: 6-9.
Elton: And from the Book of Judges, the scene where the homeowner, the good Samaritan, talks to the mob, trying to protect the visiting Levite, who is his guest.
Scripture Reader: “The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends don't be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don't do this outrageous thing. Look here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now and you can use them and do to them, whatever you wish. But as for this man, don't do such an outrageous thing. But the men would not listen to him.”
Elton: The story continues. The Levite…
Scripture Reader: ...took his concubine and sent her outside to them and they raped her and abused her throughout the night.” The Book of Judges 19: 23-25
Elton: In both stories the mob wants the visitors, not the virgin girls. This has led many to assume they were mobs of gay men. So, were these mobs of gay rapists?
In the story of the murder of the Levite’s concubine, the writers of scripture tell us the mob spent the entire night raping the Levite’s female concubine. These are clearly not gay men.
Sodom: The Essential, Overlooked Truth
Likewise, the writers of scripture tell us that the mob and Sodom was not gay men. Let's look at the relevant part of Genesis…
Scripture Reader: “…all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’” Genesis 19: 4-5.
Elton: Notice, the Bible specifically says, “all the men from every part of the town, young and old.” This would have included teenagers, dads, grandfathers. They were not all gay rapists.
There are many known instances, unfortunately, of gangs of straight men, sexually abusing other men.
All through history this happens. It happens:
- to foreigners,
- to slaves,
- to prisoners,
- to women, and
- to sexual minorities
…by men asserting their dominance over others.
In both stories the writers of scripture clearly tell us that these are stories about sexual violence and attempted sexual violence inflicted by a town's men on travelers.
But is there more going on? Why did ALL the men of Sodom attack the visiting foreigners—the angels? I have heard three theories.
A large group of straight men tried to sexually abuse the visiting foreigners. If you use history as your guide, this is the most likely answer: The men of a rich town out for an evening of sport molesting foreign visitors.
There are two additional equally disturbing theories.
The men and boys of Sodom recognized the messengers as celestial beings, as angels and believed they could obtain special powers by having sex with them.
The Reverend Dave Barnhart has proposed an intriguing third theory:
Angels have no sex. And the men of Sodom wanted the angels stripped so that they can see what was underneath.
Dave Barnhart: “Let's find out if those two are really men or women.”
Elton: This is from an article with the intriguing title: Angels of Indeterminate Gender in Genesis 19, by Reverend Dave Barnhart, published in 2015. I will include the link to the article in the notes. Here it is, in part, read by Speechelo.
Dave Barnhart: “We see this kind of violence against trans and queer persons on a regular basis, In May of 2014, on Atlanta public transportation, a crowd of people not only assaulted two transgender women of color, but recorded it on video. As they Kicked and stripped them naked, the crowd cheered, their words are eerily similar to the mob's words in Genesis 19, they wanted to ‘know’ the real biological sex of the two.”
Elton: Today, around the world, in both modern and pre-modern societies, we see sexual violence directed at foreigners, women, and sexual minorities. Sexual violence initiated by straight men. It's unheard of for large groups of gay males, including boys, adult men and grandfathers, to gang rape anyone.
Men Abusing Minorities
It is all too common for groups of straight males to sexually assault women, minorities, and foreigners.
Neither of these stories has anything to do with consensual sex. And neither of these stories has anything to do with consensual same sex relationships.
God Calls Us to Protect Sexual Minorities and Foreigners
So tragically a story from God told in scripture:
- to protect foreigners,
- to protect sexual minorities,
- to protect people whose sexuality mirrors that of angels,
is flipped on its head and use to attack the very people God is calling us to protect.
Tragically, God’s Message Is Ignored
I have become angry, not only because these scriptures have been so misused in condemning gay men, but also because the true meaning has been hidden. These scriptures call us to protect foreigners and to protect people who are different from us. This uncomfortable message has been ignored.
And these stories twisted;
- To condemn gay men
- Prohibit same sex marriages, and
- Ban the ordination of sexual minorities.
Well, it is time to move on to two of the most difficult “clobber verses” in scripture. Both are in the book of Leviticus:
Scripture Reader: Leviticus 18: 20, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” And
Leviticus 20: 13, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall be put to death.”
In English, and out of context, these verses seem very damning. We will spend two episodes—episodes four and five—in Leviticus, deciphering these two challenging verses.
Then, in episode six and seven, we will see what Jesus actually said about sexual minorities.
A lot more, coming up. This is Elton Sherwin and I'm excited you have found this series.
A previous version of this episode called Mobs of Gay Rapists? is available on YouTube: (the audio is not quite as good as the podcast)
References and URLs:
“ANGELS OF INDETERMINATE GENDER IN GENESIS 19”
by Rev. Dave Barnhart (quoted in this episode– this URL loads slowly)
More on the gender of Angels:
Rape in clobber verses #1 and #2 -
And for more information on: Sodom and Gomorrah see episode 1 and its notes.
And for more information on: The Murder of the Levite’s Concubine see episode 2 and its notes.
Judges Chapters 19-21 parallels and foreshadows sexual violence against women, people of color, sexual minorities, slaves, prisoners and indigenous peoples. Here are a few references:
History of sexual violence against sexual minorities:
Sexual abuse of slaves in America:
Rape during wars:
Sexual violence throughout history:
The rape of Indigenous peoples in America:
Rap of men during wars and conflicts:
#Churchtoo #Rapeculture #Sexualassault #Sexualviolence #Biblestudy #Christian