I didn’t hear about this story until today, so maybe you haven’t heard about it either…. But a county here in Tennessee is considering taking up an official resolution pleading with God to not destroy their county when he finally brings his punishment for our country allowing gay people to get married. The resolution is sponsored by Blount County Commissioner, Karen Miller, and it says a lot of interesting things…. If, by “interesting,” you mean “terribly, terribly misguided.” You can read the whole Resolution RIGHT HERE (there are a few more “whereas’s” than I’d care for, but it’s worth your time to read), but here is the real climax:
“WE adopt this Resolution before God that He pass us by in His Coming Wrath and not destroy our County as He did Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities. As the Passover Lamb was a means of salvation to the ancient Children of Israel, so we stand upon the safety of the Lamb of God to save us.”
I read a section of it to my wife, and after stumbling over her words and spending a few moments looking for a response, she finally uttered the words, “Are… these people…. Grown ups?” Seriously though, you should really read it. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. You know what–No. It’s funny no matter what. Read it. And allow yourself to laugh. It’s only one page…. After I laughed out loud at her reaction, she said the words, “I literally can’t even.” Which reminded me of this gem….
There are all kinds of things about this resolution to be critical of (the factual inaccuracy, the reference to “Founders” who would have been horrified by the mingling of church & state, the haphazard and inane choices in capitalization, just to name a few….), but I’m just going to chose one: The appealing to the Biblical story of Sodom & Gomorrah by Christians who are upset about same-sex marriage. This garbage has got to stop.
I’m betting most of you know the story, but for those of you who don’t, here’s the short version: God tells Abraham He’s going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham bargains with God about sparing the cities for the sake of a righteous man. Angels come to investigate the cities and stay with Abraham’s nephew, Lot (the one guy God chose to save from the city). While the angels were staying there, “all the men from the city–young and old” came and surrounded Lot’s house, and they demanded he send out the visitors so they could have sex with them. Lot (the righteous one in the story) offers them his two virgin daughters instead. Long story short, the angels blind the men from the town, fire and brimstone rain down from the sky and destroy the cities (along with others that are near), and God turns Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt for looking to see what’s happening.
Now, at some point, this story became not just a cautionary tale about God’s wrath, but specifically a story about God’s wrath in response to gay people. The word “sodomy” even came to mean anal sex/oral sex/”unnatural” sex. But here’s the thing you need to know: The story of Sodom & Gomorrah was never about God being angry at homosexuality. The Bible is actually very clear about this. When the Hebrew scriptures mention Sodom, it actually has nothing to do with homosexuality. For example, Ezekiel 16:49 says that Sodom’s sin was that “She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” When Amos compares Israel’s sin to Sodom & Gomorrah, it’s because they “oppress the poor and crush the needy.” ~Amos 4:1 This doesn’t make it sound like God’s beef was with the gays…. It does’t even sound like God’s beef was with sexual sin at all.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is not about God being angry because two lesbians in East Tennessee want to get married and have the same rights as opposite-gender couples enjoy…. It was about gang rape. It was about an act of violence and extreme inhospitality to a stranger–the same way that some in prison might refer to “making someone their bitch” simply as an act of cruelty, and a way to emasculate him. I mean, do we really think that the Bible was saying that “all the men in the town” were gay? This is a story about God being angry when we don’t treat the stranger and the visitor in a way that honors them. It’s a story about hospitality. It’s a story that was told thousands of years ago around campfires to tell of how gross it is to God when we don’t take care of “The Other,” and the church has managed to twist it into a proof for how much God hates the gays…. A group that–very ironically–happens to be the very definition of “The Other” right now.
So yeah…. If you believe in the sort of God who turns people into pillars of salt for looking at fire falling from the sky… The sort of God who saves the guy who turns over his virgin daughters to get raped… The sort of God who destroys whole cities for going against his commands, you’ve got a lot to be worried about. Because the Church is FULL of “Sodomites”–Just not the kind that revision and fear and hatred have twisted that definition into. The world has come to know “christians” as the kind of “Sodomite” to which the Bible ACTUALLY refers…. The kind who are inhospitable to aliens. The kind who are unconcerned with the poor. The kind who are arrogant and overfed. The kind who humiliate and ostracize The Other. I mean, Lord…. We’ve even got people trying to pass “resolutions” to make that humiliation and ostracization official–all in the name of the God who calls us to love and care for the stranger. It is hurtful. It is garbage. It is bad theology, bad scholarship, and bad religion. And it is the exact. Opposite. Of the spirit of God that the Bible reveals…. And it’s time Christians started calling it out as such.
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