How lots of us — even straight people — commit sodomy every day
Reading insult after insult on my Facebook ads, I realized I may have made a mistake. Marketing my new book giving hope to gay Christians, I targeted conservatives. After all, liberals didn’t have much of a problem to solve — they’d mostly accepted LGBTQ people as they were. I wanted to help the evangelical fundamentalist Christian who hated that secret part of themselves. I wanted to reach that person.
I used to be that person.
Before I came out, I was scared of what my inner gay meant to the people I thought judged my outer shell, I hid it. Along with my sexuality, I hid a lot of things about me so I could stand in front of a group of my peers at church and teach, get a degree from a fundamentalist school, and garner the respect and admiration of the strangers who came to listen to the Christian music groups I was a part of.
When I advertised my new book on Facebook, these memories were far behind me. What I got in response brought them back, front and center:
“Sodomy is an abomination to God!”
That was the first of about 400 comments on my ads. Each day I responded to anywhere from five to fifteen comments telling me I was a false teacher, false prophet, wolf in sheep’s clothing, or destined for hell. Usually, these comments end in an explanation that they represented true Christian “love,” because they were designed to save me from an eternity of suffering. Such was the fate of me, a “sodomite.”
What was so abominable about my ads? They simply say there’s hope for an LGBT person to reconcile their faith and their sexuality. Just that thought sent these “godly” Christians into tirades of anger; generating long printed sermons complete with Bible quotes. They’re convinced being a sodomite is a pretty bad thing.
I wonder if they know what it truly is to be like those people in Sodom?
The Story of Sodom
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah starts with two angelic visitors (in human drag) visiting the town of Sodom. A man named Lot invites the strangers to stay with him and his daughters. Shortly after, “all the men, both young and old” (NIV) show up to demand Lot send the two strangers out so the townsmen could rape them. Lot begs the townspeople not to — and even offers his two daughters instead, but the townspeople wouldn’t back down. They wanted the visitors.
The angel visitors blind everyone to thwart the violence and warn Lot to get his family out of Sodom. They destroy Sodom and the neighboring town of Gomorrah the next day (See Genesis 19 for the whole story).
From that, many conclude the destruction of Sodom is about homosexual relations being an abomination to God. Hence, the term “sodomy.”
I’m mystified by those who think the story of Lot in Sodom, found in Genesis 19, is about being gay for the following reasons:
1. For the destruction of Sodom to be about homosexuality in general, one would have to equate two women holding hands with violent, community-sponsored gang rape.
2. Ezekiel (another Old Testament book) describes the sins of Sodom as being “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” He does not mention homosexuality.
3. Judges 19 tells the story of the Benjamites doing almost the same thing as Sodom, but to a woman. This leads to the destruction of the Benjamites. Yet, no one holds that straight sex is evil in God’s eyes; they focus on the violent acts of rape and murder as the sin.
With the above three observations, I was certain the story of Sodom had nothing at all to do with my sexuality, so I moved on. Then it hit me: In looking at what Sodom wasn’t about, I missed what it really was about!
To find out what life was like in Sodom, I found two sources. The first was a John Huston movie from the 1960s called “In the Beginning.” In the Beginning, was a biblical account of those early years, and the first establishing shot of Sodom was a pile of naked people writhing around on what looked to be a continuous orgy. When the townspeople broke down Lot’s door, they were costumed to look like a West Hollywood Halloween costume party — freaky, sexy, and fabulousssssss! This depiction matched what I had always been taught about Sodom: they were a bunch of sex-crazed perverts.
The second source turned out to be more reliable: The Midrash.
Midrash Aggadah refers to Jewish historical writings that supplement their Scriptures, adding history, commentary, and context The Midrash Pirkei Eliezer informs us that Sodom had a code: “What’s mine is mine; what’s yours is yours.” That value worked itself into their laws: Giving to the poor was punishable by death.
The horrible nature of the Sodomites was almost cartoonishly extreme. One story details how a man swam across the river to avoid the exorbitant ferry toll. As this was against the law, soldiers were dispatched to collect. They beat the man bloody and took him before the judge, who added to his fine the fee for the medical practice of bloodletting. Yes — he had to pay for the “service” the soldiers performed in making him bleed in addition to the bridge toll.
The same writing recorded that one of Lot’s daughters was put to death for giving food to a beggar. In another story, a beggar was given coins by many residents in Sodom, only to find the shopkeeper wouldn’t sell him any food. When the beggar died of starvation, they each retrieved their coins.
With those facts in mind, let’s revisit Ezekiel’s take on Sodom:
“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.” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV)
This is the real Sodom: it has nothing to do with two dudes kissing. It has everything to do with helping the poor and needy. It has everything to do with welcoming foreigners and not abusing them. It has everything to do with people stuffing themselves while others starve.
We live in a “what’s mine is mine; what’s yours is yours” society in America. While most Americans struggle to limit their caloric intake to 2400 calories, 12 percent of the world doesn’t have access to a 2,000-calorie diet. We’re fat; they’re starving. Who’s more like Sodom, the people feasting at a 24/7 all-you-can-eat buffet while 12 percent of the world starves, or two dudes holding hands?
While my friends and I complain about the long line at Starbucks, almost one-third of the world doesn’t have clean drinking water. Tough for them, right? But knowing now about the true sins of Sodom, is this another good example?
We put immigrant families and children in cages and call them “illegal.” They have no right to be here. After all, what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours. Just like Sodom.
It’s time we recognized the real sodomy. Its practice is widespread, public, and applauded by many churches, pastors, and leaders. I hope this causes concern.
If you’re wondering, “Andy, have you forgone your super-size onion rings and given all your money to the poor?” Well, the answer is “no.” It’s not the point.
The point is that those who use Genesis 19 to condemn people like me miss the fact that they are truly the ones condemned by the story of Sodom.
If you’re a Christian wondering what options an LGBTQ+ believer may have, you’re invited to check out Andy’s website, www.triedtobestraight.com.
Andy can be reached at email@example.com