Conclusion of the Sodom Series and Challenge

God Hates Fags

Sodom Series, #16

We see from a study of the Scriptures—all the passages which mention Sodom—that the sins of the cities of the Plain are idolatry, pride, gluttony, violence, hatred of strangers, and inhospitality to outsiders—not same-sex coupling.

When we compare Genesis 19 with the Judges 19 account of Gibeah, we understand that rape—the dehumanization of one human being by another—is the ultimate expression of their hostility and violence toward strangers, whether male or female.

We must study the Scriptures thoroughly before forming doctrine

A thorough study of the Scriptures, as this series has provided, should suffice to determine what the sins of Sodom were. This is especially important when we use the Bible to form doctrine about Christian living while we ignorantly flirt with the danger of condemning entire classes of people.

Christian teaching should speak only what the Scriptures teach. It should conform its logic and argument to that contained in the Scriptures. Most importantly, it should remain silent when the Scriptures are silent. Mark Jordan asks:

Do we meet these tests when we invoke the history of Christian moral teaching to speak about what we call homosexuality? Our readings in medieval texts have suggested that we do not meet them. Indeed, we fail much lesser tests. We typically disregard the most basic rules of respectful reading when arguing about same-sex love. We rip words out of context; we magnify what is microscopic and ignore what is enormous; we refuse to examine the rifts that divide our languages, our discourses, from the patristic or medieval discourses we want to invoke. (The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology, 160)

The Apostle Peter admits that some things in Scripture are hard to understand, “which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Pet. 3:16b NKJV). We therefore must be diligent to correctly interpret and apply its teachings.

This wrenching of the Scriptures leads to the dangerous process of demonization.

Demonization of sodomy

The crimes of the destroyed ancient cities changed from the original scriptural understanding to focus solely on one type of sexual behavior. From there, the term sodomy was coined and abstracted to refer to homosexual behavior and then to homosexuality in general.

“The last thing we should do is to translate ‘Sodomy’ as ‘homosexuality.’ ‘Homosexuality’ is a term from late nineteenth-century forensic medicine, a diagnostic term for regulating the behavior of the patients or prisoners it presumes to classify. If you ask, What does medieval moral theology have to say about homosexuality? the only precise answer is, absolutely nothing. ‘Homosexuality’ is no more discussed by medieval theology than are phlogiston, Newton’s inertia, quarks or any of the other entities hypothesized by one or another modern science. ‘Sodomy’ is not ‘homosexuality’(Jordan 161, emphasis mine).

“There are two separate mistakes here,” Jordan points out. “The first is to think that the story of Sodom is centrally about same-sex pleasure—or even a particular kind of same-sex copulation. It is not” (162). Yet, a great segment of the Church believes that all homosexuals are sodomites, worthy of a fiery death sentence.

The citizens of Sodom lumped together all outsiders as strangers, suspicious as a class and worthy to be abused and violated. They condemned visiting travelers to certain victimhood in every case. Just as nothing good could come from Nazareth, nothing good could come from outside the walls of Sodom.

Tom Horner discusses this process of demonization:

It is doubly unfortunate that a great portion of the public identifies all homosexuality with the conduct of the men of Sodom and says, “The men of Sodom were bad; therefore all homosexuality is bad.” Well, the men of Sodom were bad, but they were bad not because of their homosexuality but because they had allowed themselves to become so callous in their dealings with other human beings that they had turned themselves into brutes. (Jonathan Loved David, 47, emphasis mine)

Those who name Jesus Christ as their Savior and claim to live according to the Bible must see that such disregard and mistreatment of people, even if they’re considered “sinners,” is unquestionably unchristian and bring reproach upon not only the gospel message, but the Lord himself.

When we, in our own relationships, disregard other human beings as persons, we kill them little by little.

Who are the real sodomites?

It is ironic that for almost two thousand years in Western culture this is how people have been treated who’ve been honest enough with themselves to accept homosexuality as a given fact of their existence. They’ve been treated as less than human for no other reason than because they have expressed a sexual preference for members of their own sex.

If we would begin to judge people as individual persons, instead of prejudging them on the basis of their sexual prefer¬ence, maybe we would begin to see where the real propensity for violence and lawbreaking in our society lies. (Horner 57)

McNeill aptly states an irony: for 1000 years in the Christian West, homosexuals have been the recipients of inhospitable treatment. “Condemned by the Church, they have been the victims of persecution, torture, and even death” (Taking a Chance on God, 42).

There’s a sad irony about the story of Sodom when understood in its own historical setting. People oppose and abuse homosexual men and women for being different, odd, strange or, as they say, “queer.”

Lesbian women and gay men are simply not allowed to fit in. They are made to be outsiders, foreigners in their own society.

They are disowned by their families, separated from their children, fired from their jobs, evicted from apartments and neighborhoods, insulted by public figures, denounced from the pulpit, vilified on religious radio and TV, and then beaten in the schools and killed on the streets and in the backwoods of our “great,” “freedom-loving” nation. And all this is done in the name of Christ.

Such wickedness is the very sin of which the people of Sodom were guilty. Such cruelty is what the Bible truly condemns over and over again. So those who oppress homosexuals because of the supposed “sin of Sodom” may themselves be the real “sodomites,” as the Bible understands it. (Helminiak 49–50, emphasis mine)

Being gay is not the unpardonable sin

In some parts of the Church, there is neither mercy nor forgiveness for those who identify themselves as homosexual. “Sodomy,” says Jordan, “seems to be an unrepentable sin… an exception to divine grace…” (Jordan 162). However, there is only one unpardonable sin: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:29; Luke 12:11).

Yet God’s promise to those who are hospitable to strangers, those who accept the outsider and the gospel messenger remains:

I will restore their fortunes, the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your own fortunes along with theirs…
–Ezekiel 16:53 NRSV

What will you do?

Two final questions:

  • What will you do to combat the ignorance and misinformation of the Church toward LGBTQ people?
  • How will you treat the stranger in our midst?

The Judge of All the Earth awaits your answer. Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

More information:

The Sin of Sodom coverTo read the full story, get my book, The Sin of Sodom: What the Bible Really Says About Why God Destroyed the Cities of the Plain, for Kindle and in trade paperback.

All the Sins of Sodom

Sins of Sodom

Where does the story of Sodom and Gomorrah leave us? We see that inhospitality, violence, and abuse toward strangers was their primary sin—not homosexuality.

But what about the rest of the Scriptures that mention the cities of the Plain?

In all of the biblical passages, we find the following sins and crimes delineated:

Bible Book Sins akin to Sodom’s
Genesis 13:13; 19 Wickedness and sin
Inhospitality
Forcefulness
Prejudice against outsiders
Disrespect
Cruelty
Violence and physical/sexual abusiveness
Intent to degrade, debase, dominate and humiliate
Deuteronomy 29:17-28; 32:32-35 Detestable practices
Idolatry
Apostasy
Spiritual adultery
Abandoning God
Scoffing the Rock of their salvation
Following after strange gods
Sacrificing to demons
Isaiah 1:4, 7-11, 15-17; 3:8-9; 13:19-20 Unfaithfulness
Hypocrisy
Iniquity
Violence
Bloodshed
Evildoing
Oppressing the helpless
Haughtiness
Pride in sinfulness
Jeremiah 23:14-15; 49:16-18; 50:39-40 Adultery
Walking in lies
Strengthening the hands of evildoers
Promoting ungodliness
Inspiring terror
Pride
Idolatry
Sinning against the Lord
Challenging the Lord
Defying the Lord
Arrogance
Lamentations 3:34-36; 4:6 Transgressions
Grievous sin
Uncleanness
Rebelliousness
Iniquity
Becoming cruel
Injustice that exploits human rights
Ezekiel 16:46-51 Abominations
Whorings with heathen nations
Idolatry
Child sacrifice
Wickedness
Lewd behavior
Spiritual adultery
Lust
Shedding blood
Pride
Greed
Gluttony
No concern for the poor and needy
Amos 4:11 Ruthless oppression and enslavement of the poor
Fathers and sons sexually using the same girl
Interfering with the Nazirites and prophets
Oppression
Wrongdoing, looting, hoarding plunder
Idle luxury
Oppressing the poor and crushing the needy
Drunkenness
Making sacrifices without turning from sin and then boasting about it
Zephaniah 2:8-11 Idolatry
Complacency
Sinning against the Lord
Pride
Scoffing
Boasting
Matthew 10:14-15; 11:20-24 Hardheartedness
Unrepentance
Luke 10:5-12; 17:28-33 Inhospitality
Romans 9:29 Unbelief
2 Peter 2:4-9 NIV Ungodliness
Depravity
Lawlessness
Jude 5-7 NASB Gross immorality
Going after “strange flesh” (angelic)—violating God’s created order
Revelation 11:7-8 Rejecting God’s messengers
3 Maccabees 2:2-5 CEB Violence
Arrogance
Wicked deeds
2 Esdras 2:8-9 CEB; 5:7 CEB; 7:106 CEB Ignoring the Lord and his advice
Disobedience
Idolatry
Sexual immorality
Sirach 16:8 CEB Disobedience
Rebellion
Pride
Arrogance
Wisdom 19:13-17 CEB Failing to welcome sojourning strangers
Making guests and benefactors slaves
Treating people unlike themselves as enemies
Forcing strangers to do hard labor

The chief sins are inhospitality, idolatry, hatred of strangers, and abuses against human rights. Sexual sins are in the minority, most are metaphorical of spiritual adultery, and homosexuality is not mentioned. Instead, pride and arrogance are primary.

Next time, we’ll make some conclusions about the teaching of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

More information:

The Sin of Sodom coverTo read the full story, get my book, The Sin of Sodom: What the Bible Really Says About Why God Destroyed the Cities of the Plain, for Kindle and in trade paperback.

When You Don’t Fit in at Church

Outcast

Ever feel like you don’t fit in at church? I did.

I was raised in conservative evangelicalism. My father was a pastor, and I spent a lot of time at church.

As an adolescent, I struggled with my faith because I expected it to “deliver” me from same-sex attraction, something that some religions consider to be aberrant and sinful—especially conservative Christianity.

I strayed from God during my college years but returned with a vengeance, committing my life to the Lord and Christian morality and service. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. I was determined to conquer same-sex attraction with God’s grace.

I married a woman and started a Christian ministry and a publishing company. I continued to do everything in my power to allow God to work in me to “cure” me of same-sex attraction. I tried for nearly twenty years.

Prayer didn’t work. Fasting didn’t work. Deliverance didn’t work. A stint in reparative therapy left me hopeless and suicidal. I was still gay.

With the help of my wife, I realized I could no longer deny who I was just because the spiritual community I was part of held narrowly prescribed notions of what was acceptable, moral, and holy.

God hadn’t cured me because I wasn’t sick. Instead, I needed to come out of the closet.

Man in closet

As a result, we disbanded the ministry, divorced amicably, sold our house, and started over again. It was hard but ultimately freeing for both of us. (We’re still good friends.)

After I came out, I thought I had failed God and that God had abandoned me. But I experienced a sovereign visitation of the Holy Spirit, unexpected and powerful, and I received a new calling to leave the ninety-nine and find the one.

This led to another crisis: I needed to come out of the closet about my newfound spirituality.

You see, even while I was in the evangelical/charismatic Christian community, some of my spiritual gifts did not fit with their ideas of orthodoxy. For example, I saw visions of each of my grandparents after they had died. In my religious circle at the time, this was considered to be “of the devil.”

I heard God speaking to me in my heart and wrote down the messages but kept quiet about it. (“You hear voices?! Hmmm…”) I saw visions.

I had prophetic gifts. But I was gay and out.

I concluded that conservative Christianity as I had experienced it would not draw those seeking unconditional acceptance, especially LGBT people. I didn’t feel safe in those churches anymore. I knew I didn’t belong.

So, where could I turn to find genuine fellowship and be released to use my gifts? I had no idea where I would fit in.

I tried a number of churches but felt I was always denying myself or my unique gifts to belong to a particular group.

Either I needed to hide that I was Pentecostal and prophetic to fit in a church that accepted me as gay, or I had to pretend I was straight so that I could enjoy Pentecostal worship and an environment where the gifts of the Spirit operated.

I also wanted to teach and speak inspirationally but didn’t feel called to go to seminary (although I have a masters in biblical studies). I longed to use my spiritual gifts to minister to others instead of simply sitting and listening to endless sermons or participating in scripted religious activities.

Who would understand that I experienced dreams and visions, and heard the voice of the Holy Spirit, whose words I faithfully transcribed? Naturally, I also wanted to be open about and be accepted as a gay man.

I haven’t found the perfect church for me—yet.

I feel the Lord has called me to reach out to the marginalized, those who’ve been rejected by the Church or who simply feel like they don’t belong in an orthodox spiritual community. Let me ask you:

  • The Creator loves you and has a unique purpose for your life. Have you found it?
  • Are you disenchanted with organized religion but still want to cultivate a connection with God through Jesus Christ?
  • Are you hungry for more of the Holy Spirit and desire to be trained in spiritual ministry to others?

If what I’m saying resonates with you, and you want to connect, feel free to comment here or contact me.

In the meantime, you can connect with others like you through social media. Search for people using the hashtags #exvangelical and #FaithfullyLGBT on Facebook or Twitter. There are also organizations such as The Reformation Project and the Q Christian Fellowship where you can connect with others of faith who are LGBT.

“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherewith he hath made us freely accepted in his beloved” (Eph. 1:6 GNV).

Misfit toys

More information:
Check out my booklet, Response to a Concerned Heterosexual Christian, available on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.