By Ed Vitagliano
| AFA Journal News Editor
For gay and lesbian activists intent on molding American
culture in their own image, the church is seen as the most stalwart
opponent resisting the triumph of homosexual philosophy.
As Paul Varnell, a homosexual columnist and writer, says, It
can scarcely be doubted that the primary, and perhaps only sources
of our cultures anti-gay hostility are the Christian denominations.
To counter this threat, some activists have undertaken a long-term
strategy of capturing the church from within, in order to
use its long-standing moral authority as an instrument of change.
However, this approach has one glaring weakness. How could churches,
which hold to beliefs that are presumably anchored in Scripture,
be used by activists to condone something the Bible clearly condemns
The solution to that dilemma has been to allege that the Scriptures
have been erroneously interpreted. Some activists claim that the
mistaken assessments are the result of simple ignorance, while others,
like the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the homosexually-oriented Metropolitan
Community Church (MCC), assert there are more malevolent reasons.
In his book, Dont Be Afraid Anymore, Perry said, To
condemn homosexuals, many denominations have intentionally misread
and misinterpreted their Bibles to please their own personal preferences.
Smoke and mirrors on Sodom
So what does the Bible actually say? Activists have taken great
pains to provide alternative interpretations of the Biblical passages
that seem to clearly condemn homosexuality.
Of course, the obvious place to start is Sodom and Gomorrah. The
familiar tale of the duo of doomed cities, recounted in Genesis
18 and 19, has made Sodom and Gomorrah synonymous with divine judgment.
But the cities have become synonymous with something else, too:
homosexuality. In fact, the word sodomy, which generally
refers to unnatural sex acts (especially homosexual anal intercourse)
is derived from the name of the city of Sodom.
This association comes from the events of Genesis 19. When two angels,
in the form of men, came to Sodom to stay with Lot, the men of the
city surrounded the house and asked, Where are the men which
came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may
know them (vs. 5, KJV).
Lot pleaded with them to reconsider their request, and shockingly
even offered them his two virgin daughters instead. The men
again demanded that the two newcomers be brought out, and even threatened
Lot, after which the angels pulled Lot to safety and warned the
man of God to take his family and flee Sodom. Fiery judgment then
engulfed the two cities.
With such a Biblical event casting its shadow over the theological
landscape, how could gay advocates sidestep the obvious
implication that God considered homosexuality a despicable sin?
Some simply deny that any type of sexuality homosexual or
heterosexual is in view in the Sodom and Gomorrah saga. For
example, in his book, Homosexuality and the Western Christian
Tradition, Dr. Sherwin Bailey argues that the Hebrew word translated
know in this verse does not refer to sex at all. Instead,
the request on the part of the townsmen to know the
visitors was merely a request to become acquainted with Lots
guests, especially since they were outsiders.
A proper exegesis of this passage reveals the ludicrous nature of
this argument. Lot responded to the initial request by beseeching
the men, Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly (vs.
7, NAS). This is hardly a comprehensible statement if all the men
wanted to do was meet Lots guests and start up a conversation.
Furthermore, as P. Michael Ukleja argues in Bibliotheca Sacra,
with such a restricted meaning for know, Lots
offer of his daughters to the men of the city (itself a disgraceful
act) would be inexplicable.
The more common approach for activists, however, has been to argue
that the sin here in Genesis is not homosexuality per se,
but homosexual rape. Violence forcing sexual activity
upon another is the real point of this story, said
lesbian English professor Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, co-author of
the book Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?
Mollenkott is not completely off the mark, for the story does demonstrate
that the men of Sodom, after being rebuffed by Lott, fully intended
to sexually brutalize Lotts visitors.
However, Mollenkott misses the obvious: what if Lotts two
visitors had been agreeable to the initial suggestion of carnal
knowledge with the men of the city? There is nothing in the Genesis
account to suggest that the resulting homosexual orgy would have
been forced. The homosexuals wanted sex with the strangers, and
they would take it any way they could get it; but they were homosexuals.
In any case, it was not one incident alone that led to the demise
of Sodom and Gomorrah. As clearly seen in Genesis 18, God had already
stated that the sin of the cities was exceedingly grave
(vs. 20). Even before the two angels showed up in Sodom, the Lord
had already targeted the cities for destruction. The divine intention
to sweep away all who lived there (vs. 23) was what
led Abraham to plead for mercy in that passages memorable
example of intercession.
So what were the exceedingly grave sins which led to
the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? Most Christians would be
surprised to hear an interpretation of these events that did not
even include the issue of homosexuality but that is precisely
what many activists offer.
Many contemporary [scholars] agree that the Old Testament
story about the destruction of Sodom cannot be read as a lesson
about divine punishment of same-sex copulation. If any lesson is
wanted from the story, the lesson would seem to be about hospitality,
said Mark D. Jordan, Emory University professor of religion.
As bizarre as that assertion might seem at first, Jordans
explanation is worth investigating. In Ezekiel 16:49-50, the prophet
addresses the sins of Israel by pointing to the sins of Sodom: Behold,
this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had
arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help
the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations
before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.
Ezekiel clearly links Sodoms judgment at least in part
to the citys pride and luxurious lifestyle, and the
inhabitants refusal to help those in need.
Do we have two conflicting accounts of Sodoms guilt in Scripture?
Does Genesis focus on homosexuality, while the prophet Ezekiel accuses
the citys inhabitants of pride and inhospitality?
The two passages are actually in agreement, for Ezekiel does not
ignore the issue of homosexuality at all. The prophets reference
to the fact that Sodom committed abominations before
God is no doubt a reference to the inhabitants homosexual
proclivities especially with the Genesis story in the minds
of Ezekiels hearers. After all, the Jews understood abomination
as a common way of referring to grotesque sexual sin like homosexuality
Therefore, rather than being an unexpected revision of Scriptural
history, Ezekiels reference to Sodom is a clear explanation
of it, adding to the Genesis account, rather than contradicting
it. The arrogant self-indulgence of Sodoms citizens
contributed to the sexual perversion.
In fact, this supposition fits more reasonably within the context
of Ezekiels denunciation of Israel who, after all,
is the real subject of the prophets preaching. Israels
harlotries and abominations, clearly laid out in the earlier portions
of Ezekiel 16, are tied to the unfaithful nations own wealth
and material blessings (vv. 10-14). Such luxury and arrogance,
therefore, can lead to sexual perversion, and that would be the
precise impact of Ezekiels reference to Sodom.
However, the attempt to deflect away from homosexuality the horror
of the judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah receives its fatal blow
from the New Testament. In verses which even Jordan calls problematic,
the epistles of both 2 Peter and Jude link Sodoms guilt to
carnality and sexual perversion.
In 2 Peter 2, the apostle said the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
should serve as an example to the wicked of every generation (vs.
6). Lott, he said, continually witnessed the sensual conduct
of unprincipled men, who, among other things, indulge
the flesh in its corrupt desires (vv. 7, 10).
Jude 7 makes the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah even more explicit: the
inhabitants indulged in gross immorality and went after strange
flesh, and what could be stranger than men fornicating with
While the two cursed cities may have been judged for more
than their homosexuality, there is no legitimate way to remove
homosexuality from the list of sins that doomed them.
Openly homosexual Rev. Peter J. Gomes, the Plummer Professor of
Christian Morals at Harvard University, also insists on reinterpreting
the Sodom and Gomorrah story. In The Good Book: Reading the Bible
with Heart and Mind, which argues for Christianitys acceptance
of homosexuality, Gomes says that even Jesus was under the
impression that Sodom was destroyed because it lacked hospitality.
His proof? Gomes cites Matthew 10, in which the Lord Jesus prepared
His disciples to go forth and preach the gospel among the cities
of Israel. Some cities, of course, would reject the message of the
kingdom, but the disciples were simply to turn away from them.
Truly I say to you, Jesus warned ominously, it
will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the
day of judgment, than for that city (vs. 15). In Gomes
mind, Jesus reference to the destruction of the doomed cities
is yet another warning against inhospitality.
Gomes exegesis is inexcusably poor. Jesus did not use the
judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah as an indictment against inhospitality,
but as a warning against rejecting the gospel. As Brian Fitzpatrick
argues in the Lambda Report, it is the severity of the Old
Testament judgment that is in Jesus view, not the reasons
Ironically, in turning to Matthew 10 in an attempt to excuse Sodom
and Gomorrah, Gomes has laid the groundwork for his own judgment.
In rejecting the necessity of repentance (by homosexuals) for entrance
into the kingdom of God, he has placed himself in the position of
the very cities to which Jesus referred in Matthew 10.
Homosexual activists like Gomes, by repudiating the obvious meaning
of Scripture, run the risk of committing the most deadly sin of