Thursday, June 18, 2009

Homosexuality and Scripture II: Gen. 19

In the last post in this series, we looked at the "Ignored Passages" (Gen. 1-3, Matt. 19, Eph. 5) that define human nature as created male and female with the sexes complementing each other and God's plan for human sexuality in marraige. Liberal Protestants (and their Catholic dissident fellow travellers) who wish to argue that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behaviour wisely choose to ignore these passages and hope against hope that no one calls them on it. What else can they do?

Then they zero in on the few passages in Scripture that explicitly treat homosexuality. There are only a few because condemning something so obviously at odds with God's created order is like beating a dead horse. But homosexuality does come up a few times, usually in passages that use it to illustrate how evil pagan society is and how necessary it is for the people of God to come out from among them and be separate.

These verses are not difficult to understand when read in the context of the "Ignored Passages" but only beome obscure when read out of context. The rule here is that Scripture must be allowed to interpret Scripture. For revisionists modern culture must be allowed to interpret Scripture, but the Church cannot read Scripture that way.

This is certainly the case in the story of Lot's escape from Sodom in Gen. 19. Here the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have reached the point where their sin is so extreme that God's wrath is about to fall on them as a warning to others. The angels come to warn Lot to flee with his family before judgment falls. A mob gathers around Lot's house in the night and demands that the strangers (angels, if they only knew) be brought out so they can rape them. Lot has obviously been living in Sodom way too long and so he offers his daughters to them instead. (This detail shows how Lot's fate is now hanging by the slimist of threads.) Yet Lot has enough residual knowledge of the power and holiness of God that he is frightened to death by the idea that the messangers of the LORD God might be harmed by the mob. The angels unleash a little tiny fraction of the power they bear and disable with blindness the men trying to break down the door. Then they say to Lot that he must get out of Sodom and take with him anyone he loves. At dawn they flee and before they are out of sight of the city the smell of sulphur rises from its ashes as the LORD God rains down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah.

Revisionists employ special pleading here to claim that the sin of Sodom was not Sodomy, but rather inhospitality. Now certainly inhospitality was a grave offence in the culture of that day and the men of Sodom defninitely sinned by being inhospitable. But to admit that is in no way to make any less likely that the inhospitality took the form of homosexual gang rape, seeing as how that is what the text explicitly says. Some make a big deal out of Ezek. 16:49, which defines the sin of Sodom as a lack of concern for the poor:

" '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." (Ezek. 16:49)

No doubt Sodom was guilty of many sins; was this not the point of the fact that God's wrath was so aroused against Sodom in the first place? The point of the mention of homosexual gang rape in Gen. 19 was not that the Sodomites could do anything they wanted but when they did this particular sin it was game over. No, the Divine decision to judge had already been made before the angels went to Sodom. The mention of the homosexuality detail is just the narrator's way of emphasizing the extreme nature of Sodom's depravity. Sex outside of marriage is bad. Adulterous sex outside of marriage is worse. Rape is worse still. Violent gang rape is even worse still. But homosexual gang rape is the worst. The point here is that when the narrator reaches for a way to state the extremity of the sin of the Sodomites, this is what he comes up with.

Liberal who want to argue that the Exek. 16:49 verse "proves" that the problem with Sodom was lack of concern for the poor rather than homosexuality should not get so excited. Jude 7 makes it crystal clear that the NT (in agreement with Gen. 19) regards sexual immorality as the prototypical sin of Sodom and a particularly clear sign of its decadence:

"In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 7)

The fact is that sexual immorality and lack of concern for the poor are often connected in Scripture just as sexual purity and compassion for the poor are often connected. It is only modern revisionists who try to drive a wedge between lack of concern for sexual purity and lack of concern for the physical well-being of others. A theology that properly emphasizes the body, both as far as sin is concerned and as far as redemption is concerned, will reject the gnostic idea that we can ignore either sexual bodily purity or the bodily needs of the poor. The Gospel is all about the redemption of the body and redemption includes salvation from sexual perversion.

Passages like Gen. 19 are not difficult to understand when read in the context of the "Ignored Passage." They only become obscure when read out of context. The rule here is that Scripture must be allowed to interpret Scripture. For revisionists modern culture must be allowed to interpret Scripture, so one knows in advance of reading it that the one thing the passage cannot say is that homosexual behaviour is sinful. But the Church cannot read Scripture that way for the Church, unlike modern culture, lives under the authority of Holy Scripture. The Word of God calls the Church into being and orders her life and morals.

1 comment:

Peter Dunn said...

I've added a link to your blog at my website. Keep up the good work.