We are talking about homosexuality, grace, church at the corps right now. It is astounding to note how much bad theology and how sloppy exegesis we have let become the foundation of our stance on the issue of homosexuality. It is scary to realise that we have let a handful obscure (hard to translate with accuracy at the least) scripture verses define our stance on homosexuality.We let Jesus central message of love and hope be overridden by these half a dozen references.
Worldwide the word sodomite is used to describe homosexuals even though even a light and sporadic reading of the Sodom narrative will reveal that what is discussed is not and cannot be homosexuality (heartfelt love and attraction between two people of the same sex) rather a horrifying picture of violence, rape, hatred and pure evil. Please understand I am not stating that the sodomites where good, no to the contrary, I would argue that sodom and sodomites are a symbol for pure evil in the Old Testament.
Looking through the texts we find that the rest of the bible refers to sodom as a place of evil but not a place of homosexuality rather a place where guests where treated badly (and that is the understatement of the year) so the subject of the story is not homophilia but xenofobia. Consider jesus words to his disciples when he sends them out to preach the gospel:
““When you enter a town and are not received, go out in the street and say, ‘The only thing we got from you is the dirt on our feet, and we’re giving it back. Did you have any idea that God’s kingdom was right on your doorstep?’ Sodom will have it better on Judgment Day than the town that rejects you.” (Luke 10:10–12 MESSAGE)
Here Jesus not only refers to the severe judgement of Sodom but also the sin of Sodom inhospitality or simply the lack of love.
Theologian Jesper Svartvik argues that there is a clear link between the Sodom narrative and the myth of Procrustes, the man who would receive guests and let them sleep in his bed of iron, while they slept he would take his tools and make them fit his bed, by making them taller, and in later versions of the story cutting bits of to shorten them. Much like the church has been trying to make the GLBTQ community fit our christian iron bed. So the sin of sodom is the “come as you are, but you must become like us” mentality that permeates our Christian thinking. As long as we approach people with the hidden, or not so hidden agenda to change them or transform them we are being the real sodomites. Violating our sacred guests to make them into our image, when surely what we need to be doing is to merely point to Jesus in loving conversations and let God worry about change, conversion and transformation. Who amI to tell you what God meant when he created you?
Will the real sodomite please stand up?