Friday, August 1, 2014

The Bible does not condemn Homosexuality: Sin of Sodom

Sodom and Gomorrah

Even back when I was still under the impression homosexuality was a sin, I never agreed with the view that homosexuality was "The Sin of Sodom". Neither did anyone in Pre-Christian times, absolutely no Jewish source or commentary (Philo is the only exception, he was a Platonist) would claim it was.

I don’t believe it’s accurate to label anything "The Sin" of Sodom, I see Sodom and Gomorrah as places where it world be easier to list what sins they weren't committing. But many Jewish sources, including the Talmud and Midrashim, see in-hospitality, greed, and selfishness as the primary issue in question. Hospitality was and is very important in Semitic/Middle Eastern cultures, far more then it’s ever been in the west, which is part of why Western readers today have trouble getting this part of the point. Twice when the Bible itself later refers to Sodom it’s with this concern.

"As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.  Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good."
Ezekiel 16:48-50, and Jesus himself, when he sends the Apostles out in Matthew 10:1-15 and Luke 10:1-12, compares to Sodom and Gomorrah those who are inhospitable to his disciples. (In The Book of Judges, 19-21, there is an account, similar in many ways, where Gibeah, a city of the Benjamin tribe, is destroyed by the other tribes of Israel in revenge for a mob of its inhabitants raping and killing a woman.)

Hebrews 13:2 which famously says "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Is there to encourage Hospitality, and what Paul mainly had in mind was Genesis 18, which is part of the same narrative as Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. So that's two New Testament witnesses that Hospitality is what's in mind here.

Leviticus 19 also demonstrates how Hospitality was an important value in the Mosaic Law. It's funny actually how some modern politically conservative Christians want to impose Leviticus 18 and 20 on modern America, but won't mention the following passage of the in-between chapter when discussing Immigration. Verses 33 and 34. Verse 34 draws on the phrase from the earlier verse 18 that is the only Leviticus statement ever directly quoted by Jesus, it's what he labels it the second greatest commandment.

"And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."

This notion of reminding the Israelites that they where strangers in Egypt is something God often does when telling them to be kind to their strangers. This is why Egypt is paired with Sodom when Jerusalem "spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt" in places like Revelation 11, where they celebrating he martyrdom of God's two messengers.   God is condemning Jerusalem for it's in-hospitality.

In Genesis 19, a sexual act is threatened in the narrative, but it's an act of rape, gang rape specifically, and is thus sinful regardless of the genders involved. Rape back then as now is more about Power then Sex, male on male rape particularly is about humiliation.  That's the reason for Prison Rape, those men aren't actually of a Homosexual orientation.

Yet I have critics of my view then asking me with a mocking tone"so what it Rape or In-Hospitality".  And I just rolls my eyes.  Can they really not figure out that raping a guest in your home or visitor in your town is the ultimate in-hospitality?

In various key verses of Genesis 18 and 19 the word you see translated "men" is actually 'enowsh (en-oshe') Strong # 582 (in it's plural form). Enosh is not actually a gender specific term, if the author wanted to be gender specific here he’d have used either iysh or zakar. Enosh is closer to how Adam is used, as a references to all humans. Enos was the name of an ancestor of Noah in Genesis 4 and 5, in other words we are all descendants of Enos just as we are of Adam. Elsewhere even the KJV simply translated it "persons". The Sodom and Gomorrah narrative uses it both of the angel visitors and those who seek to attack them. Genesis 19:4 says “the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:” The italics are Enosh, as seen by what I put in bold, it’s clearly NOT just the males doing this. I think it’s very conceivable it’d have been just the women actually screwing them and the men would have just watched, some people are into that sort of thing.

I've recently read some of Ken Johnson's material ('Ancient Post-Flood History: Historical Documents That Point to Biblical Creation' and 'Ancient Paganism: The Sorcery of the Fallen Angels'), he has a fixation on the so called "Book of Jasher" (which he also has an entire book dedicated to, which I don't have yet but I'm sure he makes the same statement). He believes the medieval Midrash Jasher is the "Jasher" mentioned in Joshua and Samuel, but I the real Jasher we don't have. But at any rate, when mentioning what Chapter 18 of this Pseudo-Jasher has to say about Sodom and Gomorrah, he unfortunately shoehorns homosexuality into it. Not even the text as he quotes it say anything emphasizing a homosexual nature to the men of Sodom, but instead do give many details testifying to their evident heterosexuality. Jasher 18, verses 13 and 14 reads
"And all the people of Sodom and Gomorrah went there four times in the year, with their wives and children and all belonging to them, and they rejoiced there with timbrels and dances. And in the time of rejoicing they would all rise and lay hold of their neighbor's wives, and some, the virgin daughters of their neighbors, and they enjoyed them, and each man saw his wife and daughter in the hands of his neighbor and did not say a word." Reading from verse 16 onwards however, the emphasis is on in-hospitality; it's discussed far more than any sexual issues. Verse 16 "the people of these cities would assemble, men, women and children, young and old, and go to the man and take his goods by force". And it lists many other examples of their ill treatment of visitors.
http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/apo/jasher/18.html
This isn't the only thing he gets wrong either. His scholarship is horrible and I absolutely would not recommend his books to any young Christian not already well informed on these subjects.

Another extra-Biblical source would be Clement of Rome, besides the Didache perhaps our oldest extra-Biblical Christian document.  He too refereed to Sodom when discussing Hospitality.

Jude verse 7 is often cited by Chuck Missler and others as confirming the sin of Sodom was sexual in nature. I’m a fan of Chuck’s but we have disagreements, and here I’m actually going to use some of Chuck’s own arguments against him. The sin Jude is concerned with does have a sexual nature to it, but it’s not homosexual.

Here are both verses 6 and 7 as they read in the KJV “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

I have put "strange" in bold for a reason. The irony of trying to say this is condemning Homosexuality is that the word translated strange here is Heteros (het'-er-os) Strong # 2087, which is the word the hetero part of the word Heterosexual comes from. Homios means the same kind while Heteros means a different kind. In New Testament times neither was combined with a word meaning sexual to imply orientation, that is a modern development. Both words are commonly translated "another". Chuck Missler will often make points about there being 2 different words for "another" in Greek, Homios meaning "another" of the same kind, while Heteros means another of a different kind. But he fails to acknowledge that they're not always translated "another", and that Heteros is used here.

Homios is part of what’s translated “like manner” to indicate this being the same kind of sin addressed in the previous verse. I personally would in this verse translate Heteros as Alien, “Alien flesh” (Some scholars have already suggested that before me). We do know from various references to the Raphaim that the region where Sodom and Gomorrah was located was a center of Nephilim activity, the servants of Satan trying to repeat what they did before The Flood as explained in Genesis 6 which Jude alludes to in verse 6. 2 Peter 2:4-10 also mentions that and Sodom & Gomorrah together in the context of explaining the signs of the end times. Chuck talks about this subject a lot, including “As in the days of Noah” from the Olivet Discourse, but the Luke account of the discourse adds to that a reference to Sodom and Gomorrah in 17:28-30.

I don’t believe these were the first Angels the people of Sodom had encountered, just the first not fallen ones. And I believe Human and Angel interbreeding is what Jude was referring to. It was rather the opposite of homosexuality; it's how the intended victims were different from their attackers that is the concern.

The Testament of Naphtali refers of the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs 3.3.4-5 refers explicitly to the Women of Sodom having Sex with Angels, with terminology that is similar to Romans 1 interestingly.

Another common mistake on this passage, do not leave it with the conclusion that God approves of Lot offering his Daughters.  He has the key value the Sodomites do not, Hospitality.  But he goes about that in the wrong way.  Lot is NOT meant to be an ideal role model, he's consistently depicted as a worldly believer.  God never condones what Lot did here, in fact the Angels there as God's agents who clearly understand God's will better then Lot does made sure it didn't happen.

What is a Sodomite?

The word Sodomite, both singular and plural, often occurs in the KJV of the Hebrew Bible. This term derives from Medieval interpretations of Sodom and Gomorrah being about male homosexuality. The way it’s used in many verses in the KJV and some modern Bibles makes it look like the text is referring back to Sodom and Gomorrah. Problem is that’s NOT in the Hebrew text at all.

The first occurrence is Deuteronomy 23:17 “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.” The reason why this is such an obviously bad rendering, is that in the Hebrew the word rendered Sodomite (Qadesh (kaw-dashe') Strong # 6945) here is actually just the masculine form of the word rendered whore (Q@deshah (ked-ay-shaw') Strong # 4948) . And it’s the same word all 5 times Sodomite occurs, the other 4 occurrences are all in Kings. Once the same word is translated differently by the KJV, in Job 36:14 it’s rendered "unclean". The feminine form is also often rendered "harlot".

The feminine form is closer to being translated accurately but not quite. It doesn't refer to just any prostitute (there were other Hebrew words for that), but specifically to Temple prostitutes engaged in ritual prostitution in the cults of goddesses like Astarte and Qedeshtu. The root of the word is "Qedosh" which means "Holy". Every time you see "Holy" in the OT it's "Qedosh", and "Holy One" (a title of the God of Israel) is it's noun form. It derives from similar practices involved in the worship of Inanna in Uruk of ancient Sumer, who later became known as Ishtar in Babylon. The prostitute (male or female) in question played the goddess while a male played the goddess’s husband and they then engaged in ritual sex.

From my studies of the contemporary equivalents to this kind of pagan practice, I've coined my own word to be a translation of the term. "Hierogamist" from "Hieros gamos" (holy marriage). It means one who engages in a ritual goddess worshiping sex act.

But I will add for the most radical KJV onliers reading this, that in 1611 "Sodomite" and "Sodomy" did not exactly refer to what we today call Homosexuality or even specifically male Homosexuality. The term simply meant Anal sex and could include heterosexual anal intercourse. There will be more on that in the next part.

But regardless of how the word is translated. The context of it's occurrences in Kings tell us it's about Canaanite pagan practices. Because it's linked to the tearing down of the Groves (phallic obelisks, named after the goddess Asherah) and High Places.

4 comments:

  1. I guess u are not aware of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was destroyed not just bc of inhospitable actions. Do you not remember when the angels were demanded to comemout as the men surrounding Lot's home were wanting to get to 'know' them. God's Word did not have to list the sins of the ppl of Sodom and Gomorrah - ppl just know they were perverted (know what's right to do but does the opposite).
    There is no other city after to flood that's been listed as destroyed in this fantastical way.
    The New Testament also condemns homosexuality in Romans 1. Check it out for yourself.

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    1. This entire post was about that, of course I'm aware. Did you actually read everything I said up above?

      The point is the "Knowing them" would have been Rape. Rape is not about Sex, ti's about Power and humiliation.

      And I have addressed Romans 1 here too.

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    2. Minimize, rationalize, twist the text any way you want, but there is no way to deny the simple statement of Leviticus 18:22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

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    3. There is a Qualifying statement there you are ignoring.

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