So, boxer-turned-Allstate employee-turned-fired Allstate employee and one of the deans of the “law school” at Liberty University Matt Barber was doing his little song-and-dance radio show with Mat “One T” Staver, also of Liberty University/Liberty Counsel, and he introduced a very, very strange theory: same-sex marriage led up to the Great Flood (!!!), and Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because of not only homosexuality, but also cross-dressing. Everyone else apparently missed the part of that story when a Bible Times RuPaul was all “Shanté, You Stay” and then looked at the other girl and told her to “sashay away,” at which point Jehovah RAINED FIRE AND BRIMSTONE DOWN ON THE PLACE!
Right. Video, then I’m going to help these dinguses out:
Ho-kay. Bible study time, and it involves something called a concordance, which many of our conservative-believing friends may not be familiar with.
But first, quickly, here is Genesis 6:5-7, which describes the lead-up to the purported flood:
6:5 But the Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind had become great on the earth. Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time. 6:6 The Lord regretted that he had made humankind on the earth, and he was highly offended. 6:7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe humankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – everything from humankind to animals, including creatures that move on the ground and birds of the air, for I regret that I have made them.”
Putting aside the notion of an omnipotent, omniscient deity that has regrets and then chooses to burn everything down rather than trying to fix it*, we will simply note that nothing is said about gay marriage in there, and that Matt Barber is simply imprinting his own prejudices onto the text. We are not surprised, but we note it nonetheless.
NOW. Concordance time. Sodom and Gomorrah did not have anything to do with homosexuality. NOTHING. It had to do with rape, and also with inhospitality, which is a concept that our Western eyes don’t quite understand in the sense the Biblical writer did. This is not about your friend failing to invite you to stay on their couch, but rather involved the very life-and-death prospect of not being given shelter in a town when the conditions for travel, the scarcity of food, the distance to the next town, could realistically mean that you’re not going to make it if that town doesn’t invite you in. That’s a rough, brief description of the issue, but it suffices for these purposes. Why do we know that it doesn’t have jack to do with homosexuality and everything to do with inhospitality and rape? Why, the Bible answers the question! Wingnuts like Matt ‘n’ Mat presumably could figure this out for themselves, but their bigotry is more dear to them than their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” which they simply use as a smokescreen to hide behind while they’re hating people. Let’s look up the word “Sodom” in Ye Handy Olde Concordance, shall we?
Jeremiah 23:14: And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that not one of them turns from their wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah.”
Ezekiel 16:48-50: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. 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. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.
Now, it seems that by the time the New Testament writers were constructing their version of events, the idea that “sexual immorality” was central had entered the discussion, but let’s simply point out that Ezekiel, just above, gives the clearest explanation for what was going on in those verses.
Jude 1:7: 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.
But Jude doesn’t get really specific, does he? But let’s remember the actual story of Sodom and Gomorrah, if that’s not too radical of a thought. Let’s quote the whole thing, from Genesis 19:
19 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”
3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.
10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.
12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”
14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry[a] his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”
16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords,[b] please! 19 Your[c] servant has found favor in your[d] eyes, and you[e] have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”
21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.[f])
23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.
29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.
ALL RIGHTY! Let’s deconstruct:
Gay marriage is certainly not mentioned in there. Nothing about love, nothing about commitment. The only way to take this as a condemnation of gay people is to have a false notion of gay people. Bigots do this. They have their own ideas in their heads about what gay people are like, and those ideas are always false, but they have to do this in order to intellectually make this work in their heads. What just happened is that the angels showed up and the men of the city showed up in turn to pull what was, in those times, a power move. Rape was used as a means of power, just as it is today. The men of the city showed up to rape the angels. I think we all agree that Angel Rape, like all other kinds of rape, is bad. I would also assert that it was pretty horrific of Lot to say “you can rape my virgin daughters, that’s cool,” and we’re supposed to be looking at Lot as the “one righteous man” of this scenario. But ya know…far be it from me to screw with wingnuts and their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Funny that most male wingnuts are rape denialists to this day, though.
So, we see Ezekiel explaining that the citizens of Sodom were haughty, overfed, inhospitable and selfish, and we see Jude referencing “sexual immorality and perversion.” Jude wasn’t specific about what kind of sexual immorality and perversion, but luckily the original text allows us to say, “oh, this was about that whole male power rape thing.”
And so here we are at the end, understanding the Bible better than dinguses like Matt Barber and Mat Staver, who must remain willfully ignorant of what their own book says, in order to keep their bigotry going.
Good job guys, but we’re not stupid.
This concludes your Truth Wins Out Bible Study Time.
[h/t Kyle @ Right Wing Watch]
*Book recommendation time: If you’ve never read Carl Jung’s Answer to Job, do so immediately. It’s fascinating.