Personal history, Medical, sociological, psychological, cultural, religious which must all be considered if we are to arrive at a truly wise and insightful decision. For the Christian, the scripture guidance is naturally going to be a significant one. Some may say I am oversimplifying my observation, however I believe it is helpful.
For Christians’ opinions become divided due to the way people understand the authority of the bible. I’ll highlight two extremes.
On the one hand some are very much drawn to the literal reading of the words. Hence the words are deemed eternal and universal and are to be taken and applied in a meaningful way for whatever way society is reading the passage.
On the other hand, others believe that God’s revelatory guidance can only ever be understood within the context of the person, the society, the time of history.
It requires a great deal of study, and prayerful reflection to sift through the literature and separate out the godly from the human. Regarding same sex marriage it would be helpful to at least see if we can find some scriptural guidance.
SODOM AND GOMORRAH
One of the notable records is the first reference we find in Genesis. Chapter 18. It is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.Today I plan to look at this account. As a city/town it had developed an ungodly reputation.
THE STORY BEGINS…
The story begins with three men passing by the tent of Abraham, who encourages them to stay the night. One foretells how Sarah will become pregnant and give birth to a child the following year. For Sarah this seems preposterous for she is well past child-bearing capacity. In this story, the point of this episode is to suggest that the men are godly visitors. The passage doesn’t say, but it’s common for people to imply they were angels. Who knows? …let’s settle on accepting they are godly messengers.
The story proceeds the next morning. Abraham walks part way with the visitors and they head toward Sodom. On the way, God determines to tell him that he has sent his messengers to see if the city is as morally corrupt as he has heard. It becomes apparent that if it is, God intends to punish by destroying the city. The men proceed on their journey to enter the city for their inspection, but Abraham stops at a point from which he can see the city in the distance and discusses this situation with God.
“Do you mean you are going to kill everyone, good and bad alike, because of the wrong of some people?”. The interesting discussion continues with Abraham bartering God down from 50, to 40 to 30 and finally to ten good people.
The story moves from Abraham Lot. And this is the point of the story that interests us…So far we have not heard the nature of the corruption and wickedness in the city. We can only assume that it is related to the events surrounding the unfolding story at Lots residence. We are told that the men this time are passing Lots place and he encourages them to stay as guests.
Word spreads through the village that two aliens, foreigners, are staying with Lot. For whatever reason, the men of the city, young and old alike surround Lots house and demand that he brings the two visitors out. And I quote… “They called to Lot and asked him where the men were who had entered his house that night. ‘Bring them out’, they shouted, ‘So that we can know them.’ The actual Hebrew word reads, ‘so that we can know them’. In Hebrew, that was the common way of speaking of sexual intercourse. Lot resists but ends up offering his two daughters, both virgins, in their place. His reason is whatever happens, you are not going to dishonour me by insulting my guests.
This is all enough for the visitors, they are horrified by the ways of the men and declare to Lot, take steps to leave this city because God has sent them to destroy it. Lot, his wife and daughters hastily traveled to the neighbouring city of Zoar, which was to be preserved amongst all of the cities of the plains. It reads, ‘and then the Lord rained down fire and brimstone from the skies on Sodom and Gomorrah. He overthrew those cities and destroyed all the Plain, with everyone living there and everything growing in the land.
How do we evaluate this passage? The story of Abraham goes back two thousand years before Christ, hence four thousand from our own day. Life consisted of nomadic tribes with some settled farming communities. Records appear to be a mix of historical events and illustrative stories designed to teach wisdom. This story is 1000 years before the apparent codification of the commandments. Societies were hardly beginning to discern right and wrong. It appears they thought God was likely to punish and destroy the wrong doer. We can hold the story of Noah and the flood up against this one.
So, Sodom and Gomorrah is about the evil in cities.
WHAT IS THE EVIL
But what is the evil? On first impressions the suggestion is that it was sexual. But again we are confused because Lot has no qualms about offering his daughters. Women were obviously of lesser value than men. Who would not be horrified by Lots behaviour today…what is it, prostitution, sex slaves? It certainly has nothing to suggest a godly man. The arrival of men at Lots house demanding him to bring the visitors out so they could have intercourse with them, was certainly not love making. It was even more than sexual gratification. It was rape and the organized way it happened, points to rape being systemic within the society. My reading of history, speaks of rape of both males and females as always having been an issue of power and humiliation
So on this reading what would you conclude? Whether it was rape of the men or betrayal of his daughters it’s got nothing to do with an expression of love. We would all conclude it is abhorrent, forget the type of sexual activity, it is the abuse of male and female alike.
Let me ask, ‘Has this got anything to do with same sex marriage’?
HOW DO YOU READ IT?
1. Words at face value?
2. Or do you want a deeper analysis?