by David R. Weiss
Sodomy, understood biblically, is the sin of creating social structures that systematically isolate those already at the margins of society.
problem. And until we have the wisdom and the courage to be honest about what that means we're not going to resolve the question of civil rights for homosexuals. We need to be clear about why sodomy is such a threat to the common good of civil society, why it undermines the family, and why it is such an evil when afoot in faith communities. It's not going to be easy. But it needs to be done. The word "sodomy" comes from a biblical text (Genesis 19) where the ancient city of Sodom is marked out for divine destruction because its evil ways so angered God. Sodomy names those who act like the inhabitants of Sodom. Fine. But listen carefully. Not in this text--nor in any other biblical text--is there a condemnation of committed same-sex relationships. Not one. Not anywhere. There are a small handful of texts that
his country has a sodomy
condemn same-sex prostitution in pagan temples, and perhaps military rape and pederasty. But nowhere in the Bible is there a single word that condemns committed same-sex relationships. To vote on Proposition 8 in California, or on any of the other state initiatives seeking to ban same-sex marriage, based on the Bible is the moral equivalent of using biblical texts to support slavery or apartheid. It is obscene. So having cleared that up, let's talk about the real problem here: sodomy. Acting like the inhabitants of Sodom. The prophet Isaiah (1:10-17; 3:9-15) knew something about the reputation of those who lived in Sodom. He says they despised justice, especially for widows and orphans--those at the edges of family structures in the ancient world. And he says they built an economy that stole
the goods of the poor. Likewise, the prophet Ezekiel (16:49) was also acquainted with the sodomy "lifestyle." He rails against them because in the midst of their abundance they were indifferent to the needy. Even Jesus, some 2000 years after its destruction, can employ a reference to Sodom with full effect. Twice (Matthew 11:1924 and Luke 10:12) he invokes the memory of Sodom as a city condemned for its treatment of the marginalized and its lack of hospitality to sojourners. For both the Hebrew prophets and the Christian Messiah sodomy is not about acting on same-sex attraction; it is clearly and unequivocally about social injustice and horrendous breeches of hospitality, of which the attempted gang rape of Lot's guests is simply one final bit of damning evidence. Civil Rights continued on page 23 2
www.qviewnorthwest.com | Q View Northwest - Spokane Edition | December 2008 |