Sodom has become so associated with homosexual conduct that its name was for many ears a byword for it. But is 'sodomy' really what Sodom is about?
The account describes the men of the city attempting to forcibly have sex with two angelic visitors to the city, who have appeared in the form of men. Later parts of the Old Testament accuse Sodom of a range of sins: oppression, adultery, lying, abetting criminals, arrogance, complacency and indifference to the poor.
None of these even mentions homosexual conduct. This has led some people to wonder if we have read homosexuality into the Genesis narrative, when in fact the real issue was social oppression and injustice. But a close look at the text makes it clear that homosexuality was in fact involved.
Although the Hebrew word for “know” (yada) can just mean to “get to know” someone (rather than to “know” them sexually), it is clear from the crowd’s aggression (and Lot’s dreadful attempt at offering them his daughters as an alternative) that they are looking for much more than social acquaintance. Hence what happens next: the angels warn Lot that judgment is imminent
In the New Testament, Jude adds an important insight:
...just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 7)
What happened at Sodom is clearly meant to be something of a cautionary tale. Jude makes it clear that their ungodliness involved sexual immorality. They were punished for sexual sin along with the other sins of which they were guilty.
Jude also highlights the nature of their sexual desires: they pursued “unnatural desire” (literally, unnatural “flesh”). Some have suggested that this relates to the fact that the visitors to the city were angelic; Jude references angelic sin earlier in his letter. But these angels appeared as men, and the baying crowd outside Lot’s house showed no evidence of knowing they were angelic.
Their desire was to have sex with the men staying with Lot. In other words, it was the homosexual nature of their desires, and not just the violent expression of them, that is highlighted in the New Testament.
Leviticus 18 & 20
Leviticus contains two well known statements about homosexual activity: You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22) If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. (Leviticus 20:13)
“An abomination” is often used to describe idolatry, and some suggest these verses are not condemning homosexual behaviour in general, but only the cultic prostitution connected to pagan temples. It is also often claimed that the fact that these prohibitions appear in a book full of other laws which no Christians think they are expected to follow today suggests that they should not be taken as having abiding moral relevance.
But to take the first objection, the language used is not that specific; it refers to lying with a man “as with a woman,” - that is, in very general terms. Secondly, the surrounding verses in each instance describe other forms of sexual sin (such as incest, adultery and bestiality), none of which is anything to do with pagan temples or idolatry, and which we would take as being applicable to Christians today.
It is moral, rather than just pagan religious behaviour that’s in view. Furthermore, Leviticus 20:13 highlights both male parties equally, again suggesting general, consensual homosexual activity (as opposed to gay rape or a forced relationship).
Homosexual desire is not what God originally intended. This is not to say that homosexual desire is the only thing that God did not originally intend. All of our desires have been distorted by sin. But Paul does describe both lesbian and male homosexual behaviour as “unnatural.” Some have argued this refers to what is natural to the people themselves, so that what is in view is heterosexual people engaging in homosexual activity and thereby going against their “natural” orientation.
According to this view, Paul is not condemning all homosexual behaviour, but only that which goes against the person’s own sexual inclinations. But this view cannot be supported by the passage itself. The words for “natural” and “against nature” refer not to our subjective experience of what feels natural to us, but to the fixed way of things in creation. The nature that Paul says homosexual behaviour contradicts is God’s purpose for us, revealed in creation and reiterated throughout Scripture.
Paul’s reference to lesbianism as well as male homosexual conduct also supports the idea that he is condemning all homosexual activity, and not just the man-boy relationships that occurred in Roman culture.
The strength of Paul’s language here should not make us think that homosexual conduct is the worst or only form of sinful behaviour. Paul may be highlighting it because it is a particularly vivid example, and may have been especially pertinent for his readers in Rome given their cultural context. Either way it is illustrative of something that is the case for all of us: as we reject God we find ourselves craving what we are not naturally designed to do.
This is as true of a heterosexual person as of a homosexual person. There are no grounds in this passage for singling out homosexual people for any kind of special condemnation. The same passage indicts all of us.
Our distorted desires are a sign that we have turned away from God. It is important to recognize that Paul is talking here in social rather than individual terms. He is describing what happens to culture as a whole, rather than particular people.
The presence of same-sex desire in some of us is not an indication that we’ve turned from God more than others, but a sign that humanity as a whole has done so. It is not the only sign, and in everyone there is no doubt more than one sign or another - but it is a sign nevertheless.
Paul writes that alongside the gospel, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:19). Though there will one day be a “day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5), there is already a present-day expression of God’s anger against sin. We see God’s wrath in this: he gives us what we want.
In response to the exchanges Paul has described, we see three instances of God giving us over to live in the outcome of our sinful desires. This is his present-day judgment against sin. We ask for a reality without him and he gives us a taster of it.
In each case the “giving over” results in an intensification of the sin and the further breakdown of human behaviour. God gives humanity over to impure lusts and dishonourable bodily conduct (verse 24), and to “dishonourable passions” (verse 26). The exchanging of natural relations for unnatural leads to being given over to a “debased mind” and the flourishing of “all manner of unrighteousness” which Paul unpacks in a long list of antisocial behaviours (verse 28-31).
Sin leads to judgment, but judgment also leads to further sin. The presence of all these sinful acts is a reminder that we live in a world which has deliberately turned away from God in all sorts of ways, and is therefore experiencing a foretaste of God’s anger and courting its final outpouring on the day of judgment. Again, homosexual activity is certainly not the only sinful act. All of us are guilty. But it listed among them as one of the ways in which human nature as a whole has been changed from what God originally intended
Believe in God
God created humans to engage in sex only within the arrangement of marriage between a male and a female. (Genesis 1:27, 28; Leviticus 18:22; Proverbs 5:18, 19) The Bible condemns sexual activity that is not between a husband and wife, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual conduct. (1 Corinthians 6:18) This includes intercourse, fondling another person’s genitals, and engaging in oral or anal sex.
While the Bible disapproves of homosexual acts, it does not condone hatred of homosexuals or homophobia. Instead, Christians are directed to “respect everyone.”
Can a person be born homosexual?
The Bible doesn’t comment directly on the biology of homosexual desires, though it acknowledges that we are all born with a tendency to go against what God commands. (Romans 7:21-25) Rather than focus on the cause of homosexual desires, however, the Bible prohibits homosexual acts.
How to please God despite having same-sex urges.
The Bible says: “Don’t be controlled by your body. Kill every desire for the wrong kind of sex.” To kill wrong desires, which lead to wrong actions, you need to control your thinking. If you regularly fill your mind with wholesome thoughts, you can more readily dismiss wrong desires. While you may struggle greatly at first, it can become easier. God promises to help you to “be made new in the force actuating your min
The same struggle is faced by millions of heterosexual desires who wish to conform to the Bible’s standards. For example, those who are single with little prospect of marriage or who are married to a partner who is unable to function sexually choose to control their sexual urges despite any temptations they might face. They are able to live happily, and those with same-sex urges can do so as well if they truly want to please God
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet
This passage has been debated by some 20th and 21st-century interpreters as to its relevance today and as to what it actually prohibits: although Christians of several denominations have historically maintained that this verse is a complete prohibition of all forms of homosexual activity, some 20th and 21st-century authors contend the passage is not a blanket condemnation of homosexual acts, suggesting, among other interpretations, that the passage condemned
heterosexuals who experimented with homosexual activity or that Paul's condemnation was relative to his own culture, in which homosexuality was not understood as an orientation and in which being penetrated was seen as shameful. These interpretations are in a minority. Several scholars believe these verses are part of a much larger non-Pauline interpolation, a later addition to the letter
In the context of the broader immorality of his audience, Paul the Apostle wrote in the First Epistle to the Corinthians
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
The Greek word arsenokoitai (ἀρσενοκοῖται) in verse 9 has been debated for some time, and has been variously rendered as "abusers of themselves with mankind", "sodomites" or "men who have sex with men". Greek ἄῤῥην / ἄρσην [arrhēn / arsēn] means "male", and κοίτην [koitēn] "bed", with a sexual connotation. Paul's use of the word in 1 Corinthians is the earliest example of the term; its only other use is in a similar list of wrongdoers given (possibly by the same author) in 1 Timothy 1:8–11:
In the letter to the Corinthians, within the list of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God, Paul uses two Greek words: malakoi and arsenokoitai. Malakoi is a common Greek word meaning, of things subject to touch, "soft" (used in Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25 to describe a garment); of things not subject to touch, "gentle"; and, of persons or modes of life, a number of meanings that include "pathic". Nowhere else in scripture is Malakoi used to describe a person.
The meaning of the word later from Greek to English change to "Malakia" which in English modern language means "Wanker" and later wankers are of course the perverts and gay men
But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other things that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
Most scholars hold that Paul had two passages of the Book of Leviticus, 18:22 and 20:13, in mind when he used the word ἀρσενοκοῖται, which may be of his coinage. with most commentators and translators interpreting it as a reference to male same-sex intercourse. However, John Boswell states that it "did not connote homosexuality to Paul or his early readers", and that in later Christian literature the word is used, for instance, by Aristides of Athens clearly not for homosexuality and possibly for prostitution,
Eusebius, who evidently used it in reference to women, and in the writings of 6th-century Patriarch John IV of Constantinople, known as John the Faster. In a passage dealing with sexual misconduct, John speaks of arsenokoitia as active or passive and says that "many men even commit the sin of arsenokoitia with their wives".
Although the constituent elements of the compound word refer to sleeping with men, he obviously does not use it to mean homosexual intercourse and appears to employ it for anal intercourse, not generic homosexual activity.
Particulars of Boswell's arguments are rejected by several scholars in a way qualified as persuasive by David F. Greenberg, who declares usage of the term arsenokoites by writers such as Aristides of Athens and Eusebius, and in the Sibylline Oracles, to be "consistent with a homosexual meaning".
A discussion document issued by the House of Bishops of the Church of England states that most scholars still hold that the word arsenokoites relates to homosexuality.
Another work attributed to John the Faster, a series of canons that for various sins provided shorter though stricter penances in place of the previous longer penances, applies a penance of eighty days for "intercourse of men with one another" explained in the Pedalion as mutual masturbation – double the penalty for solitary masturbation and three years with xerophagy or, in accordance with the older canon of Basil the Great, fifteen without for being "so mad as to copulate with another man"
–ἀρρενομανήσαντα in the original – explained in the Pedalion as "guilty of arsenocoetia (i.e., sexual intercourse between males)" – ἀρσενοκοίτην in the original. According to the same work, ordination is not to be conferred on someone who as a boy has been the victim of anal intercourse, but this is not the case if the semen was ejaculated between his thighs.
These canons are included, with commentary, in the Pedalion, the most widely used collection of canons of the Greek Orthodox Church [full citation needed] an English translation of which was produced by Denver Cummings and published by the Orthodox Christian Educational Society in 1957 under the title, The Rudder.
Some scholars consider that the term was not used to refer to a homosexual orientation, but argue that it referred instead to sexual activity. Other scholars have interpreted arsenokoitai and malako as referring to weakness and effeminacy or to the practice of exploitative pederasty.
Jesus' discussion of marriage
n Matthew 19:3, Jesus is asked if a man can divorce his wife. In that context, He answered, ‘Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning “made them male and female” [Genesis 1:27], and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.
Robert Gagnon, an associate professor of New Testament studies, argues that Jesus' back-to-back references to Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 show that he "presupposed a two-sex requirement for marriage
Homosexual sin is serious. Paul says the active and unrepentant homosexual, as with all active, unrepentant sinners, will not enter God’s kingdom. Paul urges his readers not to be deceived on this point. He assumes there will be those who deny this teaching, and argue that some forms of homosexual conduct are acceptable to God. But Paul is clear: homosexual conduct leads people to destruction. This is a serious issue
Homosexual sin is not unique. Paul’s list includes other forms of sexual sin (sexual immorality and adultery), and it includes non-sexual forms of sin (drunkenness and theft, for example). Homosexual sin is incredibly serious, but it is not alone in being so. It is wicked, but so is, say, greed. We must not imply that homosexual sex is the sin of our age.
If we are to be faithful to Scripture, we must also preach against theft, greed, drunkenness, reviling, and defrauding others, many of which are also trivialised in our society, and all of which also characterize the unrighteous.
Homosexual sin is not inescapable. Paul continues in verse 11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
These forms of behaviour are not appropriate for the Corinthian church precisely because it is not who they are any more. Some of them clearly had been active homosexuals. They did once live in these ways. But no more. They have been washed, sanctified and justified; forgiven, cleansed from their sins, and set apart for God. They have a new standing and identity before him.
However ingrained it may be in someone’s behaviour, homosexual conduct is not inescapable. It is possible for someone living a practicing gay lifestyle to be made new by God. Temptations and feelings may well linger. That Paul is warning his readers not to revert to their former way of life suggests there is still some desire to do so. But in Christ we are no longer who we were. Those who have come out of an active gay lifestyle need to understand how to see themselves. What defined us then no longer defines us now.
5. 1 Timothy 1:8-10
Here Paul writes:
The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, men who practise homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine. (1 Timothy. 1:9-10)
He again uses the term arsenokoitai (translated by the ESV as “men who practice homosexuality” as a catch-all term for all forms of homosexual conduct. Also in common with 1 Corinthians, same-sex sex is mentioned among other wide-ranging sins, non-sexual as well as sexual.
These forms of behaviour characterize those who are not “just” and for whom the law was given, in order to bring conviction of sin and the need for mercy. All these practices contradict “sound doctrine” and the gospel. They do not conform to the life Christians are now to lead. They go against the grain of the new identity we have in Christ.
Attempts to read these texts as anything other than prohibitions of homosexual behaviour do not ultimately work. The plain reading of each passage is the right one. It is homosexual practice in general, rather than only certain expressions of it, which are forbidden in Scripture. To attempt to demonstrate otherwise is to violate the passages themselves.
Yet these very same texts list homosexuality alongside many other forms of behaviour that are also against God’s will. The very passages that show us that homosexual activity is a sin, make it very clear that it is not a unique sin. It is one example of what is wrong with all of us
So what happened to God said we are all his children and he love all of us equal, Obviously he is a liar and why should I place my faith to someone who lies never kept his promises in fact he hates us all. And if you try to do some good then he kills you because he is fucking jealous I guess
The Bible does not condemn “homosexuality.” Seriously, it doesn’t.
The word “homosexuality” didn’t even show up in English translations of the Bible until 1946, so why do we say the Bible condemns it? Billy Graham’s son is terrified that President Obama and a whole host of us have chucked out our Bibles in order to support marriage equality. This week he was at it again on Facebook, railing against “the assault on biblical marriage,” referencing California lawmakers who want to amend federal law by striking gendered language pertaining to two partners in a legal marriage. Franklin, son of Billy, even goes on to make the Biblically inaccurate comment that “.
The One who created marriage defined it as between a man and a woman.” I wish he would read my post on this and then re-read the Bible. This is laughable if it weren’t so powerfully sad. Here’s the thing, Franklin: you need to read your Bible better. The sooner you do, the more and better work you can do in Africa and elsewhere with Samaritan’s Purse..
We need your time focused not only on poverty but in addressing America’s original sin of racism. We need all you got for those fights. It’s time to end the culture wars and fully focus on the war against poverty, racism and injustice in our world. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, a mentor in the faith, talks about the early days of gathering his new community, coming out as Evangelicals during the Vietnam crisis, going back to the Bible for help and guidance.
.One of our first activities was finding every verse of scripture about the poor, wealth and poverty, and social justice. We found more than 2,000 texts that we then cut out of an old Bible. We were left with a “Bible full of holes,” which I used to take out with me to preach..
Over 2000 Bible verses on poverty. On money. On the rich and poor.And those 2000+ verses give us some basic instructions for life on earth, that could be summed up in the ancient wisdom of a prophet 700 years before Jesus of Nazareth:.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? — Micah 6:8 And yet, all anyone wants to talk about these days are six Bible verses that “condemn homosexuality.” Here’s the thing — they don’t. And we need to accept that so we can get back to the more important things.
Six Bullets in the Chamber?
There are six Bible verses used to defend a “traditional” view on homosexuality. However well intentioned, these verses are known as the “trouble verses” that condemn same-sex behavior. Some call them clobber verses. I like how my friend Steve Chalke in the UK describes them as “the six bullets in the gun.”
What do we do with these Bible verses? We must read them in context. And take the bullets out of the chamber. It’s time for a cease-fire. Genesis 19:5 and they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.’
This is the fabled Sodom & Gomorrah passage. Sodom and Gomorrah were sister cities. It’s pretty clear in Genesis 13:13 that “… the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.”
What was their sin? They were ruthless in their acquisition of wealth, power and territory — and they oppressed the poor and took advantage of the weak and were terrible at hospitality.
That’s clear in the Bible, too.....However see notes on the top what the Korinthians says??
The ancient Jewish Prophet Ezekiel remembered the sin of Sodom as such: This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it. — Ezekiel 16:49,50
The sins of Sodom, Gomorrah and their sister cities was so bad, they were frequently used as examples of people not to emulate.
Jeremiah, one of Ezekiel’s prophetic comrades, simply stated:
As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring cities, declares the Lord, so no man shall dwell there, and no son of man shall sojourn in her. — Jeremiah 50:40 When Jesus would run into conflict in cities he was ministering in, unfolding his work and vision amongst the poor, he even used Sodom as an example when he would declare “it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Matthew 11:24)
Here’s the deal: the so-called “Sodomites” in Genesis are beating down the door of a man named Lot who was entertaining two messengers of God (we often hear them described as “angels” in the Scriptures.) The men of Sodom want to have sexual intercourse with them. Fair enough, you might say. But in the end, Lot offers up his two virgin daughters for the so-called Sodomites to gang rape. It’s brutal, horrendous stuff. And it has nothing to do with homosexuality. So why do we continue to think it does?
Neil Elliott has called attention to the striking similarities between Paul’s language and the incredible greed, violence, and sexual excesses of Gaius Caligula, an emperor who reigned in a period not too long before Paul wrote Romans. First of all, Gaius is closely linked to the practice of idolatry. The Roman writer Suetonius reports how Gaius “set up a special temple to his own godhead, with priests and with victims of the choicest kind.”
Another Roman writer, Dio Cassius, comments negatively on how Gaius was the only emperor to claim to be divine and to be the recipient of worship during his own lifetime. Gaius also tried at one point to erect a statue of himself in the Temple in Jerusalem; he was dissuaded only by a delegation from Herod Agrippa Hence the link between Gaius and idolatry would have been well-known indeed, particularly in Jewish circles.
But Gaius also serves as “Exhibit A” for out-of-control lust. Suetonius reports how Gaius “lived in perpetual incest with all his sisters, and at a large banquet he placed each of them in turn below him, while his wife reclined above.” He records gruesome examples of Gaius’s arbitrary violence, vindictiveness, and cruelty. Later, Suetonius chronicles Gaius’s sexual liaisons with the wives of dinner guests, raping them in an adjoining room and then returning to the banquet to comment on their performance. Various same-sex sexual encounters between Gaius and other men are similarly recounted.
Finally, a military officer whom he had sexually humiliated joined a conspiracy to murder him, which they did less than four years into his reign. Suetonius records that Gaius was stabbed through the genitals when he was murdered. One wonders whether we can hear an echo of this gruesome story in Paul’s comments in Romans 1: 27: “Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own person the due penalty for their error.”
Gaius Caligula graphically illustrates the reality of which Paul speaks in Romans 1: the movement from idolatry to insatiable lust to every form of depravity, and the violent murderous reprisal that such behavior engenders.
This is not the stuff of friends, loved ones, neighbors and colleagues who happen to be gay and celebrate marriage equality. So why do pastors continue to preach this? I am far from the only gay Christian who has heard the claim that gay people will not inherit the kingdom of God. That message is plastered on protest signs at gay-pride parades. It’s shouted by roaming street preachers at busy intersections and on college campuses.
The result is that, for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, all that they’ve heard about the kingdom of God is that they won’t be in it.The problem is, people have horrifically misunderstood two simple words in this ancient letter that St. Paul wrote to an early Christian community in the trade city of Corinth.
The words are: malakoi and arsenkoitai.
Matthew goes on to define malakoi as “effeminate.” It’s a Greek word that literally means “soft” and is used to describe fine clothing elsewhere in the New Testament. In a moral context, this word is actually more about “lack of self-control, weakness, laziness, or cowardice.”
My friend David, a pastor who got kicked out of his church for false accusations, told me over nachos recently that this word is actually about people who were “spineless.” Soft to the point that they wouldn’t stand up for injustice or what truly matters. Irony of ironies, huh?
There were sexual connotations for “malakoi” as well, but again, it always points backs to uncontrolled acts of lust or misused sexuality — no matter the gender or act. The word was not understood to reference same-sex behavior in the church until after the 20th century, when Bible translations adopted a new slant.
Arsenkoitai is more bizarre and hard to grasp. Many believe that St. Paul actually invented the word, as it is extremely rare in ancient Greek literature.
The word literally is a combination of two other words in Greek: arsen (male) and koites (bed). So, arsenkoitai could be translated literally as “male-bedders.” And this word was understood by Bible translators before the 20th century to mean male-male sexual intercourse.
But when the word is used elsewhere in ancient Greek literature, it references the abuse of the poor (as in the Sibylline Oracles) or “economic exploitation and power abuses (as in a 2nd century text called the Acts of John).” The Acts of John lists arsenkoitai amongst a list of sins separate from a catalog of other sexual sins. Many believe (as Vines so cogently breaks down) that arsenkoitai is about economic abuses and exploitation
Which is why the ancient act of “pederasty” is often brought up in relation to passages like this— the practice of Greek elite elder men who would adopt young men to use as sexual objects. Again, having nothing to do with LGBTQ loved ones, friends, and colleagues who are looking to live as good neighbors
I can only imagine how many other words they got wrong maybe this is why the Bible is a book with no ending and with a false start.