Thursday, May 15, 2008

Homosexuality and the Bible (Part 2)

While there are many references to Sodom and Gomorrah throughout scripture, four texts that stand out for our purposes are: Isaiah 1:10-17, Ezekiel 16:44-50, Luke 10:8-12 and Jude 7. I'll spend time on each in the following blogs.

Isaiah 1:10-17
10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 "The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?" says the LORD. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies. 14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; 16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah relates the impending destruction of Judah to that of Sodom and Gomorrah. In verse 10, he explicitly references Sodom and Gomorrah. Isaiah then proceeds to label their offerings and incense as an abomination and accuses them of having blood on their hands because they have not given justice to the oppressed, the orphan, and the widow. While there is no explicit reference homosexuality, there is an obvious notion that Sodom and Gomorrah has a negative connotation in Isaiah's mind and in the mind of his contemporaries. Is it possible that attempted homosexual rape in the Sodom story is just a symptom of a greater evil? That evil being more general than even social injustice or inhospitality. In this passage, the focus seems to be idolatry. Isaiah's point is that the sins committed have a theocentric focus. God is the one sinned against. Biblical liberals are accurate to point out that in this passage, Isaiah fails to mention homosexuality as part of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, however, failure to name a specific sin is not reason enough to assume the sin is not inferred. While I know this is a weak argument, it is just as weak as saying the primary sin was social injustice or inhospitality, when clearly, in Isaiah's mind the primary sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was idolatry.

While it is possible that homosexuality is assumed as a part of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah from this text, it is not explicit. If you just read this without any knowledge of Sodom and Gomorrah you would not know that attempted homosexual rape was a part of the story. While Isaiah's contemporaries would have probably been familiar with the Sodom and Gomorrah account including the attempted rape, it just isn't obvious to us. However, we will see that there is clearer implicit and/or explicit references to homosexuality as part of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah in the next three texts.

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