Friday, May 23, 2008

Homosexuality and the Bible (Part 4)

I'm going to speed up our discussion a little bit and look at two New Testament verses that reference Sodom and Gomorrah.

1. In Luke 10:10-12 Jesus says:

"But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 'even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.' I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town."

With these words, Jesus prounounces a greater judgment on any town that is unwelcoming to his messengers (and the message itself that the Kingdom of God is near) than that incurred by Sodom. So why wouldn't Jesus talk about homosexuality in his mention of Sodom? First, as we have seen, homosexuality is just a symptom of a greater sin. It is likely that if Jesus were to speak of a sin of Sodom, it would be the "disease" of idolatry, not necessarily the symptoms of that idolatry.

Second, Josephus and Philo (two first century historians and writers) assume that Jesus' reference to Sodom is a reference to an awareness of the homoerotic dimension of their sins. I'm well aware that this is a weak argument, however, as with Ezekiel, just because homosexuality is not mentioned doesn't mean it wasn't associated with the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah.

2. In Jude 7 we find this reference to Sodom and Gomorrah:

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrouding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

In the original text, that phrase "sexual immorality and perversion" is literally "prostitution and going after strange flesh." "Sexual immorality" can mean any type of sexual misconduct and "going after strange flesh" denotes homoesexual behavior. It is explicit in this example that part of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexual behavior. It is unlikely that Jude's author was the only first century writer to assume homosexual sin as part of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was most likely naming something that was already obvious in the minds of his readers and hearers.

In my next post I will write about Homosexual sin in the book of Leviticus.

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