Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Homosexuality and the Sins of Sodom

There is an interesting side conversation going on in this La Shawn Barber post. More specifically this comment.

The gist of Gary Volin's comment is the following:
  1. The sin of Sodom was inhospitality, not homosexuality. Furthermore the use of the terms "sodomy" and "sodomite" in some translations, like King James, are actually English colloquialisms from greek and hebrew words that have nothing to do with Sodom.
  2. Old Testament law does not forbid homosexual sex in general, but idoltrous gay sex in specific. This is the male shrine prostitution and the like mentioned in the Mosaic Law.
  3. The few places that really do talk about forbidding gay sex are out of date because of the New Covenant relaxation of prohibitions. Our modern understanding of homosexuality also means the earlier moral principles often don't apply. Being gay is like keeping kosher.
Being gay is not like keeping kosher. The parts of the bible which are most explicit about homosexuality, like Leviticus 18:22, nestle it among incest, rape, bestiality, adultery, and child sacrifice. The idea that this is equivalent to eating pork is obviously fallacious.

Furthermore exception is made for gentiles in the New Testament. Many of the Jewish ceremonial laws don't have to be followed by non-Jews. However both Christ and Paul make it clear that the torah does not disappear because of the new covenant. A thorough reading of Romans tells us that carrying on in sin is not an option. We are not to continue sinning so that we can make greater use of God's graciousness.

Gary does have a point about homosexuality taking too prominent a role in the Sodom story. His comment about hospitality is not completely correct however. The truth is that Sodom (and Jebesh Gibeah in Judges 20) were destroyed for unrepentant wickness, immorality, and depravity of many types. Ezekial 16 says: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me.”

Throughout the bible, both in the story of Sodom and later in the similar story of Judges 19 through 21, homosexuality is mentioned but also accompanying other sins like murder or rape. I think it is Romans 1 which really shows us what homosexuality is:
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator... Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
Homosexuality is not just a sin. It is also a symptom of a deeper and more significant moral and spiritual decline.

That said I don't think being gay is some sort of unforgivable sin. Nor do I think it is any more significant than the current epidemic of straight sexual promiscuity. The bible doesn't like that either. The truth is that they are both shades of the same symptom. Two sides of the same coin.

Our reaction should not be to explain them away as right and proper and continue sinning. Our reaction should be to read God's word, accept the Spirit's conviction, and repent of our sins.

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