Today’s will be a much shorter post, since (surprise!) I agree with much of what Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson has to say about Genesis 19, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, in his third post on homosexuality in the Bible at the Washington Post. He writes:
In the Genesis story of Sodom after welcoming two men (whom the story identifies as angels) into his house, Lot is confronted by all the men in the town, who surround the house and demand, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.” There is some debate about the word “to know” here. Most scholars would agree that it has the sexual meaning here – but it is very clear that we are talking about homosexual rape, a violent act of aggression – and clearly something we would all condemn and deem worthy of God’s punishment.
I think that’s right, and as such it doesn’t directly bear on the issue (especially since Lot’s sending his daughters out to be raped is just as reprehensible). I do disagree that this is primarily about “inhospitality,” which seems like an extremely weak term for acts embodied in sexual violence, but the primary point is that the Sodom story is about a constellation of sins, including but not limited to sexual immorality (Ezekiel 16:49 explicitly says, “Behold, 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.” Jude 1:7 mentions sexual immorality and pursuing “unnatural desire,” but that’s not enough to hang an ethics of sexuality on by itself. So I’m going to let this one pass, let those who disagree fight it out in the comments, and move on tomorrow to his next passage.