What is it that makes us hesitate? Reason, prudence, fear, apathy? How do we tell these things apart from one another? They are so jumbled together.
This reflection on Genesis 19 has been sitting on my draft deck for a week now. And I’m not sure why, except that I do. I’ve been hesitant to post it. Genesis 19 is about the judgement God visits upon Sodom and Gomorra. Here we go…
You can, in a matter of seconds, realize why this chapter of Genesis possesses renown through the ages and even in our time. These are not Sunday school passages. It is about brutality of a mob. It is about a father who offers up his daughters to the mob for sexual conquest. And it is indeed about sexual perversion, but not what we have always known. And here’s the hesitancy.
We have so ingrained this chapter in our minds to be about condemnation of same-sex love, but rarely do we spend time reading it to investigate if that claim has merit. It does not.
Let’s make no mistake; this is about judgement of sexual perversion, but it is not same-sex love.
Re-imagine it slightly. A group of men come to your house and demand to have sex with a member of your house, visitor or resident. It wouldn’t be sex at all, would it? It would be gang rape. It would be brutal assault. It would be unspeakable violence.
As man after man after man topple from pedestals because a the far reaching degree of sexual misconduct, we get a sense of dark heart of what brings Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction. What happens to a people when men’s sexual passions run rampant? It will indeed have a reckoning. You cannot dominate other humans as objects for debased pleasure without moral consequences.
And so I hesitate push ‘publish’ because this reading is against the popular narrative that makes outsiders of people who are near and dear to God, because the one under God’s judgment are the one’s who hold power–the ones who could welcome the stranger but abuse them–and because how often have I made my sisters objects… too often.
Lot’s wife, unnamed and passive, turns into a pillar of salt after looking back at the place she raised her family. She turns into to a statue. No longer alive with blood, emotion, and personality. She is an object, unmoving and fixed. Was it of her own doing or something done to her–perhaps the gaze of those who made her an object long before? She stands in for all those who don’t have a name in the eyes of those who bang on the door and say, “let me do with you as I will. You are not real to me.” There will be consequences when we do recognize and respect the life and breath of God that runs through all God’s creation.
There should be more room for hesitation in those that rarely consider it.
Other references to Sodom and Gomorrah in scripture:
“And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomor’rah than for that town.” (Mt. 10: 1-15; Luke 10:1-12)
“And you, Caper’na-um, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Mt. 11: 20-24)