Religion and marriage is the focus of an article from The Herald-Sun of Durham, North Carolina. The article explores the diverse opinons of religious institutions both for and against the current constitutional amendment in North Carolina to ban-same gay marriage equality (and civil unions as well). Part of the argument of those for the amendment is the story of Sodom. From The Herald-Sun:
In Genesis 19, Lot meets a pair of angels, whom he presumes are men, at the entry into the city Sodom and invites them to stay at his house. That night all the men in Sodom surround Lot’s house because they want to have sex with the visitors.
Hoping to appease the men of Sodom, Lot suggests that they have sex with his two virginal daughters. The men become angry with Lot, who is not native to Sodom but is telling the men what to do. The angels strike the men with blindness and then destroy Sodom with fire.
[Patrick L.] Wooden [pastor of Raleigh’s Upper Room Church of God in Christ] said that while he believes that God loves all people, he views the story of Sodom as a biblical witness to God’s disapproval of homosexuality. It is a passage that God is still speaking through today, he said.
“He holds Sodom up as an indictment against this present generation,” Wooden said.
However Sherri Zann Rosenthal, who attends Durham’s Beth-El Synagogue, disagrees with interpretations that cast this passage as a condemnation of homosexuality.
“I feel the Bible has many stories where God’s message to us is that kindness to the stranger is like kindness to an angel — that you never know when the stranger is an angel, and God tests us all the time … It makes very clear it’s not about homosexuality,” Rosenthal said. “It’s about domination and abuse of people that you feel you can abuse with impunity because they are the stranger.”
What a striking new way to look at this passage from the Bible. I have heard in other sermons that the story of Sodom is really about hospitality and kindness, but never made the connection about people feeling free to abuse the angels because they are strangers. We as gay people are the strangers. We are the ones who are abused. We are the ones who are easy targets for condemnation because our alleged sin is one in which people who are not gay can feel absolution. They are not gay, so they smugly feel impunity in pointing out how guilty they think we are (It’s much easier to point out the splinter in your brother’s eye than to pay attention to the wooden beam sticking out of your own, to paraphrase another Bible passage). To condem the other sins of the bible: greed, malice, uncharitable actions towards our neighbors, adultery, is to condem the self as well. It is so much more comfortable and affirming to condemn the other; the stranger. This is, perhaps, the most ironic thing about those who use the story of Sodom as a case against homosexuality. Because we as GLBT people are not the Sodomites, but the angels.