Thursday, April 21, 2011
Today I scored my 300,000th hit on DesignerBlog. Thank you all who made this possible, to my regular connenters, to my lurkers, to everyone who googles or otherwise searches for pictures of Italian ballet dancer Roberto Bolle -- and yes, they are here back in the archives! It's been fun and very enriching to have you all here and I hope you'll continue to stop by regularly.
Joel Derfner is a multi-talented blogger (The Search for Love in Manhattan) in NYC. He published a delightful book of gay haiku several years ago and his blog covers a wide variety of topics, beautifully written. His current post is devoted to a topic that should need no review -- the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible, reputedly by god because of their homosexual activity.
Of course, even a cursory reading of the Bible on the topic reveals that there is no homosexuality involved at all anywhere in the Sodom story, and geologists and vulcanologists believe that the cities were destroyed, Pompeii-like, by volcanic activity, and that the occasional salt pillar eroded out of the side of Mount Sodom by the Dead Sea are the origin of the myth of Lot's wife being turned into a pillar of salt.
Nevertheless, gay men are demonized in many Christian circles as sodomites engaging in sodomy.
Here is Joel's post on the subject:
I recently read an excellent book called Wrestling With God and Men, an examination of homosexuality in the Jewish tradition, by Rabbi Steven Greenberg.
Lots of people talk nowadays about the idea that the sin of Sodom wasn't homosexuality but inhospitability—that when God, in Genesis 18:21, said, "I will go down and see whether they have acted altogether according to the cry that has reached me," He was talking not about homosexuality or sexual excess in general but about arrogance, greed, and scorn for the poor. I always assumed that this was to some extent a modern reinterpretation, but it turns out that this has been the Jewish view of Sodom for literally thousands of years. Rabbi Greenberg has this to say:
"Rabbinic legends about Sodom describe an area of unusual natural resources, precious stones, silver, and gold. Every path in Sodom, say the sages, was lined with seven rows of fruit trees. Jealous of their great weath and suspicious of outsiders' desire to share in it, the city's inhabitants agreed to overturn the ancient law of hospitality to wayfarers.
The legislation later included a prohibition to give charity to anyone. One legend claims that when a beggar would wander into Sodom, the people would mark their names on their coins and give him a dinar. However, no one would sell him bread. When he perished of hunger, everyone would come and claim his coin. A maiden once secretly carried bread concealed in her water pitcher to a poor person in the street. After three days passed and the man didn't die, the maiden was discovered. They covered the girl with honey and put her atop the city walls. The bees came and ate her. Hers was the cry that came up to God, the cry that inaugurated the angelic visit and its consequences."
Now, while searching for a sufficiently catastrophic painting of Sodom's destruction (see above) I was directed to an article that discusses the fact that even some hard-core evangelicals are admitting the same thing -- that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah has nothing to do with homosexuality and cannot be used to condemn homosexuality of gays and lesbians (from the site GayChristian 101):
Anti-gay Evangelical Authors Admit That The Sodom Story Is NOT About Homosexuality
Sodom: After years of false teaching in churches about what really happened in Sodom 3800 years ago, the trajectory of Biblical truth is finally being acknowledged by prominent anti-gay evangelical scholars. Its about time.
is a well-known evangelical author. He wrote The Moral Vision Of The New Testament, in which he defends the anti-gay viewpoint. Yet in spite of the fact that he regards all gay relationships as sinful, Dr. Hayes admits that the Sodom story:
"is actually irrelevant to the topic [of homosexuality]. There is nothing in the passage pertinent to a judgment about the morality of consensual homosexual intercourse."
(From Dr. Richard Hayes, in an article entitled, “Awaiting the Redemption of Our Bodies”).
Dr. Brownlee, 1917-1983, an internationally renowned expert on the Hebrew language and the Dead Sea Scrolls said about the Sodom story: "The oppression of the stranger is the basic element of Genesis 19:1-9 ‘sodomy’ in Genesis is basically oppression of the weak and helpless." (Dr. William Brownlee, Professor of Religion at the Claremont Graduate School and Professor of Old Testament at the School of Theology, Claremont, California).
"Pro-gay theologians are correct in saying that this passage [Genesis 19] does not provide a strong argument for prohibiting all homosexual acts."(Bob Davies, conservative evangelical and national Executive Director of Exodus International, the largest Ex-Gay group in the world, in his book Coming Out Of Homosexuality, published in 1993).
“The “sin of Sodom” per Genesis 19 has to do with using sexual cruelty and violence to oppress and demean outsiders. It has nothing to do with homosexuality in the modern sense of sexual desire oriented toward members of one’s own biological sex, and certainly has nothing to say about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of loving, committed, sexual relationships between members of the same biological sex.”