The Religious Right Is The New Sodom
by Christina Forrester
Ezekiel 16:49-50 (NLT) Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen.
Most of us in the church world, at some point, have heard preachers, right-wing Christian media or leaders talk about the sin of Sodom. Those Sodomites. Sodomization. The abhorrent abomination that was Sodom and Gomorrah! There was never any question what they were talking about when you heard about Sodom: homosexuals. Perversion. Men having sex with men and a lust of the flesh that lead them down a dark path to the point that they wanted to even rape male angels of God! And that was that: God punished Sodom because of the gays. Because sexual perversion had reached such a pinnacle peak that there was not one righteous person left in the city, and God had to burn it! This “fact” has so been embedded, so sure in the minds of many conservative Christians that it has led to entire new theories, doctrines, books and even influenced politics. Here is their reasoning: if our society is, once again, sinking into the moral sinkhole of the abomination of Sodom, then fiery judgment will come upon the United States! Make no mistake, when you hear the Religious Right and conservative politicians talk about getting back to “family values” and saving America from the moral corruption overtaking us, they have “SODOM” emblazoned on their metaphorical foreheads.
However, there is just one small problem with this… the Bible does not say homosexuality was the sin of Sodom. Being gay, as we know it in our culture today, had nothing to do with Sodom and Gomorrah at all. It is absolutely mind-boggling to me how so many could completely overlook the point of this often-mis-quoted Biblical account. One must only actually read Genesis 19 to see this, and then read Ezekiel 16:49-50 for a further interpretation, context and complete understanding that makes the reason for the fire and brimstone crystal clear. CRYSTAL. But I will start with Genesis.
Violence, sexual violence, mob mentality and other “sins” which are not yet identified have overtaken this city in Genesis 19. The men of the town are so corrupt and violent that they come in a mob to Lot’s house demanding to be given the visiting strangers so they can rape them. Lot, showing the level of acceptance of this culture he has reached and his own desensitization to sin, offers instead his own virgin daughters to the men to rape! The town is so unsafe, so full of violence that there has been a breakdown of order. Chaos, mobs and sexual violence rule. The angels of God practically have to drag Lot away, begging him to save his own life and that of his family (which says a lot about Lot and has further consequences if you read on). This breakdown of society had nothing to do with homosexuality, but everything to do with moral depravity. The men of the town were motivated by violence, wanting to rape, possibly kill, the visitors. They were ready to beat down the door of their neighbor to do this. This was not an example of a monogamous, loving same-sex marriage! It had nothing to do with being gay, and it is not even inferred as such in the scripture.
The problem is that people have continued to use this narrative for the purpose of applause lines, political purposes, or maybe because they were simply under false teaching and genuinely believed it to be true, never actually checking the Bible for themselves. Simply an example of mankind misusing and twisting scripture, once again. So one must ask, or should be asking, how did the city get to the point where a foreigner cannot visit and walk outside a house without threat of gang rape? What were the sins of Sodom that lead to the Genesis 19, verse 13 proclamation: “…we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it”? It does not tell us in Genesis what this outcry was besides showing us the point to which this city had fallen, but in the book of Ezekiel it explains it quite well. Crystal clear.
“Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen Ezekiel 16:49-50 (NLT).” Another translation reads, “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…(NIV)” Proud. Greedy. Unconcerned while the poor and needy were suffering. Arrogance. This was the sin of Sodom. Every time those who were “overfed” and arrogant denied the needs of the poor, the vulnerable in society – that was the outcry against the Lord, clearly. Crystal.
This understanding of the truth of God’s word changes things. When we preach about fire and brimstone, abomination before the Lord and how America is morally and spiritually failing, I will not deny that I believe this is absolutely true, according to the Bible, which says: They were GREEDY! PRIDEFUL! They had plenty while showing no concern for the POOR, the SICK, the VULNERABLE! Put this into context in today’s language and this is what we have: those who have plenty but wish to deny the sick health care they need. Those who themselves can afford to take care of the health needs of an aging parent or the special needs of a disabled child, but are unconcerned with the plight of those who have no way to pay for such care, to the point that they are willing to move all of heaven and earth to desperately pass a bill to strip away even the hope of the availability of health care for millions. The poorest of the poor in society who rely on Medicaid and food stamps because their jobs don’t pay enough to buy both food and rent and health care, or they are disabled and have no options. This is the abomination.
What is the sin of the New Sodom? Looking on as people share their stories, one after another, about what will happen to their lives if an already too-expensive health care system is dismantled and defunded, yet callously going about spending their energy on doing just that. Giving gifts in the form of tax breaks to those few who already have plenty, while millions are suffering outside their door. Proud and detestable. And it does not end at health care: homelessness is on the rise, and they defund affordable housing initiatives. Extreme poverty and hunger affects millions in the richest country on earth, yet they are against a livable wage and want to cut food stamps. People suffering with mentally illness and drug addiction are in prison instead of receiving the care they need, as private prison profits line their donor’s pockets. Women who are victims of sexual assault are shamed. The refugee, immigrants and even young children are treated worse than criminals. All of this is the epitome of a Biblical definition of Sodom.
Ironically, it is this same group who spends great resources to fight LGBTQ rights and treats the community with contempt, including fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are gay. They are out protesting about where people use the toilet in public restrooms, who can serve in our military, who gets married to whom and who can buy a wedding cake to celebrate their special day. If their core reason for doing so has anything to do with what they were taught about the sins of Sodom, may they receive this as a new Sunday school lesson, not from Christina Forrester but straight out of the Word of God, which I believe is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).” The real moral decline in our nation does indeed scare me. Because the right-wing Evangelicals, “Trump-vangelicals” and Religious Right might actually be right – God’s judgment will be upon our nation if we allow the values of the New Sodom to overtake us.
God, save us from the New Sodom.
Christina Forrester is the Founder and Director of Christian Democrats of America and co-host/co-producer of “What Would Jesus Pod?” Follow her at @Christinaof9, Christina Forrester on Facebook and Christian Democrats @ChristianDems.