The Bible, really properly speaking, is not a book. It’s an anthology. It’s really a library with a wide variety of spiritual wisdom, things that have different ideas and speak with different voices.
The Bible has all these voices and all these ideas throughout it. It’s not just one book with one point that it’s trying to drive home. The Bible has these many voices. And there are many stories in the Bible, and many of these stories are told from different points of view, from different perspectives and different voices.
KRISTIN SAYLOR: So given the amount of media attention the Bible has received recently with respect to issues of gay marriage, gender-neutral bathrooms, it would be easy for us to come to the conclusion that the Bible has a lot to say about homosexuality, and it ain’t good.
But in reality, if you take the Bible as a whole and look at, percentage-wise, how much of the content is devoted to the issue of homosexuality, it is less than 1%. Statistically speaking, it just is not a priority for the Bible.
And the few stories that do speak to the topic of same-sexuality are often taken out of proportion and out of context. One of the most famous examples of these texts is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, which some of you might be familiar with. It’s a story that has become famous because of anti-sodomy laws that exist in some places still today and this concept of sodomy that is derived from this Bible story.
And “sodomy” is a word that we throw around a lot, without necessarily understanding what it means. We might have an idea that it refers to gay sex, that it’s somehow bad, when in reality, it has a very specific definition. And it is any sexual act that is not procreative.
So that opens the door wide to a whole host of things that are not limited to same-sex couples. And that’s interesting to remember in a context where our society loves to take the Bible out of context and use it for its own purposes.
So what does the story of Sodom and Gomorrah actually say?
Once upon a time, there was a city called Sodom, and there were two men traveling, trying to find a place to stay in the city limits.
They were having zero luck. They were about to give up and spend the night in the town’s square. But a man named Lot took pity on them and let them crash at his house for the night. Good thing he did, because not five minutes later, the town mob came banging on his door, demanding that he bring his guests out, that they might “know” them.
Now, when the Bible says “know” in this context, it’s not saying, “Hey, nice to meet you! Let me shake your hand!” No.
It’s, “Let us know them intimately, sexually,” and in this case, violently. We’re talking in this case about gang rape.
And the story continues. Lot begs the mob, “Please, I beg you, do not act so wickedly.” He then turns and offers his two virgin daughters to the mob in exchange, which is all kinds of twisted.
And then, the story ends when God gets angry at the whole situation and destroys the whole city for their sins.
But what exactly was the sin of Sodom? Was it men sleeping with men, or was it an angry mob banging on a man’s door and demanding to rape his house guests?
And you can see how quickly we leap to conclusions and how quickly that begins to affect our judgment.
JIM O’HANLON: So what does the story say? And what does the story not say?
The story describes an entire city that converges upon one house for the purpose of raping these two people. Does that mean that this is a story about two adults who want to have a consenting relationship, who want to publicly affirm a monogamous relationship and their commitment to each other? How does it really connect it all to that when it’s talking about an entire city that wants to have a mass rape of two people?
So you see this man, Lot, who sees this, and he stands against them, one person who stands against the entire city. He sees these two people, he sees they’re vulnerable, they’re traveling, they’re far from home, they’re people who could be preyed upon, they’re foreigners, they don’t belong.
So they’re weak and susceptible in so many ways, and he wants to protect them. And when the city says, “Let them come out here because we want to know them,” he begs them not to do this wicked thing.
And when he stands against the whole city, they then turn onto him and say, “You know what, Lot? You haven’t been here all that long. You’re not really one of us. You don’t have the same beliefs like us.”
So this is Lot, a man who himself is vulnerable in this situation, who’s going to put himself out for someone who is even more vulnerable than he is.
And as we heard, he says, “Take my daughters instead,” which raises the issue of: why would someone insist that you have to literally read this and you have to unquestionably apply the morality in a way that you must be obedient to it?