Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Genesis 19: gang rape

Ok. I realize the title of this post is a bit shocking. But, I finally took it upon myself to study the story of Sodom and Gomorrah for myself. Not sure what I was afraid of... but, just let me say this... if you thought it was about homosexuality, it isn't. Read it again. (And, I was a bit surprised, since all the conservatives I know out there have used this particular passage to discuss how homosexuality is wrong in the Bible.)

In a nutshell, it is clearly about *gang rape* and overpowering the guests in a dehumanizing way. And in Scripture "men" refers to "men AND women", and why offer up your virgin daughters if ALL the men were gay? You wouldn't offer up women to men you knew were gay.

The people of S&G clearly wanted to overpower Lot's guests, highly likely due to fear of the guests being spies (common in the OT and in war torn countries)... and to add insult to injury, Lot put up his two daughters to placate the angry mob. Well, that wasn't enough for the townspeople. They didn't want sex. They wanted to demoralize, dehumanize and HURT the guests in a way to prove their ultimate dominance. RAPE. Pure and simple.

Now for the longer explanation...

I don't know that I'm explaining my thoughts quite as well as I wanted to here, but I have read several versions of scripture, including KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB, NRSV, Amplified, etc. Some scripture says that the "men" of the town wanted to "know" the guests. Some people perceive this as just spending time with in a non-sexual way. And those folks seem to think that S&D's problem was that of being inhospitable.

But if you read the Hebrew (i have a great study bible for this) for the word "to know" it means in a sexual way. And, with the tone of the passage, I see that very clearly. The problem with trying to make the Sodom and Gomorrah story about homosexuality comes into play when you consider the following (maybe this is because it is easier to talk about homosexuality than it is to talk about rape??)

1. Men defined in Scripture often means Men AND Women.

But if you assume that "all the people" they are talking about is the whole town, you have to assume there are women and children. That was normal to speak of the whole town as men, because they thought of women and children as property. So what about the women and children then? Were they gay too?

Verse 4-5 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both young old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them. KJV

2. But if it was ALL "men" (really men, and not women or children), then it does not make sense that ALL of them were homosexual. The operative word here being "all".

Today, San Francisco has the reputation for being the “gayest” city in the world. Yet even in San Francisco, gay men constitute far less than half the total male population. If the Scripture text had told us that “certain men of Sodom” or even “many men of Sodom” gathered at the door, we might then surmise that the men at the door could have been motivated by homosexual desire. But the text says “both young and old, all the people to the last man” gathered at the door. To suggest that every man and boy in Sodom was homosexual is simply not credible. Any reasonable interpretation of the story must account for the fact that all the males of Sodom (both homosexual and heterosexual), and perhaps even the women, participated in this attack. Something other than homosexual desire seems to have been at work here. (3)

3. It is clear that when Lot offered up his DAUGHTERS to the people of S&G, they didn't have any interest in having sex with them. Again, if there were women present (and there likely were) and they were also gay, why wouldn't they have taken Lot up on his offer? Or if it was just about fulfilling some sexual urge, why not just take them? Nope. It was about harming the guests. And the other thought is that if there were men and women there, then it wasn't a homosexual act at all. It was rape. Rape between two men is no better or worse than between a man and a woman. But, I imagine in some societies it is even worse because it is an act that tries to show the other man that he is as low as a woman was in that society. And that was pretty low.

Thus, the sin of the two groups of men in Sodom and Gibeah is, in both instances, the desire to engage in homosexual rape. But there is validity in connecting this sin to the violation of the norm of hospitality. There is weight to the suggestion that the desire to rape the visitors is less the expression of homosexual desire and activity per se, and more the use of forcible homosexual rape to express dominance over the strangers. This practice occurred in the Ancient Middle East when armies were defeated, and it occurs today in certain all-male settings, such as prisons. This is supported by the fact that in both instances, when women were offered to the men, both groups of men initially rejected the offer. The conclusion, more clearly for Sodom than for Gibeah, is that the goal of homosexual rape is the male inhabitants' desire to express their dominance over the strangers. (4)

Ge 19:6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
Ge 19:9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. And they said, “This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

This whole passage is disturbing to me. Mostly because it was really clear that it was about rape. On top of it, you think someone is going to harm your guests, so you offer up your daughters??? OMG. Really? Clearly a dominance issue. But you can sort of understand Lot's position because he didn't want the people to hurt his guests, who also happened to be Angels!! So, I imagine it was the lesser of two evils. What a horrible position to be in. :(

There are several sites that really explained it much better than I have here, so I'm including them for reference.


Genesis 19 explained

(3)Would Jesus Discriminate

(4) G Haas


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