• What about Judges 19?

    January 27, 2012

    Judges 19 contains a story so similar to the Sodom account in Genesis 18 that some scholars have argued it is in fact the same story retold with different details. There’s no way to know for sure if this is so, but the theory makes some sense. After all, the four Gospels often recount the same event with slightly differing details. Regardless, it’s curious to me, given how similar the two stories are, that almost no one suggests Judges 19 reflects God’s hatred of homosexuality, even though you have here again (a) a male visitor who comes to town, who (b) plans to spend the night in the town square, (c) is taken in by a total stranger, and (d) is threatened at night by an angry mob who (e) wants to have sex with him.

    20 “You are welcome at my house,” the old man said. “Let me supply whatever you need. Only don’t spend the night in the square.” 21 So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.

    22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”

    23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.”

    Sure sounds like some dirty homosexuals are up to no good again. Fascinating then how almost none of the folks who argue Genesis 18 is about gay sex argue the same about Judges 19, no doubt because of what comes next in the story:

    25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. 26 At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.

    Clearly the intent of this mob is not gay sexual gratification. It is sexual intimidation. It is inhospitality of the most egregious kind toward foreigners. The Israelites, the people who were to be a blessing to the nations, those who were to represent the kindness of God to the world, are instead sexually assaulting it in a display of awful domination. I would argue the same is true of Genesis 18. The only reason people get away with making Sodom about God’s hatred for gay sex is that the angry mob in that story doesn’t rape Lot’s daughters as the mob manages to rape the concubine in Judges 19, but clearly Lot knew those men weren’t any more gay than the mob of Judges 19, or else he would not have offered up his daughters.

    I don’t mean to keep picking on my friend who said the Sodom story is about condemnation for homosexuality, but it’s important that we bring up the email one more time. She writes, “God is very clear in His Word … It is clear that [homosexuality is] an abomination to God. This is so in both the Old and New Testaments. Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18 is only one of many examples of God’s view on homosexuality.”

    I ask you, is she correct? Is it clear that Genesis 18 is about homosexuality? Very clear? Clear enough to invoke God’s name? Clear enough to say “God says so”? Because if not, you are suggesting God has said something that he has in fact possibly (I would argue probably) not said, and isn’t there something evil about that when the “something” you’re suggesting God is “clearly” saying is being used to subjugate a vulnerable minority of people who happen to be gay? Every day, millions of people are told that God hates a significant part of themselves because of a likely misinterpretation of Scripture. The emotional damage, beginning from a very early age, can (and surely does) lead to all sorts of problems later in life, including a general sense of self-hatred.

    Again, I’m not picking on my friend. (I’ve done all I can to mask this person’s identity.) The point is not her. The point is us. It’s me. I have said some of the same things in the past. I have used the Lord’s name to further ideas I thought were his, which, in retrospect, I would disavow. I suspect all of us who follow Christ have done this at one point or another. My point is not to condemn any of us, but to ask that we be more careful with our words and proclamations. To declare, “Thus says the LORD,” is a serious thing, more serious than I suspect some of us really believe.

    Posted in: The Gay Posts

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