With Easter just around the corner, it seems a good time to discuss the Bible and LGBT people. There are myriad views on what the Bible has to say about LGBT people and the greatest religious minds in the world do not agree. While I do not believe Biblical discussion has a place in public life (in terms of making laws, etc), I am a Christian and I am interested in what the Bible says about any number of things.
There are 7 passages in the Old Testament and 4 in the New Testament that people use to formulate their Biblical opinions of LGBT people. In this article, I will deal with the first, which is Genesis 19. In future articles, I’ll discuss the remaining passages which are Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Deuteronomy 23:17-18, Judges 19, I Kings 14:24 and 15:12, Romans 1:26, I Corinthians 6:9, I Timothy 1:9, Jude 7.
Before we go much further, go read Genesis 19.
In Genesis 19, two angels visit Sodom and Lot invites them into his home. A mob of angry men came and demanded “to know” these men. The passage says, “the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house.” I find it hard to believe that every man in Sodom was motivated by lust for men. If it were a few men, perhaps. But not given that it was all.
It’s important to know that the Hebrew verb “yada” (to know) has multiple interpretations much like our own verb “to know.” Yada appears 943 times in Hebrew Scriptures but only in about a dozen cases does it refer to sexual activity.
It could also be important to know that, given the recent war the city had experienced, it could well be that the men were angry that their security had been compromised and wanted to physically assault the angels. It’s not entirely clear what the intent was, but contextually, it is clear that is was neither friendly nor benign.
Lot did not want to give the angels to the angry men, so he offered up his virgin daughters to be heterosexually raped. Given that most Hebrew women were married by 15 at that time, these girls were 14 or younger. Apparently, neither God nor modern-day Christians have condemnation for Lot offering to let his daughters be raped despite the fact that, had they been raped, the daughters would have been unmarriageable.
Further, God was already on the track of Sodom and Gomorrah. Actually, neither of those names are the original name of either place. Sodom comes from the Hebrew word that means burnt and Gomorrah comes from the Hebrew word that means a ruined heap. These are names given after the destruction, it appears. According to Deuteronomy 29:22-29, God was angry already at four Canaanite cities and wanted them destroyed. In Genesis 18, Abraham negotiates with God to not murder all the people in those cities if ten or more righteous people could be found in Sodom. That is why the angels were there – to find righteous people.
Those who would like us to think that Sodom and Gomorrah was all about condemning homosexuality would be well-served to read Ezekial 16:48-50. In this passage, God doesn’t even mention sexual activity of any sort.
Certainly Jude had other opinions but that is a topic for another article.