:: Blog | Nov 3/22
I love Thrice. I don't think there's any hiding that fact. The last one of these ...
:: Quest | May 24/13
A long-standing franchise with an ordinary product that all tastes the same ...
:: Writings | Sep 25/16
Sermon : Sodom and Gomorrah

Sodom and Gomorrah: Genesis 19

No, instead, there is something else going on here, as most scholars will now tell you.

The main alternative understanding, which has come against much critique, is that the great sin of Sodom and its sister city, Gomorrah, was inhospitality. And there are certainly cues within the text to suggest this.

For Ancient Jewish culture, hospitality was an important part of life. Passages within Exodus and Leviticus emphasise the importance of welcoming outsiders in as guests. In Exodus 23:9, the Israelites are commanded not to oppress strangers for they too once were strangers and know what it's like. They are also commanded in Leviticus 19:34 to treat any outsider within their midst as one of their own citizens—and it goes so far as to command that the Israelite was to love that outsider as their very self.

Abraham embodies this attitude in Genesis 18 when he shades and feeds the divine visitors near his tent. Lot here in chapter 19 is matched up to Abraham in his insistence on lodging the two divine visitors in his own home.

However, the Sodomites are contrasted against these examples. Instead of welcoming the visitors, they seek to abuse them. They come down in a mob and surround the place they're staying and demand of them a subservience of a great magnitude.

And here we return to Oscar Wilde's quote, that everything is about sex except sex because sex is about power.

In the Ancient world, the paradigm of sex was not between the categories of heterosexual and homosexual, or married and unmarried. Instead, the paradigm was that of active and passive, or dominant and submissive. Within this framework, the biggest taboo was that of being passive—passive like a female, like a child.

We get hints of this from reliefs depicting militaristic conquests where the ruling empire is portrayed as a muscular male with a female nation bent over in front of him. Generally, sexual slavery and homosexuality was not necessarily frowned upon as long as they involved an older man and a younger victim so an active and passive participant was clear—the older man of course always being the active, dominant one.

This is an important concept for our story. In this context, the men of Sodom came not to relieve some homosexual drive, but in fact to assert themselves over the foreigners. They came to put these divine visitors in their place, so to speak.

When Lot offered his virgin daughters, they were dismissed not because the mob was made up of homosexuals and these were women—they were dismissed because the mob didn't need to assert their dominance over the already–established property of Lot.

Important to this interpretation is the response of the mob to Lot after the daughters were offered. The men become enraged and angered toward Lot—not for denying them their sexual appetite, but for acting as judge and ruler over them when Lot himself is also an alien, a foreigner.

The men of Sodom are infuriated that now this foreigner—who by virtue of owning his own home was an established citizen—has attempted to assert his dominance over the men of the city who wanted to assert their own dominance in the first place.

This here is a power struggle. Like wolves fighting over alpha status.

The mob gets violent and begins pressing in on Lot, attempting to break the door. But the divine visitors intervene, blind the mob—causing chaos among them—and urge Lot to escape the impending destruction with his family.

We would do well not to miss the meaning of this story. We would do well not to overlook it and ignore it the way Israel did so many times.