“…This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.” Ezekiel 16:49-50
If Ezekiel was telling the truth, the far right, those good conservative, tea partying Christians who now are devotes of austerity and Ayn Rand may be dooming us in the sight of the Lord. No, not because of LGBT rights, but because they are themselves, committing the very same crimes that doomed Sodom.
The First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho, New Mexico cannot allow the Cub Scout troop that always met there to continue to do so. The fact that the Boy Scouts of America now allow gays to be scouts is against their Christian ethics. So, the good Christians that they are, instead of following the teachings of Christ, they decided to follow the teachings of hate. After all, just because Christ made a rash statement about what happens to people who do not do good to little kids is just talk, right? He didn’t mean it. Couldn’t have. It would be terribly liberal for Christ to have wanted all those smelly, possibly gay little crumb crunchers to have access to His kingdom.
Oh well, Christ didn’t hang out with sinners. The story about Zacchaeus was no big deal, just because in his day, the head tax collector for the Romans was literally the most hated person in the Jewish world. No biggie. After all, if Christ were alive today, he would turn his back on the vile, evil, hideous sins of gays and lesbians, right?
The Pink Flamingo has a little problem with this. I suspect, if Christ were here, today, walking around this country, he’d turn his back on the First Baptist Church of Rancho Rio, and go have dinner some vile gay or lesbian sinner. You see, while Christ hated the sin, he loved the sinner. He had absolutely no use for the leaders of his religious community, considering them absolutely contemptible.
Women who have abortions, who murder their babies should burn in hell. They are evil. They are impure. They should be forced to have their babies, then have them taken away from them, have their tubes tied, or wallow in poverty in the gutter where they belong, right? That’s nice, but when Christ came across Mary Magdalene, who was going to be stoned to death for being a harlot, a sinful, wonton woman, he suggested the men who wanted to stone her to death only do so if they had not committed a sin.
But, you say, the sin of Sodomy brought down Sodom and Gomorrah. When someone was referred to as a Sodomite, well… it was because that person was a resident or from the city of Sodom. It wasn’t until the 13th century did the term come into the English language – as something with a negative sexual connotation. And then – it was about oral sex.
Why was Sodom so evil? According to Josephus:
“…1. The two cities were so wicked that travelers would be given a bed and if they were too short, their feet would be cut off. If they were too tall, they would be stretched on the wrack.
2. Merchants refused to sell bread or goods to the visitors in their land, causing some to starve to death in the town square.
3. There were four judges in Sodom named Shakrai (Liar), Shakurai (Awful Liar), Zayyafi (Forger), and Mazle Dina (Perverter of Justice). The justice system was so corrupt and evil that it documents cases where a pregnant woman was attacked and miscarried so the husband sued to the attacker in court. The judges ordered the attacker to rape the woman in front of the husband to make her pregnant again and restore her to her original condition…”
There is even more from Josephus:
How about New Testament Abominations?
“...Jesus defines the love of money as an abomination to God (an important distinction because this is often misquoted by people who haven’t read it as “money is the root of all evil”. If that were the case, Christ wouldn’t have been friends with people like Joseph of Arimathea, in whose tomb he was later buried, who happened to be one of the richest men in the middle east; the problem was people like the rich young ruler, who made money his god). – Luke 16:15
Those who practice abominations will not enter the kingdom of heaven – Revelations 21:27. Since only one abomination was mentioned in the new testament that is applicable to every day human living, we have to look to the book of the law, with which both the author of Revelations and Jesus Christ were familiar…”
Let’s get this straight. The Lord did not approve of His followers who did the following:
- Were not kind to strangers, visitors, or immigrants
- Were Prideful
- Were extremely wealthy and had plenty of food but refused to help the poor and needy
- Did abominable things like love of money, worship of the wealthy, and giving favor to the wealthiest over the poor.
In the days of the Bible, the word Sodom and Gomorrah were synonymous with selfishness and cruelty. Today, the far right equates the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah with sexual transgressions. The problem is, that isn’t want the Bible and Jewish tradition says, at all. If the far right, those who live for austerity, the Ayn Rand worshipers of the world were to be required to face what the Bible actually said, they might be forced to admit they are the ones who are, in the Biblical sense, condemning our nation – because of their cruel selfishness.
Rabbi Steven Greenberg wrote:
“…Despite the common perception that the sin of Sodom was rampant sexual vice, Jewish literature has largely rejected this reading. The Prophet Ezekiel locates the sin of Sodom in its inhospitality, its cruelty and perversion of justice, and not in homosexuality. He describes Sodom as arrogant and insensitive to human need. The residents of Sodom had plenty of bread and untroubled tranquility, yet they refused to support the poor and the needy.
Among early rabbinic commentators, the common reading of the sin of Sodom was its cruelty, arrogance and disdain for the poor. The sages of the Babylonian Talmud also associated Sodom with the sins of pride, envy, cruelty to orphans, theft, murder, and perversion of justice. While the event which sealed the fate of the Sodomites was their demand for Lot to bring out his guests so that the mob might “know” them, this still was not seen so much as an act of sexual excess, but as hatred of the stranger and exploitation of the weak. Midrashic writers lavishly portray Sodom and the surrounding cities as arrogant and self-satisfied, destroyed for the sins of greed and indifference to the poor.
Rabbinic legends about Sodom describe an area of unusual natural resources, precious stones, silver and gold. Every path in Sodom, say the sages, was lined with seven rows of fruit trees. Eager to keep their great wealth for themselves, and suspicious of outsiders’ desires to share in it, the residents of Sodom agreed to overturn the ancient law of hospitality to wayfarers. The legislation later prohibited giving charity to anyone. One legend claims that when a beggar would wander into Sodom, the people would mark their names on their coins and give him a dinar. However, no one would sell him bread. When he perished of hunger, everyone would come and claim his coin. There was once a maiden who secretly carried bread out to a poor person in the street in her water pitcher. After three days passed and the man didn’t die, the maiden was discovered. They covered the girl with honey and put her atop the city walls, leaving her there until bees came and ate her. Hers was the cry that came up to God, the cry that inaugurated the angelic visit and its consequences.
Another famous rabbinic tale mirrors the Greek myth of Procrustes. Both the Jewish and Greek stories are about beds that invert the ethic of hospitality. In Sodom, they had a bed for weary guests upon which they might rest. However, when the wayfarer would lie down, they made sure that he fit the bed perfectly. A short man was stretched to fit it and a tall man was cut to size. The Midrash tells us that Eliezer, Abraham’s loyal servant, was once offered to lie upon it but he declined, claiming that since his mother died he pledged not to have a pleasant night’s sleep on a comfortable bed. In the Greek myth, Procrustes (meaning “he who stretches”) kept a house by the side of the road for passing strangers. He offered them a warm meal and a bed that always fit whomever lay upon it. Once laying upon it, he would likewise cut off the legs of those too long or stretch those too short. Theseus, the hero of the Greek tale, turns the tables on Procrustes and fatally adjusts him to his own bed.
The people of Sodom are not only protective of their wealth and punishing of acts of charity; they are also desperate to force everyone to fit a single measure. They have a well-to-do gated community that makes sure no beggars disturb their luxury and peace. They have zoned out poverty. But what makes Sodom the “right” kind of neighborhood is that no difference is tolerated. “Our kind” of folk are welcomed and protected, while all the rest are excluded or eliminated. It can hardly be incidental that the locus of this one-size-fits-all violence is a bed that serves as a guillotine and a rack. The place of sleep, comfort, and sexual pleasure in Sodom has been transformed into a place of threat and malice, a device of torture for strangers.
Eliezer saves himself from being amputated or stretched by the mourning of his mother. Mourning the dead is a particularly selfless expression of relationship and love. The people of Sodom treat all who are not inside the walls as being as good as dead; Eliezer treats the dead with an honor and presence that makes their memory a living reality. Sodom is a place where compassion is punished brutally, as the story of the young maiden suggests. Eliezer is saved from Sodom’s evil not by his sword or cunning, as is Theseus in the Greek myth, but by his own loving beyond all boundaries or benefit-by a loving which, like a mother’s love, has no reasons.
Without a doubt, Jerusalem is in danger of becoming Sodom. But it will not be made so by gay pride marchers—at least not according to the prophet Ezekiel or the rabbis. What bought down the wrath of God upon Sodom was not homosexuality, but inhospitality and cruelty, arrogance and greed, callousness, fear of loss, and ultimately, violence against the stranger. Indeed, we cannot let Jerusalem become like Sodom—a city where humiliation and even violence against people who are different is judged to be the epitome of moral decency and religious integrity….”
The Pink Flamingo will continue my rant and rave tomorrow. If we are to believe the Bible, to believe Jewish tradition and Ezekiel, the the so called tea party Christians who want