Finally, verses from the Old Testament were featured. First we studied the story of Lot and the men of Sodom in Genesis.
The two angels reached Sodom in the evening, as Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he got up to greet them; and bowing down with his face to the ground, he said, "Please, gentlemen, come aside into your servant’s house for the night, and bathe your feet; you can get up early to continue your journey." But they replied, "No, we shall pass the night in the town square." He urged them so strongly, however, that they turned aside to his place and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking cakes without leaven, and they dined. Before they went to bed, all the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old–all the people to the last man–closed in on the house. They called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intimacies with them." Lot went out to meet them at the entrance. When he had shut the door behind him, he said, "I beg you, my brothers, not to do this wicked thing. I have two daughters who have never had intercourse with men. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please. But don’t do anything to these men, for you know they have come under the shelter of my roof." They replied, "Stand back! This fellow," they sneered, "came here as an immigrant, and now he dares to give orders! We’ll treat you worse than them!" With that, they pressed hard against Lot, moving in closer to break down the door. But his guests put out their hands, pulled Lot inside with them, and closed the door; at the same time they struck the men at the entrance of the house, one and all, with such a blinding light that they were utterly unable to reach the doorway. Then the angels said to Lot: "Who else belongs to you here? Your sons (sons-in-law) and your daughters and all who belong to you in the city–take them away from it! We are about to destroy this place, for the outcry reaching the LORD against those in the city is so great that he has sent us to destroy it." So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had contracted marriage with his daughters. "Get up and leave this place," he told them; "the LORD is about to destroy the city." But his sons-in-law thought he was joking. As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, "On your way! Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city." When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD’S mercy, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city. As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told: "Flee for your life! Don’t look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away." "Oh, no, my lord!" replied Lot. "You have already thought enough of your servant to do me the great kindness of intervening to save my life. But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me, and so I shall die. Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. It’s only a small place. Let me flee there–it’s a small place, isn’t it?–that my life may be saved." "Well, then," he replied, "I will also grant you the favor you now ask. I will not overthrow the town you speak of. Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there." That is why the town is called Zoar. The sun was just rising over the earth as Lot arrived in Zoar; at the same time the LORD rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah (from the LORD out of heaven). He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. Early the next morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood in the LORD’S presence. As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole region of the Plain, he saw dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace. Thus it came to pass: when God destroyed the Cities of the Plain, he was mindful of Abraham by sending Lot away from the upheaval by which God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living. (Genesis 19:1-29)
Traditionally this passage is used to denote those who engage in same-sex conduct as sodomites. However, in this Rainbow Alliance study, this labeling was sternly questioned. It was asked, “When do we commit the ‘sin of Sodom’”? There are different views on this subject.
The text (1-2), the Bible (7), and my Catholic Bible commentary (3-6) pointed out some.
- Gang rape. “We do not define heterosexuality by examples of heterosexual gang rape.”
- Homosexuality. (“According to the present account of the Yahwist (Genesis 19:4)” and Jude: 7)
- Lack of social justice (Isaiah 1:9, 3:9).
- Disregard for the widow and orphaned poor (Ezekiel 16:46-51).
- General immorality (Jeremiah 23:14).
- Idolatry (Deuteronomy 29:22-23).
Before this session, I believed that obviously the men of Sodom’s problem was that they preferred sex with men over women. In the session, however, I started to see the point that the primary sin of Sodom was inhospitality when I read verse 8. “But don’t do anything to these men, for you know they have come under the shelter of my roof." It wasn’t that the visitors were men; it was because they were under Lot’s care. Sure, the homosexual aspect of the desire was there, but it can’t be proved that that was the main motivation for their actions.
On the other hand, I did see the point but was still not convinced. The homosexual aspects were still there since the men of Sodom passed up their opportunity to have their way with (virgin) females but still wanted the male visitors. There needed to be something explicit that I could grasp to resolve this issue.
I finally came to read the footnotes of the study guide. The first bible verse reference was from Deuteronomy 29. It couldn’t get any more explicit than this. Even the verses mentioned in my commentary were less poignant (items 3-6 in the list above).
Future generations, your own descendants who will rise up after you, as well as the foreigners who will come here from far-off lands, when they see the calamities of this land and the ills with which the LORD has smitten it– all its soil being nothing but sulphur and salt, a burnt-out waste, unsown and unfruitful, without a blade of grass, destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his furious wrath– they and all the nations will ask, ‘Why has the LORD dealt thus with this land? Why this fierce outburst of wrath?’ And the answer will be, ‘Because they forsook the covenant which the LORD, the God of their fathers, had made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they went and served other gods and adored them, gods whom they did not know and whom he had not let fall to their lot: that is why the LORD was angry with this land and brought on it all the imprecations listed in this book; in his furious wrath and tremendous anger the LORD uprooted them from their soil and cast them out into a strange land, where they are today.’ (Both what is still hidden and what has already been revealed concern us and our descendants forever, that we may carry out all the words of this law.) (Deuteronomy 29:21-28)
My commentary said the following about verse 28.
What is still hidden: the events of the future. What has already been revealed: God’s law and the punishments in store for those who break it. Leave the future to God; our business is to keep his law.
What was the covenant? They were to follow the law that God had revealed. But what part of the law were we as “new creations” in Christ to follow? There were many rules from which Jesus excused us. (This is were He “indirectly very directly” talks about homosexuality.)
He summoned the crowd again and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile." When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, "Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) "But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mark 7:14-23)
Later, the Church excused us from the original covenant in the flesh with Abraham and most of the Mosaic Law.
But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law." The apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter. After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, "My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the holy Spirit just as he did us. He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts. Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? Since we have heard that some of our number (who went out) without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’" (Acts 15:5-10,24-29)
The church had the authority to make this pronouncement since the Holy Spirit was with her.
[Jesus said,] "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15)
Thus, as “new creations” in Christ, we can live righteously while still ignoring much of the law of the old covenant that includes the Mosaic Law. Dietary restrictions and much of the old rituals, including circumcision, were labeled as optional.
However, we are to still obey the moral aspects of the Law. In this discussion regarding homosexual acts, “unchastity” (Mark 7) and “unlawful marriage” (Acts 15) are still prohibited. I do not know for sure, but if I would guess, “marriage” between homosexuals was unlawful, especially, as we will see, simply engaging in homosexual sex was unlawful in the Old Testament. If it was unlawful then, it is unlawful now.