**Content warning: Rape**
When I read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 with fresh eyes, extinguishing the mindset that the passage is solely about “condemning homosexuality,” here are my observations as a layperson.
- The passage is not about consensual sex, it is about rape.
The men of the city are literally standing at Lot’s door ready to knock it down to RAPE guests. As the church has overemphasized this passage as solely about homosexuality, we have lost the actual pivotal point of this passage being about rape and lack of hospitality. There was nothing peaceful about the scene; it would have been terrifying! It was not the picturesque scene of people having drinks and dancing at a gay bar; two women kissing while walking by a lake, two men playing with their child at a park. It was a situation of rage, hostility, fear, terror, trauma, and realizing if the rape goes through, the lives in that house would never be the same. I think that many women reading this may understand that type of fear. Understanding that this passage is first and foremost about rape is key to understanding this entire debate over whether we can, as Christians, openly accept and love people of the LGBTQ+ community.
Last year over Labor Day weekend I spent several hours outlining necessary aspects of how to address sex at church. One of my points was to start the conversation with consent. I think if Christians truly understood what it is and how it functions for both married and unmarried people, we would have a clearer understanding of what sexual situations are permissible and which are exploitative. (A pastor asked me to come up with ideas for talking about sex in church, I spent several hours on the project but never received a response from him, unfortunately.)
As a home health nurse, I have had the opportunity to walk into many homes. Some homes have been hoarded, others have infestations. Beautiful homes with white carpets and glass everywhere. Huge homes that are cold in the winter because it would cost too much to heat it to a “normal” degree. Tiny apartments with the thermostat cranked to 80 degrees in the summer. Homes where I have needed an interpreter. Poor homes; rich homes, homes that require a security escort.
I will always remember having the opportunity to see a Muslim patient; her story was heartbreaking. Her son was killed in Iraq. Yet, when I entered that home, I became something more than a nurse. I was their guest. I became like a part of their family for a couple hours a week. I have no doubt that if strangers came to the door to rape me while I was visiting, they would have protected me. There were other patients I’m not convinced would have. The difference, hospitality. So I wonder, what are we as Christians doing to defend the hurting and victimized among us?
Through the husband’s blog, I see that many pastors and church leadership cover-up and even promote abuse in the church. How could the church more accurately apply this passage today for church leaders who have raped raped women and children, have covered up felonies, and/or have sided with perpetrators against their victims? These churches are saying in a sense, “Here men, take our kids and wives and have at them. We will not stand in your way or fight you when you rape them.” It seems to me, the men of Sodom are not be the gay couple walking the down the street, but these abusive men leading our churches.