What can we say about this passage from Genesis? There is some pretty shocking stuff in it, not least of which is Lot’s willingness to offer his two young daughters to the crowd of rapists. The homosexual interpreters say that the sin of Sodom is not homosexuality but “the failure to offer hospitality to strangers.” This has to be one of the most outrageous examples of intentional misinterpretation of Scripture ever attempted. The passage says the inhabitants of the city of Sodom were wicked beyond belief, and “not offering hospitality to strangers” doesn’t really sound like the sort of sin for which God might rain down sulfurous fire from heaven. “What!” bellows the Almighty “You didn’t offer that tramp a bed for the night? It’s fire and brimstone for you!”
I don’t think so. Clearly the wickedness of the men of Sodom is linked with homosexuality. It is not only linked with homosexuality, however, it is also linked with gang rape. To put it bluntly, a crowd of men wanted to rape the two men visiting Lot. The sin of Sodom, therefore is not simply homosexual actions. Sodomy is not just anal intercourse between men. There is an element of violence and perversion to the sin of Sodom. Consequently, while the legal definition of “sodomy” has been anal intercourse or bestiality, it’s proper definition would, in my opinion, include rape or sexual violence of any sort.
This is why the four “sins that cry to heaven” cry to heaven for vengeance. The cries to heaven are the cries of helpless victims of some form of violence and the victims have no recourse–nowhere to turn for help.
It is arguable, therefore, that it is unfair to use the word “sodomy” for all homosexual behaviors. Sodomy is not less than that. It is more than that. Homosexuals might argue that “loving same sex relationships” are not the sin of Sodom because the sin of Sodom was not just homosexuality–it was predatory homosexuality. They would argue that the sin of Sodom was not just homosexual behavior–it was gang rape and was all tied in with cruelty and violence and probably bloodshed, torture and murder. Loving, stable, homosexual behaviors (they would argue) are not the same as the sin of Sodom.
Yes and no. It is certainly true that the sinners of Sodom were not only homosexuals, but they were public, violent and aggressive homosexuals. That they were blinded by the angels in Lot’s house is a telling and symbolic detail. These homosexuals were full of rage against Lot. They would hear no arguments against their intended behavior. They were blind and demonic in their lust and rage. So not too far off the homosexualist campaigners of our day who throw their “sexuality” in our face and launch increasingly aggressive, blasphemous and violent campaigns against anyone who would disagree with them. Certainly the public, violent and disgusting men of Sodom have their equivalents in our society today.
But let’s put them on one side, and focus on the “nice, kind, non aggressive, quiet homosexual”–the man next door who lives quietly with his “partner” and does not campaign for “gay marriage”. He just wants to be left alone. He is not a rapist or a pedophile. He does not go in for gang rape or violence or intimidation. Is he guilty of the “sin of Sodom”? We have to consider the action itself. If a same sex couple engage in sexual intercourse, and both parties are consenting they may not be doing violence to each other in the blatant way that the men of Sodom intended, but they are still doing violence to one another and to the natural order and to the sacrament of marriage.
Furthermore, we sometimes forget that it is possible for heterosexuals to commit sodomy. Anal sex between a man and woman is sodomy and some moral theologians consider oral sex to be a form of sodomy. Therefore sodomy is not just homosexual in nature.
What we are talking about therefore–whether it is between two men or a man and a woman is un-natural sex–a sexual act that is not procreative and therefore not fully loving as God intended–a sexual act that is for pleasure only. Such behavior, by anyone is called a sinful action. This is an objective judgement based on natural law. Male and female genitalia are designed for a purpose and to use them otherwise is un-natural and therefore sinful.
Every sinful action from stealing a pencil to mass murder is, in this sense, un-natural and it is an action of violence against what is natural. It breaks something. It breaks the natural order, it breaks unity between persons, it breaks the natural cycle of life, it breaks harmony between God. It is destructive. All sin–is therefore a distortion of the rightful order and therefore a form of violence. As such, all of us sinners are guilty of this kind of violence–and this is what is so often forgotten when critics blame Catholicism for being “judgmental”. It is true that we call homosexual behavior a sin, and homosexuality a human weakness, but as we do so we look in the mirror and acknowledge that all of us are sinners and all of us suffer from the wound of sin and concupiscence.
Catholics are against sin wherever it occurs because it is destructive. In saying that we also recognize that there are different levels of guilt and that all sin is not equally offensive. We acknowledge this distinction in any type of sin. Stealing a paper clip from the office is not as serious as stealing a million dollars from vulnerable widows through a ponzi scheme. Likewise we can recognize different levels of guilt amongst the sexual sins. A homosexual who lives quietly with his or her partner and strives for what he or she believes to be a loving and faithful life is not the same as a raging, aggressive homosexual activist who wants to destroy marriage, wants his total promiscuity endorsed, and thrusts his sexuality into the lives of others. Nor is it the same as a depraved, pornography addicted homosexual predator.
It is possible, and pastorally necessary to make such distinctions.
However, making these distinctions does not mean that homosexual actions are good.
Nor does it mean that men can marry one another.