“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
Newsflash: The “sins of Sodom” have nothing to do with gay stuff. Sodom and Gomorrah weren’t firebombed from above because dudes got down with other dudes. I know it makes for a great Edwards-esque fire and brimstone sermon that would inevitably get picked up by Right Wing Watch, but it’s not biblical. At least, not according to the Genesis text, nor the prophet Ezekiel (sorry anti-LGBTQ+ Christians).
The reason Sodom DID get nuked, however, is quite clear: The people were arrogant, prideful, gluttonous, selfish, and greedy. Sound familiar? It does to me.
It pains me to say this, but this reminds me of the United States of America. Not that all her people can be described in so many terms, but as a whole, it seems to fit. As I write this, the coronavirus, for instance, is spiraling out of control in the States, all the while people are refusing to listen to scientists about how to protect themselves and their neighbor from the deadly disease it causes. Because free-DUMB, or some shit like that.
This is arrogant. It’s prideful. It’s selfish. And it will lead to what could only be described as divine wrath.
Now, I don’t believe God is literally a wrathful God. I’ve talked about the nonviolence of God in many places, including multiple books. But if I lived in the Bronze Age or something, that’s exactly how I would describe this situation we are in. I would have to connect the dots because my theology would have dictated such a thing. We are being sent a plague of epic proportions because of X, Y, and Z (fill in the blanks).
The COVID-19 pandemic is just one example I could have used. I could have also talked about the wealth-gap, which has grown to even more epic proportions than the coronavirus. (Not-so) Funny fact: according to the Economic Policy Institute, since 1978, CEO compensation rose 1,007.5% . . . compared with 11.9% for average workers. In comparative terms, CEOs now make 278 times the average worker.” Meanwhile, homelessness, poverty, and hunger are all a major problem in the States.
Again . . . greed, greed, and more greed.
And what is the fruit of such greed? Small businesses are constantly on the brink of failure. The dollar is becoming more and more worthless. Food prices are astronomical. Families are struggling to put good food on the table. While the rich are debating whether to get the new G7, or “get by” with the one they’ve got now.
Is this not the type of stuff Ezekiel talks about?? Are we not turning our collective backs on the poor and needy? Are we not selfishly turning our unmasked noses up at the experts who warn that the most vulnerable among us will suffer greatly if we don’t get this virus under control? Are we not doing all these things and more? We are, and unless we get our act together, we will pay for it.
The reason I value the Bible even to this day is because much of it can still be applied today. If we don’t care for the earth like Genesis 1 tells us to, we will reap a horrible harvest (just ask climate scientists). If we don’t care for the needy, we will suffer the same. If we let our greed spiral out of control, our economy will suffer. If we do what empires do, well, just read the book of Revelation. There are simply no two ways about it: Continue down this path and suffer grave consequences.
What we need at this stage in the game is a collective consciousness shift. We need a nationwide repentance. And not the type of repentance most conservative Evangelicals talk about – you know, the “give your heart to the Lord or suffer in hell for all eternity” type of repentance. We need a change of mind about how we live here and now. We need something practical. We need to change our mind about what makes a nation “great.” Spoiler alert: It has nothing to do with being first. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We become great by putting the needs of the marginalized first. We become great by putting the needs of the oppressed first. We become great by putting the needs of the poor first. As Jesus once said, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
To my mind, this is why “Christian” needs to focus more on orthopraxy than orthodoxy. In other words, live out your Christian values more than you talk about them. Your sound doctrines are nothing more than skubala if you don’t “love others as Christ first loved us.”
Will we heed the call? The pessimist in me says no. But I still have hope, even if it’s just a fools hope (to quote Gandalf).
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