Does the Old Testament Condemn Homosexuality?

Does the Old Testament Condemn Homosexuality? January 27, 2014

Bible homosexualityThe Sodom and Gomorrah story is where many Christians point when arguing that God rejects homosexuality. That’s a lot to place on just six verses. Let’s look at them:

All the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them [literally: so that we can know them].”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. (Gen. 19:4–9, NET Bible)

There are a couple of interpretations of this story beyond the typical conclusion that homosexuality is so bad that it gets your town destroyed.

Did angels have secret knowledge?

We’re so familiar with to “know” in the Bible meaning “to have sex with” that we forget that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. The Hebrew word in question is used 947 times in the King James Version, most of which have nothing to do with sex. For example, “When you eat from [the fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5), “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:22), and so on.

If that’s the interpretation, what might the townspeople have wanted to know? Robert Price suggested that the idea of supernatural visitors wouldn’t have been too surprising within that culture. It was a violent time, and any military advantage for their town would have been helpful. Angels could have provided important information.

What to me undercuts this is Lot’s response, “Don’t do this wicked thing,” which isn’t in keeping with a request for knowledge, though it’s conceivable that this was added by later copyists. But if we conclude that gang rape is commonplace for this community, why is this godly man still living there? The story leaves this unclear.

Does the homosexual argument even make sense?

Let’s consider a second interpretation: if the townsmen were homosexual, why would Lot have offered them his daughters? Perhaps instead they were simply violent bullies who wanted to use rape for domination or humiliation. Isn’t this how rape is sometimes used in prison?

(That Lot volunteered his virgin daughters as if they were merely expensive possessions raises other issues, but let’s not go there.)

One unambiguous conclusion from the story is that gang rape is bad. Okay, no disagreement there. But what critique does this give of a loving homosexual relationship, which is the issue that society is addressing today?

Next time: we’ll conclude with Part 2.

Acceptance without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western religion, 
rejection without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western science. 
— Gary Zukav

Photo credit: Wikimedia

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 3/9/12.)

"I still say: sound stage. How gullible do you think I am??"

Four Years After Obergefell: Has the ..."
"Agreed--maybe your honesty in discarding a poor argument is what made you an atheist."

Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments—Do ..."
"No forgiveness = no more contact with him/her thus ignoring him/her, no for example lending ..."

Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments—Do ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jim Hoerst

    Ezekiel 16:49
    “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

    The Old Testament talks about Sodom and Gomorrah several times. Mostly in reference to sexual immorality.

    However Ezekiel was on a economic justice kick so he says Bible god destroyed the cities for their greed.

    Then there is this verse in the New Testament,

    Jude 1:7
    In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

    There are several references in the Bible to Sodom and many of them specify sexual immorality, and then there’s the word Sodomy itself, which establishes what most believers thought the Bible was teaching any way.

    • Niemand

      “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were
      arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and

      Uh-oh. The Republicans are in real trouble then, whether someone “lifts their luggage” or not.

  • RichardSRussell

    I believe it was H. L. Mencken who observed that the one group of people in all of history who were most keenly obsessed with sex were the Puritans.

    Clearly, tho, they are merely the most extreme examples of a pervasive Christian hang-up on the subject.

  • Leviticus 20 is very clear. It has prohibitions of sex with family members (actual relatives, and with both a mother and daughter, or with an uncle’s wife, etc), and it prohibits sex between the following: 1) two men, 2) men and animals, and 3) women and animals. It does NOT prohibit sex between two women. Nobody ever seems to notice that part.

    • What they’ll do is point to Romans, where (in a drunkenly confused passage), Paul does address women.

      Look it up in this blog for more on that.

      • Right. I just bet that hardly any Christians realize that it did not violate the Law of Moses.. Very practical, actually, since there were often multiple women in the household. Even unenlightened sheep herders realized it wasn’t something that would be in their best interest to ban!

    • Niemand

      Leviticus also prohibits wearing clothes of mixed fabric and eating shellfish. So if sex between two men is wrong per the Bible, it is no more wrong than polyester/cotton shirts. Probably not something that needs a lot of attention.

      • avalpert

        Actually, it only prohibits wearing a mixture of wool and linen so polyester/cotton blends are fine.

        But whether that needs attention or not is up to the individual – if you engage the conversation as Bob did here by questioning the reading of the text you are already granting that on some level it needs attention. Frankly, I don’t see any reason to offer a tortured reading of Sodom and Gomorrah – it suffices to say whether or not the old testament condemns homosexuality is irrelevant to whether we should today.

        • “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material” (Lev. 19:19).

          Thus endeth the reading for today.

        • avalpert

          But if you end it there you miss the context to understand it:

          “Thou shalt not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together” Deuteronomy 22:11

          Shatnez has a specific context and that refers to wool and linen.

          But that is kind of the point, why go down this road at all? what do you gain by granting the premise that the old testament matters?

        • You’ve lost me. Deut. 22 focuses on just wool and linen, and the older Lev. 19 talks about mixing any fabrics. Are you saying that Deut. trumps Lev. somehow?

          The Bible carries as much inherent weight as the Iliad. My point: if you do see value in the Bible, follow your own frikkin’ rules. Either accept the ritual abominations as a whole, or say that Jesus dismissed them as a whole. The picking and choosing is invalid even from the Christians’ standpoint.

        • avalpert

          Deut 22 specifies what the concept of ‘shtanez’ means, leviticus 19 is including that concept among a list of other prohibted mixtures. Without the context of deut you are misinterpreting what the is reference in leviticus (the word used here does not have a known etymology and it was not understood at the time to mean any fabrics) – deut doesn’t trum leviticus it provides the needed information to understand it.

          “Either accept the ritual abominations as a whole, or say that Jesus dismissed them as a whole. The picking and choosing is invalid even from the Christians’ standpoint.”

          But after 2000 years of a system of picking and choosing clearly picking and choosing are their frikkin’ rules. Coming along now and saying you have been doing this wrong all this time isn’t any more likely to have credibility with them than pointing out that the religion itself is a relic of our primitive past so why not go straight to the point?

        • I’m missing your point about Lev. Are you saying that it’s translated incorrectly? It’s quite clear that it’s referring to any fabrics.

          Showing specifically how Christians contradict themselves with their own Bible sounds effective. To handwave sociological arguments about early man’s invention of religion sounds much more squishy. Have you had better results with one over the other?

        • avalpert

          The translation is imprecise because the word (shatnez) is a specific technical word and they are using a general translation. To understand the technical concept expressed in Leviticus you need the reference provided by the other use of the word. But this is exactly why I find prooftexting to be less fruitful.

          And yes, I would say I have had more success convincing people to move away from the religion altogether than to abandon specific tenets of the religion particularly ones that have longstanding support.

        • Kodie

          I have found a couple sites that get to the point about shatnez:

          I kind of understand it more now. But not really. I am not an ex-theist, nor a biblical scholar. It’s always been to me that the bible was part folk custom, part legitimate warning (at the time it was written), part sensible wisdom, part bullshit.

          The Jews follow Leviticus because it’s their only bible. Not all Jews do either – Jews are great at cherry-picking so some are literal and some are as easygoing about those laws as Christians just automatically assume they can drop those laws.

          As the second site explains, Jews follow rules in the bible because

          Many commentaries cite this commandment as an example of a “chok” – a statute – a mitzvah that has no readily evident reason. Our observance of this type of mitzvah shows
          our belief in G-d and His Torah even though
          we do not understand everything. We realize that not everything is in
          our grasp, and nonetheless we adhere to all of the Torah. However, if
          one researches this subject, one comes across various reasons suggested
          for this prohibition.

          Because it’s in the book, the bible or torah, it is regarded by many as a law they have to follow “just because”. But because it is regarded as an old custom, as the first site explains, we still have laws against impersonating persons in authority, like wear a police badge if we’re not a police officer. Since Jews still practice this law, it stands to (some) reason why they should still not mix the fibers – not because it’s the law from an old book, but because their ministers still wear wool and linen garments to set themselves apart from the congregants. It’s like how normal people don’t dress as priests or the pope. Why do the cardinals and bishops and the pope dress so hilariously? To set themselves apart and be fabulous.

          It’s still somewhat wrong to impersonate them… I’m not really sure. If it’s Halloween or Let’s Make a Deal, no problem. If you want a really easy way to gain someone’s trust and take their money, dress like a clergy. If you want to meet people and talk to them and comfort them, but you’re afraid they’ll be creeped out by your street clothes and not open up, dressing like clergy might be fine. Lots of people want to talk to someone, and being some kind of superhero like that just to be a nice person who listens to people unburdening themselves, as long as that’s all they’re doing, seems ok. Doing that so you can record conversations and use them for some university class project is not cool, or to perform some unethical secret research where the subjects don’t know they’re in a study, not cool.

          There are good reasons someone who isn’t a priest might dress up as one, including to make fun of priests and/or religion, and there are terrible reasons that it’s completely unethical to be mistaken for one. Of course, the religious reasoning would be it’s a sacred costume only to be worn by an ordained clergy person. Seems to me that just because Christians largely ignore this passage doesn’t mean they don’t alter its form to forbid laypersons from impersonating clergy.

        • Niemand

          I don’t see any reason to condemn homosexuality even if the Bible says “ew, icky!” in so many words. But the people who do use the Bible as a justification for condemning homosexuality don’t have any problem with shellfish and mixed cloth of any type. I’ve heard “because Jesus” used as an excuse of why shellfish are ok, but I’ve never gotten any explanation that I could understand about why that same excuse couldn’t be used for male homosexuality (which, as far as I know, Jesus never condemned or even commented on.)

        • avalpert

          i don’t know enough about how christians choose what the new testament replaces from the old and what it does not to win a conversation with someone who does. I have seen them reference new testament verses that condemn homosexuality but I don’t see it fruitful to try to convince them that their understanding of their religion is wrong.

        • The book of Hebrews in particular talks about Jesus being the perfect sacrifice that dismissed the need for all lesser sacrifices, hence the ritual abominations from the OT go in the trash.

          I’ve written about the Romans passage here.

          If you don’t want to engage Christians in their religion, that’s fine. I think, however, that showing them how their own Bible defeats their conclusions can be useful.

        • avalpert

          Have you actually had success showing them that? What is your evidence that it has been useful?

        • I have no evidence of having converted any Christian on any point.

          But it does happen. My approach is to let a thousand flowers bloom. I’ll attack from whatever angle I can.

        • pennyroyal

          never could figure out why Jesus hated the fig tree and blasted it, strange an inexplicable passage

        • MNb

          Then why don’t you ask a christian? Here is one:

          It’s a damning of the Hebrew nation.

        • pennyroyal

          in my studies as a theology school graduate, I understand that Jesus lived and died as a Jew. He came to fulfill the Hebraic law. I think the meaning to that is manily lost.
          It took Paul to organize and systematize the “Jesus people” into a religion able to fit in with the pagans.

        • hector

          I agree that the irrelevancy of the bible is the larger point, but it would be foolish of us to ignore the biblical text and just leave it up to believers to interpret it however they wish, when they are using those interpretations for such nefarious purposes.

          I think we are capable of attacking the bible on both points, i.e. textual interpretation and relevancy. Questioning whether the bible really does condemn homosexuality, and noting that it condemns a lot of other things that christians completely ignore anyway, actually help us argue our larger point that the bible is irrelevant, because large parts of it are irrelevant to christians themselves.

        • avalpert

          But, as Bob aptly demonstrates in his next post, at the end of the day you end up having to attack the bible to dislodge these moral questions.

          You can stamp your feet all you want and say the way they pick and choose which laws from the OT remained relevant and maybe you can get them to question the entire system but I don’t see any argument here that addresses 2000 years of decisions on this particular rule.

      • Do not get me started on cotton/wool blends! That is just nasty.

        • Niemand

          And kind of pointless given that the point of wool is that it’s warm when wet and cotton chills the wearer when it’s wet.

        • Kodie

          Being wet is not the usual, so I don’t really see what’s wrong with risking the blend. Then again, there’s no reason to blend them other than to be weird, but that’s fashion.

        • pennyroyal

          question: was it cotton and wool that people wore? Or was it flax and wool? I don’t recall any mention of cotton in the bible and don’t know when cotton was first made into fabric.

        • Egypt is known for its cotton today, but I doubt it was much of a fiber back then.

          Linen and wool were the main fabrics, I’m guessing.

    • Tyler

      Some guy was uncomfortable seeing two men get it on, so he wove it into the Bible and said God doesn’t like this.

  • shart of turin

    Hardly surprising that the OT is vague on the subject and widely open to interpretation. Christians will, of course point to Paul’s admonition against homosexuality, but Paul seems to interject his personal views into his letters, thus the misogyny and homophobia. If he was anything like modern Christians, the thought of gay sex likely made his blood boil…then flow straight to his nether regions. For a guy who traveled by foot a lot, a self-pitching tent was probably pretty handy.

    • Some have raised a “methinks he doth protest too much” challenge to Paul’s anti-homosexuality. Maybe he was gay himself.

      Haggard’s Law applied even back then, perhaps.

    • smrnda

      I was once wandering the stacks at the main university library where I (at the time) worked. I found a book where the basic thesis was that throughout time, Christians have decided to accept what some people wrote, and later changes their minds and decided the person’s writing was wrong and harmful. The book was recommending doing the same thing with Paul, with the idea that he was just some guy who happened to get his writing in the Bible, and that ditching him would remove some of the worst aspects of Christianity.

      This book was also not a very new book – I think it’s publication date was before WWII, which means that the idea that Paul isn’t such a great guy isn’t just the invention of contemporary liberal Christians.

    • hector

      To an atheist, everything in scripture is merely someone’s personal view. To a believer it’s all thought to be divinely inspired. So who are you trying to persuade when you say that Paul’s admonition against homosexuality is merely his opinion?

      • pennyroyal

        please don’t mischaracterize atheists. Most of us ‘know’ more about religion/Christianity/the Bible than most Christians do.

      • Tyler

        Divine inspiration is all about love, it’s not condemnation against those who are not like you.

        • Greg G.

          “Divine inspiration” is just imagining that a random thought came from outside your brain.

        • Pofarmer

          Crap. Thomas Paine busted revelation in the 18th century.

        • MNb

          How do you know? Has your god whispered this in your ear?

  • David Chumney

    Couldn’t help but chuckle when I read the line, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” My depraved mind immediately jumped to Bill and Monica!

  • Nemo

    I think the “want to literally know something” angle is a stretch, but ever since reading a later verse of the totally consistent Bible say that their sin was not being generous to strangers, the best way to reconcile that is to imagine the crowd was doing it in a “we don’t take kindly to outsiders ’round here” sort of way.

    • Adrian

      On interpretation I have read is that the mob did want to know who these hooded strangers were, as in they wanted to make sure those suspicious strangers were not spies here to case the city defenses before an invasion (or perhaps they just wanted to lynch them to be on the safe side)

      As for Lot, according to the values of the time (and in contrast to the inhabitants of Sodom) he was doing the right thing by respecting sacred hospitality and trying to protect his guests, even if it meant sacrificing his propertydaughters.

  • Jason

    As far as I know, healthy homosexual relationships are not addressed in the Bible, but on the whole, it’s clear that the Bible does not approve of alternative lifestyles. Bob, I’m always struck when you try to debate believers on their own terms (e.g. suggesting that Christians have simply misunderstood the use of ‘know’ and that maybe the Bible is not talking about sex). I think it’s important to remember the more basic problem here: the use of ancient pre-modern texts as guidebooks for modern ethics and legislating.

    • Yes, that’s true. I’m happy to argue that as well. Seems to me that the former argument is one that they will have less success wriggling away from.

    • MNb

      “it’s clear that the Bible does not approve of alternative lifestyles.”
      Oh, chunks of the OT seem to approve polygamy.

      ” the use of ancient pre-modern texts as guidebooks for modern ethics and legislating”
      Yes, which is why I probably won’t comment much on this page. Why should I care what the Bible writes about homosexuality?

    • smrnda

      A problem is a lifestyle is only ‘alternative’ in comparison to what is normal. A marriage where the woman is not property, and where it’s accepted that rape can happen within marriage (that being married is not consenting to sex all the time whenever) would be a deviant ‘alternative’ lifestyle to a Biblical patriarchy.

  • Castilliano

    There’s a growing body of Christians that have learned to discard the OT laws more consistently. Of course, they tend to be liberal and therefore ostracized by conservative Christians.
    John Shore ( &, a Christian LGBT advocate who believes wholeheartedly in the Bible’s sanctity, hardly addresses the OT verses on the topic. He’s equating them with many other disregarded passages, and uses various NT quotes to support disregarding the OT law.

    I always find it funny when less liberal Christians play the “OT/NT are different” card to defend OT flaws because it leads right into “So, the 10 commandments…just as different?”
    It brings a large variety of responses, giving a good gauge to what kind of Christian and personality I’m dealing with.


  • Kodie

    There’s context and then there’s words that have more than one meaning. If we, in English, can use the word “know” to mean “know, meet, recognize” and “…in the biblical sense”, then why can’t that be true in Hebrew? Maybe I need more biblical knowledge, lol. I think if the next part of the transaction goes “no, talk to my daughters instead; they just happen to be virgins I don’t know why I said that… so socially awkward.” then “know” means “sex”. I mean, when a father introduces his children to a visitor, he might throw out a few brags about them. Maybe they have never known a man, to mean, his daughters have literally never been introduced to anyone from outside the house.

    As for the homosexuality part. I have no idea. Lot dissuading the visitors from meeting or sexing or whatever the house guest and distracting him with his talented daughters. We already talked about Leviticus. Why would Lot’s visitors want to meet the house guest and did they try Lot first? My observation of homophobic tendencies is not “ick” but upset over the social order. “Who is the man and who is the woman?” To this day, many people believe that gay men are just fornicating, and that everyone is naturally heterosexual, as nature has determined this order to make a baby. So men just want to stick it in a hole and “settle” for other men, while this puts the “hole” position in submission, like a woman. There may be “ick” for a man is “supposed to” find other men not beautiful or soft or sensuous or attractive or give them boners. The submissive or “woman” in the sex act is demeaned, and it is also wrong for men to allow themselves to be demeaned like a woman. This is another reason heterosexuality and transsexualism are conflated often. If someone wasn’t already a woman, why would they choose to be? Why would they give up their privilege to become sexually or physically “less”? To this issue, they also put down women who aspire to be men, “aspire” to, fight in wars or get jobs or play sports or have sex without consequences.

    So, I mean, these visitors came to a town known for its loose standards, expecting to find a man, since it’s better than jerking off, and weren’t “actually” gay. So Lot said, even better, I have women! Virgins, even! It’s a matter of perspective. It seems an awful lot of Christians believe we’re all supposed to be in heterosexual marriages and produce offspring without question. Our libidos on the other hand, are to be suppressed. We all have (supposing) sexual urges, and apparently stimulated by anything that moves. We can all be aroused physically by anyone or anything, but that’s what they think being gay is. To not really be discerning and just want to get laid. I have no doubt that many Christians are gay, but fail to recognize that everyone isn’t. This is why they can be hypocritical – assuming everyone is turned on by anyone, and thinking everyone is just suppressing it well like they’re told, except for those awful fornicators who just can’t help themselves.

    But to be homosexual is to upset the order, or the hierarchy, of man over woman. Man over man not only puts one man in an unnatural position of submission, it puts the other man in a position where he would dare subject another man to that role, and besides, how does he get the babies that way? To display virility, you need to impregnate a woman. The homophobic is, as far as I can tell, mostly put off by failure of people to stick to the script. They don’t seem to really understand love, or comprehend sexual attraction. There is no “attraction,” just lust. Love seems to be a compatible set of traditional values, combined with righteous lust – the sign from god that tells you this person will do just fine, because otherwise you’re going to bust.

    • There’s an interesting interview with Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing here. She talks about that whole domination thing (who’s sticking it into whom) and how it was perceived back in ancient times.

    • Robert W Ahrens

      Robert Price explains this passage as not being about homosexuality at all. The crowd is after the visitors basically to assault and rob them, not for sex. The offer of the daughters pretty much puts the lie to a homosexual motive, and Price says Lot’s offer of his daughters is in lieu of the strangers because in that culture at that time, a guest under one’s roof was to be protected, literally, at a greater obligatory level than one’s own family. That is the message here, that the visitors, as Lot’s guests, were to be protected even at the potential loss of his daughters. The city was destroyed because of its treatment of the visitors, not because of homosexual activities.

      • Price has also hypothesized that the men of Sodom saw these visitors as powerful people who might have competitive information that would help their city be stronger–weapons, defensive ideas, etc. In this case, “Bring them out so that we might know them” would be a literal use of “know.”

        • Robert W Ahrens

          Correct, which neatly counters the folks who claim that to “know” them meant they wanted to have sex with those visitors. Hence, sex wasn’t the point. Violation of the laws of hospitality being punished was the message.

        • MNb

          Speculating what fictional characters thought? Without any further evidence in the text? What’s the use of that?
          I thought it was something only apologists did.

        • I’m not sure where you’re going with this.

          This is just my summary from memory. As I recall (I could easily be wrong), he was drawing on clues from other cultures about how they viewed angels–not as frightening beings you simply take orders from but as bearers of knowledge who could help during difficult and competitive times.

        • MNb

          I’m not going anywhere. I am just amazed that you do something I thought the specialty of apologists – speculating what fictional characters thought. I just think that that won’t go anywhere. AfaIc it’s as shaky as speculating about the favourite sleeping position of Aragorn.

        • We can probably agree that the Old Testament is almost exclusively myth, with a little legend thrown in there. Some might even have been deliberately composed as fiction, though I would think that “myth” might cover that better.

          Given that it is a reference work of Christians today, speculation about why it says what it says leads to better understanding. For example, you only needed to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge once to get that power. Was the same true for the tree of life? The Bible doesn’t say, but if you look at other cultures, their trees of life have to be eaten regularly for the creature to maintain its immortality.

        • MNb

          “speculation about why it says what it says leads to better understanding”
          How do you determine which understanding is the better one if all you’ve got is just speculation?
          How does it lead to better understanding if there isn’t a way to test your speculation? That is the case with “the men of Sodom saw these visitors as powerful people who might have competitive information that would help their city be stronger”. All you can get is one speculation vs. another without any means to decide. Result: zero understanding.

          I simply don’t think theology done by non-believers any better than theology done by believers. It remains “like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there, and shouting “I found it!” and that fully applies to the “the men of Sodom saw” speculation.

        • How do you determine which understanding is the better one if all you’ve got is just speculation?

          ?? The same way history of any sort is done, I’m guessing. You weigh the clues (which aren’t that high quality in this case) and make a provisional conclusion.

          How does it lead to better understanding if there isn’t a way to test your speculation? That is the case with “the men of Sodom saw these visitors as powerful people who might have competitive information that would help their city be stronger”. All you can get is one speculation vs. another without any means to decide. Result: zero understanding.

          And suppose you could look at Akkadian or Sumerian or Babylonian mythology/history and find a parallel situation? There’s your evidence.

          If your concern is simple speculation based on nothing, then I see your concern. That’s not what I’m talking about.

          I simply don’t think theology done by non-believers any better than theology done by believers.

          I’m talking about history done by nonbelievers.

        • MNb

          “You weigh the clues”
          Which standard do you use? Not evidence – you’re speculating.

          “There’s your evidence.”
          A parallel is sufficient evidence? Ken Ham will rejoice, point out all the parallels for a global flood to you and conclude the story of Noah is historical.

          “I’m talking about history done by nonbelievers.”
          How exactly is speculating what fictional characters in a fictional story thought history?

        • A parallel is sufficient evidence? Ken Ham will rejoice, point out all the parallels for a global flood to you and conclude the story of Noah is historical.

          I don’t conclude any of this is historical. The question is, Why does the Bible say X? Historicity doesn’t enter into it. There might be evidence that can help.

          How exactly is speculating what fictional characters in a fictional story thought history?

          I dunno. I’m not talking about that.

  • Y. A. Warren

    I tend to believe that Jesus was the answer to a big WTF? The OT is full of patriarchs who were not what I consider paragons of virtue, as were (are) many of the “Christian” church “fathers.”

    Abraham married his sister and offered her as a prostitute to save his own hide. He then turned his first-born son and her mother out into the desert to die because his wife was jealous of the woman.Like this wasn’t bad enough, he “heard voices” that told him to kill his wife’s son. This is the father of the three major world religions.

    Lot bore children with his own daughters. There are many more examples of corruption, but I think anyone who reads the Bible with an open mind doesn’t need my guidance.

    • Nice list. I’d add David (who had Uriah killed so he could get that saucy Bathsheba), Solomon and the slaves labor in his mines, and that general who promised God the first thing he saw when he came home (God didn’t make it a goat but rather his daughter). Or God killing Lot’s kids and then giving him a new set as if that fixed things.

      But, of course, we see these as bad things. I think the contemporaries would wonder what weird morality we followed that this stuff bugged us.

      • Y. A. Warren

        We wonder why the world is so f****d up. These patriarchs were seen as the good guys. The greatest problem I have with organized religions is that they seem to exist to justify and excuse the evil that humans do.

        • Do you reject the Bible as a source of supernatural truth?

        • Y. A. Warren

          I put no more faith in the inerrancy of the Bible than I do in any other account of events told by any person or group of people with an agenda to sell.

          I tend to see the Bible as an un-evolved humanity attempting to explain what they had no capability to test or comprehend. It has been used to brainwash far too many people with fear tactics that homo-sapiens should have long ago left behind.

          I believe there are many things in nature that humans may never understand, but I don’t believe in making up scary stories with which to control others. This is how I see the OT. The NT seems like quite a mixed bag, but I believe it has many good moral messages that are attributed to Jesus. I have big issues with the Pauline writings.

          I am past using any of these terms to explain anything: “Christian,” “God,” “supernatural,” “miracle.” I do believe in a spirit that is inherently and uniquely human, but that must be cultivated to come to full fruition.

        • adam

          So it seems to me, at least:
          That religion does the most harm for the ‘spirit’ to come to full fruition with it’s death cult mentality, it’s Armageddon mentality and its ‘original sin’ mentality.

          Instead of elevating ALL life to the highest cause, religions goal (like any political party) is to DIVIDE people, using fear.

          They treat the imagery as ultimate truth, instead of reality as we all share it.

          They then coerce and indoctrinate instead of educate.

          The bible is about a god whose name is “Jealous” and exhibits the emotions of 5 year old child. Who apparently hates more than anything else competition for its affections while hiding from view as much as possible.

          If we REALLY want that ‘spirit’ that is ‘inherently and uniquely human’ to come to ‘full fruition’ we need to focus on that goal, rather that the absolute SUBMISSION to the IMAGERY of an invented political authority.

          Let us move away from childish magic, superstition and wishful thinking to adult responsibility for us and our fellow inhabitants of this planet.

          The monotheistic dream of the future is Armageddon, NOT human potential.
          The message of the monotheistic is that death is better than life.
          The method of the monotheistic is that humans are UNWORTHY without the political party and its blessing.

          These STIFLE and wither the spirit, not nourish it.

        • adam

          That is because they are political parties with political agendas.

        • Y. A. Warren


      • Unah

        Oh these stories weren’t that bad. If you want sick story look up Judges 19, about the Levite and his concubine.

        • Yeah, I never understood that one. Sending decomposing body parts around Israel? What was the message?

    • pennyroyal

      I think these stories are not to be dismissed simply as about corruption. They are teaching stories and we have lost the thread of how to read and understand them.

      • Y. A. Warren

        It may be time to stop trying to understand them and look at the life that humans are capable of if they follow the best that they are capable of.

  • SparklingMoon-

    Lot was a Prophet of God, appointed by Him to reform the people of sodom of his time. A Prophet is morally the best one among the people of his time and his sayings and practices are followed by others. His obedience brings favor of God and disobedience His anger.
    The Bible is accepted as a book of moral and spiritual guidance by Jews and Christians but its some statements are opposite to common prevailed moral standard and human nature hates to accept them. Many prophets had been attacked by some old writers of the Bible with such heinous and felicitous allegations that it becomes sometimes difficult for a reader to swallow them. Prophet Lot is also blamed by describing that He had tried to safe his guest on the cost of his own daughters ‘ chastity.As it states in the bible : “And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, and let us be intimate with them.” And Lot came out to them to the entrance, and he shut the door behind him. And he said, “My brethren, please do not do evil. Behold now I have two daughters who were not intimate with a man. I will bring them out to you, and do to them as you see fit; only to these men do nothing, because they have come under the shadow of my roof”(Genesis18:5-8)

    This description about Lot is totally against the moral teachings of all prevailed religions and second common sense of a person rejects it. How a person can suggest such a devilish offer as a propositional to get rid of an other problem. The safety and respect of guest is,no doubt,important but everyone knows that the chastity of ones owns daughter is more important than hospitality.

    According to the statements of Quran, Lot was a very kind and hospitable person and he used to bring needy people, who have no place to stay,in his home and serves them.The people of Sodom had forbidden Prophet Lot to give place strangers as a guest in his home but Lot as a prophet could not restrained himself to practice this morality. Prophet Lot had moved in the city of Sodom from Iraq. The people of the city had already complete control over Sodom and they had made their own laws and regulations to follow. One of them was to give no place as a guest to a Foreigner in the whole city for the sake of safety. They used to compel Prophet Lot also to follow their immoral laws of thee city. Prophet Lot tried to change them by his moral practices but it had brought no change as it was told by angles to Abraham( And he said, “Please, let the Lord’s wrath not be kindled, and I will speak yet this time, perhaps ten will be found there.” And He said, “I will not destroy for the sake of the ten.”(Genesis 17: 32)

    The verses of the Quran make clear the reason of the coming the people of Sodom to Lot and his saying about his daughters before the people of Sodom. As it states: And his people came running towards him, trembling with rage; and before this too they used to do evil. He said, ‘O my people, these are my daughters; they are purer for you. So fear Allah and disgrace me not in the presence of my guests. Is there not among you any right minded man?’[11:79] They answered, ‘Thou surely knowest that we have no claim on thy daughters, and thou surely knowest what we desire.’(11:80)

    Lot as a prophet used to condemn the people of Sodom for their evil practices and rough moral condition therefore they rushed to his home for having an opportunity to take revenge and to condemn him for the breakage of the law of their city. The verse 11:80 reveals that the people of city had not come there to inmate with the guests of Prophet Lot but to condemn him for the breakage of the law of their city and second, to excel the guests from the city. Prophet Lot has requested them to stop doing this immorality .He argues them that I am living for a long time among you and my daughters are also here and got married in your families. You know their sincerity and you can judge me by their behavior that how sincere I am also for you.It is not enough to trust me that I can not enter an enemy in the city. The People of Sodom replied that they had no doubt about the sincerity of his daughters and had no complaint .At this time they had come for an other matter and that is the strangers who are his guests and he had to exiled them at this time as their stay is against the law of safety of the city.

    The Bible should be depurate from human corrupted narrations for moral guidance of its followers.It should be arranged to indicate clearly the parts that are revelation and the others that have been entered later by other people.


    • You’re right–it’s a crazy story. Abraham talking God down as if they were haggling over the price of a sheep? Lot offering his daughters to the mob?

      How do you explain that the part about the daughters was changed in the Koran?

      • Sophia Sadek

        There is a fascinating relationship between Islam and Judaism. According to an account of the life of Mohammad, Jews in Arabia did not share their literature with Arabs except by word of mouth. That is a good way to lose information.

  • Sophia Sadek

    I read an interesting perspective from a Jewish academic who said that Sodom was seen as a city that was corrupted by its own wealth. There are stories in Middle Eastern culture that emphasize the need for a wealthy prince to maintain status through liberality rather than be seen as inhospitable or greedy. That kind of subtlety would be lost on the fundamentalist imagination.

    • “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” (Ezekiel 16:49–50)

      • Sophia Sadek

        Your ability to quote traditional Jewish literature appears to exceed that of the bible thumpers.

        • And that’s a common feature in the debate: the atheist knows more about Christianity than the Christian does.

        • Sophia Sadek

          Any system that lacks the discipline for self knowledge lacks the capacity for self correction.

        • When faith is seen as a reliable method for discovering truth, all bets are off.

  • pennyroyal

    this may not be relevant but Christianity does not deal well with shame and neither are what are teaching stories interpreted through the lens of shame dynamics.

    I’ve heard the interpretation that the ‘sin’ was one of lacking hospitality to strangers. What to make though of Lot proffering his daughters for a gang rape and possible death. A multi-determined story ripe for some mature insights looking at the salaciousness straight.

    Check out The Harlot By the Side of the Road by Jonathan Kirch. It investigates the stories about sex. I always look at Lot’s daughters who slept with their drunken fathers to ensure the continuance of the race, their mother being a pillar of salt. Lot was shameless, the story’s teller is shameless (obviously a male fantasy about incest) and yet the daughters’ shame is never held against them.

    • All I can figure is that the stories are meant to tell one lesson. Other peripheral lessons (or bad examples) might’ve been ignored. Alternatively, what we label as bad might’ve been just fine back then.

  • Steve Russell

    I have read and tend to agree that the judgement upon Sodom and Gomorrah is the lack of taking care of strangers. This story is extremely similar to the story starting in Judges 19. In Both stories strangers come to town are ill treated, women were offered as a substitute, judgement came. In Genesis 18 Strangers came to Abraham and he took care of them, fed them etc.. and then was told that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed for their unrighteousness. This post goes a little deeper than I can write here, including other verses from Ezekiel and Isaiah about the sins of the cities.

  • Richard Berrigan

    Question: What is the original Hebrew word used for “know”? Is there a different word for “know sexually” vs “know intellectually”, as in “knowing good and evil”? There must be a different word, and I think a closer examination of the original text would clarify this.

    • There’s a link on the post above that gives more on the word.

      (The OT seems a bit prudish, and another euphemism is “feet” for another male appendage.)

  • Guglielmo Marinaro

    Thank you for that excellent commentary on the Sodom legend.

    • I’m glad it was helpful. I’ve written more about the Sodom and Gomorrah story here.

  • Tyler

    I love that they play the anti-homo card by quoting this NEWLY added passage by man, but they omit the offer to gang rape their daughters instead in their argument. Leave it to bible belt Christians to pick and choose what works for them once again!