Oh, and let me add…

Oh, and let me add… May 2, 2012

People who say, “Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned, not for homosexual acts, but for lack of hospitality” really need to retire that ridiculous meme. The biblical text is pretty obvious. When the angels come to visit Lot in Sodom, he takes them in. “But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”

“Know” is the Hebraism for sexual intercourse. The story crackles with the menace of gay rape. The mob (whom the writer repeatedly emphasizes were men) “pressed hard against *the man* Lot”.

As Scott Hahn points out, the threat of homosexual rape is a particularly acute form of “inhospitality”.

So don’t kid yourself. Homosexual intercourse was regarded as gravely sinful in the Old Testament and Christianity receives that from the Jewish tradition. Few things are more tortured than the attempt to make the Bible a document in support of gay sex. It just ain’t. Tertullian, who had his own issues, was at least perceptive on this score when he said “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Like it or not, the Christian tradition teaches that homosex is a grave sin.

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  • Ben the Atheist

    But of course it was no big deal when Lot offered his daughters to be raped instead, right?

    I think the real problem in this story is that it is about RAPE, period, not about which orifice is being used. But leave it to Christians to focus on gay sex instead of the fact that it’s rape.

    • Mark Shea

      Sigh. It’s not *germane* to this particular discussion. That Lot behaved selfishly is of a piece with the rest of Lot’s behavior. I am unaware of any commentaries which commend Lot for this. The point is, like it or not, that the *mob* is interested in gay rape. (Lot’s rather tortured relationship with his daughters is grist for later stories in Genesis as well. One does not get the impression the inspired writer regards him as Father of the Year).

      • ivan_the_mad

        Read Genesis 19, Ben. Lot’s terrible offer of his daughters in exchange for sparing his guest was rebuffed by the crowd, which then reiterated their desire for the men.

        Also, don’t impose your twenty-first century atheist values on Lot 😉 A bit of research will reveal to you the customs and mores that caused Lot to make such an offer. When reading the Bible, it’s often good to have commentary on hand to help explain stories like Genesis 19.

    • Actually, if you take seriously the point that Mark makes, Lot knew his daughters weren’t in any danger at all. The crowd wasn’t interested in women–it was interested in the apparently male visitors, and that’s it.

      • Mark Shea

        Um. I wouldn’t say that. If he knew that, there was no point in what he did. As I say, not Father of the Year material.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      But leave it to Christians to focus on gay sex instead of the fact that it’s rape.

      Um, the mob (whose supposed sin was rape of any kind) refused Lot’s daughters. It’s pretty clear what they were there for, and what they were condemned for.

      • Ted Seeber

        Hate to be the voice of reason- but it seems to me this, like Ninevah later, was a last straw situation. I kind of get the gist from this (and the surrounding source material, if you’ve ever read the other pieces of Jewish Mythology surrounding Lot that didn’t make it into the Bible) that the real sin was hedonism- the gay sex was just a part of that, and the last little bit that pushed God over the edge. Of course, one should point out that the Jehovah of the old Testament seemed to have a rather bad temper as well.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          I don’t think sodomy was the only sin of S & G, either. Hedonism was definitely waaay up there. It can be both. Heck, the women and children of Sodom were destroyed, too, and they weren’t part of aforesaid mob.

          • Ted Seeber

            We had a better written response later down from a Hebrew Scholar. But to draw my absurd comparison to it’s absurd conclusion:
            – The men of Sodom and Gomorrah were given a chance to repent
            – The people of Ninevah were given a chance to repent.
            – The people of Ninevah responded with sackcloth, ashes, and repentance
            – The men of Sodom and Gomorrah responded with homosexual rape.

            Yep, definitely a part of the story- just not the WHOLE story.

        • Elaine S.

          This is, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story:
          After the mob turns down Lot’s, ahem, “generous” offer of his daughters (!) the angels strike them all blind and they go away. The angel then tells Lot and family to flee Sodom as soon as possible for the city is about to be destroyed, and warns them not to look back. However, Lot’s wife does just that and is turned into a pillar of salt.
          Later, Lot and his daughters take refuge in a cave. Apparently they get stuck there for a mighty long time because eventually, Lot’s daughters begin to worry that there are no eligible bachelors around and they will never marry or have children. So they hatch an ingenious plan: they both get Lot drunk, have sex with him while he’s passed out, and they both get pregnant. One baby is named Moab and becomes the ancestor of the Moabites; the other is named Ammon and becomes the ancestor of the Ammonites.
          So what is the point of this rather sordid (to say the least) story? Some biblical scholars say it’s basically an extended ethnic joke about the origin of two nations who were Israel’s persistent enemies for much of its Old Testament history and with whom they fought lots of wars. In any event, it’s obvious that neither Lot nor his family were anything to write home about; perhaps there’s even a subtle hint in the story that it would have been better, so to speak, if Lot and family had just gotten zapped with the rest of Sodom and spared the rest of Abraham’s descendants a lot of grief centuries later. But, as messed up as they were, God was merciful to them anyway.

  • Ben the Atheist

    Funny, I’ve never, ever heard any Christian, anywhere, condemn Lot for offering his own daughters to be raped, but plenty of commentary on the crowd. I wonder why? Probably because for several thousand years women were little better than chattel property, and this includes the Israelites (notice wives are listed along with houses and donkeys in the Ten Commandments) and for at least the first 1,900 years, the Catholic Church.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      and for at least the first 1,900 years, the Catholic Church.

      Citation needed.

    • Mark Shea

      Your ignorance of Christian commentary on Lot’s behavior does not constitute the gold standard of human knowledge. As I say, you only have to read forward a chapter or two to find that even the author of Genesis regards Lot’s relationship with his daughters as rather sketchy. But since you are an atheist fundamentalist whose sole interest in the text is to ransack if for ammo in an illiterate campaign of heckling, you don’t care about such details.

    • “Funny, I’ve never, ever heard any Christian, anywhere, condemn Lot for offering his own daughters to be raped”

      No, probably because it is so obvious. I guess I’ve never heard any Christian specifically condemn David for committing adultery with Bathsheba and have Uriah the Hittite killed either, but it’s totally obvious to anyone that what David did was immoral…same with Lot.

      You are so wrong about the status of women. It was essentially a universal condition that women were generally treated as little better than property, and it was precisely Christianity that, little by little, changed this condition. One can just look around the world to see that not much has changed regarding the status of women in places that are dominated by non-Christian religions.

    • Therese Z

      1900 years as chattel? Your proof? And technically what changed 100 years ago?

      Catholic marriage improved on the Roman Empire’s marriage form (consent and one man/one woman) by making the vow eternal, a covenant oath instead of a contract. No polygamy, no forced marriages, no child brides, no incest. Abundant proof available a click away on the webs. Try it.

      • Therese Z

        Ben the Atheist is the kind of atheist that ruins it for the thoughtful ones, like Leah. He doesn’t even bother to check the most basic facts. He is little better than a troll, and the atheists in my life resemble him – they are unable to discuss anything because it is immediately ad hominem without a shred of proof.

        Is his commenting time drawing short?

        • Mark Shea

          His illiterate objections needed a reply, since so many other illiterates share them. When he is reduced to mere angry insults and refuses to back down, then he’ll go. Of course there is always the chance he may acknowledge he spoke ignorantly. In which case he can stay.

    • Ted Seeber

      Then you haven’t read the Early Church Fathers on Lot, have you?

    • Rosemarie


      Never, ever heard any Christian, anywhere, condemn Lot for his actions here? Then check out some of the commentary at the bottom of this page:


      Here’s another one from “The New American Commentary”:

      “That Lot sanctions the rape of his daughters indicates a moral compass gone awry; he places hospitality above the protection of his own children. It is difficult to conceive of such a custom that would put a guest’s well-being over family. Such treatment by a father was despicable in the eyes of Israel; forcing a daughter into prostitution is specifically forbidden in Mosaic law (Lev 19:29). Yet offense against aliens was also grievous in the Mosaic tradition (e.g., Exod 22:21[20]; Lev 19:33-34; Deut 10:19). Lot is caught in a web of the most vile circumstances, and he opts for a way out that can never salvage any good. He surely offends his own sense of right behavior while attempting to save face with the strangers. For a moment it is Sodom that has taken up residence in Lot’s soul” (Volume 1B, p. 237)

      • Rosemarie


        Here’s another one uncovered by a little Googling:

        “This offer is horrible and cannot be justified. We understand it a little more when we consider the low place of women in the pre-Christian world and the very high place of any guest in your home. It was understood a guest was to be protected more than your own family. However, Lot’s response is sick and wrong. I don’t have two daughters, I have one and I cannot even fathom what Lot is saying here. How could a father even make such a statement? It is against reason, against nature, and against love. It is against everything a father believes. How could a father make such an offer?17 The only answer I find to be reasonable is that sin is insane. Even though Lot believed in God, he had been contaminated by the culture in which he lived. He did something he thought he would never do because sin is insane.”

        – from http://bible.org/seriespage/sin-and-city-genesis-191-38

        Really, it’s not hard at all to find Christian condemnations of Lot offering his daughters to be raped.

        • Rosemarie


          The old Haydock commentary also has negative things to say about Lot’s offer:

          “Lot tries by every means to divert them from their purpose; being well assured, that they would have nothing to do with his daughters, who were promised to some of the inhabitants. He endeavours to gain time, hoping perhaps that his guests would escape by some back way, while he is talking to the people. H. — Some allow that, under so great a perturbation of mind, he consented to an action which could never be allowed, though it was a less evil. M. ”

          _A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture_ says, “Lot cannot be praised. He chose what he considered the less of two evils.” (p. 195) Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his actions.

          By “less evil” they mean that heterosexual rape might be considered a “lesser” crime than homosexual rape, because the one involves natural intercourse and the other sodomy. That does not mean heterosexual rape is “not so bad”; it’s still described as an *evil* which “could never be allowed.” Lot’s offer was still not praiseworthy.

        • Mark Shea

          Yes. But Ben isn’t looking for honesty. He’s looking to condemn.

  • I don’t even get why the focus in Biblical interpretation of the morality of homosexual acts is focused on the Old Testament. The Old Testament alone cannot answer the question, though there is certainly no doubt that the Old Testament decries homosexual acts as immoral. All things are made new in Christ, however, so we have to look at data since then to find out for sure whether this proscription “carries over”…and it clearly does. Romans 1 and I Corinthians 6 (among other NT references) are abundantly clear on the matter, as well as every early Christian writer who mentions the issue.

    If you need to hear from Jesus to settle the issue, how about Matthew 19:3-5? In this passage, Jesus makes clear that marriage is between one man and one woman, and it is completely consistent in the Bible that any extra-marital sex is immoral. Really, it is ridiculous that this is even an issue (the Biblical position, both in the OT and NT, is obvious), but it does show the wisdom and the necessity of the Catholic position on the Magisterium, as apparently anything can be explained away once we adopt the Bible-only position.

    • Mark Shea

      I agree. I was just clearing up a tedious meme that has been floating around for far too long.

      • Sorry, Mark…my reply wasn’t really to you, just a general comment regarding the issue.

  • Ben the Atheist

    I’m just going out on a limb here and saying that all rapes, mixed-sex or same-sex, are equally bad. Crazy, I know.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Thanks for taking the time to post the glaringly obvious.

    • Mark Shea
        No argument. But also off topic. The claim was that homosexuality had nothing to do with the story of Sodom, when in fact it clearly and obviously does.
      • I agree that homosexuality forms at least part of the sin of Sodom but its never been explained to my satisfaction why, in this particular story about Lot, it’s anything but incidental. If you really believed that the story was an accurate depiction of homosex as practiced today and its consequences, in the gay community or that it inhabited the same moral plane as, say, whatever Andrew Sullivan does with his “husband,” then it’s difficult for me to reconcile that view with a personal attitude of “Not. My. Business.” unless this attitude was woven from an underlying indifference to the moral welfare of another. As much as I disagree with you, Mark, I could never believe that of you.

        • Mark Shea

          I don’t take the story as the basis for a doctrine, but as an illustration of Judaism’s historic attitude to homosex. It’s a data point, not a theological treatise. The Bible is not the Big Book of Everything. It never sets out to argue The Case for Why Homosex is Wrong. It merely assumes and reflect this attitude. The Church won’t try to articulate why till the post-biblical period and the argument will turn on natural law principles.

    • Ted Seeber

      It did need to be stated however, given the current growing threat of similar behavior thanks to supposedly removing the fear of STDs by wearing condoms.

  • Patrick

    My question: *why* is homosexual behavior distinguished from other sexual sins as a “sin that cries out to Heaven?” Homosexual behavior is immoral, yes: but I’ve never understood why it was so much more immoral than other sexual sins.

    • Irenist

      I don’t know, but I’ll hazard some guesses:
      1. I seem to recall having read somewhere that homosexual sex was often associated with pagan temple prostitution, making it a form of idolatry.
      2. Victorious soldiers in the ancient Near East used to rape the soldiers of the defeated army as a way of humiliating the vanquished: not nice.
      3. Perhaps most relevantly, homosexual relations in the ancient Mediterranean world seem not to have followed our modern adult/adult paradigm so much as a man/teen paradigm–so the sin “cried out to Heaven” in much the same way that, e.g., clerical sex abuse of minors is so much more horrifying than finding out that some priest keeps a mistress, even though they’re both sins.

    • Ted Seeber

      It doesn’t for me. Sorry to burst your bubble- but there are many sins where the victim cries out to heaven described both in the Bible and in popular Judaeo Christian poetry. Even if you limit it to sexual sins- the spurned wife left behind in adultery, the unborn child killed by abortion, even the prophet Hosea whose wife prostituted herself, all are described as crying out to heaven for relief.

    • Tyler

      Sodomy is often referred to as an act that portrays extreme violence, violation and domination. The violence of the act manifests itself in the high rates of STD’s which can be plucked from the center for disease control website.

      The Latin word for Domination is Dominatus, Dominatus is defined as: rule, mastery, tyranny, domination.

    • Elaine S.

      If I remember correctly, the Bible names at least four “sins that cry to heaven for vengeance”: murder, sodomy, blasphemy, and depriving the poor of their wages. While I am about as conservative socially and politically as anyone, I have to admit the fourth sin on the list tends to get overlooked among my “tribe.”

  • Observer

    Very simply, arrogance to which man thinks he can do what he wants, when he pleases, and with whom-ever he wished. The story unfolds not a cruelty by God nor the angels for that matter. In fact, the inhospitable hearts of men manifesting a disordered trait against loving their neighbor and God demonstrates a deep-seated hatred. God was present with the angels (afterall he seem to speaking to Abraham and how he would go to where Lot lived.) God was there. And since the Gospel reveals God is love. The love that was debased, distorted, abandoned, and abused in the hearts of man had no place (except for Lot and his household.) The receptivity to God’ s love and mercy resides with and in a penatent sinners heart. Lot was a repentant man with faults. God is not looking into his heart for purity. Rather, he’s looking into his heart to revive purity in his household (a life dwelling purity to which God saves. All these are pre-cursors of the Gospel for which God is with us – Immanuel – and God saves – Jesus. Lot’s household is symbolic of the stable which Mary and Josepth with the Christ child found homage.)

    The point is not so much the disorder in Sod and Gom. Rather, it’s how much pride a man has that he will not even accept the will and love of God to admit he is a fallen sinner. And God comes to save him with justice and love. But, the man who refuses him and his love makes for the disaster as what befell Sod and Gom.

    The story is how love came to save and man refused amid the distressing circumstances to admit he is in serious error and God’s love is much more provident (And bears much more fruition.) God looked at man face-to-face, with the fruition his love can only give and bear, in the reality Christ depicts on Cross to which looks right back at the instance in the history of Salvation in Sod and Gom. And, both present and in the past, man refused the love of God to enter into his heart.

    Good thing, later on, Our Lady was born Immaculate to be perfectly born full of grace by God’s divine union with man in order to destroy sins most distressing distrustfulness torwards Him – since he is love. Our Lady paved the way, by God, to enter into this union. Thank Our Lady for standing in the way of sin amid a fallen human race – as sadly Lot’s wife did not do.) Thanks be to God in the hightest. Amen!

  • Stacy

    The Lord does say, in Ezekiel, that “the sin of Sodom” was arrogance and failure to help those in need. So there is a component there that has no immediate connection to homosexuality.

    Of course, it would be foolish to conclude that Sodom’s sins did not include sexual ones, as Jude affirms. Further, as Mark has noted about the original Genesis story, the crowd’s refusal of female virgins (as horrible as that would have been) in favor of demanding sexual access to the male-appearing angels does indicate a particular flavor to the Sodomites’ perversity.

    • The Gemara and Aggadah go into considerable detail about the evil practices of Sodom, which have a great deal to do with injustice and cruelty to the poor, and nothing to do with s*x. When the Rabbis denounced “Mishnat Sodom”, they were not dilating of the evilness of f*gs.

      But perhaps somebody will claim they misinterpreted THEIR holy book, and we know better?

      • Mark Shea

        Well, yes. Jesus does, in fact, say that Jews sometimes misinterpreted their own Scriptures. So does Paul: “But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. ” He’s not particularly addressing this text. But my point is: it’s not a slam dunk to appeal to rabbinic readings as the sole touchstone for reading the Old Testament.

        • ds

          Is it possible that Jesus didn’t say anything about bein gay because he knew that people were a bunch of hard-hearted gay-haters and that he was just going to have to wait 2000 years or so for us to figure it out ?

          And I’m not trolling or being a wise ass, I just don’t get why it’s so horrible for some people to be gay. Why can’t they just be gay and be happy together?

          Don’t start talking all kinds of TOB on me either, I understand it I just don’t agree with it applying equally to everybody.

          Some people are gay. So they get chastity their whole lives? I just can’t buy it man, it seems too unfair.

          My wife and I are infertile. By the catholic logic us having sex is “closed to life.”

          • “Some people are gay. So they get chastity their whole lives? I just can’t buy it man, it seems too unfair.”

            Life is unfair. Everyone has a Cross. All of them are unfair. We have to decide whether to carry them or not.

            • Ted Seeber

              EVERYBODY gets chastity. Even married couples are supposed to be chaste.

            • Chris M

              Some people are pedophiles. So they get chastity their whole lives? I just can’t buy it man, it seems too unfair

              • ds

                1. comparing gays to pedophiles, false analogy and not very charitable
                2. gay people want to be with other gay people – let them love each other. two people willfully loving and caring for each other is not the same thing as an adult raping a child

                You can do better than that, chris.

          • Mark Shea

            Jesus also didn’t say anything about cannibalism. But he did say that he came not to abolish the law, but fulfil it. And his disciple Paul basically repeated the Old Testament prohibition on gay sex. Makes sense since, for Jesus, marriage between one man and one woman is the sole legitimate theatre for sexual activity. That’s just the way it is, dude.

            If you can tell me where I said it is horrible for people to be gay and happy together, you’d have a point. You’re the one reducing homosexual love to genital acts, not me. I am in indifferent to the Theology of the Body, though the natural law background makes sense to me. As to how people can live their lives as disciples of Jesus in the face of temptation to homogenital acts, I would suggest you talk to somebody who is doing it. Perhaps one of my chaste gay readers can step up. It’s not just gays who are called to chastity and celibacy, you know.

            I’ve never heard anybody claim that infertile couples are “closed to life” if they have sex. Can you point me to some magisterial source that says this? Or is this just some crap that some crazy combox inquisitor or loony fringe priest claims somewhere? It would mean that every post-menapausal act of sex is immoral.

            • ds

              One of the reasons I’ve heard repeatedly of why homosexual sex is wrong is that it is “closed to life,” same as contraception. I don’t remember names, but I’ve heard it on relevant radio and read it on many blogs, not just fringe priests.

              My problem is that people are called to resist “homogenital acts” at all. No one is called to resist heterosex, you can CHOOSE a celibate vocation in life, but according to catholic theology, you have no choice but celibacy. I have a hard time with this teaching.

              • ds

                No choice if you’re gay, I mean. Sorry I’m not making myself very clear here.

              • Mark Shea

                Right. It elevates pleasure above the two revealed goods of sex: namely, union and fruitfulness. It is, in the precise definition of the word “unnatural” as contraception is unnatural (contrary to what nature is manifestly built to do). Infertile sex between people are naturally infertile is not “closed” to life. If it were, then NFP would be impossible since couples would be bound to *only* have sex during fertile periods. It is one thing to cooperate with nature. It is another thing to thwart it.

                As I say, you should talk to some of my readers who are happy celibate gays. It can be done.

                • Ted Seeber

                  “If it were, then NFP would be impossible since couples would be bound to *only* have sex during fertile periods. ”

                  Funny, I resemble that remark. My wife and I have been using NFP in reverse for 13 years now. In that 13 years it has only resulted in a single child.

                • ds

                  It can also be done to be happy and hetero and celibate, but not required as it is for gays. And the bonding aspect works for gays too.

          • ds

            oops I meant celibacy, not chastity

          • Ted Seeber

            “My problem is that people are called to resist “homogenital acts” at all. No one is called to resist heterosex, ”

            All unmarried men and women are called to resist heterosexual and homosexual acts under paragraphs 2337 to 2349 of the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church. You should at least know what the church teaches, before you claim to have a problem with it.

            • Ted Seeber

              And of those 12 paragraphs- 10 are devoted to HETEROSEXUAL behavior.

              • ds

                Ive read the catechism and i know what it teaches. Please dont be so obtuse. I have a hard time with concept that gays should have no choice but celibacy. I realize that the sexual act is restricted to heterosexual marriage, it just seems unjust to gays.

        • But when I want to understand something obscure in the Hebrew scriptures, it seems like a good idea to turn to people who read and study Hebrew, rather than people who take a passage without commentary or contest and wave it about as a proof-text with “See, that’s what the Bible SAYS!”…. something, I think, that your evangelical ex-co-religionists are prone too.

          • Mark Shea

            True. But the assumption that rabbis are infallible interpreters of Scripture is still false. Jude has very definite views on the sin of the Sodomites.

  • Steve S.

    What people also misunderstand about that apocalypse and the Great Flood itself was that in both cases, people’s behavior — sterile sexuality and murder — were going to lead to the extinction of humanity! Biblical history says that stertile sexuality can become extremely popular and easily the norm to a culture and lead to its own self implosion. It was that self destructive nature of the culture that lead to God’s need for an apocalypse to save those of humanity who were still committed to their duty to maintain human existence! That is really Paul’s point in Romans 1, you know. Yeah, he’s condemning sterile sexuality, but he moreso condemning behavior that leads God to leave mankind to its own self destructive ends!

    And you know, all of this debate stems from the false idea that the world is overpopulated. It’s that lie that gives people what they think is the opporunity to shed the duty to maintain the earth’s population. They have such a strong belief in the saving power of technology that they forget that we live in a germ ridden ball of dirt flying perilously through the void amidst other larger more powerful balls of dirt and fire. All sorts of terrible things could happen to mankind in a instance, and we would be begging for more people to help us rebuild.

  • Noah

    Bogus. Note that you specifically avoided the authoritative evidence on the subject, which is that Scripture directly, explicitly contradicts you on this point, Mark, with words attributed to God by the prophet Ezekiel.

    Ezekiel 16:48-50
    As I live, saith the Lord God, thy sister Sodom herself, and her daughters, have not done as thou hast done, and thy daughters. Behold this was the iniquity of Sodom thy sister, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance, and the idleness of her, and of her daughters: and they did not put forth their hand to the needy, and to the poor. And they were lifted up, and committed abominations before me: and I took them away as thou hast seen.


    CCC1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel, the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner.

    It ought to strike every reader as surprising and in need of explanation that four of the sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance involve life-crushing victimization, whereas believers in gays-in-the-bible claim that the fifth sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance is mutual physical expression of disordered affection. The incongruity is glaring in the extreme, and under the principle of “tall claims require tall evidence”, is left unworthy of belief. On the other hand, if we accept God’s own interpretation of what the sin of Sodom is, then all five sins are obviously of the same terrible ilk. Angels came to Sodom posing as travelers in need, and in their avarice the Sodomites rejected the divinely mandated obligation of hospitality and, as often happened in the ancient world, threatened to gangrape the strangers as humiliation to force them to leave and to scare off any future moochers.

    The story of Sodom is not about the angels’ genitals. The idea is preposterous in retrospect, as the ancients didn’t even have the concepts of heterosexuality and homosexuality, which came from 19th century science.

    • Mark Shea

      I’m aware of the text of Ezekiel. And I’m aware that agitprop artists attempt to use it as the sole interpretive lens for reading Genesis 19. It’s not. That’s why the Church’s tradition speaks of a sin of Sodomy.

    • Ted Seeber

      You claim that heterosexuality and homosexuality as concepts come from 19th century science. Do you have a source for that? As well as an exhaustive search of *all* other philosophy mankind has come up with in the last 40,000 years or so to claim that NOBODY else came up with these concepts earlier?

    • Rosemarie


      Note the end of the Ezekiel quote: “And they were lifted up, and committed *abominations* before me….”

      Could “abominations” here refer to sodomy? It does elsewhere: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, because it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22)

      No one is saying that this was Sodom’s one and only sin. They obviously did many bad things, but this sin seems to have been the proverbial “last straw,” both in Genesis 19 and Ezekiel 16.

  • Ouch, my fault for reading this thread. Now I know why I rarely engage atheists.

  • Ted Seeber

    ” believers in gays-in-the-bible claim that the fifth sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance is mutual physical expression of disordered affection”

    I’m not sure I am a believer of gays-in-the-bible, but I am a believer that this fifth sin involves life-crushing victimization. I’ve met far too many angry gays to believe differently.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Ben the Atheist: “Funny, I’ve never, ever heard any Christian, anywhere, condemn Lot for offering his own daughters to be raped, but plenty of commentary on the crowd.”

    Ted Seeber: “I’ve met far too many angry gays to believe differently.”

    Ben, meet Ted. Ted, meet Ben.

    • Ted Seeber

      Ben’s a great example of an angry atheist. He most certainly isn’t a happy gay homosexual, because he’s not happy.

      • ivan_the_mad

        I was more commenting on both your and his propensity to make ridiculous statements of the form “Every X I’ve met is Y, therefore all X are Y”. You two have a lot in common.
        *sigh* I know, I know, I shouldn’t feed the (contemptuous, mean-spirited) trolls.

  • Absolutely correct Mark. From then Cardinal Ratzinger’s Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church On the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person:

    In Genesis 3, we find that this truth about persons being an image of God has been obscured by original sin. There inevitably follows a loss of awareness of the covenantal character of the union these persons had with God and with each other. The human body retains its “spousal significance” but this is now clouded by sin. Thus, in Genesis 19:1-11, the deterioration due to sin continues in the story of the men of Sodom. There can be no doubt of the moral judgement made there against homosexual relations. In Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, in the course of describing the conditions necessary for belonging to the Chosen People, the author excludes from the People of God those who behave in a homosexual fashion.

  • So far only one commenter has alluded to this.

    This is one case where the Bible interprets itself. 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.”

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Aw, no. There you go trying to interpret Scripture through appropriate lenses. This is the internet, dude. There is no place for that here.

      Actually, reading threads like this is more impressive to me because I consider myself fairly versed in the Bible (no pun intended), but you guys can reference things way easier than I can.

  • Ds,

    You’re married. If you’re not being chaste, you better not let Mrs Ds know that, lest you awaken sewn up in the living room rug with her and a ballbat looming over you.

    • ds

      Married people can be unchaste with their own spouses.

      • Stacy

        Having sex with your spouse is not unchaste. It is the form of chastity appropriate to marriage.

        Chastity = using sexuality appropriately
        Celibacy = not getting married
        Continence = not having sex

  • Ted,

    You have it backwards. If you wish to defend the ontological categories of heterosexual and homosexual as something other than a 19th century Western social construction, do so.

    But those of us who dismiss it as a ridiculous construction do not bear the burden of proving the negative, to whit, no other society recognized such categories.


  • Observer

    Two points where the argument fails:

    1. The act is bad because human kind cannot exist.
    2. God permits one kind of act over another.

    First, how could there have been an existing population in Sod and Gom if there was only same-gend’er activity? The activity itself wouldn’t really matter. Afterall, the real consequence was people would no longer exist. The pursuit to say the same-gend’er act was the only thing condemnable does not really make sense. Think about it, wouldn’t the consequence of a dwindling population be enough suffering? Why would God with the angels need to take something already condemning in itself (called, by the way, original justice) and push a greater amount of condemnation? God wouldn’t be God. Again, arrogance to which a man wants to lead whaterver desires he feels are at his disposal. So, God is not giving room to one act over another. Sin is sin, period.

    Secondly, and perhaps finally, God is not saying, “Oh you can do this because afterall it’s permissable because it’s not the worse.” Take a step back and look for a moment, you could say venial sin is not necessary to confess. And, you could say mortal sin must be. However, if man in his pride says he doesn’t have to go to confession because he has only venial sins (which he rationalizes over and over), then he leaves the dorr open in denying original sin altogether (requisite to going to confession.) And later, he decides all his sins are venial and leaves him completely free from confession. Did you get that? He has become prideful. Whether God requires a less gravity (side note: remember gravity does not = what kind of sin. Rather, gravity = knowledge, will, and and act – the receptivity of the person committing sin) of sin (venial) to be or not be confessed, does not give any man free of confession. Confession means sin.

    The Church is trying to place the gravity of sin (again not the type and kind) as to the notion of not falling into a scrupulous account of one’s faults to which confession is in-effective. Because, the receptivity to forgiveness may be blocked by someone who has become so scrupulous that, as salt loses its’ flavor, God’s mercy seems inadequate and without satisfaction (which really means the person has a crisis of faith.)

    The point is Sod and Gom’s perversities do not equate to the greatest and gravist of the sin of pride.

  • Tom

    Mark- liked your post and how y0u have defended it here. What is amazing to me is to what lengths people will go to justify their own particular sin. If you want to see a Catholic version of this — hang out for a while at the other NCR. Those folks might as well be atheists – their comboxes have some of the most anti-Catholic crap I have read (and yet they consider themselves Catholics) – it is both interesting and sad to see them twist everything around to justify their own ego’s and pride and their own view of what Catholicism teaches. It is not in the Catechism, of course. Or even in the bible. But, logic be damned – they want what they want. Just like the people of Sodom. If one could go back in time, I bet those interested in gang rape thought they were right and just to do so (just like the folks at the Reporter .) Funny and sad at the same time. At least the atheists who are trying to destroy the Church are wearing the uniform of the enemy. Those Reporter folks are trying to do it from inside.

  • Observer

    Gravity of the offense is at play and not the kind. Lot did something quite immoral after he left Sod and Gom. How could God be pardonable for Lot’s actions and not the people of Sod? Recall, Abraham spoke in the terms of God’s love (i.e. Covenant) and asked Him not to do any grave harm.

    Clearly, God is not a liar. He was there with the angels when they visisted Lot and his family. What, I guess, isn’t really observed nor admitted of the horrible wrongs in Sod and Gom is the reality of sin clearly and apparently cannot co-operate with God’s will (i.e. love. Sin cannot come to terms with his filial affection for man and his salvation.)

    The reality of God speaking on and in the terms of His covenant with Abraham to save (Again, God saves means Jesus – a precursor of the Passion) everyone and anyone already shows an intercession (What? A precursor to Our Lady? No, it couldn’t be…) for the salvation of souls. Again, God is not playing favorites (or, God wouldn’t be God since his nature is love.)

    The people of Sod and Gom were populating too. So, the idea it’s just primarily about a disordered relation between same gend’er people is not the complete picture (what? Again, people had to be carrying even opposite gend’r relations for populating. Thus, not quite a puritanical view of just disorder relations of same gend’r people.) Afterall, Lot had serious faults as well (and so did his family and the people of Sod and Gom.)

    God was not looking for faultless individuals; he was looking for a person who had sense of penance and trust in his Divine providence of mercy (He sought salvation with Divine and providential love.) When that love is encountered through the angels in Sod and Gom (very similarily to the announcement of the angels in the Gospel at the Birth of Christ of God’s providential love), the people are hostile (hostility rather than the lack of hospitality.) The hostility, that is, to attack the very nature of God to love and save through the angels announcement to Lot and his family (is what’s at stake.) Meaning, the evil which not only penetrated the people’s hearts; but the very complete self-righteous, un-repentant, and faultless perfection which they had the par exellance of power and authority to do gravity and nature of sin was the very evil at play (liken to Herod by conviction, when he heard of Christ’s birth, went out violently seeking his life and the life of others. He even sought the Magi for those purposes. Herod is representative of the same people of Sod and Gom. And guess what? It was the time of the Pharisee’s.)