Sunday School: Homosexuality, Genesis 19 and Judges 19

Sunday School: Homosexuality, Genesis 19 and Judges 19 March 15, 2009

Today we began a new topic in my Sunday school class series “When Christians Disagree”: homosexuality. We’re beginning with those passages that have often been singled out as relevant to the issue, although in the present instance, I suggested that Genesis 19 might not be about homosexuality but rather about hospitality, rape, violence and a number of other issues. Also noted was Ezekiel 16, which condemns Sodom in particular for lack of concern for the poor. The question of what rabbinic tradition had to say about this story was also posed, and there are some interesting web sites that address that question.

It is important to read Judges 19, one of the most horrific stories in the Bible, when considering this subject. There a rape does actually take place, and the victim dies, yet even though the originally-intended victim was a man, because the actual victim ends up being a woman, few would say that this is a story about homosexuality, i.e. about sexual orientation. In neither story are we given the impression that the men of the city who surrounded the house wanted to take the male visitors to the city to a local bar, get them drunk, and then be promiscuous with them. Whatever else the people of Sodom or of Gibeah may have been up to at other times, in both these stories we appear to be dealing with acts of violence intended to humiliate and victimize strangers who came into these cities.

Over the next few weeks we’ll look at some other passages from the Bible that may be relevant to our topic. For next time we’ll read Leviticus 17-20, then Romans 1-3, and after that 1 Corinthians 6-8.

I’ll conclude with a clip from The West Wing that everyone has probably already seen, but which may still be useful for those interested in raising some of these issues in a discussion forum of some sort:
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