Bible for Atheists: Sodom and Gomorrah Edition

Disclaimer: This is a long-ish post, but these chapters are among the mostly cited, especially here in America by the anti-gay movement.  I encourage everyone to read the actual text and to draw conclusions for themselves.  I hope that the following summary and commentary will help some people make sense of this particular passage.

Chapter 18

God and a couple angels appear before Abraham one day.  God tells Abraham that his wife Sarah, who is very old (“it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women”), that she would bear Abraham a son.  Sarah laughs at this. 

God hears her laughter and asks Abraham why she would laugh, and if she did not believe that God could do as He says.  Sarah says, “I did not laugh.”  God replies, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”

That short conversation seems juvenile to me (Did not! Did so!) but besides that, I think this might be an illustration of the righteousness of men as opposed to women.  Men are the truly pious and are therefore superior to women, at least in the eyes of God.

I look at this a completely different way.  Abraham takes what God says as true, without question, but Sarah uses her logic and reason to evaluate the situation for herself.  Of course this doesn’t work out for her, since God is actually there and his existence and power cannot really be questioned, but I admire her spirit.

Here is the really interesting part of the chapter.  God has an internal debate about whether or not he should tell Abraham his plans regarding Sodom and Gomorrah.  God decides not to keep this secret from Abraham, as he is to be the father of God’s chosen people.  The angels will be sent to the cities to see if the rumors about their wickedness are true (I guess God is not truly omniscient after all) and if they are He will destroy them. 

Abraham is appalled, and he dares question God’s decision.  “Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you!”

Abraham actually used exclamation points against God!  But God has been convinced: “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.”  That seems reasonable, but Abraham is not satisfied.  What if there are only forty-five righteous? Or forty righteous? Abraham eventually negotiates with God down to ten righteous.  (And you wonder where the Jewish stereotypes come from, huh?)

This is amazing! A mere mortal “who [is] but dust and ashes” argues with God and changes his mind.  Perhaps God needs Abraham more than he lets on.  Or maybe this is precisely the type of man God needs to be the father of His people.

Chapter 19

The angels arrive in Sodom and Abraham’s nephew, Lot, meets them at the gateway and, like Abraham, gives them the royal treatment, and insists they stay the night at his house.

“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, so that we might know them.’”

These guys didn’t want to get to know the angels over a few beers, they wanted to know them in the Biblical sense.  All of them.  They all wanted to have sex with these guys.

Lot will have nothing of it.  He talks to these men and tells asks them to do nothing to his guests, but that he has two virgin daughters he can send out to them, to whom they can do whatever they please.  Boy, Lot is a righteous man.  “Please don’t gang rape these guests who I’ve just met.  Gang rape my daughters instead!”

The angels prevent the men from raping them, obviously, and tell Lot to get his people out of the city before it is destroyed.  Lot cannot convince the men who would become his sons-in-law to join his, so he sets out with his wife and daughters.  They are told to flee and not to look back, lest they be consumed with the city.  Lot’s [unnamed] wife looks back anyway, and is turned into a pillar of salt.  (Men are righteous, women are not.)

Lot and his daughters take up residence in a cave, and the girls decide that they must have children.  Since no men will come to them, they get their father drunk and “lay” with him.  They bear sons name Moab, ancestor of the Moabites, and Ben-ammi, ancestor of the Ammonites. 

The unsavory origins of these people will be used as justification of the Jews’ war against them.  This is yet another evil that can be blamed on women.

This story is often used as confirmation of God’s dislike of homosexuals.  The way that a man might “know” another man is even named after this Biblical city. While I cannot deny that the Old Testament is pretty clear that homosexuality is not acceptable, I do not think this particular story is a condemnation of homosexuals. 

Were the men of Sodom evil for wanting to have sex with another man, or were they evil for wanting to gang rape someone.  I guess it could be both, and it is open to interpretation, but I feel that the men’s anger and malice is more to blame than their particular brand of sexual desire.


DM said...

the writing on the wall...

for the idiot called *

f*ck you very much!



see, you degenerates have last names like first names...

how about I believe in WHATEVER I want - even in the FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER! - and you have nothing to say!

let me show you the end results of this particular *ONE-DIMENSIONAL SCIENTIFIC MODE*
of thinking that is called *CRITICAL THINKING*, which is completely divorced from
any human objectives...

this style has been perfected by dawkins, pz, randi and the other *NEW ATHEISTS*

see how we take a term and convert it into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION - THAT
OF LIBERATION - not just merely harmless expression...


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