Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Reflections on Sodom and Gomorrah


We've been looking forward for a long time to dig into the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. And no, it has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality. The angels ( minus one) who've been visiting with Abraham move down the road to visit with Lot.

Meanwhile, Abraham continues to stand before the Lord ( the angel who stays behind?) and negotiate. YHWH is ready to destroy these two cities. ( Ezekiel and Jesus make clear it was because of oppression of the poor and lack of hospitality to strangers. Abraham bargains. What if there are 50 righteous? He kept lowering the number until we get to ten. ( Obviously he wanted to go to one. Just as obviously, God wanted a minion..)

So the angels want to go to the town square. Lord knows better. He offers them the same city hospitality how shorter offered in the country. He has come to think of them place as home. Soon enough, his neighbors let him know he is and will always be an outsider. By offering protection to these stranger, he's our first biblical character to go against his community expectations for the sake of what is right.

The townsfolk, to the last man ( sorry Abraham) want to know these strangers. But it's not about intimacy. Or even sex. It's about rape. Power. Domination. Humiliation. Showing who held power over whom. And there goes Lot again....he offers up his virgin daughters as an alternative. ( The  right thing to do would have been to offer himself..). and then the angels send out a blast that drives the townspeople away. (For more on the sin of Sodom see

First, let's acknowledge that recently having been invaded and only rescued by Abraham's guerrilla action, Sodom had cause to mistrust strangers. Their actions are not unlike our response to people who appear to be of middle eastern ethnicity or Israel's response to Palestinians. It's the rough way we deal with threat.

Lot realizes it's time to leave, and asks his prospective sons in law to go with him. But they refuse. (Had they been outside with all the rest of the town men? The text would seem to suggest so.) So Lot leaves with his wife and recently offered up virgin daughters. (Where has his wife been through this whole story?) and when the she looks back, she's turned into a pillar of salt. Perhaps because she had come to feel this city as home. Perhaps because her tears are for those innocent who died when God rained  Hiroshima level fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. And perhaps when YHWH calls you out, you can only go forward, never look back. It's a very localized expression of God's post flood fire next time promise.

It's been a good discussion. Rich in detail and emotion. We understand more clearly the cost of gated cities and fear of the stranger. The cost of Lot's persistent bad choices wanting the safety of empire over the uncertainty of open territory where safety and security lies only in relationship to YHWH.

Once again we leave through the back stage of  of another Antigona performance. Russ and I will head to the Gate. Maybe I'll sing a song or two one ore time before heading to Ireland.

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