Wednesday, December 17, 2003

And the lion shall lay down with the lamb? - "Sodom's Solemn Warning"

Any of various forms of sexual intercourse held to be unnatural or abnormal, especially anal intercourse or bestiality.

(Definition courtesy of

I stumbled upon an article written by Ed Vitagliano in the American Family Association Journal, a Christian publication whose sole purpose seems to be condemning anyone who does not think the way that its contributors feel they ought to. Not very Christian if you ask me. I know a lot of good Christian people, and I must say that they are all considerably more intelligent and compassionate than this asshole.

I was raised basically atheist, and now consider myself agnostic. I have read parts of the bible, but frankly I find it dreadfully boring.

Ed says:
For �gay� and lesbian activists intent on molding American culture in their own image, the church is seen as the most stalwart opponent resisting the triumph of homosexual philosophy.

I find two things in particular about this opening sentence to be very interesting. The first is the use of quotations around the word gay, but not around the word lesbian. This can be interpreted two ways that I can think of: One, "gay" is a term meaning "homosexual," which is the (only) correct term; two, lesbians are HOT SHIT and therefore more legitimate than those dirty, buggering "gays." The second is the use of the word stalwart. It is used here as an adjective, and can therefore mean either "Having or marked by imposing physical strength" or "Firm and resolute; stout." Using the Pope as my point of reference, the former is obviously not what Ed referred to. If "Firm and resolute; stout" means "stubborn, obstinate, and consuming of foamy beer," then it may be an accurate description.

In interpreting what the bible has to say on homosexuality in Genesis (18 and 19), the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, he says:
In fact, the word sodomy, which generally refers to unnatural sex acts (especially homosexual anal intercourse) is derived from the name of the city of Sodom.

He is absolutely correct if you ignore his parenthetical. However, since it was published right there in the middle of his otherwise correct (if judgmental) statement, you probably should not ignore it after all. I would be terribly disappointed if my readers were to ignore my (highly amusing) parentheticals, so I will afford him the same respect that I myself would appreciate. As you can see above, my online dictionary source also singles out anal intercourse (or buggery, as I like to call it), but does not specify homosexual or heterosexual. That is because both involve the insertion of a penis into an anus, and also because the authors of are not disgusting homophobes.

Digression: I have a question about the use of the word "unnatural." How can it be determined whether a sex act is natural or not (assuming consent)? Let's say it's summer time, and quite hot in our apartment, and my lover and I are in bed together, naked and performing the acts that generally lead up to intercourse. (Like, you know, smooching.) Due to the combined factors of temperature and arousal, my anus becomes slick with sweat and other moisture. When my lover attempts penetration, aiming most properly for my hoo-ha, he inadvertently finds himself an inch deep in my out-hole. What's worse, the pressure feels good and I like it! Since the course of events took place "naturally," are we committing a sin? Actually, that's two questions. Have we already committed a sin? If we continue, are we committing a sin?

Going back to the dictionary, let's talk about bestiality for a moment. Bestiality is a non-consensual act. Whether it is natural or normal becomes a moot point. What I want to know is whether animals of separate species (excluding humans) laying together is acceptable. I'm not talking about the dog and the cat sharing a sunbeam for an afternoon nap. I'm thinking more about that naughty lion taking advantage of the Little Baby Jesus-Lamb. (Or was it the other way around?)

Back to Ed.
When two angels, in the form of men, came to Sodom to stay with Lot, the men of the city surrounded the house and asked, �Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them� (vs. 5, KJV).

Please note that Ed uses the King James bible, which many have argued is wildly reinterpreted.
With such a Biblical event casting its shadow over the theological landscape, how could �gay� advocates sidestep the obvious implication that God considered homosexuality a despicable sin?

Some simply deny that any type of sexuality � homosexual or heterosexual � is in view in the Sodom and Gomorrah saga. For example, in his book, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, Dr. Sherwin Bailey argues that the Hebrew word translated �know� in this verse does not refer to sex at all. Instead, the request on the part of the townsmen to �know� the visitors was merely a request to become acquainted with Lot�s guests, especially since they were outsiders.

A proper exegesis of this passage reveals the ludicrous nature of this argument. Lot responded to the initial request by beseeching the men, �Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly� (vs. 7, NAS). This is hardly a comprehensible statement if all the men wanted to do was meet Lot�s guests and start up a conversation.

It's difficult to say, without having read Dr. Bailey's work, whether his is a retarded argument or not. Ed's description of it certainly makes me lean toward the more "traditional" (and anti-gay) interpretation, but I am well aware of the drastic differences between modern translations and the original Hebrew, so I am leaning back toward Dr. Bailey's side.

I had to look up exegesis, which means "Critical explanation or analysis, especially of a text." Ed does not credit his source for this "proper" exegesis, so I cannot give it any weight at all in his argument. As Rabbi Merope is on vacation, I have no source of information on the actual meaning of the Hebrew word in question, but I think it is safe for me to assume that if it does not have a sexual connotation, it may still mean a bit more than "have a conversation." There can be wicked intent without rape (or even consensual but unnatural sex) as the ultimate goal.
Furthermore, as P. Michael Ukleja argues in Bibliotheca Sacra, with such a restricted meaning for �know,� Lot�s offer of his daughters to the men of the city (itself a disgraceful act) would be inexplicable.

Actually, there is nothing restricted about Dr. Bailey's meaning, whatever it may actually be. It is, in fact, less restricted than the assumption that it can only possibly mean buggery.
The more common approach for activists, however, has been to argue that the sin here in Genesis is not homosexuality per se, but homosexual rape. �Violence � forcing sexual activity upon another � is the real point of this story,� said lesbian English professor Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, co-author of the book Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?

Why does Ed single Mollenkott out as being a lesbian? I wonder...

He goes on to argue that there is no indication that Lott's visitors would have objected to fucking the men who wanted to "know" them. This is his weakest argument yet. By absence of one item, you do not prove another item, also absent.

Later in the article Ed quote Ezekiel 16:49-50:
�Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.�

He argues that the abominations referenced are obviously homosexuality. This is strangely similar to interpreting the President's Constitutional right to declare war without Congress's approval as a right that applies in non-emergencies. (I am over-simplifying because I can only really concentrate on one document at a time, and my copy of the Constitution is across the room anyway.) Why is there a need to look further than that passage for evidence of what the abominations are? I am not trying to say that the bible is A-OK with homosexuality, because that is clearly not true, at least in current interpretations. What I am saying is that he is using his own agenda to redefine something that is already defined very clearly.

Ed finally says something that backs up his argument:
In 2 Peter 2, the apostle said the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah should serve as an example to the wicked of every generation (vs. 6). Lott, he said, continually witnessed �the sensual conduct of unprincipled men,� who, among other things, �indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires� (vv. 7, 10).

But then follows it up with this piece of absurdity:
Jude 7 makes the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah even more explicit: the inhabitants �indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh,� and what could be stranger than men fornicating with other men?

CONTEST! Name something stranger than men getting it on with each other. Bonus points if it actually fits Jude's description of strange flesh.

I'll start you off: Cannibalism.

There's tons more where that came from (the analysis of Ed's "argument" as well as the amusing contest entry), but I still have brownies and a trip to the bank to make.