Sodomy and sodomite are two sad words in the english language. The words have been used in the past to describe Homosexual men and their actions. Of course the word actually means “a person from Sodom” and the verb should mean “doing what the people in Sodom did.”
So what did the people of Sodom do to piss off god to the extent that god chose to rain dand own fire, brimstone and destruction over two large cities?
Well the Sodom and Gomorrah narrative is not easy to fully grasp and apart from requiring a lot of historical context it also requires lingustic expertise, preferable Bible Hebrew. If you really want to get deep down into it I recommend Renato K. Lings book, Holy censorship or Mistranslation, that I have written about here. However we have a convenient shortcut to finding out and understanding who the Sodomites where and what they did.
There is a passage in the book of Ezekiel where the sin of Sodom is explained:
This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease but did not aid the poor and needy.Ezekiel 16:49 – NRSVU
According to Ezekiel the sin of Sodom has nothing to do with sexuality but rather is a transgression of inhospitality, to not help tose in need when it is in your power to do so.
Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann has often expressed that if the theology (or main message) of the old testament it is: First of all – love god and have no other gods. Secondly care for those who cannot care for themselves, especially immigrants, widows and orphaned children. Time and time again are we told by the Deutoronomist (a term denoting whomever the group of authors where that composed and edited mainly Deutoronomy but also many other texts in the Hebrew Bible) to remember the ones less fortunate and to help in any way we can; the impoverished and the marginalised. Many times the admonition to do so is followed by the instruction to remember the times we where the other (that is we – the people belonging to JHWH – where once immigrants.) Simply put take care of the “other”. It is ironic then that these derogatory terms: Sodomite and Sodomy has been assigned to people in the LGBTQ community who historically has been and in most places still are considered the other. If we are to take the bible sptories seriously, we become the Sodomite when we show inhospitality, when we marginalise and persecute the other; When we commit acts of violence, physical, verbal, mental or any other form towards the other, those who are less fortunate, those who have no suport net or those who are strangers in our land.
So who are the Sodomites? The christian fellowship that excludes, marginalises and excludes those they see as other. The right-wing nationalists that persecute the immigrants. Hamas when they commit random (or coordinated) acts of violence and terror on the civilian population of Israel. The Israeli government when they lock up the palestinians behind walls and barbed wire and deny them basic human rights and needs like, freedom, shelter, food, water, etc. Anyone, anywhere committing acts of violence or simply not showing generosity and hospitality towards the other.
That means me when I judge people for being different and exclude them from my fellowship or the days I get annoyed at the beggar disturbing my fellowship in the local square. It means you, when you fail to be welcoming, show hospitality, generosity and love to those who are not in your in group, those who are other.
I dont think it matters if you are a christian or not, I think this is a mark of being human. To recognise that we are all human and we are all called to govern this world together, simply because we can. Remembering that if you have not once been the other chances are at some point or another you will be and you will be at the mercy of those that have the power/privilige/money/knowledge/moral high-ground, whatever it is that displaced you. Hospitality and charity are valued in nearly all human cultures, communities and spiritual paths.
One of the beautiful aspects of the Christian god and Jesus as portrayed in the scriptures is that we are offered a model for love that is unconditional, a love that does not require a person to first be accepted and part of the tribe before the love is offered and given. A love that discards the whoe in or out modality and prepares a seat for everyone at the banquet table.
As I write that last paragraph I do realise that, what I describe is far from everyones experience of Chritians and Christian fellowship (or even my experience, at least not consistently) but hey, then you must have encountered the sodomites. The real challenge for us all is how do we love, appreciate, include and show hospitality to the Sodomite?