Posted by: religionthink | April 29, 2015

Born In The Fury Of God

Nuremberg_chronicles_f_21r

A response to : 4. Homosexuals: Born that Way.

 

In chapter three of the book Fury of God by pastor Jeremy Lundmark we come to the account of Sodom and Gomorrah and the destruction of those cities found in Genesis chapter nineteen. The whole episode dealing with the cities starts much earlier in Genesis fourteen with the account of the war of the five kings.  As an agnostic reading the good pastor’s book I do not see Sodom’s destruction being related fully to the gay sexual orientation, as the biblical writers would have it, but due to many factors involved. Many times when tribes came on ruins they could not explain, or natural disasters that laid waste to large numbers of peoples, stories would be created on how such things came to be. So at first I would like to lay out some of these ideas, and as pastor Jeremy expects in his book, I will dump a pail of water on this biblical account, diluting it, so that we may find the few gold nuggets buried in the mud. By heavens! Reading about how all the men of the city were  of one uncontrollable gay sexual lust is quite a smear to those cities! Had the author of this text been here today, he would have been a contributor to FOX News and invited on the Sean Hannity show!

In the days of King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim, these kings made war with King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea). Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and subdued the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in the hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the edge of the wilderness; then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and subdued all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who lived in Hazazon-tamar. Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with King Chedorlaomer of Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Shinar, and King Arioch of Ellasar, four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits; and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. So the enemy took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way; they also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. – Genesis 14:1-7 NRSV.

War in the ancient Near East, as any war, was all slice and dice. Terrible things were done to the enemy, including male rape. From the account we can see how possibly the men of the city believed the two messengers in Lots house to be spies. Worried about another attack and going through another defeat after loosing everything in the last war, they were ready to show the enemy humiliation, and the penalty for spying. Lot would not give them up, and not even his own daughters would serve as the scapegoats. For a more modern account of how such terrible acts come to be, I will direct the reader to the article The Rape of Men: The Darkest Secret of War. By Will Storr, The Guardian, July 16,2011

“You are all spies,” the commander said. “I will show you how we punish spies.” He pointed to Jean Paul. “Remove your clothes and take a position like a Muslim man.” Jean Paul thought he was joking. He shook his head and said: “I cannot do these things.” The commander called a rebel over. Jean Paul could see that he was only about nine years old. He was told, “Beat this man and remove this clothes.” The boy attacked him with his gun butt. Eventually, Jean Paul begged: “Okay, okay. I will take off my clothes.” Once naked, two rebels held him in a kneeling position with his head pushed towards the earth. At this point, Jean Paul breaks off. The shaking in his lip more pronounced than ever, he lowers his head a little further and says: “I am sorry for the things I am going to say now.” The commander put his left hand on the back of his skull and used his right to beat him on the backside “like a horse”.  The rest of the account would not be proper to be put here but I would encourage those who wonder to read the full account for it is most disturbing.

Are folks born with abnormal sexual orientations?  You Bet! In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV, Fourth Edition, 1994, pp. 522-538, the American Psychiatric Association identifies sexual deviations and abnormal sexual behavior known as “Paraphilias”, they list about 21 of them.  I had the privilege of attending the “Sexually Violent Offenders Presentation.” by Roy Hazelwood at Mansfield University November 3, 2005.  It was quite amazing to listen to the retired FBI profiler discuss the offenders and crimes of those who had paraphilias, and commit sexually violent acts. He told the group that such orientations can only be managed and regulated, but never wiped clean or changed. Not all folks with paraphilas commit violent sex crimes, most live their lives as normal law abiding citizens, but practice their particular  paraphilia in a legal fashion behind closed doors or amongst a community of like minded individuals. These  paraphilias are only an issue if folks who practice them break the law.  Some are outlawed.  Others are not. And some who you may sit next to in the pew at church or work with may practice such things, but never tell. You may find the list here.   Also it is important to note that the Jewish Mishna made allowances and rules for the Androgynous.

Another interesting part of the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, was that they were so wicked, the heavenly beings came down from the divine realms to see for themselves. We arrive at the one of the most beautiful accounts in the biblical narrative where Abraham rushes to serve the divine messengers and the Deity, when he simply believes them to be travelers.

“The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on– since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.”  Gen 18:1-6 -NRSV

Hospitality rights were important in the ancient Near East.  And to break them would draw the wrath of the gods. Here the writer uses the kind Abraham to contrast Sodom and Gomorrah.  The writer tells us that they could not even find ten righteous, and shows Abraham even raising the question of justice and the Deity allowing him.  At times I wish he would have whittled it down to two or three.  But he appears to stop short out of fear. So what was the sin of Sodom that drew the Fury of God?   “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.” -Eze-16:49 NRSV   By Heavens!  That could most of us! And how could they know that having been born with abnormal sexual orientations was considered unclean when the law was not yet given?  And even if they had been given the Law they were not Hebrews so were not required to follow them unless they lived among them. Even today Orthodox Judaism does not force gentiles to observe the 613 Mitzvot.  Not even the ten commandments were committed to stone before the destruction of Sodom. So it’s a good thing Abraham brought up justice in his conversation. This is not the only time the biblical writer uses the Sodom motif. It shows again in Judges 19 to discredit the line of King Saul and the tribe of Benjamin.

So is there some way that I could excuse the abnormal sexual orientation and slip them under the gates of heaven?  I think as a non- believer I may have to try because it seems that believers are not trying hard enough.  I plead the bacon chapter! “He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.”  Acts 10:10-16 -NRSV  So I do suppose that one could condemn the abnormal sexual orientation, eating a shell fish and pork  sandwich on Easter Sunday , while the good Lord sends the fire down from heaven to smote the gays. Amazing!  But not to worry pastor Jeremy saves the day by the end of chapter three in his book Fury of God.

It was most refreshing to read on page 85, after mentioning the book “The Scarlet Letter”, pastor Jeremy states: “Fellow believers, Pastors, and Christian leaders, read carefully: There is an issue of hypocrisy, pride, and self-righteousness in your life if you are not as disgusted by your own sin as you are by the taboo sins of others. These “taboo” sins usually serve as pedestals for some to proclaim their own righteousness. The self-righteous can fight the homosexual, condemn the adulterer, and despise the divorced, and in so doing they can ignore their own “little” sins and declare themselves righteous before God in light of the unrighteousness of others” Thank goodness someone said it! For this I give the pastor an  “Amen!”  from outside some open window of the church ( the place might fall in if I dare enter). So in short we have all messed up and have our own issues that we should take care of and I am in agreement with this section. I think that both the believer and non-believer at times, while pointing out the mistakes or abnormalities of others quickly forget they themselves may be just as guilty of the same or something else! While talking to an online friend who was working towards converting to Judaism, which is a long process, he commented on his issues with the one of the diary laws.  But he quickly commented; “Well there are 612 other commandments to work on!”

In closing I would like to recommend the book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate. by Justin Lee. Justin Lee came through the evangelical movement being gay and wrote his book telling about the experience.  His book was most helpful to me in understanding what it was like to be gay while still a follower of Christ.  Also it was encouraging to hear that Exodus International, the gay conversion ministry that was run by Alan Chambers for years, was shut down by Chambers and he will be coming out with a book “My Exodus: From Fear to Grace.”  on the topic.

And of all that has been said, nothing remains unshaken but the saying, that to do injustice is more to be avoided than to suffer injustice, and that the reality and not the appearance of virtue is to be followed above all things, as well in public as in private life; and that when any one has been wrong in anything, he is to be chastised, and that the next best thing to a man being just is that he should become just, and be chastised and punished; also that he should avoid all flattery of himself as well as of others, of the few or of the many: and rhetoric and any other art should be used by him, and all his actions should be done always, with a view to justice.  -Gorgias, by Plato

Written by A. D. Wayman

Book mentioned

The Fury of God: We Cannot Truly Understand God’s Love Until We Fully Understand His Fury

 

 

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