Homosexuality and violence are rarely out of the media for long, whether they are in the news or presented in fictional portrayals. But they are rarely mentioned in the same sentence as here. And there is a widespread view that Homosexuality is especially offensive to God, whilst violence does not carry the same stigma. How does such a view arise, and is it correct?
The dreadful Westboro Baptist Church of “GOD HATES FAGS” fame in Topeka, Kansas, cannot take the whole blame for this. They are but one tiny church among thousands with varying views. But their claims get some leverage because they claim to be Bible-based, and almost everyone, however thin their Biblical knowledge, knows the account of the destruction of Sodom by God. Sodom, the city which gave its name to sodomy; and the Sodom event being the only time God chose to rain destruction on a whole city (more accurately five; four apart from Sodom itself).
It turns out that this is a fine example of a little knowledge being dangerous. Digging a little deeper, we see that some of the men of Sodom wanted to rape two male visitors to the city. This precisely parallels another event in the land of Benjamin, described in Judges, where men demanded sex with a male visitor. The difference in the two passages is that in the Sodom account the visitors were protected supernaturally; in the Benjamin account the demanding locals were given a woman, whom they raped to death. There’s just a bit more going on in these passages than homosexuality:
1) Total failure to welcome and care for visitors.
2) Total disregard for the well-being of others.
3) Rampant, uncontrolled sexuality, whether homosexual or heterosexual.
4) Violence to the point of murder.
And although the incidents each only involved a limited number of men, it appears that the rest of the populations were doing little about it. Their silence made them complicit.
So which of these offences upset God so much? We are not told in either passage, but elsewhere in Scripture we read that the people of Sodom were punished because they were “overfed and did not care about the poor”. Does that mean that God was happy with the other behaviour? Clearly not. You don’t need to be a great Bible scholar to know that. When it came to living godly lives, the people of Sodom had lost the plot completely. So why the imagined specific connection to homosexuality? Actually it is only because of a post facto (after the event) adoption of the name of the city to mean homosexual sex. Ignore that, as you should, and the story of Sodom changes completely.
We can dig deeper still. A full search of the Bible reveals only about ten occasions when it addresses homosexuality directly, and that’s on the basis of including the two references already discussed. Only ten references in about seven hundred and fifty thousand words? Anybody who wants to make a case for gayness being especially offensive to God on the basis of that is definitely on a losing wicket! (Note that there are other places where Sodom is mentioned, and people assume a specific reference to homosexuality, but this is not in the text. Sodom stood for unrestrained godlessness.)
Another event that warrants specific mention, that almost certainly references homosexuality, is in Genesis 9, when Noah becomes drunk and his son Ham “uncovers his nakedness.” Because of this Noah puts a curse on Ham and his descendants. But here again, if the homosexual inference is correct, there is more than that; there is rape, incest, deceit, and even boasting and/or an attempt to corrupt others. Interestingly, given the question posed in this article, Genesis 9 also contains crystal-clear warnings about bloodshed. The idea that the Old Testament allows violence apart from that commanded or specifically sanctioned by God is wrong.
There is still more. The belief that the Sodom event was the only time God poured out mass destruction is in itself incorrect. Sodom was a walk in the park compared to Noah’s Flood. And if you don’t yet know that Noah’s Flood was real and global, look at the Science Page here, and the Evolution Page here. The Flood wiped out everyone except Noah and his family. The World, we are told, was wicked, evil and corrupt, all of which is a little vague when it comes to knowing what exactly the pre-flood people were up to. However, just one thing does get a specific mention: there was a huge amount of violence. So whatever else we may surmise, it is clear that there was at least one common factor that brought about both the destruction of the Flood, and the destruction of Sodom. That factor was violence.
The answer to the question posed in the title is clear. There is no wriggle room. People may say that the the argument above is based on the Old Testament, but the New Testament goes even further, confronting us with the command to love our enemies. Others point out that God Himself has used violence. But God has taken exclusively to Himself the right to use violence in Judgement, and the times when He has done so happen to be rather few. He has used men at times to execute such judgement, but that does not give men the right to use it on their own initiative. People professing Christianity need to be extremely wary of having even a faint smell of blood on their hands. Take note here that Judicial Execution for law breaking is probably the most acceptable form of violence; but when Jesus came across such an execution he aborted it. He did not question the guilt of the person concerned; in fact He confirmed it. And He did not question that the law in force at the time prescribed the death penalty. He did, however, abort the execution and sent the woman on her way. If even legal execution is unacceptable, what form of violence can ever be?
They key points here are that Homosexuality has been hyped into a Mega-Sin in the absence of Biblical Support, and the promotion of that concept has helped to obscure the wrongful nature of violence, and also the wrongful nature of heterosexual activity outside of marriage; we don’t hear quite so much condemnation of that from the Churches. As ever, the need is for people to read Scripture for themselves, ignoring the biased representations that too often come from Press or Pulpit.
Catholic Tony Blair and Protestant George Bush are well known for engineering the Iraq War. Their actions and professions of Faith send a message to everyone, be they Christian, Atheist, Muslim or anything else, that Christianity and violence can fit together; they do not. We cannot deny the Church connections of Blair and Bush; but we must deny that they or their respective churches are in any way representative of genuine Christianity.