Recently, I read an article on the topic of Sodom and Gomorrah- the city of ancient Israel that was flattened by fire and brimstone for its in-hospitality. The writer went on to express interesting comments about the actions of its society. I believe how the story is viewed is wrong. Please join me in asking some simple questions.
Just as one person does not represent all voices, neither should a collective view negate a single voice. Our collective human experiences should be acknowledged for their right and wrong perspectives and if wrong corrected for inaccuracies.
Now one might ask which knowledge base are we to base reasoning on? More on this later.
Void of the other, we risk going unheard, and our thinking not examined. Each human soul requires acknowledgment, as God commands we love one another. Loving others simply means offering up a listening ear and treating others with courtesy. We don’t have to agree with everything one says, but we can certainly respect their humanity in all fairness.
The foundation of human knowledge and information is a rich tapestry from which we look, use, and place our lives over. Some knowledge need not be reinvented like physics or chemistry. Some ideas need lesser bases of historical or factual content because they are coming straight from a unique and original source- like ourselves or God. However, there is a difference between God and us.
The sharing of knowledge is a natural human phenomenon that people have affected since the beginning of time, through art, speaking, institutions, schools, churches, stories, and mediums. We share knowledge in order to experience richer, fuller lives in and with those we interact with. We share knowledge so that people know what to do, and what not to do.
God as well, is constantly sharing His Knowledge with us.
There remain all sorts of knowledge useful and helpful to the human mind, and depending on where one is in their journey of life, these bits and pieces of knowledge inches us closer and closer toward our ideal happiness.
Pieces of information are gathered, processed, and stored for eminent qualitative use such as for the creating, reshaping, or rebuilding of our lives. We desire to do things well and in the right way so that we mitigate reproach, ill and pain.
The opposite is as well true. There exist ideas and actions that are erroneous causing deception, fear, and discord. Such as suspicious and hateful group-think ideology. We may or not notice this grey areas where what is going on is causing the “other” increased levels of stressful ineptness, and made to be felt rejected, in order to justify a group think consensus- silently.
Some information about God, is that He hates it when we hurt each other. He is very concerned about, how we treat each other.
This grey area, is where we need revelation on.
Removing blinders from our thinking and decisions and replacing them with the lens of God’s love and truth is a right step toward hospitality. Well now, what is truth? Is it a majority voice? Is it a single voice? It is a political voice? Is it a powerful voice? Is it a my voice? The answer is God's Voice.
There is a Supreme voice and standard which is perfect and where we can all rest assured levels the playing field. This voice is the law of God found in the Word- the Holy Bible and IF the Bible is read with the Holy Spirit present, directing your thoughts- in truth, its message will ring true for your life and situation, not for your Aunt Philo, not for your neighbor Rocco, or not for your boss Leonardo-but for you.
Meaning ask God to be present when reading the passages of the Bible otherwise we risk misinterpreting and seeing what is written through our erroneous lens of biases, hypocritical, hateful and prideful mindsets.
"What is a the "correct lens" when reading the Bible then?"
Answer: Reading the story and seeing where and how it applies to my personal life.
For example in the intriguing city of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah is a story that shares ideas, attitudes, and behaviors we often come to judge- but rarely see in ourselves.
Do I have all the answers as to what took place thousands of years ago? No, I was not there, what I am certain about though, is that human nature then, is the same as human nature is today.
Human nature is the common denominator of our collective humanity throughout the entire history of humankind. Therefore we deal and struggle with identical human issue’s no matter what time of civilization it is.
We’ve all heard the expression “It’s human nature to do act this way.” When hearing this comment, is this comment denoting that a good gesture was done, or a weak one? When we hear “Oh, it’s human nature to act this way” was the gesture good or less than what it could have been? Human nature implies that we have missed the mark.
Say for example taking the biggest piece of your favorite pie leaving none for the next person who loves the pie just as much- instead of sharing denotes an act of of human nature. It’s looking out for number one denotes an act of human nature, or bad-mouthing someone,even if they deserved it, instead of protecting their reputation and letting God take care of it- denotes an act of human nature.
What exactly is human nature, is it all good, or in between, or all bad?
- What is your human nature like? What kind of nature do you like to see in others? Or what should my nature be, is a question I can ask myself?
It can be dangerous to leave one’s “how should I think, or act” in people's hands. Not all advice is good, or suitable, and depending on what season in life you're at, one should consult a trusted and reliable source of guidance.
Often good advice is unavailable, so one is forced to talk to God and go the Bible for answers. This is why we need help from the Holy Spirit whom we can trust to guide and show us the truth. Faith is a struggle and an uncertain leap of faith toward an innate correct direction.
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Let’s unpack the nature of the characteristics that took place in the city of Sodom and Gomorrah and see if we can see the similarities within our societies and attitudes today.
First, this ancient city was filled with righteous and unrighteous people. Similar to where I live. The righteous people in the town of SG (Sodom & Gomorrah) cried out to God for relief from the evil around them. The evil of greed, child prostitution, or misogyny? Like my city, we cry out praying to God for justice and redress.
God's attention was aroused then, by sending His angel to check out the situation in SG. Today, God as well comes to our aide and checks out the situation of our lives and does wonders for us- intervening were needed, where we have no power to affect change ourselves. God destroyed the City of Sodom and Gomorrah- however, God has not destroyed my city?
Give thanks to the LORD, for His mercy endures forever.
He sends people to warn us of our wrong attitudes. Things we “unconsciously” do that are cruel, demeaning and against others and ourselves.
People who pray to God-like people of S.G who sought relief from oppression and abuse similar to what we do in our cities.
People in our neighborhoods pray for us so that we too may redirect our lives in a manner that brings peace and wholeness to us and others.
Similar to how Abraam inquired of God about if there was just “x” amount of people in a town-down to ten people would God still destroy the city? God replies no I will not destroy the city even if there are only ten righteous people left in it. What about in your town or city are there ten or more good people in them so that God does not destroy the entire city? I am sure there are, just like my city.
Depending on which Bible translations you're looking at each differs a lot in its rendition of the story. I am looking at the Septuagint in Genesis 19.
This text is often a go-to scripture used to make gay people uncomfortable. There is no mention that men banged on the door demanding “ sex” from the men who visited Lot’s home. It is written…
“Before they went to sleep, the men of the city, the Sodomites compassed the house both young and old, all the people together. And they called out Lot and said to him,
"Where are the men that went into thee this night?” Bring them out to us that we may be with them."
And Lot went out to them to the porch, and he shut the door after him. And he said to them,
“By no means brethren, do not act villanously. But I have two daughters who have not known a man. I will bring them out to you, and do ye use them as it may please you, only do not injury to these men, to avoid which they came under the shelter of my roof."
And they said to him,
Stand back there thou camest to sojourn, was it also to judge? Now then we would harm thee more than them.”
And they pressed hard on the man, even Lot and they drew nigh to break the door.” Genesis 19
Readers join me in understanding this text with the help of the Supreme Counselor the Holy Spirit.
The bold text above writes “Before they went to sleep” gives the impression that before the people of the town went to sleep they decided to stroll by Lot’s house and get sex- the whole city? Not so, taking a closer look at what is written will take Holy Spirit guidance, thought, reflection, and understanding mind.
“Before they went to sleep” implies that soon they will all be dead, from the judgment of God on the city.
The bold text above writes“ both young and old, all the people together.” This implies that this mob was made up of young, old, both sexes, and all people in between. What is meant by “all the people together”. Why would suddenly “all the people” of the city be interested in Lot’s visitors? Did they perceive that the men were angels as Lot did or did he? The visitors caused enough stir for the entire city to come to Lot’s doorsteps. Did “all the people” of the city intend to gang rape two visitors? This would be tantamount to the entire city of Ottawa showing up at one’s doorsteps to rape someone. This is ridiculous and nowhere mentioned.
The bold text above writes “Where are the men that went into thee this night?” Was Lot thought by the crowd to be having sex with the visiting men? Where the people in the town inquiring if Lot was housing men for reasons other than pure motives of hospitality? Into thee implies penetration? Or into thee your house? Why would it seem the cities business to show up at Lot’s doorsteps demanding he brings out his visitors? With a lot of people in a city surely there were lots of other choices if this was an issue of gang rape.
Was the town there to judge Lot, was the crowd acting out of self-righteousness, judging him unrighteously or assuming he was having sex with the men. Lot was a sojourner someone passing through the town. There is more to this story than we might understand. Did the crowd think the visitors were spies? A city does not all band together for no simple reason. There was another reason other than a city gang rape of which I have never heard of happening in my entire life. Besides they would have been there for months if each person took their turn and the children too? This does not seem plausible.
The bold text above writes “that we may be with them” these words do not say they wanted to engage in sex with the visitors. We can be with others and not be having sex with them. Did the above text imply that they wanted to get to know why the visitors came to the city, as a gesture, and where Lot preferred to keep the visitors to himself? Did Lot know why the angels had come? We do not read that Abraam told Lot of his conversation with God, that God would destroy the city. Did Lot warn the people why the angels were there and did he know why the angels had come at that point when he closed the door behind him? Were the people of the city inquiring of the nature of their visit rather they wanting sex from them? God did judge this city and its inhabitants as wicked yet my understanding is that Lot was no more righteous than the rest of the city. The only difference with Lot is that he left and took heed to the direction of the angles to get out of the city.
I am rather concerned with the responses Lot gave and did not give to the crowd at his front door porch.
“By no means brethren, do not act villanously. But I have two daughters who have not known a man. I will bring them out to you and do ye use them as it may please you, only do not injury to these men.”
“A reality that has gone unchecked far too long is the group think sin of "degrading of the value of females under men.” It is wrong and God does not agree with this wrong thinking.
Lot blatantly disregards the safety of his daughters over the protection of the men by placing his girls in a position of disaster.
Why does Lot protect the two angels (men) who have the power to wipe out the city and does not protect his daughters instead?” Lot was ready to have his daughters raped and killed?
What is going on here, why would Lot a mere man be nervous about the angels being approached or spoken to when angels are powerful enough to destroy the entire city. Why did Lot not tell the crowd that the city would be destroyed shortly?
Remember in this story where the visiting angels (men) preferred to sleep in the public square (maybe to warn others) but Lot “hoarded” them into his home.
Why would Lot put his daughter's reputations and lives in jeopardy like this? Like their lives meant nothing? In all my years as a Christian I have NEVER heard one voice confront this blatant disregard for women.
The bold text writes “Stand back there thou camest to sojourn, was it also to judge?
The people of the city are asking Lot- you came through our city, are you here to judge us or to bring a sentence on us? A legitimate open question here? This could have been the time Lot would say something honest. Like yes, you will all be dead within the next few hours! Maybe he was afraid for his life, and of course not for his daughters' lives. Would he have been malled if he told them the truth?
It was a stressful situation because no one was being hospitable on either sides.
In a few verses below. When the angel inquires of Lot if he has any daughters or sons-in-law, “ And Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law who had married his daughters, and said rise up and depart out of this place.” But they ignored him and stayed behind.
Some verses prior, Lot tells the crowd that his daughters were never married? He lies to the crowd about his daughter's social standing? Did the crowd not know that his daughters were married to sons-in-law as they walked, lived, or passed within the community of the town? Lot lies to the crowd to protect his “guests.” Why this hypocritical concern for the men and no concern for his daughters or the crowd?
The crowd might have known the social standing of his daughters, they did not care to interrogate the daughters they were interested in the two men for a reason which Lot blocked them from determining or knowing. Lot did not care about his daughter's social standing by offering them up as bait to distract the crowd from the mission of the visitors? Did Lot misinterpret the crowd's request to speak with the men? Again a “city of people” does not show up at a citizen's door to rape two people. Someone would have called the local police. But Lot does not call the police, he shuts the door behind him and offers to throw his daughters into the crowd. We never hear what the daughters thought about this gesture. A few verses later they set up their father to get drunk and sleep with him because they left their husbands behind and there is no man to procreate with. Why did Lot and his daughters not get burned in the city as well? What was so special about them? Or why did God choose to save them? Was it because in verses earlier, of Abraams conversation with God, that God would destroy the city. In the Septuagint, it is not mentioned that Abraam told Lot of the impending doom.
This hardly sounds like a story about gay rape.
Many people over my life when discussing this story share how vulgar this city must have been and I think to myself, is my city different?
“How many times did I walk into a bar and ask someone man or woman to go home with me for gratuitous sex?”
“How many times did I fornicate, commit adultery in life without giving a glance or thought to the implications that the other person's humanity and protection of what they built rather than my own lustful neighing?”
How many times did I demand answers in an aggressive, arrogant, prideful, and haughty manner?
When was the last time you said “ I made a mistake”?
How many times did I rape others financially, emotionally or spiritually? How many times did I rob another of their respect, health or self esteem?
How many times Fathers, Mothers, all people- did we put children, our own flesh and blood at risk -or any person in a position of danger and threat or demise because we wanted to protect someone who we thought was more “important” than the safety of the innocent who needed to be covered?”
How many times did I offer up my daughter or son as bait so that her/his protection and character and reputation could easily have been tarnished so that pride or cultural relativism would prevail?”
How many times did I show favoritism at the expense of someone’s self-esteem and character?
“How many times did I leave an innocent or timid child or person in a situation where I knew they would probably be assaulted, attacked, or raped?”
“How many times did I demand accountability being judgmental, aggressive, and rude in matters that simply were none of my business to know- like the people of S.G did not come in with humility or friendliness?
“How many times did I unconsciously put someone’s life in danger by ignoring their humanity and weaknesses?” How many times did I lord over women needlessly? Demising them and placing them lower than man?
How many times did I devalue a women by putting her career, her marriage, her income, her reputation at risk, her ego, her beauty, her body at risk?
How many times did I ignore the voice or admonition of a parent, or pleas of a child or person because of my pride, arrogance and stubbornness?
This story is about the kingdom of God, where through our judging and finger-pointing we condemn ourselves. It’s about when the door to repentance and eternal life is no longer an option and the door becomes shut and the prophets no longer heard.
There exists a knowledge for humans to emulate which is the Supreme standard God has set through His Word as a barometer of excellence that spares us of grief and pain. A God nature that is shared for our common humanity on earth. “Love your neighbor as. yourself” or “do not judge one another” or “do not fornicate”.
If I hate on my neighbor, it brings on awkward social interactions.
If I judge someone— I risk being called a hypocrite and display a prideful attitude which is an offensive human attribute.
If I don’t tell my son and daughter about the perils of sex- it can cause disease, unwanted pregnancy, or unwanted shame, or even untimely death.
Cause and effect God wants to spare us the trouble of. The choice is ours to make. But what happens if I don’t know this knowledge is out there to emulate?
What happens when we perceive the other as different or not as the majority. Should they be assimilated and whipped into a prescribed condition your okay with or simply be valued as their rightful place and space as a human being in need of acceptance and respect? How do you wish to be handled as a person in your uniqueness? Say a person is gay -where do they find their place of peace or respect in an already precarious situation of needing understanding for themselves amidst the outnumbered mindset and body of others. I don’t care you might say. It says in the Bible that gay people like in Sodom and Gomorrah will be burned up and destroyed, period.
Growing up- I am reminded at times of painful moments where my parents, new immigrants to the land of Canada were eager to “fit in”. There were a language barrier, challenges of acquiring suitable work to support a young family, and the constant reminders to assimilate. It was a struggle between wanting to be oneself or being transformed in identity. These factors played a major role in my gracious parents’ stress level and influenced how they interacted with us as a family. Like all people, they were “seeking” a welcome, of acceptance, and understanding, and some good friends to help them along the way.
It is not a fault that they immigrated to Canada or that they were “strangers or aliens in a new land.” They felt better among friends and like-minded people and found this comradeship through the church.
Hospitality was the answer- and still is.
My question is “Is it anyone’s role to make anyone unwelcomed for any one of our “personal” reasons”. When they have done us no wrong.
Until a person has enough resolve and strength to defend their identity or has made sense of their identity within that position it is not the time to attack, take down or hate on-these attitudes should not be displayed in any church.
Which side of the Sodom and Gommorrha door am I on, is a question we can ask ourselves. When thinking of this story I see that neither side was right. But only that God is merciful and compassionate and perfect.
This is where hospitality comes in. Hospitality refers to giving up space and acceptance to aliens or strangers such as in the story of Sodom & Gomorrha and can refer to how we treat anyone who is different from us in society including women. It’s about not making judgments and presumptions without looking first at the facts and truths fully and fairly. Giving others space and meeting them where they are at.
Land of the free implies that Canada is founded on the principles that recognize the Supremacy of God and the rule of law. (First seventeen words of the constitution.) A land free to worship God in Spirit and in truth. Is a land free of biases, judgments- and where people are allowed to just be themselves? Of course, this is not true. Unless we all decide on universal adherence to a moral code of peace, kindness, and non-judgment.
Gossiping, snitching, backbiting and control are ineffective modes of toxic hateful communication causing division, discord, and much more grief and problems to all involved where minding one’s own life might be a simpler solution. Start with yourself. Like the citizens of S.G they sure did not mind their own business when they came knocking on Lot’s door- or should they have been curious? Which angle should we take this story from?
Opinions, lack of respect, and zero love- have brought on rupture in the trust by and for our leaders, authority figures, and toward each other, and this includes the body and direction of the church.
This does not give us the right to be lawless, disorderly, or disrespectful, rather it is best, to tell the truth, in open love. To open the doors of communication and understanding. Rather than beat doors down and grab people by their throats and collars. We slip into hatred for anyone with whom we do not have an open, communicative genuine, respectful relationship with and this includes members of our own households.
“Should I be concerned about the sex life of someone who I am too embarrassed to even tell them I love them or that I care for them as a brother or sister?
Ephesians 4:25 — Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.
Life is a cycle. Perpetuation and repetition is alive and well. It’s all good unless the perpetuation and repetition is harmful and destructive and must be voiced and brought out into the open.
There is a lot of pain and destruction on earth. A lot of mistakes, and errors caused by erroneous thinking, and acting. We do not have the ability to look into the future to quantify our actions, for their negative or positive outcomes.
“Therefore God invites us into an incredible leap of faith, giving us His Word, through His Son Jesus Christ the LORD and the through the Holy Spirit to Council us by fast-forwarding the event, to a brilliant outcome we could never have imagined or hoped for.”
How do we reset what we do wrong- There is a start point for each one of us.
Listen & Obey God for protection.
Life is complex and its issues need to be voiced freely and openly discussed, and that without judgment or hatred.
But who will listen? A human has the right to be heard, listened to, and acknowledged.
The notion’s of being heard is becoming increasingly narrower.
Humans interact through talking and through the hearing of our voices, through the gestures and inflections of our human expressions. These attributes help us to be better understood. However with less and less opportunity for socialize and talking, we have become less and less human, and less and less understood.These are frightful notions, we must overturn and counter consciously each day of our lives.
The worldwide pandemic has isolated us into cages of silence and has us interact over email and silent talk through mediums like the one your on right now, but this is not the full human experience that God intends for us. There is a creepiness in writing an article in hopes of being acknowledged through the silence of the page and mind of human beings with hopes of silent claps yet articles unread- is what is at best for now.
More on Hospitality in coming articles.