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Talking Points
What you need to know and say when they say:
“But the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality!”
Compiled and written* by Rev. Stephen Parelli
June, 2012; revised March 2013
This paper was first presented in Kampala, Uganda, in July of 2012, by the author, at two separate
conferences. Copies of the paper were made available to conference attendees.
Topic #2:  “The Gen. 19 notorious story of Sodom and Gomorrah
[is] irrelevant to the topic” of homosexuality [Hayes and Gagnon who are both proponents of
a biblical witness against homosexual practice]

Topic #1:  The
erroneous use of the
word “sodomite(s)” in
the 1611 King James
Bible (KJV; also
known as the AV –
Authorized Version)

Topic #2:  
“The Gen. 19
notorious story of
Sodom and
Gomorrah [is]
irrelevant to the topic”
of homosexuality

Topic #3:   Modern
Bible versions that
use the word
“homosexual(s)” or
“homosexuality” in its
translation of I Cor. 6:
9 and I Tim. 1:10 are
“driven more by
ideological interests
in marginalizing gay
and lesbian people”
than by scholarship

Topic #4:  Romans
1, probably the
passage most often
used to condemn
homosexuals, isn’t
about homosexuality

Topic #5:  Once the
context is
understood, it is clear
that Lev. 18:22 and
20:13  – that a man
should not lie with a
man – is not a
condemnation of

Topic #6:  The
reference in Jude 7 to
Sodom and
Gomorrah “going
after strange flesh” is
perhaps best
understand in light of
a first century legend

Books and Web
Sites Cited
This web page was created in the Bronx,
New York, and published from the Bronx, on
February 17, 2013.

Visits to this web page:
click Talking Points for the entire paper in Word document formate
In point of fact:  The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 tells us no more about attitudes
toward what we call homosexuality than the story of the rape of Dinah tells us about attitudes toward
heterosexuality [Jennings, page x].

Talking Points:
  1. Leading conservative evangelical scholars, like Robert Gagnon and Robert Hays who are
    both proponents of the biblical witness against homosexual practice, agree that the notorious
    story of Sodom and Gomorrah – often cited in connection with homosexuality – is actually
    irrelevant to the topic [Gagnon, p71]
  2. Ex-gay leader and North American director of Exodus International Bob Davies, as early as
    1993, he wrote that he agreed with pro-gay theologians who stated Genesis 19 does not
    provide a strong argument against prohibiting all homosexual acts [Davies, p184].
  3. The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were three [Goss, 192-197]  
  1. Violence – male rape
  1. Ancient Near Eastern societies subjected those they had conquered (enemies,
    strangers, and trespassers), to phallic anal penetration to indicate their
    subordinate status [Goss, p193].  A more apt colloquial translation would be to
    womanize, make into a woman [Goss, p193].
  2. To the extent that homosexual activity was condemned, it was only
    homosexuality rape [Nelson, p79].
  1. Inhospitality – “Hateful behavior toward strangers” (Wisdom of Solomon 19:13-14)
  1. The Genesis story of Sodom and Gomorrah was centrally concerned not with
    sex but with the injustice of inhospitality to the stranger [Nelson, p79].
  2. The desert law of hospitality:  “God put you in my way.  I have no choice but to
    protect you” [Abou Fatma in the movie The Four Feathers].
  3. Gen 18 (the pastoral welcoming of strangers) is in contrast to Gen. 19 (the
    urban hostility toward strangers); hospitality is the “motif operative” [Goss, p193]
  4. Jesus’s reference to Sodom in Luke 10:10-12 is with regards to Sodom’s
    inhospitality (not Sodom’s sexual acts) – “and they receive you not”
  5. Wisdom of Solomon 19:13-14 “And punishments came upon the sinners . . .
    Insomuch as they used a more hard and hateful behavior toward strangers.  For
    the Sodomites did not receive those, whom they knew not when they came . . .”   
  1. Social Oppression – Patriarchal violence against (1) male strangers, the angels; and
    (2) women, Lot’s daughters
  1. Lot is required to “protect male honor [his guests] over female honor [his
    daughters]” because the “gender code … privileges males over females” and he
    therefore “offers the sexual capital of … his virgin daughters” to the mob. [Goss,
  2. Ez. 16:49 – “…This was the iniquity of…Sodom…, neither did she strengthen the
    hand of the poor and needy.”

Conclusion:  Conservative Bible scholars agree the story of Sodom and Gomorrah “is actually
irrelevant to the topic” of homosexuality [Gagnon, p71].   Instead,  the customs and  gender codes
of ancient near Eastern societies would infer that the message of the story for us today is more
about (1) hypocrisy – unjust patriarchal dominance; (2) violence – against the stranger and women;
(3) oppression of the week and vulnerable; and (4) injustice – to be unjust in one’s overall dealings
with others.  Ezekiel 16:49; Luke 10:10-12; and the Wisdom of Solomon 19:13-14 lend support to
this interpretation.  Furthermore, ironically – we can turn the story (as it has been traditionally used)
on its head [Goss, p197]:  the oppression of the (weak and vulnerable) gay and queer “strangers”
who are found in societies throughout the world, is, in fact, a commission of the sin of “sodomy” by
virtue of oppressing, abusing, and marginalizing these sexual minorities.