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Wednesday 25 May 2016

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What were the real sins of men in Sodom story?

Published 11/02/2013

Eamonn McCann (7th February) is only partly right about the Sodom and Gomorrah story.

It wasn't just a mob of Sodomites but, as the text makes clear, "even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter" (Genesis 19: 4), and demanded that his guests be brought out to them.

This language is important because it makes clear that the group comprised at least all the males of the city, both boys and men.

If the text had told us that 'certain men of Sodom' or even 'many men of Sodom' gathered, we might then surmise that they could have been motivated by homosexual desire.

But it says that 'both old and young, all the people from every quarter', gathered at the door. To suggest that all the males in Sodom were homosexual is hardly credible because the city would have died out by itself!

So something other than sexual desire was clearly at work here.

From archaeological records, we know it was also a common practice in the Near East during ancient times for soldiers to use homosexual rape as a way of humiliating their enemies.

When victorious soldiers wanted to break the spirit of their defeated enemies, they would 'treat them like women' by raping them.

The practice was not driven by sexual desire, but by brutality and hatred toward the enemy.

Rape or other forms of sexual abuse is not consensual sex but physical humiliation and happens today just as it did in ancient times.

Think, for example, of what some terrorists in Northern Ireland did to the sexual organs of some of their victims or what US marines did at Abu Ghraib.

It is this motivation, not homosexual desire, that stands behind the sin of Sodom.

Brian McClinton

Humanist Association of Northern Ireland

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