Lot's Looking Glass, a Requiem for Sodom
Okay, I guess I'll just go ahead and jump in all the way.
Just my mood tonight.
All the while that I worked on the project, Honoring the Richness of Diversity, I had all the old scriptures coming back to me in my sleep. How to process all that? I decided to take my church's BYOT (Build Your Own Theology) course for the second time. I am in the middle of it. A few weeks ago, we had to write a parable as one of the exercises. It proved to be a good medium to gather my thoughts. I hope you enjoy it. Any comments?
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Lot’s Looking Glass, a
Requiem for Sodom
by Joe Weinstein
It was hot, so hot. The smell. Sulfur. Rotten. Blazing, searing, chocking. My owners were running for their lives. I was a prized possession. The last thing they grabbed off the table, before they slammed the door on their life in Sodom.
I am ancient. I have taken different forms. Always highly polished whether made of stone, metal, or glass. Different materials in different ages. You look into my face. I look back into your face. I look into your soul. I see the past. I see the future. I know the facts. When you look into me, you see what you want to see. Your own version of truth.
I belonged to Lot. As they were running away from Sodom, Lot’s wife held me in her hand to look back at the city. Silly woman. She stumbled and fell to her death. Lot and his daughters rescued me from her grip. They survived. I survived. It was sad that she died. Not to mention all the innocent people that died that day. It was an act of nature, plain and simple. What a loss to humanity! Sodom and Gomorrah were average cities. Many good citizens lived there. The men and women loved each other and their children, and cared for them and one another, lovingly. But there were a few good for nothing people in the town, like any city in any age. When men from the family of Abraham, Lot’s uncle, came to invite them to return to the family and their nomadic life, Lot refused. Thinking those men were spies, the good for nothing men, criminals, threatened to do evil things to them. Shame on them. No crime happened that night. (Genesis 18-19) How sad that no one remembers all the good people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Years later, I belonged to the concubine that was murdered in the city of Gibeah of the tribe of Benjamin. (Judges 19-20) Her murder was horrific. The crime was similar to the events of Sodom. Good for nothing men of the city gathered around the home where a stranger sought shelter for the night. They demanded the man, a Levite, be sent out for them to molest, but accepted the sacrifice of the concubine instead. They were no more what we today would call homosexuals than were the men of Sodom. She was found dead on the steps in the morning. I cried when her body was cut up into twelve pieces and sent to the other tribes to call for justice. If they had crime labs like in the twenty-first century, the guilty parties could have been prosecuted and punished. The fratricide that Israel almost carried out against the entire tribe of Benjamin was no justice at all. Israel then compounded this injustice by robbing brides to reconstitute the tribe. Shame on them. At least they “felt regret over Benjamin their brother”. They almost wiped out Benjamin. “Today one tribe has been chopped off from Israel.” (Judges 21:6)
As time went on, I came into the possession of a descendant of Abraham, a Levite, who started up a priesthood for the nation of Israel. How could he look into his image in me, his looking glass, and smile! This is the time when the folklore of the people began to be written and accepted as fact. He wrote down the stories he wanted so as to enforce his vision of what justice should be like in Israel. Before this time “there was no king in Israel. What was right in his own eyes was what each one was accustomed to do.” (Judges 21:25) But the way he twisted the events at Sodom! He twisted the nature of a loving God, by attributing to him the purposeful destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as if it were an ‘act’ of God. Shame on him for the way he twisted the facts about Lot and his daughters after they had escaped the fire and brimstone. He accused them of having incestuous relations with their father. (Genesis 19:30-38) Could that story really justify the enmity between Israel and the tribes of Moab and Ammon, the descendants of Lot and his daughters, and their eventual demise in tribal warfare? (2 Chronicles 20) As you read the Sodom account it becomes obvious that he knew that some of us would realize that the geologic cataclysm that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was no act of God, so he concocted the conversation between God and Abraham as to whether or not God would destroy the city if there was 50, or 30, down to even ten righteous man. (Genesis 18:20-33) Shame on him. Shame on those who take his words as gospel truth, just because “it is written”.
So much hatred! These twisted tales, now accepted as gospel truth, are the cause of so much mistreatment of homosexuals in every age since. My owner the Levite, wrote verses that made the sexually expressed love between two men or two women a capitol offense in Israel.
Later, in the first century of the common era, I belonged to Saul of Tarsus. I know what tormented his soul, the thorn in his flesh. Same sex desire. A good and devout man, like the Levite before him, he perpetuated the lies about Sodom. He put verses into Christian scripture, that would exclude homosexuals from the kingdom of the God of Love. Shame on him. Because of the lies found in the Hebrew scriptures that he accepted as truth, he tried to see to it that no one else could enjoy the expressions of love that he felt were evil, that he denied to himself. Lies breed more lies. Persecutions, pogroms, bashings, lynching, and concentration camps, are all products of lies built upon lies. This shameful legacy spread to all the descendants of Abraham, Muslim, Jew, and Christian. It is as if “one tribe has been cut off,” from humankind.
I am in your bedroom. I am Lot’s looking glass. I know the loving acts that men and women engage in. They often include the same loving and holy acts that men with men and women with women, engage in. Mistakenly, through the ages, these acts have been labeled “sodomy”. Even the United States Supreme Court has determined that these loving acts are matters of private conduct. Protected. Private. Still, I hold up a mirror for greater justice. It is obvious that the lasting principle this matter should have been decided on is equal protection under the law. Sodomy laws violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guarantees equal protection for all persons. I call for equality, real justice.
Today, I hold myself up, Lot’s looking glass, to those religious fundamentalists of any faith who try to condemn or shame the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer community. You offer to “love ex-gays into Christ”, yet you insist they be “celibate for the Lord”, that they deny an important part of their human nature. You preach hate. You teach your children to fear homosexuals as if they were pedophiles, criminals. You try to censor any efforts to educate the public about self affirming, proud, law abiding homosexuals. You dare to assign God’s vengeance against homosexuals as the reason for modern day natural disasters. If you find yourself the victim of a natural disaster, do you think for a moment that it is an act of a loving God?
It is time to call for a Requiem for Sodom. It is time for humanity to “feel regrets” for these mistakes. Requiem is defined as a service for the dead, a composition expressing one's grief over loss. Let us lift away the stigma from Sodom. Let us mourn the dead of Sodom and Gomorrah. Let us mourn the suffering and loss of Homosexuals, mistakenly called Sodomites, through the ages. Let us raise up our voices to remove any stigma from today’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer community. At the same time, I hold myself up, Lot’s looking glass, to closeted Homosexuals. You fear exposure, the loss of your family, the loss of your livelihood, yet you contribute to and perpetuate the lies, because you fail to step forward. Show the world you are proud of who you are.
So, look deep into me, Lot’s looking glass. Ask yourself: “What can I do to contribute to this Requiem for Sodom?” Raising our voices in unison, we will promote freedom, justice, peace, harmony and love in the world. My image is plain and clear. May it reflect the beauty in your soul.