The Sin Of Sodom Revisited: Reading Genesis 19 In Light Of Torah -- By: Brian Neil Peterson

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 59:1 (Mar 2016)
Article: The Sin Of Sodom Revisited: Reading Genesis 19 In Light Of Torah
Author: Brian Neil Peterson


The Sin Of Sodom Revisited:
Reading Genesis 19 In Light Of Torah

Brian Neil Peterson*

* Brian Peterson is assistant professor of OT and Hebrew at Lee University, 1120 North Ocoee Street, Cleveland, TN 37320.

Abstract: In recent years the rise of same-sex “affirming” interpretations of the Bible has forced “non-affirming” scholars to readdress the issue of same-sex teachings/prohibitions found within the Old and New Testaments. Without fail one of the first texts addressed in this discussion is that of Ge 19:1-11, which deals with the sin of Sodom. Most “affirming” interpreters see in this account nothing more than an example of attempted gang rape and/or the contravention of hospitality. While these sins are indeed part of the overall problem with Sodom, what is overlooked within the discussion is the broader context of the chapter within the Torah and the immediate context which, includes the dysfunction of Lot’s family. This article examines the author’s rhetorical purpose for including this latter pericope as well as the role that Ge 19 plays as a narrative commentary on the Torah teachings of Le 18, Le 20, and Ge 2 and Ge 9. It concludes that reading Ge 19 in tandem with these texts aids in interpreting the Sodom narrative. Broken marriage covenants, incest, and a rejection of God’s decrees all serve to reinforce the pervasive sin problem in Sodom, namely, infidelity in marriage, degrading sex acts, and a rejection of God’s moral standards.

Key Words: Ge 19, Sodom, Le 18, Lot, homosexuality.

I. Introduction

In recent years the rise of same-sex “affirming” interpretations of the Bible within the evangelical church has forced “non-affirming” scholars to readdress the issue of same-sex teachings/prohibitions found within the OT and NT. Without fail one of the first texts addressed in this discussion is Ge 19:1-14 dealing with the sin of Sodom. Most “affirming” interpreters see in this account nothing more than an example of attempted gang rape and/or the contravention of hospitality.1 While these sins are indeed part of the overall problem in Sodom, what is frequently overlooked within the discussion is the broader context of the chapter within Genesis as well as how the story ...

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