Saturday, June 26, 2010

Genesis 18-19: The destruction of Sodom

Something, which is either 3 men, 3 angels, or God, appears to Abraham near his tent. He begs them to stay and rest, they agree. Abraham runs off and tells Sarah to get 20 quarts of flour and make bread. That is a lot of bread... Abraham then runs off to kill a calf, and he brings it to the men and they all eat. Then God says that Sarah will have a son in a year. Sarah heard this from inside the tent and laughs; she doesn't quite believe it. Then there was this bit of pedantry:
God: Why'd you laugh?
Sarah: Nuh-uh, I didn't laugh!
God: Yuh-uh you did!
The men walk off toward Sodom, and God tells Abraham that Sodom's "sin is grievous," so he's going to go there and see what's what. (Really, all-knowing God has to go to Sodom to see how bad it is? He can't just know?) Abraham then has this weird haggling session with God:
Abraham: Will you spare the city if there are 50 good people in it?
God: Yeah, OK
Abraham: How bout 45?
God: Fine
Abraham: 40?
God: OK
Abraham: 30?
God: Yeah, fine
Abraham: 20?
God: K
Abraham: 10?
God: K
Then he stops. How about not destroying a even single good person, God? Really?

I've heard this sort of ethical question before (mostly on star trek) many innocent people is it OK to wipe out? Now we know the answer, the bible says it's 10. See, I am learning things.

The next chapter starts with "The 2 angels arrived at Sodom." I thought it was 3 that set off from Abraham's tent. But, whatever.

They find Lot at the gate of the city, and he basically badgers them into staying with him. Later that evening, the house was surrounded with men demanding that Lot send the 2 angels out so they can have sex with them. So obviously, Lot offers the mob his 2 virgin daughters instead. Really, Lot, really? That's a despicable act if I ever heard one. The angels pull Lot inside and make all the men outside blind.

The angels tell Lot to gather up his family and go to the mountains, because they are going to destroy the city (and apparently all the other nearby cities). Lot asks if they could just go to that other city instead, and the angels promise to spare that one city. So Lot runs away with his wife and daughters.

I want to know why Lot gets to live. The story is the people of Sodom are horrible and need to be destroyed...and I guess if the angel-raping mob is representative of the city as a whole, I could sort of see that. But is Lot really any better? He offers his virgin daughters to the mob. I don't care what anybody says, that is disgusting and he deserves to die with the would-be angel-rapers.

This is all assuming, of course, that God is vengeful and cruel, and doesn't much care about actually doing anything to make people better. Seriously, God's big solution to everything is to just destroy everything when things get tough, surely he could do better.

Anyway, Lot and family are running away, and his wife looks back and turns into a pillar of salt. OK... As usual, I don't get it. I guess it must be symbolic of something. But as literal truth, that makes no sense.

Lot and his 2 daughters end up holed up in a mountain cave, where the daughters hatch this brilliant scheme: let's have sex with our father! Brilliant. So one night, they get him super drunk, and the one sleeps with him...and the next night they get him super drunk, and the other sleeps with him. The bible is very clear that Lot doesn't know what's going on. And they both get pregnant and have sons. What a charming story.

So I was kind of interested in this story, because it's one of those that get trotted out by the anti-gay wingnuts, in that, "the bible says it's wrong and this story proves it," way. Really, I don't see it. God destroyed Sodom because the people there were so bad, and I guess the rapist mob was an example of that. And I would agree, that would be bad. But it says nothing about consensual homosexual relationships, which is what these wingnuts fight so hard against.

In this story, there was a mob of men who wanted to rape men (I assume the angels looked like men). And what the wingnuts claim is that it was the men having sex with men part that was so wrong. But would it have been OK if that mob wanted to rape women instead? That would be heterosexual, so I guess it would be OK. Really? Ugh. Maybe that would be OK with God and right-wing nutcases, but it's not OK with me...

If anything, I could see where this story says that God frowns on rapist mobs, and as usual overreacts by destroying everything. I don't see where it has anything to do with gay marriage, or homosexuality in general, like the wingnuts claim.

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