Reflection #40: The Sin of Sodom: The Poison of Patriarchy

Reading: Genesis 18-23

I, perhaps like yourself, was taught that the sin of Sodom was that the men in the town were gay.  Reading this passage today I wondered how I ever accepted that interpretation.

This story is about a group of people that have become so dehumanized that they attempt to rape and brutalize visitors to their town. Its about inhospitality, about a group of people who are so disconnected from their own humanity, that they deny the basic decency and generosity that any one person should grant another.

It is not about queer people.

It is not about gay or lesbian couples.

It is not about trans folks.

Its about rape, toxic masculinity, and the way men use their power to dominate and abuse.

What we see in the story of Sodom is a power play, the men of the town are seeking to assert their dominance over the strange visitors by shaming and humiliating them.

And Lot, in order to protect his own honor, which is contingent on the safety of the guests he’s welcomed under his protection, offers his own daughters to the mob.

This is not a nice story. But, it is one that we still desperately need to hear. 

The Genesis narrative begins with creation, the world is good, men and women are created equal in God’s site, both divine image bearers.

Yet, it all goes wrong, humanity rebels against God, and one of the tragic results of that rebellion is the creation of the Patriachy within human society.

As the narrative goes on throughout Genesis we begin to see the consequences that this system wreaks. Men dominant women, using them as sex slaves, servants, and basically relegating them to no more than property. But, men also seek to dominant each other. Lust for power and the discovery of violence as the tool to attain that power, sends humanity into a spiral of destruction, leading to a point where the evil is so profound, and the people so inhuman, that the Divine no longer recognizes her own Creation.

The flood follows, and though the world is washed clean, and humanity is granted a new beginning, the poisonous power the Patriachy grants men proves to seductive to be denied.

Men return to their games of dominance and power.

The Sin of Sodom was their unquestioned subservience to the gods of power and control. Lost in worship to these chief dieties they lost themselves.

We see this still today, men who are so devoted to power, manipulation, to control, that their own humanity is obscured.

There is a danger in unrestrained power, Patriachal systems, hurt all of us.  Men, women, all suffer, the story if Sodom offers us a stark warning, and a critique of unhealthy masculinity.

Being a man, has in many contexts, been about gaining power and control. Yet, Jesus offered a new way for men to be.

The way of Love, the way of grace, the way of forgiveness, and self sacrifice. Every day we get to choose the narrative we live out of, will we be men of Sodom, or will be servants to the Way of Love.

A.J. Hendry

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