When Steven B. proposed language that welcomes gays and lesbians into the LDS Church without violating Mormon dogma on Open Sky Visions
, some posters replied that God must hate gays. Why else, was the argument, would God cast fire and brimstone on the heads of homosexuals in Sodom and Gomorrah?
When one reads Genesis closely, however, it becomes clear that the Sodomites were not punished for homosexuality but for violating hospitality. Read for yourself:
4. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter;
5. and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them."
6. But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him,
7. and said, "Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.
8. "Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof."
9. But they said, "Stand aside." Furthermore, they said, "This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them." So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door.
10. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.
11. They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.
12. Then the two men said to Lot, "Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place;
13. for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it."
The locals demand from Lot that he turn over his guest to be raped. That's pretty bad. To avert that evil, Lot offers his daughters to the mob. That would not make sense if God were concerned about sexual sin. But when the locals decline the offer and threaten Lot, that's when the messengers of God declare that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah has become imminent.
Genesis 19 is not about homosexuality. It's about hospitality.
Ironically, hospitality plays only a minor role in the theology of latter-day fundamentalists, a fact that should remind us that not everything in a three thousand year old book is relevant in our era.