A friend of mine started a bible study group on FB. He invited some mormons, some liberal christians, some literal-bible christians, some catholics and me, an atheist. It’s interesting times so far. Today, as a prompt, he requested we post some of our favorite verses from the OT (nothing from Psalms, though, that’s “too easy.”). I chose Genesis 19:3-8. I like it for two reasons:
- Right there, in black and white, it clearly states that the offense of Soddom was not gay sex. The offense was rape of Lot’s guests. Seriously. Lot even offers his virgin daughter to the gang of rapists in an attempt to placate them and protect his guests.
- This is one (of many, many, many) examples of the type of scripture that left a bad taste in my mouth as a teenager. I hated that there were no strong female role models. I hated that scriptures sidelined and marginalized women, treating them like disposable property (look at the story of Rachel and Leah for another example of this).
It’s an uncomfortable verse. It’s one that you either have to ignore, or you have to actually address what’s going on. It’s the type of writing that makes you examine yourself, your morals, your beliefs. It’s the type of verse that makes a literal interpretation of the bible appalling, and forces you to realize that even if you accept the bible as god’s word (which I did for many years), you have to accept it as such on the contingency that it is open to continual interpretation — and some of the people translating/ writing/ interpreting it had political and social motivations that they wanted validated through the bible.
But my friend said I was being mean by choosing that verse. So I went back to biblegateway.com and began searching for a verse. First I was thinking Mark 10:24-26, but that’s NT. Then I thought Esther, then Rachel and Leah, then Eve . . . but each of these stories are full of heartbreak and atrocities. So then I began just randomly searching for neutral or happy words: “love,” “grass,” “light,” “sun,” “peace,” “learn.” I wanted to find an uplifting bit, something that advocated learning and contentment and joy. With Psalms off the table, I very quickly realized that there is nothing like that in the OT. The few lines I found that appeared to be uplifting were, in context, not uplifting at all. They were surrounded by death and blood and rape and misery and torture and loss.
It makes me sad that people look to this book as a viable means of spiritual fulfillment.