Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday An Excerpt--- Repentance and the Sin of Sodom


AM STARTING TO COME BACK FROM A MISERABLE POST-CHRISTMAS COLD/FLU but think I'm up for this fairly long and extremely important post.

What follows is an excerpt from Rosaria Champagne Butterfield's dazzling book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, and deals with the question of whether homosexuality was the defining sin of Sodom that caused its total destruction in the Old Testament. I will post more next week, if I don't get it all done today:


In April 1999, I felt the call of Jesus Christ upon my life. It was both subtle and blatant, like the peace inside the eye of the hurricane. I could in no way resist and I in no way understood what would become of my life.....How did I know it was Jesus? Maybe it was my Catholic guilt, my caffeine-driven subconscious, or last night's curry tofu? Well, I didn't. But I believed----and believe----it was Jesus.

At this time I was just starting to pray that God would show me my sins and help me to repent of them. I didn't understand why homosexuality was a sin, why something in the particular manifestation of same-gender love was wrong in itself. But I did know pride was a sin and so decided to start there.

As I began to pray and repent, I wondered: could pride be the root of all my sins? I wondered: what was the real sin of Sodom?

I had always thought that God's judgment upon Sodom (in Genesis 19) clearly singled out and targeted homosexuality, I believed that God's judgment against Sodom exemplified the fiercest of God's judgments. But as I read more deeply in the Bible, I ran across a passage that made me stop and think. This passage in the book of Ezekiel reveal to me that Sodom was indicted for materialism and neglect of the poor and needy---and that homosexuality was a symptom and an extensnion of these other sins.

In this passage, God is speaking to his chosen people in Jerusalem and warning them about their hidden sin using Sodom as an example. Importantly, God does not say that this sin---the practice of homosexuality---is the worst of all sins. Instead God uses the sin of Sodom to reveal the greater sin committed by his own people:
"As I live," says the Lord God, "neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit."
I found this passage to reveal some surprising things. In it, God is comparing Jerusalem to Sodom and saying that Sodom's sin was less offensive to God than Jerusalem's.

Next, God tells us what is at the root of homosexuality, and what the progression of sin is. We read that the root of homosexuality is also the root of a myriad of other sins. 

First, we find pride----Sodom and her daughters had pride.  Why pride? Because pride is the root of all sin. Pride puffs one up with a false sense of independence.  Proud people always feel that they can live independently from God and from other people. Proud people feel entitled to do what they want when they want to.

Second, we find wealth---fullness of food---and an entertainment driven worldview---abundance of idleness.  Living according to God's standards is an acquired taste.  We develop a taste for godly living only by intentionally putting into place practices that equip us to live below our means.

We develop a taste for God's standards only by disciplining our minds, hands, money and time.  In God's economy, what we love we will discipline.  God did not create us so that we would, as the the title of an early book on postmodernism declares, 'amuse ourselves to death.'

Undisciplined taste will always lead to egregious sin---slowly and almost imperceptibly.

(I'll continue this next Sunday, God willing.) 

God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble
(1 Peter 5:5).

Interesting to note that the favorite slogan of the gay community is Gay Pride! isn't it?

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