Back when I first decided to take Exodus’ advice and “question homosexuality” (an action that quickly forced me to come to terms with the many half-truths and outright fabrications I’d accepted without question from Exodus and other Christian political groups over the course of my life), one of the realizations I came to fairly early on was how badly the Sodom story had been misinterpreted by the church. Even when I still accepted the premise that all gay relationships were unconditionally wrong, it became clear to me that the destruction of Sodom had little or nothing to do with homosexuality.
As such, it baffled me that many conservative theologians held so tenaciously to the belief that Sodom was destroyed for a sin that the Bible itself never connected to that narrative, and that they would go to any lengths necessary to ‘prove’ that the Bible did, in fact, make that connection. It seemed to defy reason that they would shift so much of their energy away from the arguments that they did have reasonable support for to defend territory that had never truly belonged to them in the first place.
I was pondering this again more recently, when it occurred to me that without the Sodom story, the Religious Right has no basis for its assertion that failure to adequately persecute homosexuals would lead to the downfall of society. Nothing else in the Bible can be construed to support the notion that God reserves his strongest abhorrence for homosexual behavior, or that calamity of any kind will follow the acceptance of gays and lesbians as human beings worthy of equal treatment.
The notion that earthquakes and other natural disasters are God’s punishment for acceptance of homosexuality does date back to Roman times (and was the primary impetus behind a multitude of anti-'Sodomy' laws), and as the response of some Christians to Hurricane Katrina and other recent calamities has demonstrated, that’s one superstition that has lingered on into the modern era. So where did the notion that Sodom was destroyed for being a gay city come from, since the biblical authors didn't seem to hold it? We can't be precisely certain, but there are enough clues out there to make an educated guess. Stay tuned...