I say Sodom, and you say? I know homosexuality. But that is so old school. Turns out there is more to the Sodom story than just butt sex, forced man-on-man action, God smiting the shit out the city and turning Lot’s wife into salt, followed by ncest. (Yeah a lot happens in Genesis 19.) There is a backstory to the Sodomites in Genesis chapter 14, one that sounds strangely familiar to those of us in the USA as we witness a post-9/11 anti-immigrant frenzy. Tyler Conneley writing for the United Church of Christ Southwest Conference blog reminds us of what happens to the Sodomites long before they attempt to gang rape angelic visitors. They first experience terrorism, and as a result, they suffer from post-terror attack high security xenophobic syndrome. Well, that’s how I put it. Here is what Tyler writes:
What we forget is why the Sodomites might have been so afraid of strangers. For that story, you have to go back to Genesis 14. In that story, we’re told the kings of Sodom were convinced to join a coalition of the willing, including neighbor Gomorrah and three other cities, in an attack on the cities of the north. However, the battle was actually a wild goose chase (or maybe a trap?). When the kings were away, the northern armies swept into Sodom and Gomorrah, ransacked the cities, raped women and children and men, and carried everyone off as slaves. Since this is our sacred Scripture, we mostly remember this as the time our hero Abraham saved the day by rescuing his nephew Lot — along with all the other Sodomites who were captured — and all ended well.
The happy ending, hides the trauma that preceded it. All of the people of Sodom found themselves carried off and brutalized. Who knows how many died? Who knows what they suffered? Who knows how they continued to carry the trauma of that event for years after?
Genesis 14 is the story of Sodom’s 9/11.
Ah, no wonder they are so suspicious of Abram/Abraham’s nephew Lot. Tyler speculates that perhaps the Sodomites see all the comings and goings of the foreigner Lot with these strangers and sweep in to break up a terrorist’s cell. The harsh treatment of the foreign guests sounds strangely familiar, well without the sexual assault. While I understand why we want to do all we can to vet people coming into the US to make sure they are legit and not a threat, the fear-based discussion of immigrants and refugees has led to some pretty ridiculous and draconian ideas. Perhaps we can take a pause and reflect on an ancient story and pull from it some wisdom about how we can do it better.
Read all of Tyler Connoley’s Living in Sodom