Sodom and Gomorrah: Where it all began
October 27, 1998
P.O. Box 4371, Los Angeles, CA 90078
Fax: (323) 467-0173
Editorial Fax: (323) 467-6805
By Chris Bull; Judy Wieder
Ever wondered about the origins of the word sodomy? Before it came to mean any
non-penile-vaginal sexual contact (does that make Bill Clinton a sodomite?), it all began
with a Bible story. According to Daniel A. Helminiak's book What the Bible, Really Says
About Homosexuality, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is the most famous Bible passage --
found in Genesis, chapter 19, verses 1 to 11 -- that deals with homosexuality, though in a
negative way, of course.
Here are the basics: The gatekeeper to the city of Sodom, Lot (not Trent), is on duty
when two angels arrive. Lot urges them to stay with him in his house. Just as Lot's guests
are about to go to bed, the men of Sodom arrive and surround the house. They ask Lot where
the two male visitors (angels) are and tell Lot to bring them outside so that "we may
know them." Lot begs the men of the city not to act so wickedly even offering up his
two virgin daughters as a distraction (nice!) rather than have the men touch his guests.
The angels fight back, blinding the men threatening Lot's house, and warn Lot that God
is now going to destroy Sodom, They send Lot and his wife away, but Lot's wife, as we
know, looks back at the fire, brimstone, and orgies and turns into a pillar of salt. Sodom
and the neighboring city, of Gomorrah are destroyed.
According to Helminiak, by the 12th century, people interpreted this Bible story as a
condemnation of homosexuality, despite all the other couplings going on in the orgies. The
sin of Sodom was taken to be male homogenital acts, and the word sodomite became a word
referring to someone who engages in anal sex. And thus God was seen to be punishing the
people of Sodom -- or Sodomites -- for their homosexual activity.
When a word starts like that, no wonder we've got PR problems.
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