On Tuesday, a protester in Des Moines, Iowa shouted Bible-themed invective at gay 2020 Democrat Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He yelled, “Remember Sodom and Gomorrah!” This referred to the two cities God destroyed in Genesis 19. Many have remembered Sodom for the sin of homosexual activity, branding homosexual sex “sodomy.”
“Sodomite! Remember Sodom and Gomorrah! Remember Sodom and Gomorrah!” the protester yelled as the crowd chanted, “Pete! Pete! Pete!” to drown him out.
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) April 17, 2019
Buttigieg, a member of the liberal Episcopal Church who has legally married another man, has attacked Vice President Mike Pence, saying Pence has a quarrel with Buttigieg’s “creator.” According to the mayor, God made him gay, and so God must approve of his same-sex activity, despite the Bible’s clear condemnation of such sexual activity as sinful.
Both the Old and New Testaments condemn homosexual activity. The Sodom connection seems too on the nose, but it may be defensible.
In Genesis 19, two angels visit Lot, the nephew of Abraham. “The men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them,'” i.e. have sex with them (Genesis 19:4-5).
The men of Sodom, overcome with lust, demanded to have sex with the two angels. Yet the homosexual activity between Buttigieg and the man he has legally married is consensual, and not really comparable to this disgusting lustful demand. God wiped Sodom and Gomorrah from existence because there were not ten righteous people in those cities (Genesis 18). This homosexual lust is part of that sinfulness, but it arguably does not connect to Buttigieg.
However, Jude 7 references the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, saying they “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire” and “serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
The Western tradition has long considered homosexual activity sinful because it echoes the sin of Sodom. It has been condemned as “sodomy” for centuries. That said, Christians should approach these issues with care and concern for sinners who think of homosexual activity as “love.”
The Bible is clear that homosexual activity is sinful. Jesus defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The Episcopal Church has rejected not just Jesus’s morality on sexuality but also Jesus’s claim to be the only way to God.
It is right for Christians to protest against Buttigieg’s liberal Christianity, but the Sodom and Gomorrah connection arguably goes too far. God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah came after something far worse than consensual homosexual activity, sinful as even that is.
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good name in Christ may be put to shame,” the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15-17.
Buttigieg is enjoying a moment of fame partially because he has a soft and teachable demeanor. Conservative Christians must make sure that they respond to his radicalism and liberal version of Christianity with gentleness and respect. Otherwise, “Mayor Pete” will be able to dismiss their legitimate criticism as mere homophobia.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.