A Sin That Cries Out To Heaven: Sodomy, Homosexual Acts

Over at St. Peter’s List there is a great explanation of the Sins That Cry Out To Heaven, namely willful murder (the blood of Abel), the sin of Sodom (the sin of Sodom), oppression of the poor, and defrauding laborers of their wages.

I bring to your special attention the description of the Sin of Sodom, which concerns homosexual acts.  Yes, it does.  The point is made is that the Sodomites did commit other sins, but God destroyed Sodom because of sodomy, homosexual acts, which are an “abomination” deserving of punishment from God.  St. Peter’s List makes use of some material by my friend Msgr. Charles Pope.

I warmly recommend a complete reading of the whole post, but here is the section on Sodomy, homosexual acts, which are Sins That Cry Out To Heaven:

2. The Sin of Sodom

And the Lord said: The cry of Sodom and Gomorrha is multiplied, and their sin is become exceedingly grievous. I will go down and see whether they have done according to the cry that is come to me: or whether it be not so, that I may know. – Gen. 18:20-21

The “Sin of Sodom” is described as “carnal sin against nature, which is a voluntary shedding of the seed of nature, out of the due use of marriage, or lust with a different sex.”3 Given modernity’s substitution of God and Nature with the will of the individual as an autonomous moral universe, sodomy – more specifically active homosexuality, not orientation – has become part of the new post-Christian norm. [norm!  Go against that “norm” and you will receive threats of violence.  You will be persecuted and hounded, from outside of the Church and, now, within.] Neither Divine Law nor Natural Law form an external guide for the modern man; thus, the only boundary of autonomous individual is the autonomy of another. The boundary for what is and is not moral appears to be consent. Consequently, moral dialogue has been flattened to mere platitudes, [well put] e.g., this isn’t hurting anyone, [it is does] it’s my body [your body isn’t your “property”] and my choice, love is love. [It isn’t love.] Many often comment on the modern West’s apparent lack of morality, but few comment on the fact the West has lost the vocabulary to even discuss on morality.4 [As Chesterton put it, modern man has not only lost his way, he has lost his address.]

A few distinctions. [Qui distinguit bene docet.] First, the issue of same-sex marriage is not a religious issue, [nor is it a civil rights issue!] it is a rational and philosophical one. Considerations of marriage as a natural institution, the moral import of natural law, and the harmony between unity and procreation in sex are all within the purview of the natural virtues and reason; however, as geology and astronomy may both tell us the Earth is round, so too can the two sciences of theology and philosophy tell us the same thing.5 For example, no one holds that the commandment thou shall not murder was unknown before God revealed it on Mt. Sinai. It was revelation confirming reason, a demonstration of the greater truth that grace perfects nature.

The discussion for this list is less about same-sex marriage and more about a proper interpretation of Scripture. It is a conversation about those who do see Sacred Scripture as a moral authority, but attempt to harmonize their modernist views on sexuality with the Holy Bible. [That is, to twist Scripture to the point that it becomes unrecognizable.] Typically, this leads to “new” interpretations of Scriptures on homosexuality. These interpretations are often weak and out of context, but since they serve the end that people want people follow them. A tenuous intellectual argument will always serve as long as it achieves the end people desire, especially if that end is wrapped in autonomy and sexual gratification. [That’s what it comes down to.]

On the Interpretation of Hospitality Violations

[NB.  This is what we got in seminary.] Those who argue that Sodom and Gomorrah should be understood outside any homosexual context often submit that the divine judgment of those cities was due to violations of Ancient Near East hospitality laws. In The Sin of Sodom & Gomorrah is not about Hospitality, the good Msgr. Pope offers a strong rebuttal. In part:

First there is a text from Ezekiel:

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did abominable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

Now this is the text used most often by those who deny any homosexual context in the sin of Sodom. And, to be fair, it does add a dimension to the outcry God hears. There are clearly additional sins at work in the outcry: pride, excess or greed, and indifference to the poor and needy. [Thus, the Sodomites were sinning in other ways as well.] But there are also mentioned here unspecified “abominations.” The Hebrew word is תּוֹעֵבָ֖ה (tō·w·‘ê·ḇāh) which refers to any number of things God considers especially detestable, such as worshiping idols, immolating children, wrongful marriage [! such as incest and adultery] and also homosexual acts. For example, Leviticus 18:22 uses the word in this context: Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination.6 [How is this difficult?]

But of itself, this text from Ezekiel does remind us that widespread homosexuality is not the only sin of Sodom. And while the abomination mentioned here may not be specified exactly, there is another Scriptural text that does specify things more clearly for us. It is from the Letter of Jude: [the inspired Word of God…]

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. (Jude 7-8)

And thus it is specified that the central sin of Sodom involved “sexual immorality (ἐκπορνεύσασαι) and perversion (ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἑτέρας – literally having departed to strange or different flesh).” And this would comport with the description of widespread homosexual practice in Sodom wherein the practitioners of this sin are described in Genesis 19 as including, “all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old.”

Hence we see that, while we should avoid seeing the sin of Sodom as only widespread homosexual acts (for what city has only one sin?), we cannot avoid that the Scriptures do teach that homosexual acts are central to the sins of Sodom which cry to heaven for vengeance, and for which God saw fit to bring a fiery end.

Genesis 19 speaks plainly of the sin, Ezekiel 16 broadens the description but retains the word “abomination,” and Jude 7 clearly attests to sexual perversion as being the central sin with which Sodom and Gomorrah were connected.

One of the takeaways from the good monsignor’s commentary is that sexual perversion is not the only sin of which Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty. [NB] Many allow themselves to be confused by arguments that attempt to replace the primary sin (sexual perversion in a homosexual context) with the secondary sins.7 And while the discussion here is not necessarily why homosexuality is a sin that cries to heaven, it should serve to clarify that it is impossible to read the Sodom and Gomorrah narrative outside a homosexual context. [Commit that to memory.]

___ NOTES ___
3. Douay Catholic Catechism of 1649, Q. 928 – Thank you to Taylor Marshal for posting this excerpt on his blog. Marshall makes the point that America has failed “four for four” on these sins that cry out to heaven. [?]
4. Moral Vocabulary: When he was Archbishop of Denver, His Excellency Chaput gave a talk that incorporated the problem of the lost moral vocabulary. Repentance & Renewal, 2010. [?]
5. Theology as a Science: For an introduction to understanding Sacred Doctrine as the Queen of the Sciences and how she orders those sciences, see Queen of the Sciences and Queen of the Sciences II. [?]
6. SPL Note on Leviticus & Homosexuality: When Lev. 18:22 is cited as an undeniable condemnation of homosexuality in Scripture, it is often met with certain sophist rebuttals, e.g., Leviticus also outlaws shaving, tattoos, and eating pork. First note that these statements are an assertion, not an argument. The underlying argument that is needed on both sides is how one decides what is still valid law and what is not. In short, as Catholics we know that the OT is perfected in the NT and the NT is foreshadowed in the OT; thus, we see in Scripture Christ’s intent to perfect the law, not abolish it. Certain laws, however, demand a change in order to be perfected. For example, the OT law of circumcision was perfected in the Sacrament of Baptism. The Levitical laws on purity are a subject we see both St. Peter and St. Paul address. Homosexuality, on the other hand, was restated as a sin by St. Paul. In reverse, one could always ask those who use this argument against Leviticus what their hermeneutic for understanding the OT and NT is. It will, inevitably, be their own autonomous will. For more see Catholic Answers on the subject. [?]
7. Further Commentary on the Hospitality View: In addition to Msgr. Pope’s article, Catholic Answers addresses it in their treatment of homosexuality in general and Fr. Longenecker comments on it in his article The Sin of Sodom. In related studies, the good Msgr. Pope has written about the wrath of God and several other articles on homosexuality (Biblical Teaching on Homosexuality, the “Lost Generation of the Church,” and a Pastor’s Attempt to Teaching the Bible on Homosexuality). Catholicism holds that the laws of the State are drawn from the laws of nature, and the laws of nature are distinct from the divine laws in Scripture. To understanding the relationship of laws and the context in which Catholicism advocates for the legal defense of natural marriage, see Think like a Catholic – 7 Questions on the Four Laws. A collection of Catholic documents on sexuality and the pastoral care of homosexually oriented person is found at 5 Catholic Documents on Family, Sex, and Homosexuality. Those who still question the traditional interpretation of the Church on homosexuality may reference Early Church: 12 Quotes on Homosexuality & Other Sexual Sins. [?]

Read about the other three heinous sins over at St. Peter’s List.

Are you involved in such sins?  Examine your conscience and GO TO CONFESSION.

There is no sin that a person can commit that God will not forgive, in the Sacrament of Penance, provided you ask for forgiveness.  Then, you will need to pray for graces and develop the virtue of Courage, especially to suffer when you have temptations.

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  1. TWF says:

    [The “Sin of Sodom” is described as “carnal sin against nature, which is a voluntary shedding of the seed of nature, out of the due use of marriage, or lust with a different sex.”]

    …OR lust with a different sex. Wouldn’t the first example, the voluntary shedding of the seed of nature, imply that masturbation is also an abomination that “cries out to heaven for vengeance”? Or am I misreading. I know that St. Thomas Aquinas certainly taught that masturbation is significantly graver than fornication between a man and a woman…but this is certainly completely at odds with how most Catholics, including priests, approach this particular sin. Masturbation, while seen as a sinful struggle, is usually treated with far more “gentleness” and less of a sense of urgency than fornication. (I certainly understand the PRACTICAL reasons for this…).

  2. I think there’s another episode in Judges, isn’t there – in fact, I have just found it, in Judges 19:22, when the wicked men of the town surround the house and want a strange man brought out to them so that they can have sex with him. But they get given the concubine instead, and she is assaulted to death, with horrible avenging consequences for all.

    All the different translations in Bible Gateway are quite unequivocal about what the men wanted to do with the stranger. The behaviour expressed in Sodom clearly wasn’t some kind of fluke; male gang-rape seems to have been not entirely unusual in those days and places. And again it’s described as a ‘vile thing’.

  3. Matt Robare says:

    Father, there’s a YouTube channel called TheLutheranSatire that recently posted an informative and hilarious video making several of the same points regarding the fulfillment of the OT by the NT, “Horus Reads the Internet” (http://youtu.be/4r2m_cffRjI). “The Gilbert and Sullivan Mass” is also really good.

    [I know these guys. Fun. I’ll make a post from this.]

  4. Gail F says:

    Phillipa Martyr: that is the passage people use to demonstrate the “sin against hospitality” idea. The people were bad, so they say, because they wanted to rape and otherwise molest a guest. They get the concubine and rape and otherwise molest her (to death) instead. This shows, they say, that it was not the homosexual act that was bad (because they also raped the woman) but the fact that the people they wanted to rape and hurt were guests they should have been kind to. I no longer find this at all compelling, but the first time I heard it I thought it was a pretty good argument. That’s because a) I had never heard it before, and b) I wasn’t looking at it with all the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, but by itself as an isolated story about people I knew nothig about. Then, it sound plausible. But knowing anything about the history and culture, much less the rest of the Bible? Not plausible.

  5. AnnTherese says:

    Thankfully, “oppression of the poor” is on the list. I wish I heard more preached about this in church. Far more of us are guilty of this sin– perhaps, more accurately, guilty of “neglect” or “indifference.” But those are just other forms of oppression.

  6. THREEHEARTS says:

    there is also a quote never more used, as it hs been edited out, in either deuteronomy or leviticus. the phrase is in the part which covers stoning, “you shall not pay the price of a dog in the temple” . It is the punishment given for all prostitution. In an ancient book I once found in a large research library in bristol uk was a description of the punishment for deceased male prostitutes who were stuck on a pole which was covered with special woven carpet and the derogatory comments or prayers that were shouted as insults to the victim. They were the same words Christ heard during His passion asking Him to speak to His God to save Him. It seemed to be a sin of necrmancy of some kind. An earlier version of the Douai Rheims bible or at least mine has the price of a dog quote.

  7. The people were bad, so they say, because they wanted to rape and otherwise molest a guest. They get the concubine and rape and otherwise molest her (to death) instead. This shows, they say, that it was not the homosexual act that was bad (because they also raped the woman) but the fact that the people they wanted to rape and hurt were guests they should have been kind to.

    Which is funny, because when I read it, I see them being condemned as wanting to commit a vile act, eg. anal sex with other men, whereas at least the sex they were going to have with the concubine was normal, eg. male / female.

    Horrible, it being rape and all, and she dies, but this is the OT, after all, and not always very civilised. Feminist interpreters also tend to overlook the fact that the concubine is graphically revenged a bit later on.

  8. KateD says:

    I just gave my children a short instruction on sins that cry to Heaven, yesterday before you posted this. The impetus was a question regarding the treatment of undocumented Mexican workers and how they are defrauded of their just wages by seemingly good business persons and how it can cause conflict for a Catholic manager (operating from the prospective of the culture of Christ) with co-managers and higher ups (who are operating from the perspective of the culture of the anti-Christ) when attempting to apply the principles of our faith to business dealings. Specifically, I asked them if it was okay to expect an undocumented Mexican laborer to do labor intensive work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week with no lunch break and then not pay them as you would an American citizen (yes, we went into RT, vs OT & DT) who would not work more than 40 hours a week without being compensated for overtime and double time. We came to the conclusion that if we are diligent, we can come up with solutions that work just as well or even better than the unjust policies.

    If we, as parents, don’t teach this to our children now, where will they ever learn this? And though the law of God may be written on their hearts, it is too easy, given the lures of our culture, to dismiss our squeamishness at injustice and give into the peer pressure which argues that we Catholics are ignorant……of “how things work in the real world.”

    I found a similar but shorter article on the sins that cry to Heaven here: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=29

    Without the awful imagery of that first picture that comes up on St. Peter’s List. Oh my goodness! That would’ve been a whole ‘nother big long discussion…

    What I learned was that the sins have a hierarchy and flow from one to another (duh). And aren’t they all raging to be set loose upon our culture, the one’s that haven’t been made legal? We have abortion (infanticide), we have divorce (which creates de facto widows and orphans), there is a fight across the country regarding the acceptance of homosexuality and we oppress those who sojourn in our nation. What happens to a society that willingly embraces all the sins that cry to Heaven?

  9. Bob B. says:

    As a Catholic school teacher, I discovered a number of things other families. One was that few families read the Bible and younger students are heavily influenced by their parents (it’s when they become a little older and teenagers that they think their parents know nothing).
    This was amply demonstrated by the question of homosexuality – many parents, according to the students, didn’t have a problem with it and not one student knew what the Church had to say, but all of them wanted to know.
    I had my best reader read the passage in Genesis and I didn’t have to say a word. The entire class couldn’t believe it and found it totally disgusting. It ended all future discussion about the subject all by itself.

  10. bookworm says:

    I find it interesting that while the Left in this country aggressively promotes two of these “sins that cry to heaven” — murder (in the form of abortion and, to a lesser extent, euthanasia) and sodomy — some (not all) elements of the Right look the other way at the remaining sins (oppressing the poor and defrauding laborers)

    Could not “defrauding laborers of their wages” also include private and public entities who use employee pension funds as their personal piggy banks, and/or promise benefits they know, or at least strongly suspect, they cannot deliver in the long term? Many private companies, and now even some local governments (e.g. Detroit) have had to reduce or abolish pension funds as part of bankruptcy proceedings. There is also a great deal of speculation regarding certain states such as Illinois that have run up huge unfunded pension liabilities.

    Some of these situations are due to unforseen circumstances such as investments performing worse than expected, demographic changes, etc., but others are due to deliberate policy choices to take “pension holidays” and divert the money to pork projects or other short-term purposes. Or, benefits that are known to be unsustainable in the long term are promised to workers in order to curry favor with certain constituencies (e.g. police, firefighters, public employee unions).

    The issue here is not quite as cut and dried as with an action such as murder or sodomy, but I personally believe that anyone (e.g. a public official or union official, a financial officer) who intentionally engages in an action that they KNOW will, or is likely to, deprive a worker in their old age of benefits they have relied upon, should consider the possibility that they could be committing this sin, and should never resort to this unless ALL reasonable alternatives (in the case of public entities, that may include tax increases) have been exhausted. Please note: this does NOT apply to changing or reducing benefits for incoming or newly hired workers, since they are not being deprived of benefits already earned.

    As for the issue of oppressing the poor, that too is a bit harder to pin down than murder or sodomy. Obviously, anyone who deliberately chooses to exploit, cheat or humiliate a poor or vulnerable person is commiting this sin (for example, by attempting to steal from or swindle a homeless person or an immigrant regardless of legal status). Beyond that, however, things get murkier — is it wrong to refuse to give money to chronic panhandlers? What about reducing certain types of welfare/entitlement benefits, or enforcing immigration laws? Is refusing to raise the minimum wage “oppressing the poor” or is it the other way around (because raising the minimum wage may mean fewer jobs for the unskilled). Not all these questions can be easily answered, but they must be asked.

  11. KateD says:

    bookworm – I don’t know about the examples in your last paragraph….But regarding the pensions, someone at that public or private entity knows full good and well what they are doing when they take actions that are sure to deprive people of the money the employee was counting on to see to their corporeal needs for the remainder of their sojourn on earth.

    As to public entities and the oppression of the wage earner consider this bit of hypocrisy….in the state of California a company has to follow very specific guidelines regarding employees and the penalties are outrageous if you run afoul of the rules. You have workers compensation, there are specific numbers of hours and days people can work and what constitutes regular time, over time and double time pay, the law is precise about how many hours a person may work before taking a break for lunch and Heaven help the company if an employee makes a claim against it, because with the Labor Commissioner’s Office, the employer is considered guilty unless he can prove his innocence. California additionally has what are called ‘head hunter’ laws. Basically they give an original filer of a claim against an employer a percentage of each additional violation found within the same company.

    But what is good for the goose is not good for the gander, because in California, there are certain classes of State Employees, who can work overtime, double time, up to 15 (more or less) hours a day and 7 days a week and get NOT A CENT of overtime! The first time I heard that I trew….how does Father put it? A spittle flecked nutty…..but it was explained to me in condescending platitudes how it was all so very reasonable and it was further communicated that the employee was free to quit if they didn’t like it. What’s more, these same employees have to pay taxes on those dollars……It reminds one of that song, “You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go….I owe my soul to the company store”. For all intent and purposes these policies make employees slaves of the state.

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