“Many water cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.” (Song of Solomon 8:7)
Rape attempt, offering daughters for sexual favors, spilled semen, and prostitution – these could be headlines from a major newspaper, bullet points from a police bulletin, or . . . Biblical topics found in the book of Genesis. Our “Sex, Sexuality and Scripture” worship series is off to an interesting start! Our Biblical texts from
the past two weeks from Genesis 19 and Genesis 38 have included each of these topics. And what may be most interesting is which ones of these actions are condemned and which are not condemned in the context of these Biblical stories.
Can you guess which of these potential bullet points from a contemporary police bulletin are con- demned in Genesis? If you guessed rape, offering daughters for sexual favors and prostitution . . . you are about 50% correct. In Genesis 19, in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the unequivocal condem- nation of rape is illustrated most vividly. Sulfur and fire rain down on these cities when the men of these cities surround Lot’s home attempting to rape the divine visitors to their cities. Lot has extended gracious hospitality to the visitors welcoming them into his home. The other men of the cities exhibit detestable inhospitality as they seek to rape the visitors. Numerous times throughout the Old and New Testaments Sodom and Gomorrah are referenced as places of extreme evil, places illustrating God’s greatest condemnation of wickedness. Rape, forced acts of sex, forced acts of intimacy are always wrong, immoral, detestable. However, in this same Genesis 19 story, Lot offers up his daughters to these sex seeking intruders surrounding his home. There are no words of condemnation in the story for this action of Lot! This is NOT one of the actions condemned in Genesis. At that time women were possessions. Women were not viewed as persons with whom to be in relationship, but rather they were viewed as property to own and use as needed. Aren’t we glad our understandings of God, humanity and the relationships between us has grown over time?! Men and Women are created in the image of God to be the image of God on this earth. Women are not possessions of men to be used as needed. What Lot did in offering his daughters for sexual favors to the intruders at his home was wrong, im- moral, detestable.
In Genesis 38, we see that spilling semen was condemned by God as is illustrated in the early death of Onan. Onan’s action rates above offering daughters on the wickedness scale?! Well, in Genesis, in the book of beginnings, sexual intimacy was the vehicle for the expansion and sustaining of creation. In those early days of creation sexual intimacy was primarily for the expansion of creation. And, within families, it was considered critical to expand and sustain one’s own family through sexual intimacy. Thus, Onan’s action of wasting seed, was condemned. At our current point in the development of crea- tion, we have certainly fulfilled the “be fruitful and multiply” instruction! There is no longer any need to worry about wasted seed.
Then there is the matter of prostitution in Genesis. In Genesis 38 we see that Judah is in no way con- demned for hiring a prostitute. However, Judah is quick to condemn Tamar when Judah learns Tamar is pregnant because she has given herself as a prostitute. So, prostitution seems to be condemned on the part of the woman, but not on the part of the man. Again, in that time, women were considered property.
The good news: Lot, Judah, Tamar, you and me – we are each God’s beloved child. That message is sounded loud and clear throughout the scriptures and pronounced most unambiguously in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Every scripture we read, hear and interpret must be interpreted in light of this overall understanding of God, humanity and the relationships between us. What a fun summer at Grace Church!
Grace and peace, Pastor Sherry