But do we understand these passages correctly? Do we see them as would the audience of that long ago day...or do we apply a modern western mind to a text that contains a language style foreign to the world today? and how do we as gay people, regardless of your stance on faith, address these passages so often used against us?
When reading the Bible and absorbing its message do we ever stop to ask ourselves...Why does this text say this?
To address this and to point out that the Bible itself is more than a document to be taken at face value...and that we can do great harm with it, I have run across two really great resources that address this story, that is so often used to place us outside of the realm of GODS love and by extension, society's as well.
The first resource is an interesting video from Youtube user ItsDaSuperFly, and addresses the story as it relates to other versions told of it in the Koran and other historical references:
My second lens into the Sodom and gommora story is put forth by pastor R.D. Weekly, Author of: "Homosexianity: Letting Truth Win The Devastating War Between Scripture, Faith, & Sexual Orientation"
I have read the book and found it to be a pretty informative ...if dizzying read. Its primary focus is to address the passages used to condemn homosexuality and to view them ...hopefully, in the context of their day and in context with supporting passages of scripture. it also details the Pastors very personal journey and discoveries about himself that I will not post here....you'll just have to read it yourself... :P
Pastor Weekly makes some very interesting points about biblical attitudes toward homosexuality and why specifically, the ancients would have condemned homosexuality. For some of you this may be unimportant or old news. For me, it is new and informative and it gave me something I can take with me to defend myself against those who use the Bible as a weapon. Its important to note however, that any opinion on this subject is just that....subjective. Any interpretation of any faiths religious scriptures should be handled with care as they can be very easily misused....as we well know.
In a recent post at Homosexianity.com Pastor weekly offers an annotated version of the Sodom and Gomorrah story that allows the reader to get a taste of the points made in his book.
Pastor Weekly makes the assertion that Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed because of gay sex but more likely because they were a cruel people. Sex was one of there vices, just not the kind of sex that has been traditionally associated with them. Human/Angel sex is what he points to as being referenced in these passages ...crazy you say...I thought so too. But here are the verses he used to make the argument:
"Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
Strange flesh? Don't we always refer to homosexuality as Same-sex love? So what exactly would be strange flesh then?
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.  And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
Bizarre by today's standards, but when viewed within the context of the times it makes a kind of sense....at the very least it helps us look beyond the ink on the page and ask important questions. And we should keep asking them...to those who use these passages against us as justification for everything from legal discrimination to outright violence and social ostracism.
So ...no matter how you come at the Bible....or what your attitudes are to how people lived and believed in those times...we already have two alternative views on a story that is commonly used to beat the snot out of gay people. This is completely aside and in addition to, the glaring inequities committed against women in the giving of Lots daughters to an angry mob.
The Bible has many lessons to teach...some must be looked at through the lens of far away times and still others teach what not to do by example. In all cases it helps to look at these stories ...not so much on their own...but within the greater fabric of the rest of scripture, the times in which it was written, and consideration of the author and his audience....because we can do so much harm with something so simple as scripture....and the manipulation of fear through our beliefs.