Genesis and Homosexuality

Our source for this essay in Donald Wold's Out of Order: Homosexuality and the Bible in the Ancient Near East. Our purpose is to look at the question of what Genesis says with respect to homosexuality, and with specific focus on one passage that is often taken to refer to homosexuality, but is argued by critics to not do so (Sodom and Gommorah), and then look at a passage that is seldom understood to refer to homosexuality, but that Wold argues does so, in a condemning way.

Let's start with the one that everyone discusses:

Genesis 19:4-11 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

Common critics' points, with our answers (including from Wold):

Now let's move to a "surprise" passage about homosexuality:

Genesis 9:20-27 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Wold raises the following points about this passage:

Of course, critics may respond that neither of these passages would offer any clear condemnation of a "loving, stable" homosexual relationship, because they are directed towards rape (or incest). But that is far from clear in the first passage, and in the second, one is hard pressed to find such a distinction without the assumption of finding what is desired to begin with, and apart from issues of homosexuality as a violation of the cosmic order in the ancient world.