As part of morning prayer, I regularly read the collect of the week, the one from Sunday, as part of my practice. This one asks God to "hear the supplications of your people in our time grant us your peace." An important phrase to have in mind as I encountered the overly-cited story of God destroying the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Ask any gay person about Sodom and Gomorrah, and watch the eyes narrow into a fixed glare and the face harden as he or she braces for the expected diatribe about the "proof" that God hates homosexuality. This story, and the Levitical laws about abominations are the top two portions of the Bible most often used to condemn gays to the outer darkness by those who think they get to sit in the judgment seat of God.
For decades, Sodom and Gomorrah were supposedly about the attempted man-on-man rape of the strangers. At least, that's what the screaming people pounding on their Bibles would yell at me and others as we walked peacefully to classes on our college campus. In reality, the sin of the men in those two doomed cities was what seemed to be a compounded case of failing to welcome the strangers at all which is a huge no-no in Jewish culture. I mean, Lot tells these guys that they needed to take shelter in his house because they weren't safe out on the streets of Sodom. Obviously, the place must have had a reputation for failing to do one of the essentials: see your fellow human being as a being of God's creation. In the past decade, there has been a movement by some in Christendom and our friends in the Jewish tradition to end the myth that this was a story of a wrathful God out to strike down wicked gay people. They have been speaking up more and making efforts to reconcile with the LGBT community that has been so deeply injured by the misunderstanding of the lessons from stories like Sodom and Gomorrah.
This past week, one of the Lutheran churches in Tallahassee put on a lecture series aimed at examining the issues facing the LGBT community. They held the forums in their main sanctuary amidst the altar and the stained glass as discussions about medical issues facing lesbians and transgender people were bandied about and author and Heart Strong founder Marc Adams shared his story of coming out in an extremely fundamentalist family. Religious bigotry was acknowledged as was the realization that some places of worship are extending a welcome to the LGBT community.
May God mercifully hear the supplications of us gay people who seek Christ in peace and grant us the strength and courage to love and serve you in the midst of the noise from those who try to drive us away from you. Amen.