This power point is used with permission. John Bracke taught Old Testament and congregational leadership and administration at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis for 28 years and served as academic dean for 14 years. John has been the local pastor of UCC churches in Illinois and Indiana and has served the UCC in regional and national settings. He served as chair of the UCC Executive Council from 1979-81 and chaired the Planning and Program Committee for General Synod 12. Now retired, John and his wife Mary live in Columbia, MO, where they are members of Columbia UCC.
Homosexuality & the Bible - Chapter8 of Will Horn's book: Sodom & Gomorrah
I. Reflection video by Pastor Rob (Will be posted here on Thurs. Mar 11, 2021.)
II. Reading for the week: Chapters 8, (p37-41)
III. Scriptures cited this week: Genesis 19:4-5; Genesis 4:1; Gen 19:1-3; Ezekiel 16:49; Jude 1:7
IV. Summary of the reading: The story of Sodom and Gomorrah reveal the spiritual practices of hospitality and generosity as a cornerstone of our faith. In a "me first" world where hoarding toilet paper, bleach wipes, and bottled water is common, this call to care for others sets us apart. Horn declares in the 2nd chapter of The Handbook that the bible is not a guide to human sexuality. I believe this is true. Yet, we have used human sexuality to define ourselves in every culture. Our look at the contextual reality of various cultic, social, and civil sexual practices in the ancient world will uncover layers of meaning lost on many modern readers of this text. In my own experience de-weaponizing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah has been healing and transformative for my faith journey. I have found the spiritual practices of hospitality and generosity both challenging and rewarding. I find it ironic that a test that is most often used in the modern era to exclude others is actually calling us to include others.
V. Discussion/ Journal Questions: Pastor Rob highly recommends keeping a journal to write down your thoughts and feeling about our discussion questions and anything else that comes to mind during the study. Not only is a journal an excellent tool for reflection but once finished provides you with a wonderful tool for discernment in the future. Your journal will capture your thoughts in real time. After the fact you can then return to your journal to remember where you were and what you thought about the role of scripture and how we interpret these sacred words - which is really what this class is all about.
VI. Chapter 8: We will begin by looking at John Bracke’s PP on the clobber passages.
VII. In Will Horn’s Book:
1. Why do you think the people of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to have sex with the angels?
2. On page 39 Horn writes: “Genesis 19:1-3 shows how Lot invited the angels into his home, prepared a meal for them and washed their feet. It is not possible for us to understand what is happening in the passage if we do not understand that hospitality was extremely important in that day. This entire episode is framed with the knowledge that taking care of strangers was of paramount importance.”
How does hospitality, and not homosexuality, as a frame for this lesson change how you perceive the story? Do you agree with it? Why? Why not?
3. The Hebrew and Christian Testaments echo this understanding of hospitality. “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today. (Dtr 15:15).”
Throughout scripture their understanding of slaves, the stranger, the foreigner, the immigrant, the poor, widow, the orphan, those in prison, - the marginalized and the oppressed – is defined by looking through the lens of their own journey. As God was generous with the people of Israel so the people of Israel are called to be generous with others. This line of thought, this imperative from God, flows freely throughout the law and prophets. Indeed, it is often said that the very need for the prophets is to call out the people of Israel when they, like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, abandon the spiritual practice of hospitality. This is how the people of Israel embody their identity as God’s chosen people.
Have you ever thought about hospitality and generosity as a spiritual practice? If not, why? If so, why?
How do you live into this practice?
How as the spiritual practice of hospitality/ generosity affected you and your faith journey?
4. Ezekiel 16:49, says: “Behold, this was the iniquity of they sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”
What do you think was their Pride?
How would you define “fulness of bread” in this verse?
How would you define “an abundance of idleness in her and in her daughters?”
How do you interpret, “neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy?”
VIII. Read Chapter 9: The Holiness Code and join us next week.
Lot fleeing with his family. Artist unknown.