Yesterday, we published an article by Ben Carmack called “Speaking Frankly on Sodomy” dealing with the response of Presbyterian elder Mike Pompeo to Sen Booker asking “if being Gay is a perversion” You can read for yourself the whole article here.
A few people online took issue with Mr. Carmack’s statement that “we have ceased using the term “sodomite” or “sodomy” when speaking of those tempted to same-sex intimacy and of the indecent acts they are tempted to perform.” The complaints ranged from the use of the word “sodomy” is unnecessarily inflammatory to arguing that the word “homosexual” predates the LGBT movement. The main thing that all the complaints had in common was that they did not see how the change from “sodomy” to “homosexuality” to "same-sex attraction" was all that big of a deal.
One person sent me a google books ngram viewer tracing the word sodomy and homosexual over the 20th century as proof that the word sodomy wasn’t used. Notwithstanding the fact that the google books ngram viewer has some legitimate accuracy problems that Wire has documented here, I decided to expand the graph to the 1600s. I think the discerning reader will see that this graph rather than disproving Ben’s theory highlights it.
The Huffington Post wrote this article about the man who coined the term “Homosexual.” This is what they said “Kertbeny’s role in fighting for gay rights is rarely mentioned. His one lasting legacy was that he was the man who invented homosexuality, or to be more precise, the one who coined the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual.” Kertbeny felt that the common phrases of the day were unfairly pejorative and wanted more neutral terms.”
Notice that the reason for the new word is to provide a neutral term that softens the blow of pejoratives like “sodomy.” Now why is “sodomy” a pejorative? Because it shows the end result of the act. If we are completely honest, the reason people don’t like the word is precisely why we should be using it. They don’t like the fact that it contains within it the idea of God’s judgment. Everyone knows what happened to Sodom because of their abominable and perverse acts. That is why they hate the word and consider it a pejorative. It has the sting of shame and judgment right within the word. The two things our sinful nature hates more than anything is shame and judgment. Yet both shame and judgment are the precise thing that those tempted to this sin need to hear about it. They need to know that this crime of Sodom brings with it shame and the judgment of God. The most loving thing they can hear is "stay away from this shameful act that brings the judgment of God. Flee the shame and judgment and look to Christ who can forgive." They don’t need a clinical and neutral term.
Nor do they need a term that can become their identity. Historian and philosopher Michel Foucault argued in his book “The history of Sexuality” that homosexual and heterosexual identities didn't emerge until the 19th century. Prior to that time, the terms described practices and not identity. The word “sodomy” and “sodomite” describe shameful practices and a label for those who practice them. It is similar to the word theft and thief. One is a thief when he commits theft. Thief is not an identity however to latch onto. You can search high and low in your Bible but you will not find the idea of sexual orientation. You will see the use of terms to describe those who practice indecent acts and are given to unnatural desire.
Even Wikipedia understands that the use of the term Sodomy has been the regular practice of the church for years. This is what it says “The term is derived from the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Christian churches have referred to the crimen sodomitae (crime of the Sodomites) for centuries.” For example, “in the early 5th century, Jerome, a priest, historian, and theologian used the forms Sodoman, in Sodomis, Sodomorum, Sodomæ, Sodomitæ.”
Having said all of that, are we arguing that you must always use the word “sodomy” and never the word “homosexuality?” No. That was not even the main point of Mr. Carmack’s article. His point was that we need to be able to say clearly that homosexuality/sodomy is wicked, perverse, shameful, and harmful. We better not speak about it in precious words. Nor should we be ashamed to say the truth. The lives of people caught in this abominable act are at stake and they don’t need Christians especially elders and pastors to be ashamed of the truth. They don’t need us to soft-peddle this. No matter how much you try to put on a smile and use the word “gospel”, you are not helping anyone nor honoring the Lord when you soften the blow of sin. Our Lord and Savior died a bloody and shameful death for sin, sin like this. We are not honoring him by talking about sin in precious ways, no matter how many times we say the word "gospel." So whatever word you use, make sure that you convey the shamefulness that this sin brings. It harms the bodies and souls of people tempted to it. People’s souls are at stake. Furthermore, this sin is not only a sign of God’s judgment but it brings God’s judgment upon churches and nations that tolerate it.
Leviticus 20:22-23 “‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.
Pastors, seminary professors, and denomination leaders who are helping to remove the shame from this sin are hastening the judgment of God upon this nation. They may not be long for this world, but our children and grandchildren will be here and they will suffer as God pours out his judgment. As a pastor, I have no patience for pastors who are ashamed to speak to this issue with the blunt truth.
I want to leave you with this excerpt from a sermon by John Chrysostom. He was one of the most well know Christian preachers during the late 300s AD. Compare this with how precious our modern teachers speak. May God raise up more men with the golden tongue of John Chrysostom.
"(T)hese I say are even worse than murderers: since to die even is better than to live under such insolency. For the murderer dissevers the soul from the body, but this man ruins the soul with the body. And name what sin you will, none will you mention equal to this lawlessness. And if they that suffer such things perceived them, they would accept ten thousand deaths so they might not suffer this evil. For there is not, there surely is not, a more grievous evil than this insolent dealing. For if when discoursing about fornication Paul said, that "Every sin which a man does is without the body, but he that commits fornication sins against his own body" 1 Corinthians 6:18; what shall we say of this madness, which is so much worse than fornication as cannot even be expressed?
For I should not only say that you have become a woman, but that you have lost your manhood, and hast neither changed into that nature nor kept that which you had, but you have been a traitor to both of them at once, and deserving both of men and women to be driven out and stoned, as having wronged either sex.
And that you may learn what the real force of this is, if any one were to come and assure you that he would make you a dog instead of being a man, would you not flee from him as a plague? But, lo! You have not made yourself a dog out of a man, but an animal more disgraceful than this. For this is useful unto service, but he that has thus given himself up is serviceable for nothing. Or again, if any one threatened to make men travail and be brought to bed, should we not be filled with indignation? But lo! now they that have run into this fury have done more grievously by themselves.
For it is not the same thing to change into the nature of women, as to continue a man and yet to have become a woman; or rather neither this nor that. But if you would know the enormity of the evil from other grounds, ask on what account the lawgivers punish them that make men eunuchs, and you will see that it is absolutely for no other reason than because they mutilate nature. And yet the injustice they do is nothing to this. For there have been those that were mutilated and were in many cases useful after their mutilation. But nothing can there be more worthless than a man who has pandered himself. For not the soul only, but the body also of one who has been so treated, is disgraced, and deserves to be driven out everywhere. How many hells shall be enough for such?
But if you scoff at hearing of hell and believest not that fire, remember Sodom. For we have seen, surely we have seen, even in this present life, a semblance of hell. For since many would utterly disbelieve the things to come after the resurrection, hearing now of an unquenchable fire, God brings them to a right mind by things present. For such is the burning of Sodom, and that conflagration! And they know it well that have been at the place, and have seen with their eyes that scourge divinely sent, and the effect of the lightnings from above."
Written by Joseph Spurgeon
Disclaimer: This post is not for young readers.
Last Thursday, Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo was grilled by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker about his view of the sex act of sodomy.
Senator Booker asked, “Do you believe gay sex is a perversion, yes or no? Yes or no, sir? Yes or no, do you believe gay sex is a perversion?”[i]
Mr. Pompeo, according to Wikipedia, is a Presbyterian deacon who teaches Sunday School. His local congregation is affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, one of many breakaway evangelical Reformed denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Not only is Mr. Pompeo an evangelical, he is Reformed. Not only is he Reformed, he is a Reformed church officer. Not only is he a Reformed church officer, he is a civil magistrate of high position, a deacon of God to do good for We the People of these United States. How did he respond to Senator Booker’s question?
He avoided directly answering the question, promising Senator Booker that he earnestly believes in the dignity of all people, and that he would be scrupulous, as he is now as CIA Director, to defend the marriage rights of the gays and lesbians under his command.
While this answer will ensure that Mr. Pompeo will continue to serve in government, was his answer faithful? Did our brother in Christ Mike Pompeo faithfully witness to Jesus Christ before the U.S. Senate, or did he hide his light under a bushel?
Mike Pompeo did not faithfully represent Jesus Christ before Senator Booker, but chose to hide his light under a bushel for the sake of his hopeful confirmation as Secretary of State. We, as Reformed evangelicals, or even as Presbyterians (some of us), shouldn’t look down on Mike Pompeo for his faithlessness. All of us have learned well how to avoid suffering for Jesus’ sake. We learn from Mike Pompeo’s poor example that we must mortify our desire for acceptance, and be willing to bear our Savior’s reproach by faith.
The Holy Spirit, Who is fully God and fully one with the Father and the Son, inspired every word of Holy Scripture. That means that those “Red-Letter Christians” who claim Jesus, the Son, never spoke against homosexuality are wrong, and implicitly Unitarian and/or Arian.[ii] Rather, we Christians confess that all of Scripture is God-breathed, and that what was inspired by the Holy Spirit is affirmed by the Father and the Son. What the Holy Spirit inspired is what Jesus says also. Defending Scripture is defending Jesus.
Jesus says that men who lie with men have committed an abomination (Lev. 18:22). Jesus recorded for us the terrible judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, and before that judgment, the attempt of all the men of Sodom (both young and old) to have relations with the angels who visited Lot’s house (Genesis 19). The Church has historically referred to the sexual penetrative act common among homosexual men has “sodomy.” This word reminds us of the “degrading passions” (Romans 1:26) that led to God’s fearful judgment of fire and brimstone on the Cities of the Plain, and that this judgment will fall on us also if we do not repent of our sexual perversion.
Note my term, “sexual perversion.” All Christians with even a tiny bit of biblical literacy know that sodomy, gay sex, is a perversion, just as Senator Booker asked. Why didn’t Mike Pompeo answer an emphatic “Yes”? I can think of two reasons.
The first is that in the Church over the last several decades, we have ceased using the term “sodomite” or “sodomy” when speaking of those tempted to same-sex intimacy and of the indecent acts they are tempted to perform. As a result, sodomy and sodomites have become mainstream in our society, but as that has happened, little is said about what sodomy actually is: men buggering one another up the poop chute.[iii] We fail to speak frankly, which is to say manfully, about what sodomy is. In doing so, we have removed the shame from sodomy, and so the sodomites have eagerly reassigned the shame to those who oppose their sin. Modern sodomites, just like their forebears in Genesis 19, detest anyone who judges what they do with righteous judgment (Gen. 19:9).
God designed the sexual act to be mutually pleasurable for both man and wife. Sodomy inverts this order: only one, the initiator, receives pleasure. The recipient experiences pain and humiliation. According to Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez, a former homosexual, drug and alcohol use are indispensable in the gay community, for they make the sex acts bearable.[iv]
The natural sex act of man and wife brings forth life, both literally and figuratively; sodomy brings forth pain and disease. Sodomy is incredibly unsanitary and dangerous. The Apostle Paul referred to this when he wrote that those who engage in un-natural degrading passions receive in their own persons the due penalty of their error (Romans 1:27). The Apostle Paul was not ignorant of precisely what sodomy was and he did not shrink from condemning it.
The old Common Prayer book marriage liturgy contained a vow from husband to wife: With my body, I thee worship. This vow contains a potent truth: just as our worship practice shapes our theology, how we think about God, so our sexual practice informs how we think about others. The natural sexual union of marriage commending by Scripture spurs us on to mutual self-giving love and fruitfulness. Sodomy spurs us on to an unspeakable selfishness that seeks to gratify our lusts no matter the cost. It forms in us callousness to the suffering of others, while we think only of ourselves. Thus, it is inevitable that a society that celebrates sodomy will also tolerate or even promote gross injustice and selfishness, e.g. the killing of the unborn, the aged and the sick.
The selfishness of sodomy isn’t limited to sodomites only, but extends to the rest of us. That brings me to the second reason Mike Pompeo failed to call sodomy a perversion--it’s because he--and us--have a guilty conscience.
The aim of the sexual revolution is to turn all of us into perverts. When all of us have been corrupted by our pornography, by our liaisons in high school or college, or by the sexual abuse and incest we endured--or perpetrated-- in our younger years, none of us have the heart to condemn the sodomite in his perversion. Even if we have avoided the aforementioned perversions, our association with a corrupt society implicates us in the corruption, just as the corruption of Sodom corrupted Lot and his family. None of us are clean or guiltless.
The warning of Sodom and Gomorrah is a warning for all of us. Like sodomites, we must flee our sin and corruption and turn to Jesus, for it is by His blood that our perversions can be paid for and removed from our account. Only by standing in Christ’s righteousness--not our righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness--may we declare that sodomy is a perversion, and that all perverts, including us first and foremost, must repent.
Faithlessly remaining silent and allowing ourselves and those we love to suffer the same fate as that of Sodom is intolerable for a Christian. We must have the faith to answer men like Senator Cory Booker: Yes, Senator, sodomy is a perversion, and while I’m no better than the sodomites, I know a God Who can save sexual perverts.
[i] Steven Nelson, “Cory Booker presses Mike Pompeo: ‘Do you think gay sex is a perversion?’” Washington Examiner April 12, 2018. Accessed April 14, 2018. www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/white-house/cory-booker-presses-mike-pompeo-do-you-think-gay-sex-is-a-perversion
[ii] Unitarian - Someone who denies the Trinity, saying God is only singular, not Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Arian -- Someone who denies Jesus was fully God, but was instead a created being.
[iii] I’m indebted to the late columnist Joseph Sobran for this phrasing.
[iv] Dr. Lopez describes his experience here: www.englishmanif.blogspot.com/2018/01/mapping-the-swamp-charting-sodom-in-2018.html His whole series on “Charting Sodom” is excellent and worth reading.
Written by Benjamin Carmack