Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sodom's Other Sins

This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but did not help the poor and needy.
- Ezekiel 16:49 (NASB) 

The Mennonite church is in the midst of multiple conflicts and deep divisions over what to do with gay and lesbian members, especially those wanting to be in committed relationships. The Bible has some serious things to say about this issue, going all the way back to the same-sex gang rapes of Sodom.

But what is usually overlooked is that, according to the prophet Ezekiel, that wasn't even the worst they were guilty of. God indicts them for living lives of luxury while the poor among them suffered from hunger and a lack of basic necessities.

Only 3-5% of our members would ever be even remotely tempted to enter into same sex unions, but all of us are prone to various forms of greed, defined as "a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed" (Merriam-Webster).

Seated at the highly privileged end of God's worldwide table, we continue to heap our plates full of consumer goods while half of the rest of God's children often have to do without. We may have a hard time thinking this makes us greedy, but how might the desperately poor half of the world's people see us?

And where is Jesus seated at this table? Not with those who are rich in consumer wealth, or who strive for a life of complacency and "careless ease". In the eyes of the poor, and of their greatest advocate, Jesus, we have all become far too attached to money and the abundance money can buy.

And note these sobering words of one of Jesus' followers, the apostle Paul:

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.
- I Corinthians 6:9-10 (NRSV, emphasis mine)  
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