Monday, October 1, 2007
monday's word: sodomy
balboa executing indians for sodomy
sah duh mee
all forms of sex for pleasure, not procreation, particularly anal penetration, often used as a synonym for homosexuality
the term derives from the story of lot in the book of genesis (19.1-26). in the story, angels visit lot in sodom to warn him to move his family away from the city because god has decided to destroy the city with fire from heaven.
the men of sodom ask lot to bring his angelic guests outside so they can ‘know’ them.
lot offers his daughters to the citizens instead, but they push against him, almost breaking down his door, until the angels rescue lot + strike the men of sodom blind.
lot leaves the city with his wife + daughters, whom the angels have warned not to look back upon the city’s destruction.
lot’s wife looks back + turns into a pillar of salt.
the passage is the first of several in the bible, both old + new testaments, that seem to condemn men who have sex with men.
some liberal commentators have questioned the degree to which the bible condemns homosexuality, but clearly the bible does condemn all forms of non-procreative sex, including masturbation + sex during menstruation, but singles out same-gender sex for special, often heinous punishment.
it is, however, worth noting that the word ‘know’ is a literal translation of the hebrew word ‘yadha,’ which means both ‘to have sex with’ + ‘to get acquainted with,’ the latter actually being the more common ‘biblical sense’ of the word.
the name of the city ‘sodom’ literally means ‘burnt,’ so if there was a historical sodom, the name appears to have come after its destruction.
translators use ‘sodomite’ for the hebrew word ‘qadesh’ (which is alternately translated as ‘unclean’ in the king james version of the bible).
‘qadesh’ literally means ‘holy one,’ but the writers of the bible use it to mean specifically ‘temple prostitute,’ prostitution being a pagan sacrament in mesopotamia—sex being one form of communion with the gods.
there is no hebrew word in the bible for ‘homosexual,’ + the sodomites so frequently condemned in jewish scriptures, then, are condemned for the worship of ‘false’ gods, perhaps more than for their sexual practices.
‘sodomy law’ refers to a law condemning consensual sex crimes or ‘crimes against nature’—any sex acts deemed illegal by the state, usually based on christian concepts of sexual purity. many american states passed sodomy laws during the nineteenth century, often singling out homosexuality for prosecution.
in the twentieth century, 37 of the 50 states struck down their sodomy laws, usually on the bases of unenforceability + invasion of privacy. another 10 states retained sodomy laws, but reworded them so as not to discriminate between heterosexual + homosexual acts.
in 2003, the u.s. supreme court invalidated anti-homosexual sodomy laws in all 50 states, the district of columbia, + puerto rico (lawrence v. texas).
today, muslim countries have the severest penalties for people convicted of homosexual acts, up to the death penalty in iran, mauritania, nigeria, saudi arabia, somalia, sudan, united arab emirates, + yemen, + life imprisonment in bangladesh, guyana, india, myanmar, pakistan, sierra leone, + uganda.
Posted by Joe at 5:43 AM