Christmas in Sodom

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How do you celebrate Christmas in Sodom?

I know—it’s not a cheery thought.  And by posing the question, I run the risk of anachronism.  There were over four centuries between the time when Abraham pleaded on behalf of his favorite nephew’s adopted hometown and Moses’ accounting of it in Genesis.  And of course, Christmas was not established in the West until well after the actual Nativity of Jesus, which places the first Feast of the Nativity over two millennia after the reduction of that greatest of Cities of the Plain to ashes by divine fire.

Here we are, two more millennia hence, and, as you may have guessed, what I mean to suggest is that Sodom is a type of the American city—any American city, take your pick.  Sodom is our reality.  Our citizens are not only enveloped in moral and theological perversion but obligated to recognize the legitimacy of that perversion in the public square, according to the Supreme Court.  With Obergefell in 2015, America time-traveled back through Genesis to the Creation itself, where marriage was instituted by God, and officially gave it and Him the finger.

Sodom is our reality, but Obergefell did not create that reality.  We’ve been slouching toward Gomorrah for some time—and in more ways than one.  We needn’t list all the ways here; we already know them.  Suffice it to say that, on Judgment Day, God will not be impressed with our commitments to free speech, self-government, and “democracy as a universal value.”  Look where they got us.

Admittedly, not all Americans are sodomites, in the sense that we now use that word or, out of fear and political correctness, avoid using that word.  But neither were the Original Sodomites.

For a few decades it has been fashionable for progressive Mainline theologians and pastorettes to insist that the Church and Orthodox Jews have been wrong to associate homosexuality with the sin of Sodom that resulted in a divine nuclear strike.  Today, “woke” evangelicals, Catholic priests and bishops, and apparently the Pope concur.  I am not suggesting that the Bible’s condemnation of the lustful demand of the men of Sodom to “know” the angels of Yahweh refers merely to the sin of “inhospitableness,” nor that the reference by St. Jude to the Sodomites going after “strange flesh” refers merely to nonconsensual sex.  I’m saying that the bustling city of Sodom was not a queer colony full of gay men.  It was a place of husbands, wives, and children; and business was booming, which makes it easy to overlook or rationalize certain things.

“Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded,” said Jesus, “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.”

This same Jesus is the One Who sent the consuming fire in the first place, a fact which is bound up in the very concept of Christmas.  Why?  Because Christmas celebrates the birth of God-made-Man to serve as a human sacrifice for sin, including the sin of sodomy.  But also the sin of avarice, which is what Christmas in Sodomitic America has come to celebrate.  “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom,” writes the prophet Ezekiel.  “[P]ride, 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.  And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me.”  It’s all of a piece—the bitter fruit of what the late Harold O.J. Brown called the “sensate culture,” now in its overripe phase.

What an odd thing, for the American Cities of the Plain to be draped with twinkling lights and filled with shopavores in preparation for the day set aside for Jesus’ birth.  Are so many Santas and Misfit Toys and hymns to snow evidence somehow of an unconscious celebration of God incarnate?  Perhaps, but I doubt it.  Pretend you’re Satan.  How best to guarantee that Christians living in American Sodom miss the meaning and wonder of Christmas?  Answer: Cultivate the children’s hearts to spend an entire year yearning for a day on which they receive piles of expensive garbage.  So great is the burden on adults to afford and execute the whole “Bacchanalia” (as Ralphie called it in A Christmas Story) that they are simply relieved when it’s over.  No energy for Advent meditations; no imagination for genuine merrymaking; no time to attend Christ-Mass.

“Exmas and the Rush distract the minds even of the few from sacred things,” wrote C.S. Lewis in his little satire “Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter From Herodotus,” where he describes how, to an outside observer, it would appear we are celebrating two very different holidays on December 25.  “And we indeed are glad that men should make merry at Crissmas; but in Exmas there is no merriment left.”

Dreams of avarice are not fulfilled in the Babe of the Manger.  They are fulfilled when He returns, for “even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”  But in the meantime, we may indeed keep Christmas in Sodom—richly, merrily, profoundly—if we “remember Lot’s wife.”       

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