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LJWorld.com weblogs Science Becoming Religion

The Real Sin of Sodom

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I recently watched an old episode of my mom's favorite television show, the "Billy Graham Crusades". Dr. Graham surprised me with some of his comments about the Biblical city of Sodom. He said that greed was one of the sins of the people of Sodom. According to Ezekiel 16:49 - "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."

Many members of the Republican Party have a problem with this same sin. So why do Christians in the Republican Party encourage this sin by supporting low taxes for those with high incomes? Why do Christians support Republicans who don't believe in helping the poor?

Sodom isn't the only Biblical location whose residents were punished by God for mistreating the poor. The Israeli prophets warned the leaders of Israel about the consequences of mistreating the poor before wealthy Israelites were taken into captivity and the land left to the poor.

Ezekiel 22:12 - "you take interest and make a profit from the poor. You extort unjust gain from your neighbors. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign LORD."

Amos 4:1 - "Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!”

Amos 5:11 - "You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine."

Luke and other gospels carry a statement by Jesus about the problem facing the rich. " Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Luke 18:24-5

Preachers often suggest the camel analogy is about something large going through a tight opening. The analogy is more likely a camel saying like the "straw that broke the camel's back" or what happens if someone lets a camel get its head inside a tent. People of that era likely used the task of getting a camel through the eye of a needle as a way to determine how difficult the task was.

The problem with getting a camel through the eye of a needle is the shape of the animal and its sometimes uncooperative nature. The long neck, legs and hump means the task isn't simple even with a very large needle. Keep in mind that a needle has a long portion connected to the eye.

Christian Republicans need to recognize that abortion and sexual morality aren't the only moral issues in politics. Mistreatment of the poor and how the rich acquire wealth are at least as important. Christians need to move away from the greedy Republicans who believe the rich should escape the taxes needed to fund government.

Comments

cashbox 2 years ago

One thing is sure, according to the Bible teachings it is impossible to be both Christian and Republican. Their philosophy id diametrically opposed.

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xm75 2 years ago

The Bible says a lot of nonsensical things, and if you believe it as written one thing you'd have to accept is young earth creationism.

Aside from the literalism I find it interesting that you equate giving money to the government with giving money to poor people. Why the middle man, or rather, why the diversion? Remember the military, the $3000 Social Security checks, and the Medicare Ins. to the same people collecting the S.S. checks. Are these the poor? What about the people around the world living on a $1 per day. The US government does not help the poor.

Someone following this idea of helping the poor, based on the Bible, and not secular humanism, will run into the personal requirement to actually help the poor yourself not as a group requirement.

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Fossick 2 years ago

Jafs: "A lecture from a Biblical scholar was the original statement."

Sure, but it makes no sense as it stands. Whether it is "a mistranslation dating all the way back to the King James version of the Bible" is irrelevant, as the KJV is not the basis for any modern translation. Translations before the KJV all translate the Greek κάμηλος as camel, and all manuscripts so far as I know have κάμηλος. People forget there are 1600 years' worth of textual evidence that predate King Jimmy.

Cait as picked up a speculation (which is what camel/rope is, as there is no textual evidence for it in early Greek manuscripts) which she did not comprehend and attached it to an historical item to which it has no relevance. She may have heard a scholar mention facts in isolation, but her resultant misunderstanding translates to "I heard somewhere once..."

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Fossick 2 years ago

fundamentalism noun 1. ( sometimes initial capital letter ) a movement in American Protestantism that arose in the early part of the 20th century in reaction to modernism and that stresses the infallibility of the Bible not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record, holding as essential to Christian faith belief in such doctrines as the creation of the world, the virgin birth, physical resurrection, atonement by the sacrificial death of Christ, and the Second Coming. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fundamentalism.

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Fossick 2 years ago

Jafs: the liberals are simply pointing out that their own beliefs aren't aligned with that in many cases."

I think your time frame is too short. You are certainly correct about certain liberals today (though I would argue that non-Christian liberals have as much expertise in what Christians ought to believe as Creationists have for biologists). However, the argument that the government has a primary obligation to care for the poor - to pick one example - is not a new one and is certainly no reaction to Santorum, but is the providence of the 19th-Century reformer and the 20th century social gospel. It was Progressives who at the time promoted the merger of state governments with what had traditionally been church functions by arguing as modern religious liberals do, that Jesus said to feed the poor, therefore it's incumbent on us to feed the poor through government. They were generally theologically liberal as well. Fundamentalism itself is a reaction to the Social Gospel and the various modernist movements, not the precursor of them.

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mrebeccapowers 2 years ago

Christianity states that "you" should give 10% of GROSS to "God". Can you even imagine how much money "we" would have to work with if Christian Americans actually gave 10% of gross to all causes except administration and defense? 1177 Bunny Clues

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headdoctor 2 years ago

Of course they are interested in the golden rule. Just not the one you are thinking of. Their idea is the one with the gold makes the rules.

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mikekt 2 years ago

Take the prefix "RE" which means again and add it to the front end of the word "PUBLICAN" and what you get is a re..publican. Now if they only seem to be concerned about themselves and their own families; well,... what do you expect from Publicans? Do we expect Christian Behavior from people who think that somebody else died on the cross so that they could........"Go And Sin Some More!!!!!!". If you have read the new testament to comprehend it then you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that these so called Christian Republicans are just that; i.e.," So called Christians",.... in name only! More or less, to call them "sociopaths" would describe them better, which is also why no one is going to change their minds or hearts thru reasoning, about their deeds. In my opinion, they are people who abuse the good name of Christ by attempting to wrap themselves in it, in order to do evil in this world to others & that is not accidental! These people aren't the least bit interested in the "golden rule" unless they can figure out a way to make gold out of it or to pretend that this has something to do with themselves being owed worship by our society, for their heartlessness, as leaders!

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Armstrong 2 years ago

Ah the selfrighteous left patting themselves on the back- again.

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headdoctor 2 years ago

The Republicans are the modern version of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Although I think they are more of a hybrid of the two.

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jayhawklawrence 2 years ago

Good letter.

Someone needed to answer the right wing technique of putting themselves in the position to "appear" as defenders of the Bible and all that is moral and good against the attack from the carnal and immoral Democrats.

This argument is effective in convincing the undecided that the Democrats are dangerous and don't care about our traditional values.

The reality is that there are good Democrats and good Republicans and both parties work hard to control their extremist minorities. Recently, the Republicans have been less than successful doing so.

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Christine Anderson 2 years ago

Finally, someone had the courage to say it. Thank You, author.

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Gotland 2 years ago

Taxation does not equal charity.

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Liberty275 2 years ago

Next time, quote "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" instead. It will be as irrelevant as anything in the bible, but it will be more entertaining.

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booyalab 2 years ago

"You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine."

Whoops, looks like you accidentally included a verse that explicitly argues against heavy taxation.

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ModerateOne 2 years ago

Reasonmclucus, you harm your cause by either (a) intentionally implying, (b) unintentionally implying, or (c) believing that the following two rhetorical questions are functionally synonymous, when in fact they are not:

"So why do Christians in the Republican Party encourage this sin by supporting low taxes for those with high incomes? Why do Christians support Republicans who don't believe in helping the poor?"

Low taxes for the rich are not a sin. Failing to help the poor is.

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Paul R Getto 2 years ago

"Christian Republicans need to recognize that abortion and sexual morality aren't the only moral issues in politics. Mistreatment of the poor and how the rich acquire wealth are at least as important. Christians need to move away from the greedy Republicans who believe the rich should escape the taxes needed to fund government." === Good points, Sir. Good luck getting anyone to listen to you. The Sermon on the Mount is, as the Nixon folks used to say, "No longer operational."

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Cait McKnelly 2 years ago

Many years ago I heard a lecture from a Biblical scholar that the camel/needle analogy was actually a mistranslation dating all the way back to the King James version of the Bible. The actual translation is supposed to be that it's easier for a rope to go through the eye of a needle (which actually makes more sense as an analogy than a camel and is just as impossible). It points up some of the frailties of that particular book. You can guarantee that if there was one mistranslation, there are at least a hundred and possibly thousands more. No matter what anyone says, the Bible is far from "infallible". That said, I think you need to understand a pretty basic truth. The "Christian right" is neither "Christian" nor "right" (morally or politically). If you accept that premise I think you will be well on the road to having a lot of your questions answered.

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