Sodomy is the Lethal Child of Idolatry

St. Paul tells us that men are born with a knowledge of God and that this congenital intuition is thereafter confirmed by the manifest splendor of God’s creation.  But as men grow in pride they reject this natural theology as childish folly, and so “professing themselves to be wise . . . become fools.”  Becoming “vain in their imaginations,” they glorify themselves and worship the things that God has made—their own image, or that of birds, four-footed beasts, and creeping things.  To reward this idolatry, God “gives them up” (i.e. releases them) to the “vile affections” of their “reprobate mind.”  More specifically, God “gives them over” to their wonted master of sodomy and sexual perversion.

Sodomy is sex divorced from procreation and epidemic sodomy is the mark of a people divorced from God.  I say people and not person because Sodom names a city and not a man.  Sodom is every city in which women have discarded the “natural use” of intercourse for uses that are “against nature.”  Sodom is every city in which men discard the natural use of women for the unnatural use of women and more especially of other men.  Sodom is our city and very few of us are not marked with the Sodomite stain.

And the root of sexual perversion is the theological inversion of idolatry.

“For the worship of abominable idols is the cause, and the beginning and end of all evil” (Wisdom 14: 27).

Or, more specifically,

“For the beginning of fornication is the devising of idols: and the invention of them is the corruption of life” (Wisdom 14: 12).

By “corruption of life” is meant the sex-crazed sterility by which every Sodom must be sooner or later destroyed.

“For . . . they sacrifice their own children [and] neither keep life, nor marriage undefiled . . .” (Wisdom 14: 23).

Thus one seventeenth-century writer explains that the Biblical equation of theological and sexual infidelity is not merely a figure of speech.

“It seems not improbable . . . that the frequent expressions of the idolatrous practices of the Jews by fornication, whoring, and the like, may be somewhat more than a trope or figure of rhetoric . . . . It being clear that their falling off to the heathen idols brought them oft to these heathen sins also . . .”*

To put this in a nutshell: theological inversion leads to sexual perversion, and sexual perversion leads to death.

*) Henry Hammond, Of Idolatry (Oxford: Henry Hall, 1646), p. 11.

14 thoughts on “Sodomy is the Lethal Child of Idolatry

  1. Other vices, too, prepare the ground, as Ezekiel testifies

    Behold this was the iniquity of Sodom thy sister, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance, and the idleness of her, and of her daughters: and they did not put forth their hand to the needy, and to the poor. And they were lifted up, and committed abominations before me: and I took them away as thou hast seen. (16: 49-50)

  2. “theological inversion leads to sexual perversion”

    Well, that reverses the causation that many folks assume concerning the post-Vatican II mess. So, the “Spirit of the Council” wasn’t (primarily) a way to rationalize perversion but rather its cause? That seems true enough for intellectual folk who harbor no little contempt for the carnal masses, and there is no shortage of supporting evidence in Christian history . . . from the Cathars to the Shakers, from the Bogomils to pride-parade Unitarians . . . but some exceptions call the theory into question, with the Mormons being the most obvious contemporary counterexample.

    • I was also surprised when I noticed the actual causality in Romans 1. Apostasy is the cause, sodomy the effect. As I say in the post, this seems to operate at the level of the group and not the individual. It certainly fits comfortably with the empirical correlation between faith and fertility. It also seems that perfect orthodoxy is not required. But Paul tells us that a culture that worships the creature will descend into to sexual confusion.

    • The causation may be reversed for individuals, but as a group I fail to see how Mormons were a counterexample. Is it more likely that there was a contingent of people in Missouri and Illinois who wanted to practice polygamy, and Joseph Smith’s teachings selected for them? Or that Smith falsely appealed to their religious sensibilities, and thereafter led them into polygamy?

      • I had considered that objection, but I don’t think polygamy counts as sexual perversion. I am not a Mormon-expert, but my (admittedly ignorant) take on that little party headed west was that there were probably far more women who jumped on the Moroni wagon than men, as one would expect, and that the Mormon leaders allowed polygamy for practical reasons. Doing a rather casual search, I couldn’t find any information on the demographics of early Mormons, the trekkers going west, or early Utah . . . but that is my guess.

        In general, women seem to be more enthusiastic “early adopters” of new religions and religious movements, and this holds true whether we’re talking about apostolic Christianity or the latest harvest of the goofy fruits from the ha-ha bush (thanks be to Jennifer Celotta for that felicitous phrase). The Lord himself had a small army of faithful women. Even cantankerous Jerome had plenty of groupies. Women figured prominently among the Jansenists. Christian Science, LDS, JWs, various colorful movements in the charismatic movement — tons of women. Manson’s “Family,” too. In the Peoples Temple commune in Jonestown, 64% were women.

      • The rational definition of perversion is sexual desire deflected from its natural end of procreation. Polygamy is not a perversion on this definition and is probably superior to monogamy on natural grounds. Only rich men get many wives in a polygamous society. The rich men have better than average genes and their offspring have better than average chances of survival. So polygamy is eugenic. The downside is a large population of what we now call male Incels. Our society has managed the hat trick of being dysgenic and producing a mass of troublesome male Incels at the same time.

      • Newman, who liked to disconcert the proponents of Scriptura sola asks,
        “On how many texts does the prohibition of polygamy depend, if we set about counting them?”
        The Mormons were merely following in the footsteps of the Anabaptists of Münster and Martin Luther wrote to Chancellor Gregory Bruck on 13 January 1524,

        I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the Word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter

        Nor was Luther alone among the Reformers in sanctioning the plural marriage of Philip Margrave of Hesse.

      • The main argument against polygamy is that it reduces the supply of women. This is of course an argument for polygamy so far as women are concerned. She will either be taken up into a rich man’s seraglio or become the object of fierce sexual competition. But the reduced supply of women also results in legions of frustrated, antisocial incels. Of course most rich men nowadays practice serial polygamy. The only difference is that the older wives move out of the seraglio and live on their own. If they are not too weatherbeaten, they can spend their declining years consoling incels.

      • As Sir James Goldsmith said, “When a man marries his mistress, he creates a vacancy.”

      • In his monumental study, Enthusiasm, Mgr Ronald Knox writes:

        There is, I would say, a recurrent situation in Church history–using the word ‘church’ in the widest sense–where an excess of charity threatens unity. You have a clique, an élite, of Christian men and (more importantly) women, who are trying to live a less worldly life than their neighbours; to be more attentive to the guidance (directly felt, they would tell you) of the Holy Spirit. More and more, by a kind of fatality, you see them draw apart from their co-religionists, a hive ready to swarm. There is provocation on both sides; on the one part, cheap jokes at the expense of over-godliness, acts of stupid repression by unsympathetic authorities; on the other, contempt of the half-Christian, ominous references to old wine and new bottles, to the kernel and the husk. Then, while you hold your breath and turn away your eyes in fear, the break comes; condemnation or secession, what difference does it make? A fresh name has been added to the list of Christianities.

        Knox is by no means unsympathetic to the votaries of these movements:

        In itself enthusiasm is not a wrong tendency but a false emphasis. Quietism exaggerates only a little the doctrine of the mystics about simplicity in prayer, about disinterested love. Quakerism does but enthrone in dangerous isolation the truth of God’s presence within us. Jansenism is the vigilant conscience of Christendom overshadowed by a scruple. Methodism is the call back to Christ in an age of Deism

      • Joseph,
        I seem to have misunderstood your argument. I thought you were citing Mormon polygamy as an example of a decay in sexual mores leading to theological error (which I don’t think is a plausible reading of the causality). I agree that polygamy isn’t really perversion.
        If you were citing the Mormons as an example of a group that went off the theological deep end without embracing perversion, it does seem clear (from their and other examples) that theological error doesn’t *always* lead to perversion.

      • Bonald once remarked here that one of the main benefits of the Church’s doctrinal tradition is that it provides an order of emphasis among the many lessons and principles that we encounter in holy writ. Your quote from Knox (how delightful to see a Catholic intellectual so named! I was ignorant of him) shows well the perils of unchecked obsessions.

      • Bonald once remarked here that one of the main benefits of the Church’s doctrinal tradition is that it provides an order of emphasis among the many lessons and principles that we encounter in holy writ.

        As Knox explains,

        Let us note that traditional Christianity is a balance of doctrines, and not merely of doctrines but of emphases. You must not exaggerate in either direction, or the balance is disturbed. An excellent thing to abandon yourself, without reserve, into God’s hands; … but, teach on principle that it is an infidelity to wonder whether you are saved or lost, and you have overweighted your whole devotional structure… Conversely, it is a holy thing to trust in the redeeming merits of Christ. But, put it about that such confidence is the indispensable sign of being in God’s favour, that, unless and until he is experimentally aware of it, a man is lost, and the balance has been disturbed at the opposite end

        Knox (how delightful to see a Catholic intellectual so named

        G K Chesterton (a friend of Knox) agreed

        Mary of Holyrood may smile indeed,
        Knowing what grim historic shade it shocks
        To see wit, laughter and the Popish creed,
        Cluster and sparkle in the name of Knox.

  3. Hello, AR de Maistre,

    Your second interpretation is the accurate one. Despite the Mormons’ rather eccentric theology, they have maintained sexual sanity rather well. Indeed, in this post-Christian wasteland, they’re beacons of light.


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