09/23/2013 06:34 pm ET Updated Nov 23, 2013

Of Sexuality, Prophets, and Food Stamps

Contrary to received popular wisdom (almost never correct) Sodom's sin was not sexual perversion but our sin, a sin deeply worse and far more depraved. After all, think: sexuality to which some in authority will object occurs everywhere and in every generation; it's not that remarkable. Sodomites simply could not have been so select a crowd. And even the ancients understood that Sodom's sin was, while dreadfully perverse, not sexual. Sodom's sin was Greed, as ours is. The writer Ezekiel (16:49) told his contemporaries six hundred years before the Common Era

"This was the sin of Sodom: she had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy."

I'm put in mind of Sodom's sin and ours as we watch the right's systematic war on the poor advance and decimate those struggling and those helpless, the latest assault in this vicious war -- the House's stripping food stamps from nearly 18 million families, and this in a land in which 47 million already work and struggle in poverty.* (More, many more, would be counted as poor were they not forced by the decade of greed-wrought wreckage to live as adults in their parents' homes.) And the many we deem "lower middle class," before now able to feed their children because of food stamps, their children will now go hungry.

The crowd who without remorse would today have our babies starve -- and they are, all of them our babies -- is the same crowd whose shrill and almost always insincere protests are heard at the hint of sexual diversity (let alone genuine scandal).

Yet as Ezekiel's ancient voice reminds us, the justice he longed for, that justice for which he and the historical array of Hebrew prophets from Moses to Jeremiah to Jesus, and on to others in our collective memory, Mother Jones, Joe Hill, Dr. King, Sister Simone Campbell and the rest, is more critical and more profound than any (almost always hypocritical) social elite's demand for sexual conformity.

Would this Congress, this nation, yours and mine, not only read but grasp and embody Ezekiel, but also that latter Jewish genius, Jesus, as storied in his friend Matthew's account (25:40):

"What you do to the least of us you do to me."
* New York Times, 9.20.13 (A-26)