|Perspectives on Homosexuality|
|How Do People Become Gay?|
|Gay Christian - Oxymoron?|
|Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin?|
|Calling Sin by its Right Name|
|What Is an Abomination to God?|
|Sins of Sodom|
|On Being Right|
|Change Ministries Revisited|
Sins of Sodom
by Inge Anderson ©1999
The notion persists that homosexuality is particularly abhorrent to God because, after all, He destroyed Sodom for it. But does the Bible record bear this out?
For the sake of completeness, I have searched my CD-ROM KJV for all references to Sodom and Gomorrah. I haven't copied them all below because many references were simply a means of warning Israel regarding the kind of destruction that they themselves deserved because of their sins.
Sodom is first mentioned in connection with Lot's choosing a pleasant place to live. But the warning is given that "the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." Gen. 13.13
A few chapters later we discover that Sodom and Gomorrah were so wicked that God deemed it best to destroy them. Abraham intervened, and the Lord said he would save the cities if even ten righteous were found therein. Of course, we know the result -- not even ten righteous could be found in those prosperous cities of the beautiful plains. Note that judgment was determined on Sodom before the incident of the angel visitors at Lot's house.
And so two angels are sent to escort Lot and his family out of Sodom before destroying the cities:
Ancient records show that travelers often spent night in the open (see Gen. 28:11). However, Lot seems to have made it his duty to seek out strangers and invite them to the shelter of his home -- probably because he knew of the inhospitable nature of the men of the city.
The subsequent riot and demand to "know" the visitors -- probably accurately interpreted as a wish to abuse them sexually -- is taken as "proof" that the special sin of Sodom was homosexuality. However, the same reasoning would make homosexuality the special sin of our North American prison system as well. It is also generally recognized that anal penetration has been used as an act of subjugation by heterosexual males in many cultures for thousands of years. So this incident says nothing in support of the contention that the citizens of Sodom were largely homosexual.
It does, however, say much about their treatment of strangers. As they did it to the visitors to their city, they did it to the Lord Himself, according to Matt. 25: 34-40.
When Lot refused to cooperate, the men of the city referred to his "stranger" status as sufficient reason to abuse him as well:
A number of times, the prophets were moved to say that the sins of Jerusalem were as the sins of Sodom, or worse. Does that then mean that the special sin of Jerusalem was homosexual activity?
(Although many suggest that abomination refers particularly to same-gender sexual activity, I believe that abomination simply refers to practices that are abhorrent to the Lord. Please see my essay, "What Is an Abomination to God?" Any practice out of harmony with God's character of love is an abomination to Him, and he hates such behavior. Looking up references to things God hates brings up pride much more frequently than any sexual sins.)
After telling the Israelites that their sins were greater than those of Sodom, the prophet was moved to specify the special sins of Sodom, and same-gender sexual practices are not specifically listed:
And in the following texts, Sodom is listed as a "sister" of Israel, indicating the similarities of their sins. Thus, if same-gender sexual practices were the special sins of Sodom, there should be some evidence that they were the sins of Israel as well. Yet the Bible leaves no such record.
Jesus gives some indication that the people of Sodom were less hardened than the people of Capernaum:
Jesus also makes a comparison between the times of Noah, the times of Sodom, and the end times. Yet the interpretation that the special sins of Sodom were homosexual practices is read into the Scriptures. It is not inherent in the text itself. In fact, only heterosexual sexual activity is implied.
Peter refers to Sodom and Gomorrah as examples for those that live ungodly. This would seem to cover a wide variety of sins, unless readers are willing to argue that the only ungodly practices are homosexual ones.
Jude seems to associate the sins of Sodom with fleshly sins which may point particularly to sexual sins, but these are not specified:
And that's the Bible record of the sins of Sodom. Unfortunately people have a long-standing habit to read into Scriptures what is not there, thus justifying their own sins and their spirit of judgmentalism.
Saying that the last recorded acts of the Sodomites -- the demands for same-gender sex -- are proof that they were destroyed for homosexuality is like saying that a condemned man cursing his guards on the way to his execution is being executed for cursing the guards. Sodom was judged worthy of destruction before the incident with Lot and the angels. And we have examined the complete Bible record of Sodom's sins above.
Fundamentalists who like to see issues in black-and-white terms generally like to see Sodom's destruction as a judgment on homosexuality. I believe that this does not accord with the Bible record. Gay theologians, on the other hand, commit the same error of over-simplification by seeing Sodom's destruction as a judgment on inhospitality. And the Bible record does not support that conclusion either. Real life is usually more complex, and the great "Judge of all the earth" sees all there is to our lives.
I believe that if we examine the Bible record with an open mind, we are forced to conclude that Sodom was destroyed for sins that are not uncommon in today's affluent society -- sins that are rooted in self-sufficiency and flaunted in rebellion. Sexual sins were part of the problem, no doubt, but it is unworthy of Christians and misrepresentative of the Lord to wrest Scriptures in order to make someone else's sins appear as greater than our own more common sins of pride, hypocrisy, gossip, and a judgmental spirit. One of my favorite authors had this to say on the subject: "The Redeemer of the world declares that there are greater sins than that for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. . . . And still greater sin is theirs who profess to know God and to keep His commandments, yet who deny Christ in their character and their daily life." (Ellen White in Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 165)
We would do well to handle the Word of God with due reverence for its import and its revelation of the character of God and to avoid the sins of Sodom in our own lives by recognizing our continuing dependence on God both for our physical life and our spiritual salvation.
Last updated 10 May 2010 11:02 AM
|The Bible story of Lot and his daughters in Sodom and Gomorrah is no evidence of God's condemnation of individuals with a homosexual orientation, nor does it state that homosexuals are an abomination to God. Jesus loves gays and lesbians!|