Note: A discussion online about this topic raised this passage, which was used in the traditional manner. I remembered I had written this piece for Power For Today Magazine in 2009 and felt led to dig it up and post it here again. Please note: READ THIS THROUGH TO THE END BEFORE AUTOMATICALLY COMMENTING. This is about understanding and upholding the Word – not about deciding whether or not something is right or wrong. LEARN, READ, GROW, and UNDERSTAND WHY the story is in there. I want us to look at this passage beyond the way it is used in social commentary and propaganda today so we can understand what the Word is saying to US in it!
Inappropriate, defamatory, or comments that have NOTHING to do with the point of this posting WILL BE DELETED.
From: Power For Today Magazine, Vol. 8., No. 2., February 2009. (c) 2009 Apostolic Fellowship International Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved.
Q: What was the sin of Sodom? Was it homosexuality? There are websites that explain the events of Genesis 18 and 19 differently than are traditionally described. What do you think?
A: There aren’t many different opinions about Genesis 18-19. The majority promote the belief that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality. There is a smaller school of thought which theorizes the sin of Sodom wasn’t specifically homosexuality, but rape. Still others, most of whom are in a scholarly category, argue the sin of Sodom to be inhospitality. Who is right?
The truth is that despite all the debate about Genesis 18-19’s story of Sodom, the Bible does not specify one sin of Sodom as more problematic or wicked than others. The Scriptures tell us the people of Sodom were “very wicked.” We can assume from this statement that they were committing several sins; they were a very sinful and rebellious people. We don’t learn what most of their specific sins were, and it would be unjustifiable to try and assume specified sins to prove personal points. We can see from the story that the men of Sodom were guilty of attempted rape; however, the story does not bespeak homosexual interest, but one of dehumanization between cultures: in ancient times, it was considered a sign of superiority for men of one culture to sodomize prisoners (especially of war), criminals, guests, or visitors of another culture. It was the ultimate power play, and was a practice among both ancient Rome and Greece. Those who argue the sin of Sodom was inhospitality use this argument as an example and are not incorrect in so doing. We can assume that both rape and inhospitality were two sins of the people of Sodom, based on the story. We cannot, however, assume anything else based on the text.
Whether or not one is against homosexuality, a thorough study of Genesis 18-19 cannot prove homosexuality as the sin of Sodom. The Scriptures tell us that all there were wicked, and this must indicate the women were wicked as were the men. We don’t see any examples, however, of women involved with other women sexually. The men of Sodom were not interested in consensual homosexual acts; if they were, there were men of the town for them to involve themselves and the text does not indicate this occurred. It would also have not made much sense for Lot to offer his virgin daughters to a group of men who were attracted to other men. If we truly read the story of Sodom, devoid of modern connotations and people who conveniently place words in the Bible’s mouth (in more than one way), we can see that the story of Sodom is much deeper than finger-pointing, which is what way too many people use the story for today.
The reason we don’t know the laundry list of specific sins committed by the people of Sodom is because what they were isn’t relevant. If sins were listed, people would point fingers as to who is a bigger sinner than they are and it would become a self-righteous debate rather than a personal opportunity for examination. The point is that the people were wicked – so wicked – men and women alike – that there was no redemption for them. The severity of sins which plagued the city would continue on, for generations, as patterns of immoral conduct and ungodly character rooted cultural customs. They were past the point of evangelization, witnessing, prayer, and intercession. There was no hope for them. The story tells us there weren’t even ten righteous men left ! That is unfathomable, even as we live in unrighteous times. We can’t begin to comprehend the wickedness of this people!
But amidst the grave blindness and immorality of the people of Sodom, we also see amazing character in Abraham. He stood in righteousness, acting as an agent of mercy to a people even though they were beyond mercy. We also see God’s incredible hand on Lot and his family, Who took care of His own that remained faithful and righteous despite the wickedness that surrounded them. Lot and his family could have, at any time, decided to join the wickedness of Sodom, but they did not. God was faithful to send angels to rescue Lot’s family out of the city, rather than allow them to be destroyed unjustly. We also see Lot’s amazing trust in God when he offered his daughters so the men wouldn’t defi le God’s messengers. I truly believe Lot would not have made such an offer if he hadn’t trusted God to intervene and truncate the offer. It was a diversionary measure, not a statement on disregard for women, as many might believe.
One final point of importance we see is that we can’t look back on what God calls us to leave behind. The story of Sodom shows the great polarity between judgment and grace; and that while Lot and his family may not have been perfect (obviously they were sinners as all are, though they might not have been wicked), they were expected to be obedient. God’s move out of anything is an act of grace, and we must accept it as a grace to prevent from falling into disobedience. Lot’s wife was given the same consideration, privilege, and grace that the rest of the family was; and she chose to look back. We have to stop looking back, and focus on where God has for us to go. When we look back, we are turned into a pillar of salt – we are frozen in time. While it may not happen in a literal sense, it always happens in a spiritual sense!
When we approach the issue of the story of Sodom, it calls to mind something we have to stop doing with the Scriptures: finger-pointing. The Word of God has not been given to us to bash over people’s heads or stand in judgment. There is no story in the Scriptures that everyone cannot benefit from. There is nothing wrong with conviction, belief, or opinion; but if it’s not in the story, we can’t stick it in there and blame it on God’s Word. Rather than stand around and judge others, we are called to walk in God’s grace and righteousness and clean up our act – and stand as that witness while God’s Word speaks for itself as truth.