Seeds of Hope

What Was Sodom's Sin?


[Posted on September 27, 2002]

Rev. Turner:

Does the story of Sodom and Gomorrah condemn inhospitality and idolatry, and not homosexuality? I do not mean to attack you, I only mean to find answers as to why you believe the way you do.

I found a verse -- Jude 7

"As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

Jude describes the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah as "sexual immorality" and "going after strange flesh." Although other scriptures back up your claim of inhospitality, this one contradicts the idea that their damnation was not for homosexuality. Sexual "immorality" is a the practice of sexual acts that are not moral, not according to us but to God. God teaches that sexually immoral acts are wrong. Things that are "strange" are not normal. Things that are not normal are unnatural. The penis was designed for the vagina and the vagina was designed for the penis and to use them for anything other is unnatural (e.g. oral sex, anal sex, probing). "Strange flesh" is flesh that is unnatural, like the male flesh is unnatural to a man. Doesn't this mean that Sodom and Gomorrah's sin was homosexuality?

Looking back at another verse:

"And they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them.'" - Gen. 19:5

The word "know" as used here is often a euphemism for sexual relations (e.g., Gen 4:1,17). Lot's reaction to this crowd certainly suggests that is how he understood the crowd's request because he said:

"See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish." - Gen. 19:8

So, if Jude says the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was sexual immorality [homosexuality] and the Old testament implies homosexuality with the all famous "know" then doesn't that mean that Sodom and Gomorrah's sin was homosexuality as well as inhospitality and idolatry? What is your opinion on the term "know" being used in the story and the Scriptures saying their sin was also for homosexuality?

Thank you for your time,

Maria


Dear Maria,

I do not feel attacked by your letter. Actually I think you bring up a couple of good points that are often over-looked by those using the Sodom and Gomorrah passage to condemn homosexuals. I also believe you have come to some faulty conclusions based on some bad logic because of some bad definitions of phrases or words.

First let us take a look at the Jude passage you cite. According to the "Harper Collin's New Revised Standard Version of the Bible" authorized by the National council of churches 1989, the verse reads as follows:

"Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire."

The footnote from the scholars says the following about the verse in general: "The Sodomites attempted sexual relations with angels." (page 2305 footnote 7)

In your version it says "strange flesh" and mine says "unnatural lust," which in my mind says they were trying to have sex with a spiritual being which would certainly be unnatural for humans. Further, we cannot conclude that this has anything to do with homosexuality since having sexual relations with a spiritual being seems to be out of our realm. "Strange flesh" in all the commentaries I have read in referring to this verse has nothing to do with one's genitals, but rather going after the angels, i.e. not being human. Humans have sex with humans not other animals or angels. To attempt sex with animals or angels would be an unnatural act. So the answer to your question concerning the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah being homosexuality is "No."

Further "sexual immorality" in this particular case seems to be dealing with rape. Rape comes about when a person forces a non-consenting person to engage in sexual acts. This has nothing to do with sex, but rather power and control that is expressed in violently forcing the sexual act upon another person. Again, that doesn't have much to do with homosexuality.

Your second thought makes my point about this sin being rape even more clearly. Lot in an attempt to protect his guests offers his daughters for them to do with what they wanted. Women in those days were considered as property. Lot offered his property to protect his guests. Again, this has nothing to do with homosexuality in the sense of loving, committed God-loving people. Offering two people for the act of rape with what are obviously violent people is not about anything but immorality and has nothing to do with one's sexual orientation. "Sexual immorality" is defined as not in conformity with accepted principles, unchaste; lewd; obscene. Trying to rape the representatives of God certainly seem to fit this definition. Would you offer your daughters up for rape in order to protect a visitor from God? Yes, these were some very bad people, but homosexuality was not their problem or their sin.

God Bless,

Pastor Paul



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Rev. Turner is Sr. Pastor at Gentle Spirit Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you are seeking guidance and pastoral care on your journey to fullness as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered person, please contact Pastor Paul directly at pastorpaul@whosoever.org.