The Story of Sodom in Genesis 19 often is interpreting as a story about God’s wrath against homosexuality. This idea is not Scriptural. God destroyed Sodom because of its general wickedness, adultery, lying, lack of hospitality to strangers, pride, plenty, laziness, lack of caring for the poor and needy, haughtiness, and false religious practices. These are the reasons identified by the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. (Isa. 1:9-10 and 3:9, Jer. 23:14; and Eze. 16:48-50) Why do contemporary Christians read into the story?
Genesis 19:1-11 says:
“The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.” But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom — both young and old — surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” “Get out of our way,” they replied. And they said, “This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. “
Matthew Henry is quoted saying about this Passage “Lot was good, but there was not one more of the same character in the city. All the people of Sodom were very wicked and vile. Care was therefore taken for saving Lot and his family.” God already had plans to destroy Sodom. He sent the angles down to warn lot.
Many contemporary Christians insist that homosexual rape is the primary sin of Sodom. The word Sodomy has derived from this assumption. What does “Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” (V. 5) “That we may know them.” (KJV) “To know” means “to have sex with.” interesting isnt it to see that the men of Sodom want “to know” them. “To Know” occurs 943 time in the Old Testament. Out of 943 only 10 refer to having sexual meaning.
“Rape” is defined as unlawful sexual intercourse without the woman’s consent (can also be applied to men), effected by force, intimidation, or deception as to the nature of the act. The city showed it deserved destruction, for the vile mob of residents of Sodom, including boys and old men, surrounded Lots house, attempting to rape his angelic guests.
The Bible tells us that rape of any kind – heterosexual or homosexual – is evil. If rape is part of Sodom’s sins, it could be included-but not specified-in the sins mentioned by Isaiah and Ezekiel. But since homosexuality, as distinguished from homosexual rape, is not mentioned as one of Sodom’s sins, we have no grounds for concluding that it was a sin in Sodom. Again remember the difference between orientation and practices.
Sin of Sodom
For the Bible often refers back to the story of Sodom and says aright what Sodoms sin was. In Lot’s time, homosexual rape was a way of showing oneself to be superior to the victim. The village wanted to prove their superiority to the visitors. In order to get a clear view of this passage, we need to look at the context that it was written in.
We come to first to Ezekiel 16:48-49 which we read:
“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” The sin of the Sodomites was they refused to take in the needy travelers in Genesis Chapter 19. They were not destroyed because of Homosexual acts like people want to say they did. They were destroyed because they were not helping the poor and needy.”
Nowhere does the text mention that they were destroyed of homosexual acts.
The Prophet Jeremiah states in chapter 23, verse 14, “And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah.” Jeremiah was another Prophet that was telling Israel to stop being wicked. They did not listen and they continued badness in the eyes of the Lord. And it wasnt because of male-male sex they were destroyed it was because (Jeremiah 23:14; see also Zeph. 2:8-11)
In Isaiah 1:9-10, “Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!” The thoroughness of the destruction of these cities (Sodom and Gomorrah) was afterward used as a symbol of complete and everlasting annihilation. (De 29:22, 23; Isa 1:9; 13:19; Jer 49:18) God figuratively expressed the depth of wickedness to which the rulers and people of Judah and Jerusalem had sunk when he addressed them through the prophet Isaiah. (Isa 1:1, 10; Jer 23:14.) Judah and Jerusalem continued throughout the centuries what Sodom was destroyed for and it wasnt about homosexuality. “The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.” (Isaiah 3:9)
What did Jesus have to say about Sodom? Did he speak anything about homosexuality? Jesus spoke as recorded in Matthew 10:5-15 which we read:
“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.”
Sodom was not destroyed because of homosexual acts but because of inhospitality. That is what Jesus was referring to. He sent his disciples out to preach the gospel. If people did not accept them into their homes, then Jesus instructed them to leave.
It is shocking to think that Lot would have offered his daughters to the Sodomites. This is a good example of how different Lot’s culture was from our own. In that time the father of the house actually owned the women. They were his property. He was free do with them almost whatever he wanted. It would have been very costly for Lot to give his daughters to those men in the village. It would have been financially costly for Lot. For no one would then want to marry those women, already “used.” It is surprising that Lot preferred to let the men of town rape his daughters then let them abuse his houseguests.
What did then men of Sodom want with Lot’s two visitors? They say they wanted “to know them.” Some take this to mean the men wanted to have sex with the visitors. Lot’s offering his daughters for sex in place of the male visitors certainly indicated as much. Still, others argue the word “to know” need not refer to sex. It may simply be that the men of Sodom wanted to find out who these strangers were and what they were doing in their town. After all, Lot was not native of Sodom. He, too, was an outsider. The townsfolk were not happy with his inviting strangers in.
In the end there is no way of being absolutely certain if this was referring to homosexual acts or not. Most experts believe that it does. The text is concerned about abuse and rape, not simply about sex.
Even Jesus understood the sin of Sodom as the sin of inhospitality. Other passages in the Bible come right out and say the same thing. Yet people continue to cite the story of Sodom to condemn gay Community. Such oppression is very sin of which the people of Sodom were guilty. People oppose and abuse homosexual men and women for being different, odd, strange or they say, “queer.” Today, rape is recognized as a crime of violence. No one considers it proper.
Remember, too, that God already decided to destroy Sodom. God sent the angels to warn Lot and his family. God’s decision preceded and therefore was not based on what the men of Sodom wanted to do to the angels that God had sent. Don’t be like Sodom and not let strangers in to your home.
Please note that the next article will go into detail of the Hebrew words that people like to use to condemn homosexuality.
Copyright Steve Payne, all rights reserved. No part of this may be photocopied or reproduced by any means without written permission from the author.