Most people seem to “know” that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God because of homosexuality. Well, I haven’t been able to find the phrase, “homosexuality” anywhere in Genesis or Judges or anywhere else in the Bible refering to Sodom and Gomorrah.
One great truth I was taught by an excellent Bible teacher from Arkansas was that the Bible always interprets itself. If you are having trouble with a difficult passage, you will usually discover the answer somewhere within the pages of the Bible.
Our major question in this study is why was Sodom destroyed? If the Bible interprets itself, what does the Bible say about Sodom and Gomorrah? Let’s look first at Ezekiel.
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
What reasons does this passage give about Sodom? They were proud and arrogant. They had fullness of bread, in other words they were self-indulgent. Abundance of idleness – they were lazy. They assumed NO responsibility for poor people, they had no social conscience. They were haughty – “stuck-up” with an attitude of superiority, arrogant. They committed “abomination” before God (“to’ebah,” something disgusting, especially idolatry. ) Abomination included such things as eating shrimp or catfish, and having sex while the wife was having her period. A disobedient child was an abomination to God and was supposed to be stoned to death! The list goes on forever.
What was God’s attitude?
Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
God does not want “things”
To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
God does not want you to bring special things to him…
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me;
(Incense is an abomination??? Somebody better tell the Catholics!)
… the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
Keeping special days or going to church makes God “weary.” Actions alone, in place of loving God, are what are displeasing to God.
For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.
How do the Samaritans resemble the people of Sodom and Gomarrah? They are adulterers (specific sexuality immorality. ) They have so little integrity that the country is falling apart. They have NO interest in following God, or trying to do His will.
For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.
The preachers and prophets have contempt towards God. Their speech and actions are Godless, secular.
And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.
The Samariatan preachers not only are spreading FALSE, misleading doctrine but, they are teaching this to OTHERS and leading people astray.
I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
They committed adultry, again specific sexuality immorality, and were liars and decievers. They supported and gave legitimacy to the godless ones, those who had no place in their heart for God. God says that THIS is how they remind them of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.
They developed their own self-serving religion and spoke as if THEY were the Lord God.
You will notice that the above passages make a strong statement about these cities, comparing them with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Where was homosexuality mentioned? Where? How many times was adultry specifically mentioned?
In the cultures of the Old Testament the laws of hospitality were something not to be taken lightly. Cities were usually enclosed and strangers who wandered in were not always welcomed. The story in Judges 19 describes an incident very similar to the Sodom and Gomorrah story. The Benjamites had grown cold and hard-hearted over the years and were not open to entertain a stranger in distress. They were called the “sons of Belial,” children of the devil, ungovenable, untamable.
A wandering Levite, with his wife and servant, found himself stranded in the city, having to sleep in the dangerous street all night. However, there was one old man who had not lost all of his compassion and whom invited them in. The men of the city made a rude, disrespectful assult on the house of this man and demanded to see the people inside.
And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites. And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou? And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth me to house. Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing. And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street. So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink. Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.
The old man offered his virgin daughter and his wife to the mob.
And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly. Judges 19:24 Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.
They took his wife and they “knew” her. The Hebrew word is “yadah,” to acknowledge, to become aquainted with, to comprehend, to learn, to know. “Yadah” appears by itself no less than 943 times in a nonsexual connotation. The word is used ten places in the old testament to denote heterosexual intercourse. It is used five times inconjunction with “mishkabh” to mean the same thing. I repeat, “Yadah” appears by itself no less than 943 times in a nonsexual connotation.
But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go. Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light. And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold. And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.
The men assulted her, violently raped her (heterosexual rape) and left her for dead. Are we to conclude from this passage that heterosexual sex is a sin, an abomination to God? What a ludicrous thought. Of course not!
The issue isn’t sex… the issue is violence with the phallus as the weapon of choice.
With these things in mind, let’s look at Genesis 19. God sent two messengers to visit Lot, who welcomed them at the gate of the city. They went to Lot’s house where they were treated as guests. Then the word got out that unwanted strangers were in town.
And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
Who came to see the messengers of God? The men, the young men, the old men, “all the people from every quarter.” What does this say about this town? Were ALL of the males in the city homosexual? They ALL were here at Lot’s front door, weren’t they.
And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
There’s that word again, “know.” There is no Old Testament text where “yadah” refers to homosexual sex! The only passage ever quoted is THIS one. The less ambiguous word “shakhabh” is used for heterosexual intercourse as well as homosexual intercourse and beastial intercourse. “Shakhabh” appears fifty times in the Old Testament. If it had been used in this passage, the real meaning would have been clear. As it is, there are NO grounds for assuming that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality. If the story is taken in context and in light of the other passages, it is easier to understand. Because “yadah” is a word of aquaintance, some have suggested that a serious breach of hospitality was implied. That is certainly to be taken into consideration.
Back to the story: Lot offered his two daughters instead. Women were looked upon as far inferior to men. Lot was trying to pacify the group and considered the two visitors more important than his own beautiful daughters.
And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door. And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.
The men only wanted to get to the strangers. But, the angels blinded them and they were lost. The angels got Lot and his family out and the city was destroyed.
So, what do you think? Were Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed because of homosexuality? You have read the Bible’s own interpretation of the story. To simply say that the cities were destroyed because of homosexuality or because of sexual immorality is showing blatant ignorance ot the passage.
In a nutshell, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because the people had become terribly evil and had totally turned away from God. They had forsaken Him completely. These long passages tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.