What is the Sin of Sodom and Gomorrah?
Ever experience some less than firm bonds with family during the holidays?
I'm sure I'm not alone in this factor and I'm sure there are many of you who have adopted other families to get by on the holidays. Ever since I revealed myself to my family, coming out of the closet would be a more direct expression, I have come to learn that focusing on their opinions can be damaging.
For the longest time, their way of thinking was central to my existence as a person, making it hard to consider my own thoughts and feelings. There were times where I would rebel but it always ended with them roping me back into their perspective. Back into the mold that they wanted me to be in.
This year has enforced a rapid amount of change, between leaving an old job that was driving me up a wall, to telling my father and very recently my grandmother that I'm Lesbian. The amount of support I had from my significant other and my psychologist and my friends is what got me through these changes. I am truly grateful to them.
Yet as a Christian I always find myself struggling to engage in researching the bible and its words. Mostly out of the fear that I'm wrong and will learn that they were right. That the mold I don't fit into, even if I'm at my healthiest and happiest, will cause damnation. My Father and Grandmother often use the verses of the bible as weapons to strike this kind of doubt in me. It often works like all of their other previous methods. So, as of yesterday, I decided that If I'm ever going to find a lick of mental peace that I needed to confront the fear.
As a raised Catholic the verse of Sodom and Gomorrah is a well-known story. One that I could summarize easily without falter. For those of you who are unaware, the story goes something like this.
God sends down two angels of whom he directs to investigate the city of Sodom. For Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities in the area had sinned grievously against the Lord. Declaring that he would go down into the city and see if the outcry is as great as it is, and thusly cast judgment on it. From here the Angels depart and God is approached by Abraham, questioning if the righteous will be struck down alongside the wicked. He starts with 50 persons, if 50 people can be found to be righteous would God strike down the city. God answers that he would not destroy the city if there were 50 among them that were untouched by wickedness. The numbers eventually dwindle to a mere ten. Each number that Abraham brings up leads to God agreeing not to destroy the city. Eventually, the focus shifts to the Angels reaching the Gates of Sodom and Gomorrah. Here they are immediately approached by Lot, the blood relative of Abraham, who offers them sanctuary from their travels. And we can take a view of the bible from the English Standard Version from here:
God Rescues Lot
19 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night sand wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, t“No; we will spend the night in the town square.” 3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.
My reason for bringing up this particular section in furthered detail, directly from A Bible, is because I have several questions and interpretations that I have found upon reading this passage. I did some research between two individuals in the midst of reading this passage. One that promotes that Homosexuality is the Sin of Sodom, and the other that does not promote this claim.
Greg Koukl argues that the Sin of Sodom is Homosexuality because: "Lot was "oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men," and "by what he saw and heard...felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds."
Now, this particular set of sentences is what causes me to Question Mr. Koukl's conviction of Homosexuality. As he states that this comes from one of the messages of Peter in chapters further on in the Bible.
2 Peter 2:7-10 New International Version (NIV)
7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh[a] and despise authority.
Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings;
Now combine this knowledge with a discussion from Rev. Patrick S. Cheng They state that a passage from Jesus's own words convicts the idea that a Lack of Hospitality is the Sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. Stating this in particular:
" The bottom line is that nowhere in the Bible does Jesus Christ ever condemn LGBT people. However, Jesus does expressly condemn people who turn their backs on strangers and on those who are the neediest among us. In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus says that whoever fails to welcome such people has failed to welcome Jesus himself (Matthew 25:43)."
Here is the biblical passage from :
Matthew 25:43-45 New International Version (NIV)
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Now with these discussions in mind, I can reveal the interpretation that I see in regards to the topic of Sodom and Gomorrah. Here we have Lot meeting the angels at the gate of Sodom:
"19 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth 2 and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night sand wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, t“No; we will spend the night in the town square.” 3 But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate."
Here I wonder and especially in the passages before that God mentions that the Angels are expressly there in his stead to investigate the City of Sodom. They are there to seek out at the very least "10 righteous people" to see if he will officially cast judgment on the city and its neighbors. Yet here we have the Angels meeting only one "hospitable" and "righteous" man, Lot, who essentially begs from them to stay at his home and eat with him.
We see the sincere concern from Lot when he presses the angles to stay at his home a second time when they themselves refuse his offer the first time in favor of staying at the town square. Why did the Angels refuse Lot the first time? Were they testing Lot to see if he was a righteous man? Or were they concerned that they would not effectively be able to seek out those who were righteous in the city?
There is also the understanding that God was purposely looking for "anyone" righteous and willing to provide sojourn. According to Rev. Patrick S. Cheng there are several other stories about how Sodom treated travelers stating:
" It should be no surprise that radical inhospitality was a sin of the first-order magnitude in the Ancient Near East. Taking care of the sojourner or traveler in the midst of a hostile desert environment often meant the difference between life and death. According to ancient Jewish texts, such as the Babylonian Talmud and the Genesis Rabba, the inhabitants of Sodom were infamous for their cruelty and their failure to support the poor and the needy in their midst, as well as their failure to practice charity and justice. Extra-biblical stories included the Sodomites’ physical torture of travelers as well as their burning of a young woman who had dared to share food with a family that was starving of hunger. This is in stark contrast to Lot’s radical hospitality, or the radical hospitality of Abraham and Sarah to the three disguised angels who visit them in Genesis 18, the chapter that immediately precedes the Sodom and Gomorrah narrative."
So here we have Lot who, mentioned by Peter, was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard). We see him here, directly after Abraham and Sarah, taking in the angels of God for fear of what may happen to them should they stay overnight at the town square.
It is here that I think that what Lot feared for the angels was the same kind of treatment that the people of Sodom were infamous for. It was not merely the fact that they were homosexual but more so the actions that these people partook. Being cruel, wicked, and unkind to visitors or anyone who was not apart of the city. I feel that is what Lot was so afraid of, to the point of meeting anyone at the gate of the city itself, so as to ensure their safety. In reality, the idea of going to Sodom as a traveler must have been a death sentence.
I do believe that Sodom and Gomorrah's reputation to be cruel and wicked against those who were not apart of their city was exactly what caused their destruction. I do not see how a wholesome and loving relationship, no matter the gender nor affiliation, could result in the damning of an entire city including its neighbors. Even now we face horrible times where leaders do about the same to people from other countries. Refugees on the border who are fleeing their homes in search of sanctuary. Only to be confined in horrible living conditions and separated from their own families. We get a glimpse of a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah right here at home. That alone I feel is torturous enough to see and to hear and I think that Lot was facing the same depravities each day in his own city.
Based on my research and reading Sodom and Gomorrah this is the conclusion I have come to and overall it is merely my interpretation. Opinion, if you will that not everyone, will share. But I hope that it might answer the questions to those who had similar interpretations.
Thank you again for spending the time to read my posts and tune in next time for more content. Which could be my own ramblings to provide mental peace or updates in relation to future projects!
All of my best,