Bible Religious Right

What Was The Sin Of Sodom?

James L. Evans, pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama, recently wrote about the sins that cities (and nations) might be judged for in the light of Biblical complaints about Sodom.

He points out that Sodom, or “Sodom and Gomorrah,” is commonly used as shorthand for homosexual licentiousness pervading a culture, and that

“Nearly everyone agrees that what the men of Sodom had in mind was homosexual rape … Many Bible interpreters believe that what really got God going was the homosexual element in the story. After all homosexual practices are called an “abomination,” in the book of Leviticus. But then, so is eating shrimp, so we have to wonder how far does an abomination go?”

“One way to answer that question is to observe how large the homosexual issue seems to be in the rest of the Bible. For instance, Jesus doesn’t say anything about homosexual practices at all.”

It is true, of course, that Jesus mentions sexual sin in general. But in fact he does not single out homosexuality. Jesus’ example seems important to me compared to the way many American Christians and preachers bring homosexual behavior up so frequently – while avoiding criticism of sins that are vastly more prevalent. Jesus did not major on minors.

Neither did Paul, although Paul does mention homosexuality in Romans 1.

“However, as soon as he makes his case he immediately concludes in the very next chapter that those who condemn such practices are really guilty of the same thing. Interestingly enough, Paul does not invoke Sodom at all.”

Hmm. “Those who condemn such practices are really guilty of the same thing.”

He then informs us that Sodom is mentioned over 20 times in the Bible.

“The ones that are theological clearly regard Sodom as a place of particular wickedness. But even when the emphasis is on Sodom’s shortcomings the homosexual element is not mentioned. Only the Epistle of Jude mentions sex at all in reference to Sodom.”

The problem comes when we find passages that treat Sodom’s sins at any length. Actually, two problems come.

First, the sins described as being so offensive to God are not homosexual, nor even (with the exception in Jude) sexual at all.

Second, the sins described are ones highly characteristic of many American lives and even of America as a whole if compared to the rest of the world.

“In fact, the only real detailed accounting of Sodom’s sins comes from the prophetic traditions of Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel. For Jeremiah, the sin that brought the wrath of God down on Sodom was the worship of other gods – idolatry. For Isaiah the failure that tipped God’s hand was oppression of the weak and vulnerable. Ezekiel continues this theme by accusing Sodom of having too much wealth and not enough concern for the poor.”

“So … The tragedy of the Big Easy may indeed represent a sort of modern day Sodom. There was certainly wealth and comfort jammed along side poverty and misery.”

“Although why single out New Orleans? There are many places where there is great disparity between the haves and the have-nots. And if we bring third world countries into the comparison, the whole of America might qualify for a Sodom-like condemnation.”

For example, here’s a quote from Ezekiel (16:49,50)

“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.”

Do we know any cities, towns, or rural areas in America guilty of maybe two or three of those? The term “detestable things” might have meant homosexual activity. But it would more certainly have included heterosexual immorality of types prevalent in America today.

The point of all this is not to argue whether God approves of homosexual behavior. The point is that there are a lot of things prevalent in America today that God is quite vocal in condemning.


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  • Divine irony, indeed.

    We’re to think that our safety comes through exporting violence, but now this… i want to hear more about Bush’s domestic package. Maybe he meant domesticating Iraqis? americanizing another commercial support layer in the pyramid scheme? Oh well. And yes, it’s about oil. Brilliantly spoken about the pushing towards heavy oil consumption… Just the other day, there was a documentary on the creation of the u.s. interstate highway system around 50 yrs ago, and how it made everything so wonderful… it made us the biggest oil consumers on the planet.

  • For the love of mercy, why interpret the storms as a judgment against the cities, instead of a) a judgment against our government, our system, and b) a judgment against the leader – Bush – who made such a fool of himself in all of this?

    The hurricanes were nothing short of divine irony – almost satire – on a government trying to sell its people on “securityâ€? through wars and development of an internal police state. Secure? Ha, ask anyone in the south if they feel more secure. All those billions to make us secure? Where were they, or who was at the helm to make it work? All of this illustrated the folly of the preoccupation with war in the supposed interest of national security. The money was gone, an invertebrate middle-manager was fingered (Brown), and no one knows where the money went. This is all mud on Bush’s face, not on the homosexual people of New Orleans or anywhere else. “Homeland Securityâ€? in a pig’s eye. The divine answer is splendidly ironic.

    You know what we will call those of New Orleans, in a few years or less? The lucky ones. Because all our US cities are built up as death traps, every one of them. This is all about oil, and individual ownership of vehicles. Gracious, cities can’t even deal with daily rush hour, where only those in the prime of work life are in cars. How can anyone countenance evacuation plans for large cities, predicated on everyone turning over their engines and driving somewhere?

    It’s about oil. The country, since Jimmy Hoffa and the teamsters, has been predicated on including as much oil burning as possible to all commerce. Railroads were abandoned to promote trucking. We used to have efficient railroads. But decisions were made, decades ago, to promote oil-burning commerce, to broaden it to the maximum, so that all citizens would own vehicles. The railroads were torn up, dismantled, and this public trust sold into private hands. Even in New York state, there were scandals about bridges being built too low to allow busses to pass into the city. The intention? To keep poor blacks from entering New York City by mass transit. It was intended to limit transport to private vehicles – the privilege of the wealthy, at the time.

    Oilmen run our country. Our leaders worship that economy. They are warring about it. But it will, in the end, kill our own citizens, when people are trapped in evacuations from these ill-planned cities. Let such an evacuation happen to a northern city, in winter. Let the east coast be in need of evacuation for some wartime purpose, and watch the approximate 25 percentile of our nation between Washington, D.C. and Boston try to simultaneously drive out of town. It’s solid city from D.C. to Boston, and if anyone thought the Houston evacuation was ugly, guess again. Our cities have been built as death traps, for the cause of oil.

    Homosexuals? Try the White House. Google anywhere.
    . This family has a history of prosecution for kidnapping boys for homosexual prostitution rings

    . The president has a relationship with his college roommate of four years, Victor Ashe

    – a known sodomite – which can not easily be explained away. Bush, and his family and colleagues, are not whom they pretend to be. Or: why do so many openly homosexual men flank the presidency (Ari Fleisher, Carl Rove, et al) in his closest members of personal counsel?

    No insult to gays here – but to leaders who are not whom they pretend to be. The administration is living a lie.

    Thus the storms are not a rebuke to the rural poor of the south, but the pretenders who lead this country.

  • I imagine Sodom as a frontier city where every vice was available for a price & neither peace nor justice had any influence. Whether it was destroyed by God, natural forces, or space aliens, I do not know.

  • How refreshing to see a Christian stop long enough to
    weigh the importance of the merit of sin vs. sin.

    How can we weigh the amount each instance of “missing
    the mark” is? (For that is what I see sin as – missing
    the mark our Lord would have us attain to reach, yet
    in our humanity we often do miss that mark, and our
    spiritual growth is a process of SELF examination, learning, and concecration. How do we grow? By pointing a
    finger of condemnation at others while refusing to
    take personal responsibility for our own errors?
    Of course not, but from my perspective, that is what
    I see many Christians doing. Our Lord taught so
    much more in the New Testament about heart attitude
    and purging Phariseeism, and being genuine, and
    loving than he did about anything else, other than
    the importance of believing that He alone is our
    redeemer, and then choosing to follow Him.

    I am afraid that this country, and this world, has
    been given a false glimpse of Christianity by this
    administration, and the powerful Christian leaders
    who support it.

    You cannot read Jesus’ own words without getting
    his message:

    Quit the games, quit the one-upmanship, quit the
    finger-pointing, quit the lusting for power, recog-
    nition, money, pride and lust. Be transparent, real,
    love me, and I will show you how to love others.
    Because that’s what matters.

    Now, I ask everyone….what is so hard to understand
    about that message? It’s not hard to understand, is
    it? It is, however, much easier understood than
    done. Selfishness takes over and sits on the throne
    where the Prince of Peace should be seated in many
    “christians” lives. When these selfish and proud
    people are in a position of power and leadership in
    the church, they are sitting ducks for neoconserv-
    atives who use them, and make prey of the well mean-
    ing, devout people sitting under their leadership.
    Make no mistake about it, they will be judged for
    every person they had under their watch, for they
    have been poor stewards, and did not guard the

    How does this have anything to do with whether homo-
    sexuals should be allowed to marry?

    In the old testament and even into the first century,
    many couples did not make their unions “legal” by
    a legal marriage ceremony. Our present practice was
    something that came later. If a man desired a woman
    to be his wife, he “took her as his wife”. There
    may have been a religious ceremony and a celebration,
    but the marriage itself was not part of a legal
    ceremony, and the state was not involved.

    We claim to be a “Christian nation”. Yet we do not,
    and in my opinion, should not, interfere with people
    of the Jewish faith, Buddhist, Muslim, Jehovah’s
    Witness, Morman, athiest, agnostic, etc., and their
    right in America to legally marry. Why then, are
    homosexuals not allowed to legally marry in the
    United States? My guess is because homosexuality
    offends many people of several different faiths,
    and to give it legality in marriage signifies our
    acceptance of homosexuality as a life style.

    What would it look like to grant people of any
    and all religions the right to a “civil union”?
    Would we sin by association as Christians if our
    country allowed homosexuals the legal right to a
    civil union?

    If we made the institution of marriage something
    that is between people and their preference of
    religious practice, and took it out of the legal
    setting, and instead afforded all human beings in
    America civil unions, what would that look like?
    Would we be “missing the mark” if that was the law
    of the land?

    Larry, thanks for your great article yesterday.
    There certainly are alot of grievous sins being
    committed in America today. My own personal view
    is that homosexuality is made a hot button issue to
    keep the “faithful” incited to vote a particular
    political party.

    I welcome any and all comments on this subject.