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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  • Mr. Lazarus, NOBODY is “denied the institution of marriageâ€? because the institution of marriage is (and ever was in our occidental tradition) defined as the (intended to be life-long) pledge of sexual, personal and civilian love and assistance between a woman and a man. What you presuppose is a concept of “human rightâ€? pertaining to pairs of individuals, not to individuals themselves, – whereby you are discarding centuries of occidental, Christian-humanist, moral tradition.

    If a class of people find themselves in the unfortunate position of being so disposed that they cannot benefit from the universally granted individual rights in a given society as do the generality of its people, then, according to pure logic and honest hermeneutics of bible, custom or the constitution there follow only two things:

    1. It is sad for them.
    2. Society should TRY (but only just try) to give them some compensation for their bad luck, on the idea of generosity, a carefully broad application of the “golden ruleâ€? of mutuality and general goodwill. (By this second token, I find myself supporter of the institution of some kind of “civil unionâ€? between homosexual partners, but cannot agree to your self-evident deduction of a “rightâ€? – or duty of society – to extend the proper concept of marriage on them. For it is NOT clear, in an a-priori fashion, that by such an extension third people, i.e. their adopted children, or society as a whole are not affected negatively.)

    If, in the future, defication was looked down upon, or even considered offensive, would it be right to deny someone the right to deficate because of another mans oppinion?

    I return to my point: Def-E-cation (please, by the way, try to spell correctly, – it was not nice to come around to what you mean when I was still musing you talked about some kind of “deificationâ€?), – apart from being a “basic needâ€? of every human, and not just a “basic urge/desire/ingredience of happinessâ€? as is sex -, is a right defined on individual terms.


    By your sweep of logic, .. what do you propose to do about a person who says he cannot and will never love another person than his own sister? Will you “deny him the right� of a fulfilled sex life? Or why is adoption a “privilege� only for those who intend to adopt people younger than themselves?

    In this debate, there is A LOT of insinuation being done, which should better be purged before making politics on it.

  • So, Sister Merry, you think that the homosexuals in America should be denied the institution of marriage simply because people of several different faiths? If I recall correctly, isn’t it a point of pride that christians survived persecution, because “several different faiths”, at the time, found them offensive? You seem to be under the impression that it’s okay that change doesn’t come about. It seems to me that if you had your way, and political change didn’t happen because some people found it offensive, then the Christian rebellion should have been squelched long ago. I do not know whether or not you are nun, but, say you are not, do you think you could live your life without getting married? And, should you be a nun, did you ever wonder, statistically, how many people have lived their lives wihout being married, even if for a short time? You know, I think it is a matter of repression. Is it sinful to expect someone to repress their needs simply because it is offensive to some people? If, in the future, defication was looked down upon, or even considered offensive, would it be right to deny someone the right to deficate because of another mans oppinion? The fact that Christianity’s oppinion on gay marriage is cemented so firmly because of a vauge reference to the Sodomites being sinful is offensive.

  • Thanks for the article on the sin that so easily attacks us. Self-righteousness is slippery as a snake and as prevalent as the air we breathe. Everyone has there pet sin that they never commit which they use to judge everyone else with. This is basic human nature and the word they can be easily applied to me because we all have this nature to deal with. That’s the beauty of this new agreement (covenant) that Christ has negotiated for us in that WE GET TO DECIDE THE DEGEE OF JUDGEMENT WE RECEIVE FROM GOD. Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. Mat 7:2 for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you. Imagine that! How you look at others is how God will look at you on judgment day. Most Christians think this does not apply to them but could they be wrong? 2Co 5:10 For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
    The article you have written is “THE BLAME GAME� which is by far the biggest game in town. The first man used it in the Garden of Eden on his wife and we’ve been playing it every since. Jesus Christ introduced a new radical alternative to the blame game, which is; Mat 5:45 that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. It’s amazing to see people still thinking that if they eat right, exercise right, join the religious right, and do good deeds that the will be protected from all the evil in the world. Many times Christian preachers and teachers bait people up by promoting these false teachings that as long as your doing right the storm will always go the other way. If this was the case, real Christians would never have trouble.
    The truth is that this whole world has been evaluated and scrapped out. It’s been decided that the only part which can be saved is sinners who decide Jesus is the son of God and decide to do what He said to do and quit playing the blame game.

  • A very well written and thought provoking blog.
    I can’t really recall homosexuality being discussed often in the churches I grew up attending. But I come from a religious tradition that really hammers home the message that gay is really, really bad.
    To be honest, I held the same opinion for many years. But as I am finally settling into Bible study myself, a lot of my views are shifting.
    I’m not sure I agree 100% with everything you’ve written. But I will agree with you that sin is sin is sin. Homosexuality, which I do believe is sin, is no worse than the thousand-and-one other sins we each commit every day (many have become such habit, that we no longer even realize they are sin….like ignoring the homeless panhandler, or thinking impure thoughts about the gorgeous woman we’ve just seen, etc).
    Gay and lesbian men and women are just as much my brothers and sisters as anyone else, and as Jesus instructs, I love them too.

  • If you want to know why New Orleans was hit and what is really coming down the pike, do a web search on Peak Oil.
    During the last two weeks I have leaned so much that has totally transformed how I look at everything – just by
    studying peak oil. An excellent starter site is New Orleans has the only
    port in the nation capable of accepting a supertanker. Yes, it was New Orleans the city but it was just as much
    the oil refineries and the port.

    It’s kind of ironic. Up until 3 months ago I was a card carrying member of the Republican=Christian club. The
    last three months so many of my bubbles have been burst. God has a way of doing that when you ask Him for His

    Thank you for pointing out the truth about sin. I don’t know exactly where it is, but I know in 1 or 2 Sameul God
    told Saul that his rebellion and stubborness were the same thing as idolatry and witchcraft. From elsewhere in the
    Bible, God makes it clear that idolatry and witchcraft are just as offensive to Him as homosexuality. It seems to me
    that sin is actually twofold: one is not believing God and the other is wanting what we want when we want it.
    These two heart attitudes act out in a multitude of offenses against God, but He is looking at the heart attitude that
    caused the sin.

    For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.