Many people believe that homosexuality is particularly abhorrent to God because, after all, He destroyed Sodom for it. But does the Bible actually say that?1
For the sake of completeness, I have searched the KJV 2 for all references to Sodom and Gomorrah. I haven’t copied them all below because many references were simply a means of warning Israel regarding the kind of destruction that they themselves deserved because of their sins.
Sodom is first mentioned in connection with Lot’s choosing a pleasant place to live. But the warning is given that “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” (Gen. 13:13)
A few chapters later we discover that Sodom and Gomorrah were so wicked that God deemed it best to destroy them. Abraham intervened, and the Lord said he would save the cities if even ten righteous were found therein. Of course, we know the result – not even ten righteous could be found in those prosperous cities of the beautiful plains. Note that judgment was determined on Sodom before the incident of the angel visitors at Lot’s house.
“And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” (Gen. 18:20-21)
Note that the text does not specify what these “very grievous” sins were. For that we have to look at other references in the Bible.
After the Lord agreed with Abraham’s request that the cities of the plains would be spared if only “ten righteous” were found within their gates (Gen. 18:32), two angels are sent to escort Lot and his family out of Sodom before destroying the cities, because not even “ten righteous” could be found:
“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.” (Gen. 19:1-2)
Ancient records show that travellers often spent night in the open (see Gen. 28:11). And Lot seems to have made it his duty to seek out strangers and invite them to the shelter of his home – probably because he knew of the inhospitable nature of the men of the city.
Many interpret the subsequent riot and demand to “know” the visitors – probably accurately interpreted as a wish to abuse them sexually – as proof that the special “sin of Sodom” was homosexuality. However, the same reasoning would make a large percentage of the current prison population in America gay. And if “all the men of the city” were literally homosexual, how did the city stay populated?
It is generally recognized that anal penetration has been used as an act of subjugation by heterosexual males in many cultures for thousands of years. In the past it was used to subjugate the losers in a war. Today it is used to establish the prison pecking order.
The men clearly wanted to rape the angels who appeared to be men. This says nothing about their sexual orientation, but it does say something about their lack of morality. And it does say something about their treatment of strangers. As they did it to the visitors to their city, they did it to the Lord Himself, according to Matt. 25: 34-40.
“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: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to the this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 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.” (Gen. 19:3-8)
When Lot refused to cooperate, the men of the city referred to his “stranger” status as sufficient reason to abuse him as well:
“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 him than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.” (Gen. 19:9)
A number of times, the prophets were moved to say that the sins of Jerusalem were like the sins of Sodom, or worse. Does that then mean that the special sin of Jerusalem was gay sex?
“For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory. The show of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.” (Isaiah 3:8-9)
“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.” (Jeremiah 23:14)
“And thine elder sister is Samara, she and her daughters that dwell at they left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelled at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters. Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou was corrupted more than they in all their ways. As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.” (Ezekiel 16:46-48)
(Although many suggest that abomination refers particularly to gay sex, I believe that abomination simply refers to practices that are abhorrent to the Lord. Please see my essay, “What Is an Abomination to God?” Any practice out of harmony with God’s character of love is an abomination to Him, and he hates such behavior. And looking up references to things God hates brings up pride much more frequently than any sexual sins.)
After telling the Israelites that their sins were greater than those of Sodom, the prophet was moved to specify the special sins of Sodom, and same-gender sexual practices are not specifically listed:
“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness 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.” (Eze. 16:49-50)
And in the following texts, Sodom is listed as a “sister” of Israel, indicating the similarities of their sins. Thus, if homosexual sex was the special sin of Sodom, there should be some evidence that it was the main sin of Israel as well. Yet the Bible leaves no such record.
“Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou has multiplied thine abominations more than they, and has justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou has done. Thou also, which has judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou has committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou has justified thy sisters. When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them: That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them. When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate. For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride.” (Eze. 16:51-56)
Jesus gives some indication that the people of Sodom were less hardened than the people of Capernaum:
“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.” (Matt. 11:23)
And that makes me wonder what He would say about some of our cities today.
Jesus also makes a comparison between the times of Noah, the times of Sodom, and the end times. Yet the interpretation that the special sins of Sodom were homosexual practices is read into the Scriptures. It is not inherent in the text itself. In fact, only heterosexual sexual activity is implied.
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.” Luke 17:26-29)
Peter refers to Sodom and Gomorrah as examples for those that live ungodly. This would seem to cover a wide variety of sins, unless you are willing to argue that the only ungodly practices are homosexual ones.
“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.)” (2 Peter 2:6-8)
Jude seems to associate the sins of Sodom with fleshly sins which may point particularly to sexual sins, but these are not specified:
“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.” (Jude 1:4, Jude 1:7-8)
And that’s the Bible record of the sins of Sodom. Unfortunately people have a long-standing habit to read into the Bible what is not there, thus justifying their own sins and their spirit of judgmentalism. It’s the age-old pattern of putting someone else down in order to raise oneself up. Except that it doesn’t really work.
Saying that the last recorded acts of the Sodomites – the demands for same-gender sex – are proof that they were destroyed because of their homosexuality is like saying that a condemned man cursing his guards on the way to his execution is being executed for cursing the guards. Sodom was judged worthy of destruction before the incident with Lot and the angels. And we have examined the complete Bible record of Sodom’s sins above.
Unfortunately fundamentalists like to see issues in black-and-white terms and thus they see Sodom’s destruction as a judgment on homosexuality. I believe that this is not borne out by the Bible record.
Gay theologians, on the other hand, commit the same error of over-simplification by seeing Sodom’s destruction as a judgment on inhospitality. And the Bible record does not support that conclusion either. Real life is usually more complex, and the great “Judge of all the earth” sees all there is to our lives.
I believe that if we examine the Bible record with an open mind, we are forced to conclude that Sodom was destroyed for sins that are not uncommon in today’s affluent society – sins that are rooted in self-sufficiency and flaunted in rebellion. Sexual sins were part of the problem, no doubt, but it is unworthy of Christians and it misrepresents the character of God to wrest Scriptures in order to make someone else’s sins appear as greater than our own more common sins of pride, hypocrisy, gossip, and a judgmental spirit. One of my favorite authors had this to say on the subject:
“The Redeemer of the world declares that there are greater sins than that for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. . . . And still greater sin is theirs who profess to know God and to keep His commandments, yet who deny Christ in their character and their daily life.” (Ellen White in Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 165)
Did you get that? To “deny Christ” in character and life – to misrepresent Him by the way we live – is a greater sin that that of Sodom and Gomorrah. If that is true, we need to fall at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to make us more like Him – more loving, kind and generous and less condemning.
We need to handle the Word of God with due reverence for its meaning and its revelation of the character of God. We can avoid the sins of Sodom in our own lives only by recognizing our continuing dependence on God both for our physical life and our spiritual salvation.
This article is a minor update of the version that first appeared on the GLOW site in 1999.
All BS. I dare you to write me so I can put you straight. You quote Eze 16:49-50 and insisted that there was no reference to the homosexual practice of the city as a special reason for God’s judgment, but you clearly chose to ignore this phrase “committed abomination” before me. Disgrace!
You claim that God is not judgmental…what? The judge of the earth is not judgemental…hogwash. From human perspective judgemental may imply arriving at conclusions without the supporting evidence but God judges righteously with the facts and the truth. Go read Judges 19:22. You will see that this heinous crime (no worse than adultery) is occurred in other places with the same destructive consequences.
Would you invite a self-declared practicing child-molester (who believe that children regardless of age has a right to making their own decision about sex) into your home with your young children? You most certainly will not. Not because you do not have faith but as a responsible parent, you recognize that your children are vulnerable and impressionable, and that the alien perspective may sow a seed of divisiveness and rebellion. Believe what you may, but be very very careful what you preach!
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness 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.” (Eze. 16:49-50)
Glendon, there’s a differnce between judging righteously (as God does, because He knows the heart) and being “judgmental,” which is judging others by appearances and our imperfect knowledge, thereby making ourselves appear better. By definition, God is not “judgmental.” But when we assume to take on the perogative of God, we are being “judgmental.”
You use the word “abomination” in Ezekiel as a demonstration that God was referring to homosexuality, but that is merely your opinion. The Bible does not limit “abomination” to homosexuality.
Do you know that a “proud look” and a “lying tongue” are also abominations. Your prayer may even be an abomination. Please look up all references to “abomination” in the Bible, so you can know what you are talking about. There’s a little help for you in the post, “What Is an Abomination to God?”
Do you think maybe before we refer to the sins of others as “abominations,” perhaps we’d better surrender our own sins to God? I’m not totally sure that I’m free from all “abominations,” are you?
What about this passage? 1 Corinthians 6:7-11
Its hard not to judge when the Bible has already done so. Do we promote sin or denounce it?
From our current study, Christ is loving but draws a line when sin is involved. His loving words are found in John 8:10-11…
I’ve been puzzling over your reply and how it relates to the topic of the “Sins of Sodom – What the Bible Really Says.” Perhaps you can clarify?
I concluded that “Sodom was destroyed for sins that are not uncommon in today’s affluent society – sins that are rooted in self-sufficiency and flaunted in rebellion. Sexual sins were part of the problem, no doubt, but it is unworthy of Christians and misrepresentative of the Lord to wrest Scriptures in order to make someone else’s sins appear as greater than our own more common sins of pride, hypocrisy, gossip, and a judgmental spirit.”
You do say that it is “Its hard not to judge when the Bible has already done so.” If God (or the Bible) has already done so, it would appear not to be our job, would it? The Lord didn’t give us the job of judging. He did give us the job of sharing the gospel invitation with all sinners, and that does not exclude gay people. And I appreciate what Ellen White had to say on the subject:
I haven’t seen judging and condemnation meet with much success. Have you? (You can Google “Westboro Baptist Church” to see how successful they are in converting gay people.)
My sister. I have read your lengthy article and all see is your feeble attempt to justify homosexuality through your distortion of the scripture. It beats any form of comprehension why there’s so much preoccupation in the West to make homosexuality an acceptable way of life. We are bombarded in the media day in day out with these messages about embracing gay people and it is very saddening to see the Devil infiltrating God’s remnant church with the “love the gay people” gospel. Beware what you’re spreading among God’s people. All sin must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. May I remind you that going to heaven isn’t like a walk in the park.
Dear Were, I have given arguments from Scripture.
You have given opinion – only your opinion.
I believe Scripture is a better guide for behaviour than human opinion – yours or anyone else’s.
(I realize that we each interpret Scripture, but let’s at least deal with Scripture, not just unfounded opinions.)
Great response to Glendon, Inge. I absolutely love the illogical manner in which he ended his diatribe with that Ezekiel text.
Keep opening eyes and some hearts will open.
Thanks, Leroy. I think he assumed that the inclusion of “abomination” in Ezekiel disproved my point. That’s why I included a link to a study of the word “abomination.”
Sis Inge I agree with Glendon, the homosexual act is a perversion and an abomination of GOD’s design. Like unto may other aspects of GOD’s design and creation, whenever we move away from GOD’s design for mankind we are partaking in abominable practices. Sin itself is an abomination of GOD’s law of life and love. Inge you do have a passion for saving the lost, however be very careful of the strategies you publicly suggest as a person of influence. We must always be mindful of the fact that Jesus had a bond with the FATHER that allowed HIM to read the hearts of men (not just their actions). Give the love to ALL sinners..while you remain totally reliant on the FATHER thru the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wisdom from GOD is paramount to our actions.
May the Blessings from GOD be with you both Inge and Glendon while you walk the earth.
By the way… we are all sinners. However, when we receive GRACE we call sin by it right name-SIN
Bro. Delroy, thank you for your comment. Are you sure that we receive grace for the purpose of pointing out the sins of others? From what I read in the Bible, it seems to me that God offers grace so that we may reflect the character of Christ.
And when sinners see the goodness of God, which can be reflected in us by grace, then they are led to repentance. (Romans 2:4) Telling them they’re sinning is generally ineffective. (Think back on your own experience.)
I appreciate that you recognize that all sin is an abomination to God, because that’s what the Bible clearly teaches. And that means we have to ask God to cleanse us of our own “abominations.” And while we allow Christ to cleanse us, we can share with others where to go for cleansing. If they see that it’s working for us, they’re more likely to listen.
Your argument seems crafted to appeal for compassion and understanding of those that are into the gay lifestyle I get that and accept the point. However, it also appears to minimize the abomination conclusion that Glendon presented. For example, part of your reply reads “The Bible does not limit “abomination” to homosexuality.”
Then the Bible, does include homosexuality as an abomination. Your interpretation might be as tortured as the issue you are attempting to correct
Anthony, the purpose of this study was to examine what the Bible says about “the sins of Sodom.”
Indeed, the Bible includes homosexual sex as one “abomination” among many others. The point of the article was that the sins of Sodom are not that much unlike the popular sins of today.
You call my argument “tortured,” and if you think it so, please point out anything unbiblical you find in it. I am eager to correct any mistakes you find. Thank you.
what about these verses?
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 GNT
Surely you know that the wicked will not possess God’s Kingdom. Do not fool yourselves; people who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves—none of these will possess God’s Kingdom.
Thank you for your comment, Farrel. Are you suggesting I should add these sins to the list of sins comparable to the sins of Sodom?
It does seem that the Bible puts all these in the same category. This passage just does not specifically mention Sodom, and I was dealing with the popular misconception that Sodom was destroyed because of the men’s request to rape the angels who appeared to them in male form. And now that I put it that way, I should probably point out that homosexual rape is not quite the same as a consensual relationship, though neither is approved in the Bible.
(I thought that Point 4. was already taken for granted by most readers.)
Thank you for clarifying about Sodom- the city and perhaps the misconception about Sodom, Sodomy and homosexuality. However the point is you steered clear from pinpointing clearly that is evil [homosexuality and lesbianism] and God does not encourage such vices. In other words when someone reads your first article you have come short of pinpointing the true Biblical facts on homosexuality thus giving an image that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality which is what Rick was passing across.
My post was not intended to address the subject of homosexuality, but the subject of the sins of Sodom and what the Bible really says about the subject.
I cannot understand how you can reach the conclusion from my article that the Bible does not condemn homosexual sex. (Homosexuality as a sexual orienation is a whole other subject.) The only way you could possibly reach that conclusion is to argue with the writers of the Bible regarding the sins which they either attribute directly to Sodom or put on the same level as Sodom’s sins are not condemned either. As I referenced them, they are:
Now, are you saying that these sins, which the Bible puts on the same level as Sodom’s sins, are not condemned in the Bible??
Or is it only that you would like confirmation that those engaging in gay sex are worse sinners than those who are engaging in any of the sins listed above?
Dear Sis. Inge,
I request that you clarify a few issues
1. Is homosexuality sin or not?
2. Does embracing my gay friends mean that I should not point them to Jesus i.e encourage them to sin no more?
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. All of us are sinners. Does that mean that if a brother is overtaken in a fault I should not point it out.
Jesus association with sinners led to repentance. They did not continue sinning.
Thank you for your comment, John.
Paul’s instruction in Gal 6:1 needs to be read in context. It was counsel to the members of the church to “restore such a man in a spirit of meekness.” The individual to be restored would apparently be a church member, and I would think that the primary goal of restoration would be to re-connect the individual to Christ. It would be more appropriate to confront a church member about an apparent sin than to do this to someone who is not a member and just learning about Jesus. But even in such a situation, we should be very careful not to jump to conclusions and, rather than focusing on sin, we should focus on restoration and a relationship with Jesus – just as Paul indicates. And we should do this “in a spirit of meekness,” realizing our own weakness and that we all stand in like need of the mercy of the Savior.
Perhaps this passage from Desire of Ages can help:
I was not only disgusted by the attacks on you but want to comment on the way those attacks illustrate how smug sanctimony repels the sinners Jesus came to rescue. The remnant are those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of of Jesus but those who SAY they keep the commandments of God are the hardest for Jesus to rescue because they don’t see their own need.
When I say I am a Seventh-day Adventist, do people think I mean I am a commandment keeper?
Maybe there are some things I need to rethink!
Thanks for the affirmation, Roger. 🙂 I assume you are referring to what happened on another Adventist site?
Yes, indeed, before we are in a place where Jesus can save us, we need to recognize that we all stand on equal footing at the foot of the cross. Any feeling of superiority to any other kind of sinner is displaying the attitude of the Pharisee, “who prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’” (Luke 18:11-12)
Note that this man did not go home justified. Only the tax collector did. (Luke 18:13-14)
“Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
That’s a pretty cheap shot, Inge. Because they disagree with you they’re the self-righteous Pharisee who is not justified.
James, I didn’t say anything about disagreeing with me. Please read again:
Do you really disagree with that?
Lets follow Jesus in his ways, and we will become what he wants us to become. Love your brother in Jesus.
Thanks for the article on the sin of sodom. I would like to request you, if possible, to write another article on ‘Homosexuality and the Bible’ to outline the clear teaching of the bible on the subject of homosexuality.
I am afraid of what is happening in our churches. It is unfortunate that our theologians have disappointed God for accepting the acts of Satan into the church as a virtue. God killed Sodom and Go. because of same sex. Why should we cherished these? God have mercy. Keep on promoting these, the judgement of God will soon visit the earth.
Oh SDA church! where is the spirit of the pioneers? I think the GC should be dissolved because they have failed to uphold the purity of the church. I am not suprised because the church will appear to be more secular, why? It is because the church has compromised with evil.
These are signs of the Lords soon coming. let us stand firm in these last days. Let Jesus take all of us .
Read the books of Moses and then read the Gospels. The same God wrote both and they are in harmony. We know God never changes. There is only one difference,In the books of Moses,judgment most times came quickly and decisively.In the Gospels Jesus gives more time to see our faults in hope we repent. If we continue in our sins we will pay the price. Judgement is differed to a latter time. [Irrelevant sounding-off portion of comment redacted.]
The article explores not only the books of Moses, but also other passages in the Old Testament as well as what Jesus Himself said. We encourage you to read the article, rather than just sounding off regarding whatever is on your mind.