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You write about the sexual sins of Sodom and Gomorrah but weren’t they guilty in other ways?

We cover the matter of sexual sins in our booklet “God’s Teachings on Sexual Relationships” on pages 95-105, showing, quite clearly, that homosexuality is most certainly condemned in the Bible.

We read in Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible the following notes about Sodom: “A city on the shore of the Salt Sea south of Engedi; destroyed in the days of Abraham and Lot along with Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim.  BC 1900.”   All four cities are mentioned in Genesis 10:19.

On the website Britannica.com, we read: “Sodom and Gomorrah, notoriously sinful cities in the biblical book of Genesis, destroyed by ‘sulfur and fire’ because of their wickedness (Genesis 19:24). Sodom and Gomorrah along with the cities of Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar (Bela) constituted the five ‘cities of the plain,’ and they are referenced throughout both the Old and New Testaments and the Qur’an.”

Deuteronomy 29:22-23 identifies two of the other cities as Admah and Zeboim, while Genesis 19:23 identifies the final city as Zoar.

The first reference to Sodom and Gomorrah is in Genesis 10:19, and they are mentioned in 15 different books of the Bible– from the first book to the last.

Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonymous with depravity, perversion and wickedness—a byword for sin usually with a sexual connotation.

First of all, let us look briefly at the background to the whole episode.

We know that Lot decided to leave Haran with his uncle Abraham when God instructed Abraham to “get out of your country from your kindred And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).  “So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him” (verse 4).

However, there was a parting of the ways between Abraham and Lot after “there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock,” and Abraham gave Lot the choice between going to the left or to the right, and Lot chose to journey east towards Sodom (see Genesis 13:7-12).

It is interesting to note that Abraham was sitting in the “tent door in the heat of the day” (Genesis 18:1) when the LORD and two angels appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre (Genesis 18:2) before the two angels went to Sodom, and where Abraham interceded with Christ—the LORD—for the people of Sodom (verse 16).

In contrast, we read: “Now 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 he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.”   It is interesting to note that a short while after leaving Abraham, the angels were now in company with Lot who “sat in the gate.”

Unger’s Bible Dictionary states that “the gate was the place for great assemblies of the people (Proverbs 1:21) as they passed into and out of the city.   This naturally led to the custom of using gates for places for public deliberation; reading the law and proclamations (2 Chronicles 32:6, Nehemiah 8:1,3,) holding court (2 Samuel 15:2; cf Deuteronomy 16:18; 17:8; Ruth 4:11); gathering news (Genesis 19:1) and gossip (Psalm 69:12)…”

There is much more information given in Unger’s but the above will suffice to show that “the gate” is where so much happened, and Lot would have been there to greet the two angels to the city, indicating that he was much involved in their local events.  Abraham was not involved in the politics of any city but looked after his family, whereas Lot had become an important figure in a corrupt city.

Now the story moves on to the sexual depravity of the city.  Looking at the events in brief, we read the following in Genesis 19:1-5:

Now 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 he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, ‘Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.’ And they said, ‘No, but we will spend the night in the open square.’ But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house.  And they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.’”

There were just men, both young and old, and to know them carnally obviously meant sexually.  The Benson Commentary observes that “No description which could be given of their vile and abominable conduct, however laboured, could possibly have conveyed so striking an idea of their unparalleled wickedness, as this simple narrative of facts. Here were old and young, all from every quarter — Collected for practices too shameful to be mentioned! Either they had no magistrates to protect the peaceable, or their magistrates themselves were aiding and abetting.”

We then continue to read that Lot offered his two virgin daughters to the mob but the two angels pulled Lot back into the house and struck the men with blindness (verses 6-11).  Then Lot and his family were told to flee from the city which they did, although it seems with some reluctance because we read: “And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters” (verse 16).  Lot and his two daughters escaped to a city named Zoar and “Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens.  So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground” (verses 24-25).   They were told not to look back but Lot’s wife did and was turned into a pillar of salt (verse 26).

It’s an old and familiar story but is that all there is to it?   In Ezekiel 16:48-50 we read:

“‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; 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 fit.’”

It is generally reckoned that the destroying of Sodom was around 1900 BC and Ezekiel was written circa 600 BC; therefore, this event was some 1300 years before, and in the New King James Bible, the sub- heading to this passage in Ezekiel is “More Wicked than Samaria and Sodom”.  It appears that the Sodomites were not the worst but it does also state that they had other faults, in addition to their homosexual behaviour, which were not pleasing to God.   These were, as stated below, and it is worth a study of the Scriptures given (this is in addition to “iniquity” which God mentioned in Ezekiel):

They were proud;

They had fullness of food (without caring for others);

They lived in abundance of idleness;

They didn’t strengthen the hand of the poor and needy;

They were haughty;

And they committed abomination before God.

That is quite a list of ungodly activities!  Let us look briefly at these actions that were not pleasing to God.

Matthew Poole’s Commentary observes as follows:

“The iniquity; iniquity, either for iniquities, or the fountain and occasion of all amongst the Sodomites.

 “Pride; a haughty mind, swelled with the excellency, beauty, and grandeur of their state, and vaunting of it above their neighbours.

“Fulness of bread, i.e. luxury, and riotous excess in eating and drinking: their plenty was not their sin, but they made it occasion of sin to themselves; they were very intemperate in their diet.

“Abundance of idleness; every thing so plentiful, that they little regarded to employ themselves, but were idle and slothful, or deeply secure in their peace, plenty, and honour, neither feared God’s wrath nor man’s sword; the first was the fault of particular sinners, the latter was the sin and fault of the community.

“Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy; she refused to help strangers, as appeareth in the history of the angels’ entertainment, Genesis 19; nor was she mindful of helping the poor with counsel and defence; they were unmerciful and hard-hearted toward the poor amongst them. This was a great sin to those that abounded in wealth, as the Sodomites did.”

Here are a few Scriptures about each of these failings (there are many more in the Bible):

Pride

Job 35:12; Psalms 10:4; 59:12; Proverbs 8:13; 11:2; 14:3; 16:18: 29:23; Isaiah 9:9; 25:11; Jeremiah 3:11; James 4:6.

Fulness of Food 

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible states the following: “fulness of bread; the land of Sodom was very fruitful before it was destroyed; it was like the garden of the Lord, Genesis 13:10; it brought forth plentifully, so that there was great fulness of provision, of all sorts of food, which is meant by bread: this, considered in itself, was not sinful, but a blessing; it was the Lord’s mercy and goodness to them that they had such plenty; but it was their sin that they abused it; luxury and intemperance, eating and drinking to excess, are here meant; which led on to that sin, and kindled the flames of it, and were the fuel to it, which has its name from them; and, besides, this fulness of good things enjoyed by them was the source of their pride, and served to increase that, as before mentioned.”

Some verses that show that this sort of behaviour is ungodly and has bad consequences are: Numbers 11:19-20; 1 Samuel 25:36-38; Proverbs 23:19-21; Isaiah 56:12; Joel 3:3 (trading in human beings); Luke 12:45-46; Galatians 5:19-21; Philippians 3:19; 1 Peter 4:3; and 2 Peter 2:13.

Abundance of idleness  

Proverbs 6:4-8; 14:23; 15:19-21; 20:13; 21:25-26; 22:13; 24:30-34; 26:13-16; 28:19;  Ecclesiastes 10:18; Isaiah 56:9-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-15.

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary defines “abundance of idleness” as, “literally, ‘the secure carelessness of ease’ or ‘idleness.’”

Didn’t strengthen the hand of the poor and needy

Exodus 23:6; Leviticus 19:9-10; 25:35-37; Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 11; Job 6:14; 20;19; Psalm 10:8-10; 37:14; 41:1-2; Proverbs 3:27; 14:20-21, 31; 14:31; 17:5; 19:17; 22:9; 28:27; 29:7;Matthew 23:14; 1 John 3:17-18.

The Pulpit Commentary states: “Prosperity and luxury in her case, as in that of other wealthy cities, hardened the hearts of men against the poor and needy.”

Haughty.

Proverbs 16:18; 18:12; 21:4;       21:24; Isaiah 10:12;  Psalm 138:6; Isaiah 2:11; Ezekiel 16:50; Zephaniah 3:11; Romans 12:16.

The Benson Commentary points out: “they were high, lofty, arrogant in their deportment toward good men, vexing Lot’s righteous soul, toward the angels, whom they assaulted in his house, and toward God himself, all whose laws they trampled under foot.”

John Gill’s John Gill’s Commentary on the Bible adds: “And they were haughty,…. Sodom and her daughters, the inhabitants of that place, and the cities adjacent; they lifted up themselves above God and man; they were above regarding the poor and needy; and were elated and swelled with their plenty and prosperity, and behaved very insolently, both to fellow citizens and strangers; see Genesis 19:4.”

And committed abomination before Me

John Gill’s Commentary on the Bible continues: “and committed abomination  before me; perhaps referring to that sin, which has its name from them; a sin abominable to God, and scandalous to human nature; and which they committed openly and publicly, neither fearing God, nor regarding men; and are said to be sinners before the Lord, (Genesis 13:13);  therefore I took them away as I saw [good]; both as to time and manner, as he in his sovereignty thought most fit and proper, by raining fire and brimstone on them, and setting them forth as an example of the vengeance of eternal fire…”

In conclusion, we read in Genesis 13:13: “But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord,” and we know that this ended dramatically and fatally for all concerned.

In fairness, the sins that they committed have been replicated in all nations down through the ages, but the main sin was that of homosexuality, as the text of the story clearly shows.   It shows that only “the men” were involved, and there is no mention of women in this context, but it appears that they approved of the wicked conduct of their husbands, sons and other male relatives and friends (note an interesting statement in Romans 1:32), and they would also have been guilty of all the other sins mentioned in Ezekiel 16:48-50; hence the reason why there were not even 10 righteous people in the city.

answersingenesis.org states:  “‘Pride is a fountain of many sins because it effectively is saying, ‘I want what I want, and I will have it regardless of what God says or the cost to someone else because I am better than they are and deserve it.’ If that lustful passion is for ‘strange flesh’ or ‘unnatural desire’ as Jude 1:7 terms it, then that can lead to homosexual behavior. So yes, Sodom was judged for homosexual sin—which flowed from pride, which also led to cruelty and exploitation of their fellow men and women.”

Today, the homosexual lobby fails to learn the lessons of history but, as we have seen, there is even more to the account than just sexual perversion, and living a life pleasing to God in all aspects of life is what is required of His faithful people.

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)