The Sins of Sodom
Growing up, I somehow developed the idea that Sodom (and Gomorrah, too) were destroyed because of homosexuality. It did seem to be the one identifiable sin in the story of Lot's rescue by the angels. Yesterday, March 3, 2004, when it was announced on the News that Multnomah County was issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples, over 400 the first day (The News did not clarify how many may have been for heterosexual couples), it reminded me that Jesus had made some connection between Sodom and the last days. I did an exhaustive search of the scriptures (by computer). What I found surprised me.
You may remember the story: The LORD came to Abraham and announced: "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." Abraham, knowing the LORD, that He would destroy the city if he found it so, began to bargain for the city's welfare. He knew his nephew and his family lived there, but he did not presume to ask the LORD's protection for less than ten righteous people. But we know the LORD did not find that many there. The LORD sent two angels to the city to check it out. They made as though they would sleep in the streets, but Lot found them and begged them to stay the night at his home as it was not safe to spend the night in the streets. As it turned out, it was not even safe in Lot's home, for when the men of the town learned he had taken strangers into his home, they demanded that they come out to them so they could "know" them (in the Biblical sense). Hence, the idea that homosexuality was the major sin. By the power of God the angels blinded the men at least long enough for the angels to lead Lot and his wife and their two daughters out of the city. Lot's wife either ignored or forgot the angels' warning not to look back and died. The other three made it to safety before destruction fell on the cities after daybreak.
Even before Lot left Abraham to go to the valley of Sodom and Gomorrah the Bible says, "the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." (Genesis 13:13) When the Israelites came out of Egypt and were given the laws concerning sexual relations, "whores" and "sodomites" were forbidden. (Deuteronomy 23:17) Leviticus 18:22 plainly states, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." In the same chapter (verses 24-29), after listing sexual sins, including also incest and bestiality, the LORD goes on to say, "Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people." Even after Israel had conquered the Promised Land and they had kings, on their good days they were still ridding the land of "sodomites". (1 Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46, and 23:7)
The surprise to me came when I read the following in Ezekiel 16:49-50: "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness 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." The sins of Sodom were many. And Pride topped the list. They had been blessed of the LORD, had everything they needed and more. Yet they did not give of their plenty to help the needy. They had forgotten that God had supplied them with all they had. Finally, they called evil good, and good evil. They were into every kind of perversion.
The words of Jesus that began this study were these: " And as it was in the days of Noe, 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 Noe 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 builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." (Luke 17:26-30) He didn't describe gross immorality. He describes people going about their lives, "doing their own thing".
Homosexual acts are against God's law, if not human law. So are a lot of other things people do every day. Even our thoughts can break God's law (remember Thou shalt not covet). If we don't keep God's law, we can't live where He lives. We can't do it by ourselves, but He has provided help for us. Jesus Christ suffered and took the punishment for our sins and trespasses. Then He gave His life for us and rose again so that we also will be resurrected, all of us. But the atonement is only effective if we sincerely repent, believe, be baptized by His authority, receive the Holy Ghost, follow Jesus Christ, and endure to the end. He has promised to help us until we are able to do it on our own; that's called sanctification.
Today, we are not necessarily better off than was Sodom. There are forces successfully removing God from our public life. When I was a child, I said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag with "Under God" still in it. I could read my Bible and pray in school (and did). I repeated the Scout Oath. It wasn't a bad thing to be a practicing Christian. I was never aware of anyone complaining about religious monuments. I used to visit the statue of "The Circuit Riding Preacher" in the park. Today, would you let someone you know (and care for) sleep out on the street (even on a warm night) of any big city at night? Perversion is visible almost anywhere you go. Today, I heard that the justification for issuing marriage licenses in Portland is that they said they couldn't discriminate on the basis of gender. Soon, I'm going to be afraid to use a public restroom (OK, they're not all that great now). Apparently, the signs on the doors mean nothing. Gay used to mean happy. Husband used to mean a married man. Wife used to mean a married woman. Marriage used to mean a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Those words still mean the same to me as they did.
One cannot read the Bible, believe it, and say that homosexuality or any other breaking of God's commandments, is OK with Him. Those who say that God made them homosexual are wrong. God made each one of us a pure spirit, but he put us in bodies created by men in a world polluted by men, both hereditarily and environmentally. What he expects of us, is to deal with it. It is taking the easy way out to play the blame game, and it will not wash at the judgment to say, "It's not my fault." We all have imperfections of body and desires to get under control. It doesn't help when we use these things against each other in advertising, etc. It is no easier for a heterosexual to control his urges than it is for someone with homosexual urges. The task is the same, to get them under control and do what God requires of us. We cannot do it without His help, and He will help us if we sincerely ask Him. The perfect body comes in the resurrection, which He, through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, has already assured us. The perfect spirit comes through trials, testings, victories, and the washing in the blood of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
I do not hate homosexuals. I hate their lifestyle, like I hate smoking, and what it does to the people who do it. I believe the example of those who take it public and demand to be treated as if there is nothing wrong with what they do, is bad for the country (not to say the world, but I am after all a patriot). They have a right to make their opinions known, and I would not have that right taken away, as it could just as easily be taken away from me. We are all in the same boat. But our boat is about to run aground, and we are all going to need a life preserver of our own. They are being passed out now to all who will take one, but there will not be time to go back and get one when it happens.
Luke 17:31-36: "In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left."