the Rainbow Nation Home"
(Genesis chapter 19)
The story of Sodom
and Gomorrah takes place primarily in Genesis 19 with God about ready to
pass judgment on the evil people of Sodom. But before He does so, He elects
to give them one last chance, a test if you will. He agrees to send two of
His angels to the city. If they can find ten righteous among the citizens of
Sodom, God will spare the city from destruction. However, if they cannot find
ten righteous people then His judgment would stand and the city destroyed.
We catch the story as the angels are coming into the town.
Genesis 19:1-5 (RSV)
"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 bowed himself with his face to the earth, and said,
"My lords, turn aside, I pray you, to your servant's house and spend the
night, and wash your feet; then you may rise up early and go on your way."
They said, "No; we will spend the night in the street." But he urged them
strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he made
them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
But before they lay down, the men of
the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last
man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, "Where are the men
who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know
That evening as the angels bed down for the night, the entire male population of the city encircles Lot’s home and
accuses Lot of harboring these uninvited and unapproved strangers. They
demand that Lot hand the angels over to them so that they may “know” them
(“Yada” Strongs #3045). While there is much debate over the interpretation
of this word “Yada”, I believe Moffet’s translation of “violent
rape” is probably the closest. I personally don’t think that the citizens of
this violent place really intended to sit down and have a nice little
chitchat over tea with these strangers!
Whatever the exact translation, I think it’s clear the
people of Sodom meant the angels harm. God also seemed to come to the same
conclusion since after Lot and his family were a safe distance away, the city
was destroyed – just as God had originally planned.
The question that is debated is this: Is God
condemning the people because they were homosexual or because they were
cruel, selfish and showed no mercy or compassion to others?
answers many of these questions when he states: "Behold, this was the
inequity of your sister Sodom: pride, overabundance of food (in Hebrew this
phrase literally means eating to the point of retching...), prosperous ease,
and idleness were hers and her daughters; neither did she strengthen the
hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abominable
offenses before Me."
In other words they were evil and self-centered people
who totally ignored God and thought nothing of attacking, raping and killing
people. Here is where the interpretations begin to differ. One side believes
the sin of the Sodomites was the method of rape they intended to inflict
upon the angels (i.e. the act of sodomy), while the other side believes the
fact that the Sodomites wanted to attack and harm the strangers at all
demonstrated the evil nature of these people and their complete abandonment
of the law of Love. In other words it wasn’t the method of rape that was
important - but the fact that the Sodomites wanted to rape and kill them at
all that is truly the issue!
I personally don’t think God cares so much about our
method of intercourse as He does about the attitude and intent behind it.
Even today, rape has nothing to do with a loving relationship. Rapists
are motivated of power, the need for control, anger, hatred and in
some cases even vengeance. Ezekiel's account substantiates our belief that
the sin of the Sodomites was not one of homosexuality, but of a
self-centered, unloving attitude that cared little for God or their fellow
Further supporting this belief, we know
that historically between three to ten percent of any given population is
homosexual. Yet here we see the entire male population of Sodom
wanting to "know" the strangers. Never in recorded history has an entire
population of people been gay and if by some quirk of nature
they were, then where did the children of Sodom come from? If all the men
were homosexuals why would Lot even
bother to offer his daughters to the crowd in exchange for the angels if he
knew his bribe would be worthless (Genesis 19:8)?
If the act of sodomy was the issue then why did God destroy the women of
the city as well? The final nail in the
coffin to this argument is that Lot’s daughters were engaged to be married
to men of Sodom. Clearly we can see that the entire population of the city
were not homosexuals nor was this the reason God destroyed the city.
So why would the men of Sodom want to rape the angels? If you study history, you will find two important clues that
may shed light on the issue. First, is that it was relatively common back
then for the victorious army to rape high-ranking leaders of the defeated
foe. Why? Because women were viewed as second-class citizens and chattel in many regards,
items to be bought and sold, or even traded. For instance, in Genesis
19:8 Lot attempts to trade his two virgin daughters to the men of Sodom
so they would leave the angels alone. What would we think about such an act
Because women were held in such low regard it was the
ultimate form of humiliation to treat another man as you would a woman. Most
men preferred death to such treatment for now they were viewed as mere
‘women’ in the eyes of their captors.
The other reason all the men of Sodom would want a
‘go’ at these angels was that the religious practices of the day believed
that sexual relations with another somehow conveyed a portion of that
person’s strength and power to you. This was the whole concept behind the
practice of temple prostitution and the fertility cults. They believed that
having sex with the temple prostitute (either male or female) conveyed a
blessing from the god of that particular temple to the participant.
Can you imagine what the people of Sodom thought when
they realized they were entertaining supernatural beings? They probably
thought that they had hit the spiritual jackpot (!) and coveted the
supernatural powers they hoped to attain through raping these angels. What
fools they were! Who can mock God or the messengers sent on His behalf?
I think the Biblical passages pertaining to Sodom
(Genesis 19), God’s own explanation of their sins in
perspective on why the men of Sodom wanted to rape the strangers (i.e. to
humiliate them and the transference of
supernatural powers through sex) and antidotal evidence (e.g. the entire
male population showed up to “know” the strangers, not the small minority
that would be the gay population) all point to only one logical
conclusion. God destroyed the people of Sodom not for the
sexual act of sodomy but for the wicked and debased spiritual state of these people.
A society that had
clearly abandoned the Law of Love.
If this conclusion is correct then we can infer
that when the Bible refers to the sin of the Sodomites. God is NOT talking
about the specific sexual act of sodomy as some translations might imply.
But to the overall spiritual state of the person that leads them to embrace
a sinful lifestyle that is completely devoid of love.
On one final note concerning this passage. It’s
alarming to note that for all the sins of Sodom the Lord told Israel that
neither "Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have
done" (Ezekiel 16:48); for Israel not only chased (whored) after strange
gods but she "despised her husband and her children" (Ezekiel 16:45).
Because of this, God declares, He will be more forgiving of Sodom on the day
of judgment than to Israel.
Why did God condemn Israel in Ezekiel? Because she showed no
mercy towards strangers and cast out those she deemed ‘unfit’ from the house
of Israel. The same Pharisaical spirit gave approval to Saul’s persecution
of the Christians and tried to ban the Gentiles from Jesus’ forgiving grace.
The same Pharisaical spirit is still at work today, causing us to draw lines
between 'us' versus 'them' and attempting to define who is righteous and
who is not. Such a spirit causes harm to the Body of Christ
and limits (in it's own mind) who can and cannot be part of the kingdom of
God. God makes no such divisions or limitations concerning Jesus
Christ's saving grace (see the article titled "Whosoever"). All are welcome, all are His.
For a more in depth look at this subject read
"Calling the Rainbow Nation
by Rev. Sundby
All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by
any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other except
for brief quotations without the permission of the author and/or G.A.L.I.P..
Counter reset 9/16/2005