I have always been taught that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality, and whenever anyone talks about "sodomy" it is very clear what they refer to.
Well, I haven't read a lot of the Bible lately, so I thought I'd do some reading. I started with Genesis, and when I came to the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and started to think about the sin of Sodom and if it really was what I have always been told it was.
Genesis, Chapter 19 reads:
1 And the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of the city. And seeing them, he rose up and went to meet them: and worshipped prostrate to the ground.
2 And said: I beseech you, my lords, turn in to the house of your servant, and lodge there: wash your feet, and in the morning you shall go on your way. And they said: No, but we will abide in the street.
3 He pressed them very much to turn in unto him: and when they were come into his house, he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate:
4 But before they went to bed, the men of the city beset the house, both young and old, all the people together.
5 And they called Lot, and said to him: Where are the men that came in to thee at night? bring them out hither, that we may know them:
6 Lot went out to them, and shut the door after him, and said:
7 Do not so, I beseech you, my brethren, do not commit this evil.
8 I have two daughters who, as yet, have not known man; I will bring them out to you, and abuse you them as it shall please you, so that you do no evil to these men, because they are come in under the shadow of my roof.
9 But they said: Get thee back thither. And again: Thou camest in, said they, as a stranger, was it to be a judge? therefore we will afflict thee more than them. And they pressed very violently upon Lot: and they were even at the point of breaking open the doors.
10 And behold the men put out their hand, and drew in Lot unto them, and shut the door.
11 And them, that were without, they struck with blindness from the least to the greatest, so that they could not find the door.
12 And they said to Lot: Hast thou here any of thine? son in law, or sons, or daughters, all that are thine bring them out of this city:
13 For we will destroy this place, because their cry is grown loud before the Lord, who hath sent us to destroy them.
It is not clear what the mob wanted to:
- Gang rape the angels. This was a common technique by which men, particularly enemies, were humiliated in that society.
- Engage in consensual homosexual sex with the angels: This is the interpretation of the NIV translators. They wrote very clearly that the intent was to "have sex with them."
- Interrogate them. They may have been concerned that the strangers were spies who were sent to the city to determine its defensive fortifications. Sodom was a tiny fortress in the barren wasteland south of the Dead Sea. The only strangers that the people of Sodom ever saw were enemy tribes who wanted to destroy and take over their valuable fortress and the trade routes that it protected.
- Attack them physically.
From the context, it is obvious that the mood of the mob was not friendly. Lot may have thought that they had sex on their minds, because he offered his virgin daughters as an attempt to please the mob. Some Christian interpreters maintain that all of the men in the city were present in the mob, and that all were homosexual. Lot would certainly have known this, for he was a resident of the city. If they were all gay, then he would hardly have made a gift of his daughters to be raped; the mob would have had no sexual interest in women.
However, this is all speculation. If Genesis was the only place in the Bible that mentioned the story of Sodom, I could easily agree that the sin of Sodom very well could have been Homosexuality, however the sin of Sodom is mentioned elsewhere.....
According to Isaiah (Chapter 1) the Sin of Sodom was a lack of Social Justice:
7 Your land is desolate, your cities are burnt with fire: your country strangers devour before your face, and it shall be desolate as when wasted by enemies.
8 And the daughter of Sion shall be left as a covert in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, and as a city that is laid waste.
9 Except the Lord of hosts had left us seed, we had been as Sodom, and we should have been like to Gomorrha.
10 Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom, give ear to the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrha.
11 To what purpose do you offer me the multitude of your victims, saith the Lord? I am full, I desire not holocausts of rams, and fat of fatlings, and blood of calves, and lambs, and buck goats.
12 When you came to appear before me, who required these things at your hands, that you should walk in my courts?
13 Offer sacrifice no more in vain: incense is an abomination to me. The new moons, and the sabbaths and other festivals I will not abide, your assemblies are wicked.
14 My soul hateth your new moons, and your solemnities: they are become troublesome to me, I am weary of bearing them.
15 And when you stretch forth your hands, I will turn away my eyes from you: and when you multiply prayer, I will not hear: for your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices from my eyes, cease to do perversely,
17 Learn to do well: seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge for the fatherless, defend the widow.
Ezekiel (Chapter 16) described the sin of Sodom as disregard for the poor:
49 Behold this was the iniquity of Sodom thy sister, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance, and the idleness of her, and of her daughters: and they did not put forth their hand to the needy, and the poor.
Whereas Jeremiah (Chapter 23) saw the sin of Sodom as general immorality:
14 And I have seen the likeness of adulterers, and the way of lying in the prophets of Jerusalem: and they strengthened the hands of the wicked, that no man should return from his evil doings, they are all become unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrha.
Deuteronomy Chapter 29 gives the reason why Sodom and the other cities were destroyed, homosexuality is not listed:
23 Burning it with brimstone, and the heat of salt, so that it cannot be sown any more, nor any green thing grow therein, after the example of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha, Adama and Seboim, which the Lord destroyed in his wrath and indignation:
24 And all the nations shall say: Why hath the Lord done thus to this land? what meaneth this exceeding great heat of his wrath?
25 And they shall answer: Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord, which he made with their fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt:
26 And they have served strange gods, and adored them, whom they knew not, and for whom they had not been assigned:
27 Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this volume:
28 And he hath cast them out of their land, in anger and in wrath, and in very great indignation, and hath thrown them into a strange land, as it is seen this day.
Now the epistle of Jude does say "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" (7 KJV). But there is no hint of homosexuality: "strange flesh" hardly suggests homoeroticism. Some have stated that the Jewish tradition to which Jude alludes was a legend that the women of Sodom had intercourse with the angles.
It seems from my limited study on this issue, there isn't a scirptural basis for the idea of the sin of Sodom specificaly being homosexuality. I am not saying that Scripture isn't clear about homosexual acts being sinful, this is very obvious in St. Paul's Epistles and Leviticus, but honestly it doesn't seem as if the sin of Sodom was homosexuality.
Now, I have no idea what the Fathers had to say on the sin of Sodom, and I would be glad to know, and there could be some where in the Bible where homosexuality is said to be the sin of Sodom, if so please correct me!
Once again, I am not saying homosexuality is ok and isn't condemned in the Bible, I just don't think there is any reason to think the sin of Sodom was specificaly homosexuality, but I could be totally off, I welcome any and all corrections!