Does Sodom & Gomorrah condemn homosexuality?

Many Christians have misread the Biblical tale of Lot 

Guest post by Toby Baxendale

London – 12 November 2018


Sometimes we hear the word sodomite levelled in negative terms at gay and bisexual people. To be a sodomite is, for sure, deemed to be perverse, sick and evil as far as the Bible is concerned (and according to the Torah and Qur’an too). So, what is a sodomite? What is the sin of Sodom?

In Genesis, the opening book of the Bible, we read in Chapter 19 how Lot, a nephew of Abraham, receives guests, said to be two young beautiful angels (more of them later), who he gives the traditional hospitality to as he would to any strangers. Then…

Genesis 19:4-5

“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. 5 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.’”

To know them carnally is, of course, a euphemism for having sex with them. The mob of men wanted to rape them!

The attempted rape continues as they try to force their way into Lot’s house

And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.”

So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door. Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city—take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.”

In short, the city was destroyed.

So, to be a sodomite is to be a male on male rapist. Two men, like King David and Prince Jonathan, in a loving homoerotic relationship, described some 1,000 or so years later in the Book of Samuel, in the Bible, clearly do not fit the description worthy of this condemnation. If we think in our modern times, would two gay men living together quietly, minding their own business, fall into this category? I think not.

The Bible contrasts goodness with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, being totally lawless, and morally beyond the pale. God says His next intention is to go and destroy those cities. Abraham protests as Lot, his nephew is there. They have a dialog about how God would not wipe out the city even if there was just one good person there. So, we now see that these Angels are what we call a theophany or a physical manifestation of God. So, the attempt to male rape Lot’s guests was an attempt to rape God himself!

What is more, the Angels are always depicted with no facial hair. Males with no facial hair in that era were, of course, minors. So, the male rapists were not only rapists, but also probable paedophiles. This type of sexual practise is righty condemned in other parts of the Bible; and too often confused with consenting long-term loving relationships between men.

For the sake of completeness, in Deuteronomy chapter 29 Moses cites that a Covenant is made with the Lord and Israel, where worshiping false gods and idols is the trigger point that would bring about the same fate as a punishment for transgression of the Covenant, as that which befell Sodom and Gomorrah ie. this had nothing to do with homosexuality.

Moses last words in Chapter 32, reported as the Song of Moses, references Sodom and Gomorrah in the context of general unrighteousness and unlawfulness. What is more, three colossal prophets of the Bible all reference the terrible fate of Sodom and Gomorrah – Isaiah (4 times, with the sin of Sodom actually being specifically mentioned as general lawlessness ), Jeremiah (3 times, citing adultery, general evil doing) and Ezekiel (7 times), plus two of the minor prophets, Amos and Zephaniah. All refer to Sodom & Gomorrah but mainly in reference to the destruction that would happen, and did happen, to the City of Jerusalem in 586 BC and 70 AD. There was never any suggestion that homosexuality, or even male rape, caused this destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The mentions cite only  the general state of total lawlessness and out of control immorality.

Jesus references Sodom and Gomorrah in the Gospels, with great sadness, when he said that Chorazin and Bethsiada, would go the same way as Sodom and Gomorrah and cease to exist. There is no suggestion that the greatest and most famous Jew of all time who was the inspiration for Christianity, equated the story of Sodom and Gomorrah with homosexuality rather than with general unbelief, lawlessness and evil doing.

It is clear that despicable acts of criminality, male rape and, worse, the male rape of minors, just happens to be one of the terrible acts of unrighteous immorality going on in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Over the centuries, this has unjustly morphed from being an absolutely sensible condemnation of sexual assault and abuse into a blanket condemnation of same-sex love; resulting in hate preaching, criminalisation and discrimination against consensual and loving adult homosexual relationships – all based on a fundamental misreading of the story of Lot.