Quantcast


Twitter icon


Facebook icon

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links

Recommended books

Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
BUDDHISM
CHRISTIANITY
Christian def'n
 Shared beliefs
 Handling change
 Bible topics
 Bible inerrancy
 Bible harmony
 Interpret the Bible
 Persons
 Beliefs & creeds
 Da Vinci code
 Revelation 666
 Denominations
HINDUISM
ISLAM
JUDAISM
WICCA / WITCHCRAFT
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic beliefs
Atheism
Agnosticism
Humanism
Other

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Quotes
Movies
Confusing terms
Glossary
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs. Religion
More information

Spiritual/ethics
Spirituality
Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

Peace/conflict
Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious freedom
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten Commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Cloning
Death penalty
Environment

Same-sex marriage

Homosexuality
Human rights
Gays in the military
Nudism
Origins
Sex & gender
Sin
Spanking
Stem cells
Transexuality
Women-rights
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news

Sponsored links

 

!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

About the biblical story of Sodom & Gomorrah

Introduction

Sponsored link.

The story of Sodom:

This story in Genesis 19 is generally thought of in terms of the fate of one or two cities: Sodom, or Sodom & Gomorrah. But according to Deuteronomy 29:22-29, God's anger caused four Canaanite cities to be destroyed. It involved:

"...the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath."

Unfortunately, the real names of Sodom and Gomorrah were not preserved. Sodom was derived from the Hebrew word "S'dom," which means "burnt." Gomorrah is derived from the Hebrew word "'Amorah," which means "a ruined heap." These appear to be place names which were assigned after their destruction and were not their original names. 1

The previous chapter, Genesis 18, describes a meeting between God, two angels, Abraham and Sarah. God had apparently decided to kill all of the men, women, youths, children, infants, and newborns in the four cities of ancient Canaan. Abraham bartered with God, as a Middle-East resident would debate the purchase price of goods in a market place. He persuaded God to cancel the mass murder if ten or more righteous people can be found in all of Sodom.

Genesis 19 describes how the two angels who accompanied God went on to visit the Sodom. These were not the typical angels that one might think of today: female human-like beings dressed in white with massive wings. Rather they would be angles such as the Bible refers to: males of a different species, and yet indistinguishable from humans. The city had just experienced warfare (Genesis 14:1-2) and was probably on high alert to detect enemy activity and forestall future conflict. Lot welcomed the angels into his house. They had been sent to warn him that God was displeased with the wickedness of the city's residents and might exterminate all human life over a large geographical area, including the city of Sodom.

All of the people from the city gathered around the house and demanded that Lot send the strangers out to the mob so that they might "know" the angels. Sensing evil intent by the citizens of Sodom, Lot refused. He implied that what the mob intended to do was "wicked." As an alternative, he offered his two virgin daughters to be gang-raped by the mob, if that would appease them. Since young women were generally married by the age of 15 in that culture, his daughters would probably have been 14 years old or younger! The offer was declined. The angels blinded some of the mob so that they could not force their way into Lot's house. Later, the angels urged Lot and his family to flee the city and to not look back. Unfortunately, the angels' instruction to not look back was apparently to be interpreted literally. Lot's wife seems to have had an inquisitive mind. She looked the wrong way, so God killed her on the spot and turned her into a pillar of salt.

Interpretation by some typical conservative Christians:

Many feel that the meaning of this chapter in Genesis is obvious, and does not require any detailed analysis. "Knowing" the angels means that the intent of the mob was to engage in an orgy of anal intercourse with the angels. Homosexual activity by the people of Sodom was the reason why God was displeased with the inhabitants of the city and decided to destroy both the city and its people. God hates homosexual behavior then and now.

If the intent of the men of Sodom was to involve the angels in an orgy, it would seem strange that the women and children of Sodom were present.

Some comments on this passage by Evangelical authorities: 2

bulletA Mohler: "The Genesis passage is very clear, that the sin of Sodom that brought on the destruction of the city was indeed linked to homosexuality."

bulletT. Crater: "It's a sexual gratification offer. Lot obviously understood it that way, and he offers his daughters in place of his male visitors. It's clear the mob intended to have sex with them."

Jack T. Chick, who publishes massive numbers of fundamentalist Christian religious tracts, created a small comic-book style tract for children called "Birds and the Bees." He describes the biblical events at Sodom and Gomorrah as follows:

"God gave us a true picture of the Gay lifestyle in the Bible. Centuries ago, there were four cities under the control of Satan and his devils. The worst city was Sodom. These Sodomites worshipped Satan, were possessed with devils and they hated God. Their stink reached heaven and God was fed up with them. He planned to destroy them to keep their filthy lifestyle from spreading....As soon as they got Lot and his family out of Sodom, God fire-bombed the cities and turned them into ashes. Today, those same kind of people are back, but now they're called Gays!" (Emphasis in the original.) 3

Interpretation by some typical liberal/progressive Christians:

Most feel that Genesis 19 is totally unrelated to consensual same-sex sexual behavior.

It is obvious that Lot wanted to protect the angels from the city mob. The people of Sodom, having recently been under attack by foreigners, might have been worried that the angels were really military spies. The mob might have wanted to humiliate the strangers with homosexual rape which is the authors of the Bible considered as abhorrent as heterosexual rape. The male-on-male rape that the angels were threatened was not a act of romatic attachment or lust; it was a common method of humiliating men in that era and culture. Lot indicated in Genesis 19:7 that whatever the mob intended to do to the angels, it was "wicked."

Lot had lived in Sodom for some time, so he would have known whether the men of the city were mainly or all gay. It is unlikely that Lot would have offered his virgin daughters for the mob to molest or rape if the men of Sodom had been homosexuals. They would then have had no interest in women. It would have made much more sense for him to offer his future sons-in-law instead. Since he was the patriarch of the family, and since his daughters were engaged, Lot would be in a position of authority over both his daughters and their future husbands. But he offered his daughters instead. So he must have known that the men of Sodom were mainly heterosexual.

An alternate explanation might be that the mob wanted to "know" the angels in a non-sexual way. They wanted to find out why the angels had come to their city. Were they just travelling through, or were they enemy spies who wanted to study the city's defenses?

Some comments on this passage by liberal Christian pastors and academics: 2

bulletK. Stendahl: "It's a folk story. It even has a little black humor, in the fact that he [Lot] is so anxious to protect his guests that he's willing to sacrifice his daughters. To make a biblical ethics story out of it is not very wise."

bulletD. Bartlett: "Many of the Bible's stories don't mean what they seem on their face. Many mainstream scholars say it [the Genesis passage] is about hospitality and how to deal with the messengers of God. If it does refer to homosexual behavior, it's homosexual rape. They don't just want to lie down with them voluntarily; they want to rape the angels."

bulletR Kimelman: "In the Mideast then, once a man has entered into your home, your responsibility to his protection is your primary moral obligation, even if it's at the expense of your own daughters. The Bible is recording a story; it is not mandating behavior."

bulletJ.K. Nelson: "If you read it literally, in its English translation, without considering its context, one could say the Bible condemns homosexual activities. When we look at the Bible and try to draw moral rules for living, but we take it out of the context of the time when they were written, we do them a great injustice."

References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "A biblically based study on homosexuality in the Bible," Light, 1996, at: http://www.apostolicrestorationmission.4t.com/
  2. Fred Tasker, "What does the Bible say about homosexuality?", Philadelphia Inquirer, 1997-JUL-13. The article was based on an earlier survey of religions opinion of 6 theologians and religious leaders covering the range from conservative to liberal thought:
    bulletDavid Bartlett, professor at Yale Divinity School
    bulletRev. Timothy Crater of the National Association of Evangelicals
    bulletReuven Kimelman, professor of near Eastern and Judaic studies at Brandeis University.
    bulletR. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Seminary
    bulletThe Rev. Jill Nelson, pastor of the Sunshine Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church
    bulletKrister Stendahl, ex-dean of Harvard Divinity School.
  3. Jack T. Chick, "Birds and the Bees," (2004), at: http://www.chick.com/

Site navigation:

 Home > Christianity > Bible passages > Bible homosexuality > Genesis 19 > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Bible homosexuality > Genesis 19 > here

Copyright © 1996 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update and review: 2012-FEB-29
Author: B.A. Robinson.

line.gif (538 bytes)
Sponsored link

Go to the previous page, or to the "Sodom and Gomorrah" menu," or choose:

Google
Web ReligiousTolerance.org

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?


Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.

 

Sponsored links: