The Meaning of Sodom and Gomorrah

March 1, 2004 | 17 comments
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There is an interesting exchange over at The Metaphysical Elders between The Historian and The Lawyer over the proper interpretation of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. I am inclined to think that the Historian has the better of the argument, but you can judge for yourselves.

17 Responses to The Meaning of Sodom and Gomorrah

  1. Brent on March 2, 2004 at 10:41 am

    Sorry, but I have to go with the Lawyer on this one. There may be a good argument that homosexuality or homosexual sin, rather, by itself was not the reason for the destruction of Soddom and Gomorrah. In fact, I think when you look at all of the scriptures and commentary, this is clearly the case. In fact, homosexuality is, I think, rightly viewed, as merely the manifestation of the underlying problem with Soddom and Gomorrah, the pride and failure to adhere to God’s word. The Historian’s take on their real sins, does not exculpate the sinfulness of homosexual acts, and certainly subsequent prophets seem convinced that a significant sin from those cities is homosexuality. Again, however, it clearly is not that by itself, but rather that coupled with the celebration of sin, the rejection of calls to repentance and the failure to heed God’s commands. Thus, when our modern day prophets discuss the world as being like unto Soddom and Gomorrah (and they are doing so with increasing frequency), they are not describing just the proliferation of homosexuality, but rather the wholesale rejection of righteousness and the depravity, sexual and otherwise, that now characterizes so much of society.

  2. lyle on March 2, 2004 at 1:05 pm

    Nate:

    Why take sides when neither has a very good argument? S&G were destroyed because:
    1. Children raised there would be doomed to the 100% corrupt teachings of their parents.
    2. The hearts of the people were cold, hard and there was 0% Charity. The lack of Charity, both in giving and in the pure love of Christ, is what doomed them as a society.
    3. Given the rampant homosexuality…
    a. one has to wonder about the population levels…
    b. one has to wonder how strong the family structure was given that the men weren’t spending ‘family’ time with their wives
    c. one has to wonder, given the 82% homosexuality rate among the recent study of Catholic Priests who sexually abused/molested boys…if incestuous abuse also wasn’t rampant. Reminds me of Jesus’ NT statement re: millstones.
    d. The whole idea that Lot really was offering his daughters for RAPE is offensive in the extreme. It seems far more likely that the MESSENGERS, not angels, i.e. prophets/visitors, were being shown by Lot that the people of S&G were thoroughly depraved; i.e. he could offer them his virgin daughters…and they weren’t interested…they were more interested in:
    1. raping men and living out their GLT choices
    2. dishonoring official messengers from God

    Neither the Lawyer nor the Historian address any of this…

  3. Ben on March 2, 2004 at 1:16 pm

    Nibley has pointed out the social protection violations and greed of S&G in one of his books. He cites non-biblical sources that they were so stingy, they put nets over the trees to prevent birds from eating them. I don’t believe he mentions the sexual side of it.

  4. Renee on March 2, 2004 at 3:48 pm

    I had a gay roommate who briefly attended Metropolitan Community Church which is a national Christian church for the GLBT community. He said the pastor there said S&G were destroyed for “inhospitality”. Huh??? If that were grounds for decimating a city, I think some our wealthy, snooty cities would be wiped off the map.

    I have a friend who was preparing to be a pastor at MCC before joining the LDS church. She said the Old Testament was rarely discussed and the emphasis was definitely focused on the 4 gospels and little outside of that. Basically, “feel good because Jesus loves you no matter what you do and grace will provide.” Of course, this is the message of a lot of churches today.

  5. Julie in Austin on March 2, 2004 at 3:51 pm

    Gee, Renee, maybe this belongs on the other thread, but your friend who went from MCC to LDS should write a book!

  6. Renee on March 2, 2004 at 3:58 pm

    Julie, I agree! She’s amazing and resolute in her desire to seek out do God’s will.

  7. Clark Goble on March 2, 2004 at 4:12 pm

    The equating of S&G to homosexuality is relatively late. Nibley’s writings on it are rather interesting. By “inhospitable” they legends include such things as keeping birds out of the city by putting nets over trees (so they couldn’t eat). I seem to recall them even killing visitors. It was a more extreme view that is tied up in the rules of the ancient world – many of which are fairly alien to us today.

    I’d say that I tend to find tying S&G to homosexuality rather pointless even if it is the meaning of the term in common vernacular.

  8. lyle on March 2, 2004 at 4:15 pm

    Isaiah would roll over in his grave, as would Lot…but happily, both of them are already resurrected so they can just wring their hands in frustration.

  9. Gary Cooper on March 3, 2004 at 1:47 pm

    I wonder why no one has brought up the insights that the Joseph Smith Translation of the Genesis account brings to this discussion. I don’t think it paints the men of Sodom in a very flattering light, but it does absolve Lot.

  10. lyle on March 3, 2004 at 3:18 pm

    Gary…I’ve done this several times already. Maybe there is a bias against those that refuse to foonote every word they write? Or just vs. radicals? hm…

  11. Taylor on March 3, 2004 at 4:58 pm

    Gary, I think that you are right that the JST absolves Lot, but I am not sure that it changes much regarding the central debate about whether the Sodom and Gomorrah story is about hospitality. If anything, JST Gen 19:14 seems to bolster this argument that the sin of Sodom was abuse of strangers:
    “For God will not justify his servant in this thing; wherefore, let me plead with my brethren, this once only, that unto these men ye do nothing, that they may have peace in my house; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.”

  12. Gary Cooper on March 3, 2004 at 5:21 pm

    Lyle, I’m sorry about that. I’m not as well read and didn’t know that you’ve published stuff on the JST version of the story. Actually, I was referring to whether anyone had refered to the JST here on this discussion line, so I must not have been paying attention. Sorry.

    Taylor,

    Thanks, I didn’t have my JST handy, so seeing it in print does seem to point to the hospitality viewpoint.

  13. Brent on March 3, 2004 at 5:25 pm

    That may be part of their problem, but I think the story is much more complex. Do you really think God would destroy an entire town for inhospitability. Besides, the Lord was going to destroy Soddom before the incident cited above.

  14. Clark Goble on March 3, 2004 at 5:33 pm

    I think in those days inhospitality was much graver than you seem to think it Brent. It truly could be a matter of life and death as you went between cities. Certainly it seems, in Nibley’s writings, far more grave than homosexuality. Why on earth would God destroy a city simply for homosexuality?

  15. Gary Cooper on March 4, 2004 at 2:37 pm

    Clark Goble said, “Why on earth would God destroy a city simply for homosexuality?”. I don’t believe God would destroy a city just because of homosexuality (or fornication, or adultery, etc.), but I believe he would destroy a society if it attempted to FORCE its evil on the faithful. The more I look at this story, and the comments that have been made, the more I think we are missing the point. I started to lean to the idea that it has to do with betrayal of the reponsibilities of a host, but now I think otherwise. As Brent points out, God sent the messengers to destroy Sodom (actually, to bear witness that the people there were worthy of destruction) before the incident at Lot’s door. If anything, that incident demonstrates a symptom of Sodom’s evil, not the primary evil itself.

    Lyle makes a great point that children growing up clearly could never have an opportunity to learn righteousness, which from what I can tell from the Scriptures is the signal characteristic of a society that is ripe for destruction (which should make American members very uncomfortable, when we look at how many children are raised in our country today). Sodom and Gomorrah had previously engaged in wars (remember Abraham’s saving Lot?), and were evidently financial powers, if nothing else. Is it possible that God had to destroy these cities to defend Agency? maybe to defend Abraham’s? When a society has reached the point that any traveling stranger can’t enter without being raped, that says a great deal (and yes, I think this is food for thought on the homosexual rights movement), but is it possible there was a religious angle to this? Given the propensity for sexual immorality (of all kinds, not just homosexuality) of the pagan fertility religions of Canaan, is it possible that God realized that if he didn’t intervene, Sodom’s evil would explode out of its confines to engulf Abraham’s family, and any other righteous people in the land?

    Total speculation of course, but that’s one of the reasons we all enjoy the chit-chat on this site, don’t we!

  16. Craw on April 15, 2004 at 5:33 am

    S&G were destroyed simply for disobeying God. You need no degree to see that. God had laid down the rules, which were broken. Man still sinned and paid no attention to God. S&G is an example of the world we live in today. Man goes around sinning, but God has provided a way out for us, like He did for Lot. One day, the world is going to be destroyed, just like S&G, but we need to make it to the other city (Heaven) and The Lord Jesus Christ has provided a way out of this world (S&G). We need to keep focussed lest we be turned to a pillar of salt, like Lot’s wife. In the book of Luke it says..”Remember Lot’s wife” we need to remember that we must look forward because God, in His consuming love for us, has provided a way out for us.

    To the poor people who only believe in the 4 gospels…May God have mercy on you. The whole Bible is a love letter from God, to man. We need to read it daily as it provides nourishment for our spirit. The Pauline letters (Ephesians, Colossians, Hebrews, Romans, Corinthians etc..) provide the 1st principles of the doctrine of Christ, which is vital for a foundation that we need. It also has teachings from God that we need to adhere to concerning marraige, and living a life unto God.

    We cannot dismiss parts of the Bible(Incl. OT) just because it doesn’t suit us. We need to adhere to God’s teachings!

    Lord Bless!

  17. Aaron Brown on July 20, 2004 at 2:57 am

    No, Kaimi, I really DID want to know where to find medicines online….

    :)

    Aaron B