Who hasn't heard of the fiery judgment on the ancient people of Sodom and Gomorrah? Yet how many understand that homosexuality was not the sole cause of God's judgment on those cities? Read here the full story and its warning for civilization today.
WHY WAS Sodom destroyed? Immorality — even homosexuality — was common in other cities of the world at the time. Yet, unlike Sodom and Gomorrah, they were not destroyed. Why?
A Facade of Material Well-being
Sodom and Gomorrah were prosperous cities. Their citizens were building, buying and selling — good economic indicators (Luke 17:29-30). Because of the availability of the whirl of materialism and pleasures, and continuing prosperity, the inhabitants of these cities were blind to grave social sicknesses. Inside these two boom towns and other nearby cities, the number of individuals having knowledge of and respect for the true God and His laws was almost nil. There were not even 10 men of good character in the city (or plain) or Sodom (Genesis 18:32). Apparently only Lot, a nephew of Abram — the father of the Israelites, Jews and Arabs — was deeply grieved by the social values and practices of Sodom.
The Life-style of Sodom
Sodom was infested with many moral, social and spiritual evils. Ezekiel, a prophet in Israel centuries later, warned his nation against the' sins that cost the lives of the inhabitants of Sodom. "Behold, this was the iniquity of... Sodom, pride, fulness of bread... idleness was in her and her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good" (Ezekiel 16:49-50). There you have it! The whole social fabric of these cities had rotted. In Sodom it was chic to boast of one's life-style, especially if one was involved in the latest absurd fad or practice. It was avant-garde. It did not shock sensibilities if one was lazy, heedless of the needs of the impoverished or engaged in idolatrous worship of the most licentious type. All of these life-styles and practices were tolerated. "Do your own thing," was the boast and attraction of Sodom, "and be proud of it." But the Creator God of heaven, the Judge of all, saw matters differently. As He looked down from the throne of the universe He saw a Sodom that had degenerated to a bottom line society in every social responsibility. The Sodomites had utterly perverted everything that was decent and good. The sexual and social values of Sodom were not bounded by any stable spiritual, legal or social rules. Life-styles and goals could be whatever individuals wanted them to be. Rules and values could be broken as easily as they were made. One did not have to be concerned if his thoughts were base or wrong. After all, who could say what was "right" and what was "wrong"? In that social atmosphere sex abuse, depersonalization, alienation and lack of responsibility for one's actions were the result. It was not only the "swinging" or "gay" life, it was the "get" life — "I'll get what I want." Contrast this freewheeling life-style with the laws of God that govern the social, the spiritual, the sexual life of humanity. God's laws give boundaries to right and wrong actions and attitudes. They give direction and protection to the achievement of wholesome human, social and spiritual needs and goals.
Bottom Line Society
Most noteworthy of Sodom's contribution to human experience was their "code" of sexual ethics. The incident of Lot and his visitors only show the tip of the social climate prevalent in Sodom. Promiscuity was so universal and base that the males of Sodom, young and old alike (Genesis 19:4) tried to force perverted sexual relations on total newcomers to their city. It was not just the refuse and scum of a bad section of town that threatened Lot and his guests. People from "every quarter" of the city, "small and great," were infected with depraved sexual values and tried to get in on the excitement (verses 4 and 11). Some, today, try to deny any sexual assault was involved in this incident. They say God was angry over the Sodomites' inhospitality to strangers. The context, however, clearly shows the sexual nature of their assault. Lot was so appalled by what the Sodomites had in mind that he offered — quite cowardly, but to him a lesser evil — his two daughters, "which have not known man." This Hebrew expression is regularly used in the Bible for sexual relations. The inhabitants of Sodom had sunk to a low estate of craven, jaded lusts. They did not hesitate to resort to violent, abusive criminal assault against Lot and his guests to fulfill their desires. Not even after they were miraculously blinded! The Sodomites were not ashamed of their social values and actions. In their smug and self-assured pride the inhabitants of that whole plain of Sodom had accepted what to them was an enlightened and free morality. The Sodomites felt no man was in a position to determine what was right or wrong for all. They became infuriated against Lot when he, a relative newcomer among them, judged their doings as wickedness (Genesis 19:9).
Nothing Left "in the Closet"
This vivid account of Lot and his visitors has given rise to the widespread idea that homosexual practices alone were what stirred up God's wrath. The truth is, all types of perverted sex and corrupt manners were "out of the closet." Such were notoriously common and paraded about everywhere — even in public streets and especially at night. (Lot was concerned about what might happen to God's messengers if they stayed in the streets at night.) There was utter disrespect for any standard of normalcy. In the New Testament, Jude 7 clearly reveals that the Sodomites were "giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh." The original Greek word here translated fornication is ekporneuo. It means to be utterly sexually unchaste. It includes all kinds of sexual immorality or unlawful lust. The Revised Standard Version translates this verse, "... Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust.... "It was a full spectrum of sexual immorality — incest, adultery, wife-swapping, premarital sex, bisexuality, homosexuality, sadomasochism, bestiality and every other kinky sex act the human mind has conjured up. In other words, Sodom and Gomorrah had pulled off the final coup of their sexual revolution. To use the terminology of today, there was absolutely no discrimination based on affectual or sexual preferences or sexual orientation. God's laws on sex and marriage were ignored or rejected. And the inhabitants of Sodom were so far from God, His laws and purpose for human life, they were proud and haughty about their unencumbered and unrestrained 'morality. That is, until their lives and cities were swept away without a trace.
The Tragic Outcome
Look at the tragic outcome of the values of Sodom, because the process is going on today! Then, as now, individuals approached others with all kinds of lustful, selfish objectives or feelings — perhaps even mixed in with desires to fulfill common human wants such as the need for appreciation, affection, being special to someone and expression of erotic feelings. The cities of the plain of Sodom chose a path they thought was right in their ignorance of God's laws. But they quickly found that their misdirected and unbounded desires and possessive lusts drove wholesome and lasting relationships away from them. True happiness had vanished. Because their outlook was perverted they didn't know why their desires and fantasies met with frequent rejection, abandonment or abuse from others. It was because others were also equally unprincipled. All were seeking to fill the vacuum of their lives in an endless search for new sexual partners or new ultimate sensual experiences to give purpose to their lives. They wanted to excite increasingly jaded emotions. Selfish interests were of paramount concern. Sex and sensualism became an inordinate focus of concern, the major goal in life, the only thing many could get excited about. Children increasingly became ensnared with these attitudes. As such attitudes grew in the populace, the Sodomites increasingly were unable to value another individual's personality or feelings. They could not perceive the damages that their perverted desires would have upon their own personality and human development, much less that of others. Increasingly, humans became impersonal objects to gratify whatever lusts or desires one had — by force if necessary. As individuals abused each other, it led to further alienation, loneliness, hostility and revengeful sadomasochism. Many victims suffered deep feelings of abandonment, despair, hopelessness and depression. In turn, these feelings fostered high usage of alcohol, drugs and thoughts of suicide. The result of the Sodomites' way of life plunged the people into increasingly distorted, debased human character. God saw their character. He saw their progeny becoming completely perverted. He had to intervene. If they had gone on, it would have been improbable they could ever achieve God's great purpose for them in a future resurrection. So God, in His mercy, intervened with a catastrophic punishment and cut off their lives.
A Lost Generation?
Were the Sodomites' lives worthless? Did they live in vain? Is there any more help from God for the Sodomites? Is there any hope for any who are caught in similar sins today? The terrific answer is, Yes! But it is a matter of understanding God's plan for man! The Sodomites, like the vast majority of mankind who have ever lived, were allowed by God to be blinded to the Creator's laws and great purpose for human life. The Sodomites were cut off from contact with God by their sins (Isaiah 59:1-2). God allowed them (as He has most of mankind) to reap the consequences of their own way under Satan's sway of selfishness, lust and self-aggrandizement. Sin — the breaking of God's law (I John 3:4) — damages (arrests, limits or prevents) full human maturity and godly development. It damages the proper development of values, outlook and goals in life. Sin, and sexual sin in particular, distorts wholesome feelings to one's own and the opposite sex. It subtly destroys health and minds. It works to destroy respect and appreciation of the God-ordained family unit. It undermines the proper example and teaching adults should be giving to children. But these evils will all be corrected. God loves human beings. He recognizes their potential as members of the God Family despite their sins. He is "not willing that any should perish [eternally], but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). God's great master plan for humanity means all who sinned and died in ignorance will have their opportunity to repent and change the way they think and act. This is the good news! Even the Sodomites will have their opportunity for salvation in a future day of resurrection and judgment. And they are going to listen. Jesus Christ spoke of this period of time. Verbally chastizing a city in His time for having rejected God's message, He said: "For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have continued until today. But I tell you, it shall be more endurable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you" (Matthew 11:23-24, The Amplified Bible). The Sodomites will have more mercy because they sinned in ignorance. Whereas many in the time of Jesus professed to know God's laws but did not keep them. The people of Sodom will come to understand why they sinned as they did. And they will receive from God the gift of the Holy Spirit to overcome their sins. Yes, the Sodomites will live again — to be resurrected into a world where Satan will not be allowed to tempt them and where sinful cultures will not exist to lure them back into sin at every corner. They will live in a yet future era when God's Spirit will be made freely available to all who want to overcome their sins and go. God's way. This future time of salvation for most of humanity who have lived and died is little understood. But you can understand — if you know the meaning of the annual Holy Days God revealed to ancient Israel. These divinely ordained days picture an early small spiritual harvest of individuals called in this age to have an opportunity for salvation. This small spiritual first harvest of those who are now called to spiritual salvation is followed by a large, late harvest culminating in a last great annual Holy Day. This Great Day pictures a time of salvation for all who — like the Sodomites — never truly had an opportunity to know God's ways. This astounding good news is continued, in our free booklet Pagan Holidays - or God's Holy Days - Which? and in the reprint article "Is This the Only Day of Salvation?"
Coming — Fantastic Era of Learning!
Look at what the Sodomites will yet learn in their day of salvation! They will learn that God is the author of sex, that He established right and wholesome marital and sexual relationships and laws. They will learn how these laws and ways promote optimum human and spiritual development. They will learn that a proper marriage is a God — plane relationship. They will understand why God gave laws prohibiting prostitution, fornication (or whoredom or harlotry), adultery, homosexuality, rape, incest, transvestism, bestiality and other sexual uncleanness. They will understand why God put humans on the earth. Human experience is a testing ground and ultimate opportunity to develop godlike character. Finally they will appreciate God's ultimate mercy to them. They will learn why God is so concerned about the direction of all human sexual and social development.
An Example for Today
The societies of Sodom and Gomorrah did not start out as immorally as they ended. They became that way through the increasing acceptance of values and attitudes that did not discriminate between good and evil. It is not exaggerating to say that many nations today are well on the way to becoming new Sodom and Gomorrahs! The fate of Sodom and Gomorrah should be a warning to all. The events that shattered those cities more than 3,850 years ago, Scripture warns us, are "set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7). Said the apostle Peter, "And [God] turning Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample [example] unto those that after should live ungodly" (II Peter 2:6). It is a clear example, not an unclear or muddied one as some are trying to make the account of Sodom and Gomorrah appear. Coming issues of The Plain Truth will cover vital topics in this important area of human sexuality. Topics such as the purpose of sex and marriage, modern moral trends, attitudes and problems, prophecies to major nations because of such trends, how humans form sexual preferences, overcoming sin God's way and proper sex education. You will want to read them all.