“Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.”[Genesis 13:13]
The notorious city of ancient Sodom will be forever remembered for its extreme wickedness and its severe judgment. The Bible has much to say about Sodom, and frankly, none of it is good. Something exceptionally perverse and grossly immoral was taking place among the people of the plains.
Granted, all men are sinful in the eyes of God and deserve His righteous judgment.
The sin of Sodom, however, must have been extraordinarily offensive to the LORD, as the Scriptures repeatedly refer back to Sodom as one of the most extreme examples of spiritual depravity, cultural corruption, and sexual immorality.
So what can we learn from this perverse place and its peculiar punishment?
Sodom had become Comprehensively Corrupt
Sodom’s sin had become so grievous that the LORD Himself decided to come down in physical form to see it for Himself. It’s not that He had to come down to know what was happening, but rather it was a sign of extreme divine displeasure on God’s part. Much like the LORD “came down” to observe the rebellion at Babel [Genesis 11], God felt the need to personally intervene after hearing the outcry against Sodom.
“Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”[Genesis 18:20-21]
We know that the corruption of Sodom was comprehensive because Abraham’s plea for the righteous was reduced to Lot and his family. The LORD had said that for the sake of 10 righteous people in the city He would not destroy it [Genesis 18:32], but in the end it seemed that Lot alone was the last righteous man left.
Most historians and archaeologists estimate that Sodom and the other cities of the plain easily could have sustained a population of well over 50,000. Just as it was in the days of Noah when “all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” [Genesis 6:12], Sodom and Gomorrah morally had reached the point of no return, and the LORD could withhold judgment no longer.
Pride was the Root of Sodom’s Sin
“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.”[Ezekiel 16:49-50]
The people of Sodom represent the epitome of evil mankind attempting to live independently of God — totally without restraint — indulging in the appetites of the flesh, even defiantly flaunting their sins in the face of the Creator. Sodom had grown so brazenly rebellious in the eyes of God that they practically were daring the Judge of the earth to punish them.
To put Judah’s rebellion in perspective, the LORD condemned His own people and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for being even more wicked than Sodom in her day. Consider God’s word of judgment on Judah just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile.
“As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done … Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed.”[Ezekiel 16:48, 51]
Homosexuality was the Rotten Fruit of Sodom’s Sin
Pride and arrogance may have been at the root of Sodom’s rebellion, but the depravity of this wicked people was made manifest in the abominable act of rampant homosexuality. An abomination is a unique sin against the LORD that makes Him sick. The LORD was repulsed by the blatant acts of sexual perversion in Sodom, specifically the sin of homosexuality.
The LORD designed sexuality within the parameters of a faithful, monogamous marriage relationship, and all other sexual deviancies are an offense to God and a perversion of His purpose for sexuality. Fornication, prostitution, rape, and adultery clearly violate God’s design for sexual expression and are destructive in their own right.
But there are certain sexual sins that are even more repulsive and offensive to God because they violate the created order and nature itself. These sins would include homosexuality, pedophila, incest, and bestiality.
The LORD instructed the children of Israel about the unique seriousness of these sexual sins.
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion … If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them … If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal.”[Leviticus 18:22-23, 20:13,15]
While revisionists and liberal scholars have tried to suggest that Sodom’s sin had nothing to do with homosexuality, or at least that it wasn’t Sodom’s primary transgression, the Bible clearly connects Sodom’s judgment with its sexual perversion.
LOT’S JUDGMENT WAS AGAINST SODOM’S UNNATURAL DESIRE
The Bible says that the men of Sodom were wicked and “great sinners against LORD” [Genesis 13:13]. This emphasis strongly implies something shamefully wicked. Just a casual reading of the rescue of Lot in Genesis 19 also helps fill in the blanks.
“But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”[Genesis 19:4-8]
Homosexuality is clearly in view here, when you consider the following …
- All the men of the city, apparently every last one, rushed to Lot’s house at night and demanded that Lot release the two men (angels) so that could “know them.” This is a Hebrew euphemism for sexual intercourse. The men wanted to have sex with Lot’s two guests.
- Lot acknowledged their unnatural desire as a “wicked” thing.
- Lot sadly offered his two virgin daughters to the men, which was pathetic in its own right, yet this also proves that the men of Sodom were seeking to satisfy sexual desires.
The Apostle Peter also comments on the torment that Lot endured living in such a sexually perverse culture. He mentions the wicked men of Lot displayed an unbridled sexual lust.
“If by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);”[2 Peter 2:6-8]
JUDE’S JUDGEMENT WAS AGAINST SODOM’S UNNATURAL DESIRE
Jude, the biological brother of James and the Lord Jesus, also correlated the sexual sin of Sodom with that of the fallen angels in Genesis 6:1-4, who left their proper dwelling place and had sex with human wives and so violating God’s created order. Just as the fallen angels lusted after “strange” or “unnatural flesh,” so the men of Sodom preferred to have sex with men rather than women.
“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”[Jude 1:6-7]
Sodom serves as an Example for the Coming Judgment
Although there is much more to be written about the sin of Sodom, we must remember that history unfortunately repeats itself and that the Lord Jesus warned us that just as it was in the days of Sodom, so will be at His coming.
First, those who reject the gospel of the Lord Jesus and refuse to receive God’s only provision for salvation will suffer worse fate than Sodom [Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:24].
Second, the LORD compares the wickedness of Lot’s generation with the wickedness in our generation today, where homosexuality is becoming more and more normalized and celebrated in our sexually perverse culture.
As the Apostle Paul says, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth … For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” [Romans 1:18, 26-27].
And sadly, like Sodom, “though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” [Romans 1:32].
We may be tormented like Lot in this generation, but we must continue to boldly preach the gospel like Noah did in his own wicked generation. Calling all to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ before He comes to judge the earth.
“Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”[Luke 17:28-33]