The wickedness of Sodom is well attested in ancient Jewish writings yet the biblical witness never links Sodom to homosexuality.
The belief that God destroyed Sodom because of homosexuality is a late interpretation. It came into being 1700 years after the destruction of Sodom. No human author of the Old Testament linked Sodom with being gay. In fact, until the inter-testamental period, around 150 BC to AD 100, it is difficult to find any Jewish literature which links Sodom with homosexuality. Since the biblical text makes no mention of homosexuality, anti-gay commentators must read into the text, something the text does not say, in an attempt to make scripture say what they wish it said.
Moses, writing in Genesis 10:19, 13:10, 12, 13, 14:2, 8, 10-11, 12, 17, 21-22, 18:16, 20, 22, 26, 19:1, 4, 24, 28; Deuteronomy 23:17, 29:23, 32:32, and Ezekiel, writing in Ezekiel 16:46, 48-49, 53, 55-56, emphasize Sodom’s lack of hospitality, greed, idolatry, gluttony but neither author mentions gays or lesbians or gay sex or homosexuality as the sin of Sodom. The world must wait until the 163 BC-AD 93 time frame for extra-biblical Jewish writers to begin linking Sodom to particular kinds of same sex activity like pederasty and prostitution.
Jewish Philosophers Depart
Later, around the time of Christ, two Jewish writers, Philo, the Alexandrian philosopher, 20 BC-AD 40, and Josephus the Roman/Jewish historian, AD 37-100, made similar allusions and they are now cited by Christian traditionalists to defend their theory that the Sodom story is about homosexuality. Is there a more plausible explanation why Jewish writers 1700 years after the destruction of Sodom, began to link Sodom to pederasty and male prostitution?
In the Bible, individuals who engage in same sex activity in worship of the fertility goddess are called sodomites. The term "sodomite" has no linguistic relationship to the inhabitants of Sodom or their biological descendants. People with an anti-gay agenda insist that the term sodomites describes the men of Sodom and therefore modern homosexuals are rightly called sodomites. Notice however that the Hebrew words translated Sodom and shrine prostitute, translated sodomite in the KJV, are linguistically unrelated. Therefore it is dishonest and wrong to refers to gays as sodomites.
The spiritual apostasy of the Jews was one cause of the Diaspora, when God drove the Jews from Israel and caused them to be scattered among the nations. After Philip of Macedon died (336 BC), his son, Alexander the Great, 356-323 BC, consolidated his hold on Greece and in twelve violent years, conquered much of the known world. Greek culture, Greek sexuality and Greek social beliefs exerted enormous pressure on Jewish culture.
The Old Testament is filled with stories about Jews adopting the cultural mores and religious worship of their pagan neighbors. God's prophets including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and Amos, preached against the worship of false gods. Hundreds of years after those prophetic warnings, the pagan influence of Greek culture during and after Alexander’s reign, threatened to destroy Jewish culture.
Reacting to Syrian and Greek religious and sexual mores and later, to Roman religious and sexual mores, Rabbis and Jewish philosophers adopted Plato’s view of human sexuality. They began to reinterpret the Sodom story in Genesis 19 as God’s condemnation of same sex activity. Unfortunately this late Jewish reinterpretation diverged from the biblical witness of Israel’s prophets, about Sodom. Philo and Josephus departed from the biblical witness, forsook the trajectory of biblical truth and wrote what they wrote under this Jewish reinterpretative influence.
Will Jesus affirm or deny the Jewish reinterpretation about the sin of Sodom? When Jesus begins his public ministry, He instructs His disciples to depend on the hospitality of strangers as they preach the gospel, Matthew 10:11-15. Our loving Savior informs His disciples that Jewish cities which do not display hospitality to His disciples will be judged more harshly than Sodom and Gomorha.
“Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgement, than for that city” [which will not receive you]. Matthew 10:15.
Had Jesus believed about homosexuality, what modern conservative Christians believe about homosexuality, we would expect Him to condemn same sex relationships when He talks about Sodom. Yet when He mentions Sodom, Jesus not only refuses to condemn same sex relationships, He also rejects the first century view point expressed by the Sibylline Oracles, Philo and Josephus. The sin of Sodom according to Jesus, was inhospitality to God's angelic messengers. Here was a perfect opportunity for Jesus to clobber homosexuals. If ever we would expect scripture to clearly state the traditional Christian Complementarian anti-gay position, this is the place yet surprisingly-
How will anti-gay conservatives deal with this Jesus? The Jesus of the Bible is a stranger to many anti-gay conservatives. Will they change their mind and agree with Jesus? Will they begin to love and evangelize their gay brothers and lesbian sisters?
If anyone is qualified to make a judgment about Sodom, it is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate author of the holy Bible and the keenest observer of history in the universe. According to many Christian traditionalists, “the Bible says God destroyed Sodom for the sin of homosexuality.” Yet the written word of God never says that and Jesus the Incarnate Word never said that. In fact, no verse of scripture anywhere in the Bible links gays and lesbians with Sodom.
“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgement, than for that city.” Mark 6:11.
Jesus refused to go along with the popular first century Jewish view of Sodom, that the sin of Sodom was some kind of same sex activity. Who among the roaring crowd of anti-gay conservatives has the moral courage to change his mind and line up with Jesus on the gay issue? Anyone, anyone? Bueller? The sin of Sodom that Jesus points out is inhospitality. Based on the evidence, do you have the moral courage to change your mind about the sin of Sodom?
As a Bible believing Christian, I agree with Jesus about the sin of Sodom. The sin of Sodom was inhospitality or lack of hospitality, not rowdy gays and lesbians. To real Christians, as opposed to cultural christians, what the Bible says is very important. The Scriptures are the basis of our faith. We place the scriptures above human opinion. Since Jesus clearly says that the sin of Sodom was lack of hospitality, without ever mentioning homosexuality as the sin of Sodom, wise Christians joyfully agree with Jesus on this issue. I sincerely hope you are a wise Christian.
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This page revised June 28, 2014