Sodomy and Injustice

Abraham has spoken with the preincarnate Christ about justice and righteousness. God has chosen Abraham for the purpose of righteousness and justice upon the earth. Thus, all of Abraham’s descendants, particularly those in Christ, have a responsibility to see righteousness and justice fulfilled on the earth. Now, we see the destruction of Sodom. Christ has measured the city. He promised not to destroy the city if there were even only ten righteous people in her walls. Even in the destruction of the city, we see the grace and salvation of God.

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.” Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate (Genesis 19:1-4).

Jesus stayed behind with Abraham. The two angels who were with Jesus now go forth to destroy the city. After Lot asks them twice, they agree to stay with him, have their feet washed, and eat. Once again, we see the importance of hospitality in the Abrahamic culture. When we read narratives, it is very easy to speculate or infer too much from the text. While my thoughts here turn everywhere from Christ’s absence from Lot to the fact that Lot had to ask the angels twice to stay to Lot’s urgency in keeping the angels away from the Sodomite square to the baking of unleavened bread, I want to be careful not to read too much into the text. Much of the battle when we read Scripture involves the practice of self control. I think, here, much more can be said with fewer words.

Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.” But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand aside.” Furthermore, they said, “This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.” So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway (Genesis 19:5-11).

This scene in the narrative is where we get our concept of Sodomy. The Sodomites, a term still used derogatorily worldwide, came out of Sodom because they saw these two men go into Lot’s house. The men of Sodom desire the men sexually and demand that Lot hand them over. Sodomy, then, is intrinsic sexual sin and sensual living. Sexual sin, though, can be forgive. There are some who claim that the men of Sodom are under indictment for their forced prostitution and rapist lifestyles. While I do not doubt they are given to such things, I don’t see that explicitly in the text. I think there is something much more basic happening here than we often realize because we like to make things complicated, and we really like to use pet passages to moralize and condemn others for supporting certain sexual lifestyles when they are sinful. This is a narrative, and we don’t want to read too much into it. Just to clarify, here, I do believe homosexuality a sin; I do not, however, wish to use this text as a launching board to condemn all those who currently practice homosexuality because I believe salvation is available to all sinners who repent and believe.

These men came out of the city to try to have sex with fresh meat, so to speak. There is a certain sensationalism present in their minds. They are obviously discontent with the sexual actions they already have available to them with the people already present. They need something new. So, I sense that they are unfulfilled and unsatisfied in their sin. Further, they seeking to satisfy themselves–which I think is the ultimate sin whether one seeks to self-satisfy by means of sex, money, possessions, status, power, equity, image, or identity. Living for self is the epitome of unrighteousness that brings about injustice. Selfish entitlement is ultimately why these Sodomites want to abuse the two men and do even worse things to Lot.

Lot tries to defend the two men. I don’t think he does so in a right way, offering up his daughters in their place. But, he tries. When he tries, the Sodomites accuse him of judging them–often an accusation that comes from the mouths of those living in their sin. The two angels thereafter strike the big and small men outside the house with blindness. The Sodomites are so intent on committing indecent acts with them that they weary themselves trying to find the doorway.

I believe we see something about the nature of sinful living. Like an alcoholic always has to find his next drink or an addict always has to get his next fix, when we live in sin we always have to scratch that itch. It seems that those who live in sin always need to outdo themselves. For example, studies I have read on the pornography epidemic show that the release of dopamine actually numbs a person to the beauty of nature and of the opposite sex. So much dopamine is released that, in order to feel happy, the addict needs to return to the pornographic content and increase the intensity or the input of what he or she is watching. Other dopamine-releasing things in life lose their intrigue such that a pornographic habit actually causes a person to live most of life depressed and anxious. Needing to escape life, the person returns at closer intervals to more intense pornographic images. Such is any sin. It wearies the body, mind, and soul. We can’t find peace. The more we live to satisfy ourselves, the less satisfied we are. We will eventually kill ourselves trying to find the satisfaction we think we need. It is no way to live, and you can see how such a lifestyle actually creates injustice in the world because we fail to see the wants and needs of those around us. Sodom is the embodiment of unrighteousness leading to injustice.

Then the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting. When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.” But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lords! Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die; now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved.” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar. The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived (Genesis 19:12-29).

Lot hesitates to flee the city. His wife looks back to the city and becomes a pillar of salt, but Lot and His daughters are rescued. People always do too much with this text. Some say it is a metaphor for life. You don’t want to look back on your sinful life or live there. But, the text does not tell us that was the intent of Lot’s wife. I think it is weird to go that far. I take the story to be a literal description of what Lot saw. We don’t have to impose any meaning beyond the description itself. In fact, I think it may be dangerous to do so. I do not know whether it was a sulphuric meteorite or the calcification of Dead Sea rocks overcoming her or a terminal calcification disease that slowly immobilized and killed her. Neither do I have a problem saying that God supernaturally turned her into a pillar of salt if that is what happened. But, we do not know from the text, so I don’t feel a need to take a certain position. All we know is that Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. We don’t know what it looked like or what was involved beyond saying it happened. That’s not the main point of the story.

Look at how the angels made sure Lot and his daughters were rescued. They hesitated. They tried to save his daughters’ betrothed. The angels had to force them out of the city. They did, and Lot was thankful. What happened before this in the story? Jesus showed that He would not sweep the righteous away along with the wicked (cf. Genesis 18:23). God is a just God. He remembers Abraham and, as a result, rescues Lot from destruction. In direct view, here, is Abraham’s question. Sodom and Gomorrah lacked any righteousness and justice. Lot, though, was credited righteousness and rescued from God’s wrath. Look at verse 14:

Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.

Lot believed God. That’s what it took for Abraham to be credited righteousness. Lot’s belief is juxtaposed with the unbelief of his sons-in-law, the result of unrighteousness. We are credited righteousness if we sincerely believe in God. That righteousness and our belief in God is the basis for all justice in the world. Without sincere belief in God, true justice escapes us—and this part of the story is about justice (cf. Genesis 18:19). So, my challenge is simple. Believe God. Trust Him. Seek His righteousness. Do justice.

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