Why Did God Destroy the City of Sodom?
There are, in our day, two principle competing views on how to answer this question. Because we live in a world where those committing sexual perversion have become a protected class, certain circles of the church have rushed to accommodate them. The up and coming theory, however anti-intuitive it might be is this- God destroyed Sodom not because it was a city given over to perversion, but because it was a city that failed to exercise hospitality. God’s wrath was poured out not because the men of Sodom, pounding on Lot’s door, wanted to sexually assault the angels, but because the angels were not treated with grace and compassion. It wasn’t what they wanted to take, but what they failed to give.
The more conservative wing of the church, of course, takes an older view, a more intuitive view. The narrative here goes like this- Sodom was a city where sexual perversion had taken such deep root, that when angels came to visit they were viewed as fresh meat. This grave evil that gave birth to this grave crime inspired God’s grave wrath.
While the second view, the more intuitive, the more historical view has more to go for it than the politically correct more modern view, I’m afraid they both seriously miss the point. Yes, the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness. Yes, sexual perversity is both a result of God’s wrath and a provocation of God’s wrath. But a more careful look at the story tells us why Sodom was destroyed. It was destroyed not because of the evil of the unbelievers. It was destroyed because of a lack of a remnant. God destroyed Sodom because of the failure of the church, of the believers.
Remember Abraham’s careful conversation with God, his virtual negotiation for the city of Sodom. Would God spare the city if there were fifty righteous there? Forty-five? Forty? Finally God agrees that He will spare the city for ten. But Abraham could not find even ten. Don’t miss though what might have been. This dark and evil city would have been spared had there been but ten righteous people. Despite the perversion, despite the scope of the evil, the city would have been spared for just ten righteous.
We live in a dark and evil land, amongst a dark and evil people. We too, in ourselves, are dark and evil. But we, by His grace, have a righteousness that is not rightly our own. We have a perfect righteousness. And by that, we can be the very reason God might spare our nation, our culture. We plot and we worry about how to take back this institution and that. We strategize and we compromise, that we might earn a place at the world’s table, for the sake of the world. When what we are called to do is to seek first His righteousness and His kingdom. What we are called to do is the right thing.
It is possible to retreat from the battle, and excuse our fear as pursuing personal righteousness. We call this folly pietism. I fear, however, that we are falling off the other side of the horse. Here piety is called pietism, and worldliness called being missional. The mission, however, is piety. Rescue your neighborhood. Rescue your city. Rescue your nation. Rescue those who are caught up in perversion. Rescue the Lots of the church. Do it by seeking His righteousness. Remnants save cities.