The Men of Sodom

“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’” (Gen. 19:4-5).

- Genesis 19:4–5

Both Lot and Abraham proved themselves to be good hosts in feeding their angelic visitors, but the similarity between these two meetings ends there. Abraham was able to provide a leisurely supper of bread, curds and milk, and meat (Gen. 18:6–8) while his nephew served unleavened bread (19:3b), a staple produced when food is required posthaste. The need for the angels to eat so soon after coming to Lot’s home is another omen that all is not well in Sodom.

Today’s passage confirms this conclusion. Lot’s plea for the angels to stay with him (v. 3a) is shown to be borne out of fear for their safety as the men in the city surround his house and demand “to know” his guests (vv. 4–5). “To know” is sometimes a euphemism for sexual intercourse, and thus we see Sodom’s intent is to rape Lot’s visitors.

The depth of Sodom’s corruption is plainly revealed in this vile order. “All the people” in the city implore Lot to help them satisfy their urges, thereby showing that Abraham’s nephew is the last bastion of righteousness in Sodom. Not even the ancient pagan societies surrounding Sodom tolerated homosexual rape. Such violations, for example, carried the death penalty in Assyria.

Sodom has transgressed even the bounds of decency set by their ungodly neighbors. In their total lack of shame they have embraced homosexuality and sexual violence. This is a warning for societies trying to remove the stigma of sexual sin. John Calvin cautions us that “when the sense of shame is overcome, and the reins are given to lust, a vile and outrageous barbarism necessarily succeeds.”

Many scholars friendly to the liberalization of sexual morality will say the central sin of Sodom was inhospitality and not homosexuality. We answer them in two ways. First, the Sodomites did sin in being inhospitable, but rape is nothing if not inhospitable. Second, even if this text serves to emphasize the inhospitality of the Sodomites, it does not make homosexual acts any less condemnable. Scripture is clear that unrepentant homosexuals are among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9–10), even if the story of Sodom is ignored.

Coram Deo

Some of those reading this study today may struggle with homosexual compulsions or other sexual sins. If this is the case, know that there is freedom in Christ if you repent and mortify these desires by the Spirit. The Lord has promised to provide a way out of temptation (1 Cor. 10:13), and this involves running from places or situations where we are pressed to give in to sin and finding someone who can help bear our burdens and thus hold us accountable (Gal. 6:2).

Passages for Further Study

Gen. 39:1–12
Lev. 18:22–23
James 4:7
Rev. 22:14–15

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