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The Sins of Sodom and Gomorrah...

The Sins of Sodom

Further thoughts on parashat Vayera...

by John J. Parsons

From our Torah portion this week (i.e., parashat Vayera) we read: "And the LORD said, 'The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave...'" (Gen. 18:20). But what was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? Why did God destroy the two cities? Was it because the people there refused to show hospitality to the angelic visitors (as is claimed by some), or was it because of some ongoing sin of the people?

Though the sin of Sodom undoubtedly included the practice of sexual perversion (called "strange flesh" in the Book of Jude), such behavior was symptomatic of a nihilistic culture that glorified violence, despised moral authority and spiritual truth, and practiced the exploitation of others. Throughout the Scriptures "Sodom" symbolically represents gross immorality, depravity, and inevitable judgment from heaven. For example, the prophet Ezekiel later wrote of Judah: "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abomination (תּוֹעֵבָה) before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it" (Ezek. 16:49-50). The New Testament refers to the fate of Sodom as "a fearful example of the everlasting fire of retribution" (Jude 1:7) -- the destructive result of spiritual anarchy, lawlessness, deviancy, perversion, and trauma (2 Pet. 2:6-10). Thankfully there is real hope for those who seek to escape from the wrath to come by turning to God and trusting in his healing power of salvation, though it is only a "remnant" that find true deliverance (Matt. 7:14). Speaking of the final salvation of Israel, the Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah: "If the LORD of Hosts hadn't left us a few survivors, we'd be as desolate as Sodom, doomed just like Gomorrah" (Isa 1:9; Rom. 9:29).

In this connection it should be noted that the word "sodomy" involves any form of violence, perversion, exploitation, or lawless expression of sexuality regardless of gender... In general, it is more helpful to think of it as a code word for egregious sin, "in-your-face" spite toward God, defiant immorality that celebrates spiritual anarchy, moral nihilism, and death... Adultery, fornication, sexual perversions, viewing pornography (i.e., the lust of the eyes), covetousness, gluttony, arrogance (idolatry), unbridled anger (rage), sloth, worshiping the things of this world (i.e., fads, trendy TV shows, sports idols, the world's value system), and so on, all may be called "sodomy." Whenever we consider such things, it is better to look at how we are healed rather than what makes us sick.... The answer in every case to the trauma of the sinful heart is to turn to God and ask for deliverance in the name of Yeshua.

The world and its "group-think" always calls for the abolition of individual conscience. Like the culture of ancient Sodom, today the great sin is to exercise earnest conviction that transcendental moral authority and truth exist, in spite of of the world's "homogenizing" value system... Indeed, the only thing regarded as "intolerable" in the devil's world is the objection that people have a supposed "liberty" to sin in whatever way they please. However, tolerating sin in a world ripe for judgment is a tacit form of "collaboration" with the enemy (James 4:4). The LORD is clear on this point: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and who are shrewd in their own sight!" (Isa. 5:20-21).

The "original sin," that is, eating from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, meant that man sought to transcend God's will to determine what is valuable, true, beautiful, and so on. Man became autonomous, "the measure of all things." Such was the "logical" method of the German idealism of Kant and Hegel, which led to way for Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Adolf Hitler (and some present day politicians) to unleash their nightmares upon the earth. Understand that the deep untruth that lies behind cynical "postmodernism" expresses little more than the godless desire to control the world... Today, more than ever before, the world is like "Sodom," and therefore ripe for judgment from heaven.

And the judgment of God indeed came upon the moral anarchy of that realm... After the angels rescued Lot (and his immediate family), we read "then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur 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 whatever grew on the ground" (Gen. 19:24-25). The sages note the word translated "overthrew" is vayahafokh (וַיַּהֲפךְ), which means "overturned," suggesting that besides the fire and brimstone that rained down from the sky, an enormous earthquake engulfed the plain, forming a crater filled with salt that became known as the "Dead Sea" (ים המלח).

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