(supplemental to the current preaching series, Sex in a Broken World, from 1 Corinthians 5-7. Audio sermons available here.)
Why was Sodom destroyed? Why did God’s wrath come on them through literal fire, burning sulfur, as recorded in Genesis 19?
Appealing to the prophecy of Ezekiel, it is argued that Sodom’s sin had nothing to do with homosexuality, but a range of sins, and in summary, the lack of proper hospitality toward visitors; not the commonly understood practice of homosexuality, or attempted homosexual rape, as recounted in Genesis 19.
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. Ezekiel 16:49, 50 ESV
It would certainly be wrong to argue that the only sin of Sodom was homosexual perversion, or the example of attempted homosexual rape of Lot’s visitors. The Bible’s emphasis on concern for the poor and warning about excessive materialism are significant and we ignore that to our peril as we focus on sins that point away from ourselves to others. But to say it has nothing to do with homosexuality would be to neglect a key part of the passage.
The last word on Ezekiel’s list of Sodom’s sins, abomination, is not a summation of the other items, but is the last of a series, the final nail in Sodom’s coffin, a clear reference to the homosexual threat against Lot’s visitors, an indication of sexual perversion or unnatural sexual activity.
Abomination is the word used to describe God’s attitude for same sex relations in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, contrasting this offense with other activities that are “unclean,” requiring actual and ritual washing, not a serious sin. But this goes beyond that, a perversion that is an abomination ESV or detestable NIV. Ezekiel’s use of this word is without question an intentional tying of Sodom’s over the top sin to the sexual perversion condemned in Leviticus. The New Testament confirms this in Jude 7, noting that Sodom was judged by God for sexual immorality and perversion NIV or as stated more literally in the King James Version, strange flesh.
Certainly what the men of Sodom did was inhospitable, but it was far more than that.
For more detail on the use of abomination in the Bible and a more thorough discussion of Sodom in Genesis 19, I recommend the work of Dr. Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice. Much of Dr. Gagnon’s excellent work can also be found on his website http://www.robgagnon.net/. Don’t let the bow tie and the dated look of this site deter you from his excellent material.