Like Button

Friday, May 04, 2018


Liberals have argued that Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed because of homosexual practices; they were destroyed because of inhospitality. Now, you may wonder why "homosexual practices" are not that bad, but "inhospitality" is so horrible that a death by fire and brimstone is warranted, at least in the minds of these liberals, but that's not my point. It is true that Sodom and Gomorrah were wiped out for homosexual behaviors (among other things), at least according to the texts (Gen 18:20; Gen 19:4-11). And it is also true that one of the "other things" I just mentioned was, in fact, inhospitality. (Genesis 18:20 says, "Their sin is very grave." It wasn't just homosexual behavior.)

Why do I say inhospitality with such assurance? In Ezekiel God describes Sodom as a sister to Samaria (Ezek 16:46). God says, "They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it." (Ezek 16:50) That "abomination" included "pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy" (Ezek 16:49). They had more than they needed and they failed to use it to help those who didn't.

There are those who argue that inhospitality is the only issue. There are those who are not linking Scripture to Scripture and, therefore, missing the whole picture. These people generally agree that there was an attempted gang rape of angels, but argue that this isn't "homosexuality". That's terminology, where "homosexual" is defined (to them) as a sexual orientation. Jude says it was because they "indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire" (Jude 1:7). Paul explains "unnatural desire" as exchanging the natural desire of men for women or women for men with men for men and women for women (Rom 1:26-27). Homosexual behavior. "Which is it; inhospitality or homosexual behavior?" "Yes ... both."

But this is not my point here. My point is two-fold. First, we tend to think that hospitality is a "nice to have", not a big thing. So we (more conservative Christians) tend to think that it's not a big deal. Second, I don't think we see hospitality in the same way that the Bible does.

Paul says, "Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." (Rom 12:13) Now, that appears to be a parallel statement. "Share with those who are in need" and "Practice hospitality" seem to say the same thing. Peter links hospitality to the basic command for all Christians:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:8-9)
The author of Hebrews warns us not to "neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Heb 13:2) It is this idea of hospitality that Jesus speaks of in His parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:34-46). Paul says that this kind of hospitality should be rendering service to the Lord (Eph 6:7). Biblical hospitality includes helping those around us in need, but it isn't isolated to that. The primary point is to welcome the stranger, the "sojourner", to embrace them and get them close enough to give them the Lord's blessing, either the Gospel to the unbeliever or the comfort of God to the believer.

Jesus said, "By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) Scripture repeatedly links "love" and "hospitality". We often think of hospitality as entertaining guests; the Bible doesn't. The Bible sees hospitality as sharing love where you use what God has provided for you in order to help others, in order to draw them near, in order to share Christ and what you have with them. Hospitality, then, would be basic to Christians.

The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah wasn't singular. It included homosexual behavior. It also included failure to love others by sharing what they had with those in need. We might be careful to point fingers at homosexual behavior. We should be equally careful that we, at the same time, are not guilty of the same second reason for God's condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are commanded to be hospitable. Are we?


Stan said...

Dan, it's in there. I offered the references. I know you don't like it. I know you don't like that all of Church History has found it so. I know you're perfectly happy to believe that you've figured it out after the entire Church for the entire history of the Church failed to do so. I know that I differentiate between "homosexual behavior" (a sin in the Bible) and "homosexual" (a modern term for an inborn sexual orientation) and that you deny the Bible has anything to say about either. But it's in there. Your denial doesn't not make it not true.

Craig said...

My first response was that you were mistaken, then I actually read what you wrote and the scriptural support. Then realized you were correct.

Stan said...

I'd be interested in where you thought I was mistaken and what changed that perception.

Craig said...

I thought you were giving too much credence to the hospitality piece, and your following the scriptural thread caused me to re think my knee jerk reaction.

Much like something I read the other day convinced me that Jesus use of the term “pornia” in the context of an observant 1st century Jewish context would be a direct reference back to Leviticus 18.

Also, in the same way that I just got overwhelmed by how often Jesus asked the Jewish leaders if they hadn’t read scripture. Bluntly saying that if they had read scripture that they wouldn’t have been asking the things they were asking in relationship to Him.

Craig said...

Wow, Dan sure showed you.

Of course, ignoring the fact that “sexual immorality” to observant Jews in the 1st century and preceding years would have been defined by Lev 18, isn’t mentioned.

Stan said...

Yeah, I figured he would have to respond since he sent a flurry of comments about how wrong I was and I didn't bother posting or responding to them. So he didn't bother reading the Jude 1:7 quote I gave because it clearly says "unnatural desire" (ESV, NAS, etc.) or "other flesh" (KJV, DRB, LITV, etc.) and substituted "perversion" because 1) it doesn't suggest "unnatural" or "other" and 2) can be redefined to mean "Whatever I consider perverse by today's standards ... and that's not homosexual sex."

I'm always amazed/saddened by the ability of so many to take the plain meaning of the texts and devolve them into whatever they have to in order to avoid being wrong. For instance, I never said the sin of Sodom was homosexuality, specifically because I knew that would be misunderstood. I specifically wrote that a sin of Sodom was homosexual behavior, because I don't find in Scripture anywhere that says, "It is a sin to feel some attraction to X" where X is male, female, or the family couch, but engaging in sexual activities outside of biblical marriage is always classified as "sexual immorality" and all references to homosexual activity in Scripture (including in Sodom) is classified as sin. But, hey, let's ignore the obvious.

Stan said...

You know, though, Craig, I'm just wondering. They say, "Committed, monogamous gay unions today are nothing like the attempted gang rape in Sodom." Just letting that stand, I wonder if they (those that either classify themselves as "gay Christians" or those who call themselves Christians and defend these "committed, monogamous gay unions") would speak out against what the gay community admits is the larger norm -- polyamory among the homosexual community. I don't think so.

Craig said...

I’ve posted plenty of studies that demonstrate that monogamous gay relationships are in a distinct minority. As well as volumes of gay activists trying to define monogamy as some version of “only one sex partner at a time”.

Unfortunately I’m way to busy to post the things I’d like to. But, I think the case that a Jew talking about “sexual immorality” would immediately think of Lev 18, is very compelling. I also am really working through the fact that Jesus frequently and repeatedly referred to the “scriptures” (the OT) as sufficient to know enough about Him to lead to an accurate understanding of Him and His reason for coming to earth. Which leads me to wonder if the argument for the authority of scripture really rests on the OT. It seems as if one frequent argument is that the NT writers didn’t believe they were writing scripture (I think there’s ample evidence otherwise), which makes the NT somehow less authoritative. Trying to think through the implications, especially for the “red letter only” folk.

I’m increasingly realizing, and this interchange makes clear, that the battle is over scripture and how much autonomy individuals have in interpretation.

Craig said...

What’s interesting is where he condescendingly admits that it’s just possible that there might have been some “sexual immorality” or “perversion”, but there’s no possible way to conclude that homosexuality would have been included in that term.

Stan said...

I agree. It is increasingly clear that it is not a question of what's true or not, but a question of the authority and reliability of Scripture. Yes, their autonomy to interpret ... or to discard, with, I think, a growing emphasis on discard.

That's why it's so odd when people throw Scripture at us to say, "See? You're beliefs are wrong" as if Scripture is authoritative and then, when you offer biblical rebuttal, it's, "Well you can't trust that; it's the Bible." Or the other version I've seen lately. "It doesn't say that." "You mean it doesn't use those very words?" "Yes." "Because it clearly means that." "Well, it doesn't say it, so it can't mean it." Like "The Bible never uses the word, 'Trinity', so it's not true." Or "Jesus never said the words, 'I am God', so He isn't." (I've actually heard both of those arguments in the last week.) Or "Just because it says 'strange flesh' and we find that same kind of text in other passages on same-sex behavior and never meaning anything different is no reason to think that's what it means. Why? Because I won't allow it."

Craig said...

I agree, now that the concept of objective truth has been all but banished from public discourse, the next logical step is to question the authority of Scripture. Call what I see more and more frequently is people who did not pay the authority of scripture then pull out a phrase, or a verse and act as if that verse or phrase must be interpreted in whatever particular manner they believe it should be. All the while, not treating the remainder of the passage the same way.

This has been demonstrated in one of Dan‘s recent posts where he latched on to one particular point out of a long list of similar points and argued that that particular point must be given some degree of authority. While refusing to allow that the text immediately before and after his cherry picked verse held the same authority.


Craig said...

I’m curious, if someone is inhospitable at their blog or social media, engaging in vulgar, expletive laden rants and falsehoods, does that mean they’re in the same boat as the folk from Sodom?

Marshal Art said...

While refusing to be hospitable might indeed be displeasing to God, as well as among that which Ezekiel describes as "the sin of Sodom", I don't recall any specific punishment for being inhospitable, and certainly not death. Yet, death is the punishment for homosexual behavior. Thus, while Ezekiel seems to highlight their lack of hospitality, I find it hard to believe that were it Sodom's only sin it would have resulted in its destruction.

Stan said...

Not hospitable? Sounds like it.

Stan said...

Sorry, Marshal, that last comment was in response to Craig.

As for your comment, I agree that "not hospitable" is never listed with a death penalty. What Ezekiel actually says is, "Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it." (Ezek 16:50) They were too haughty to share with the poor and they "committed abominations". In other words, their inhospitality was a problem -- the sin of arrogance -- but their abominations required "removal".

Craig said...

Just had a thought. With all of the effort being expended to demonstrate that the sin of Sodom was anything except homosexual behavior, another point has been made inadvertently. If the people of Sodom were killed by God for their behavior, two things follow.

1. God does have rules (laws, commandments) which have consequences for being broken.
2. Death is an appropriate response to the breaking of (at least) some rules.

I’m not sure certain folk will want to accept that reality. I’m also not sure certain folk will agree that death is appropriate for attempted “gang rape”.

Stan said...

I think that's very close to Marshal's point. "Really? Death for inhospitality?" But, as you point out, these people SEEM to be agreeing that God annihilated Sodom and Gomorrah for something and that, alone, is significant.

One thing I haven't been able to follow in all those disputes. "Gang rape is not homosexual behavior." Unless they are defining "homosexual" in a different way than the dictionary ("sexual relations between two or more people of the same sex"), I don't know in what way it is NOT "homosexual behavior". I think they have to define "homosexual" in a different way. I think they're defining it as "this group of people" and "a lifestyle" and the like rather than its simple definition. So I'm lost with all their arguments.

Craig said...

I think that there is an attempt to substitute “homosexuality”, which is a modern construct about sexual identity not behavior, with homosexual sex. If you can separate the identity from the act maybe it changes things. Clearly homosexual gang rape is first and foremost homosexual rape.

But, I do think that there is an inadvertent admission that rules exist, and that God can appropriately decree death to those who break the rules.

Of course, if it’s all myth...

Marshal Art said...

Not so hard to understand, Stan. The point for some is to diminish the plain fact that God regarded homosexual behavior as an abomination without regard to any context or scenario in which it might take place. Some wish to pretend there is some context that God would find pleasing while providing nothing but willful distortions of Scripture to make the case.