1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 "My lords," he said, "please turn aside to your servant's house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning."
"No," they answered, "we will spend the night in the square."
3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."
6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing.
12 The two men said to Lot, "Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it."
24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.
29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.
In the first of a series on homosexuality and the Bible: Sodom and Gomorrah. The homosexual reading of Sodom and Gomorrah has become so common, that is often readily used to condemn homosexuality. 'Sodomy' has even become to designate (illicit) homosexual activity. But is this really the case?
Notice that the story stresses the fact that Lot goes trough much trouble to make these strangers at home. He insists on them staying with him, prepares a meal, and gives his bed to sleep in. He feels so responsible as a host that he offers his own daughters when his wicked neighbors come to sleep with his guests. The latter is of course insane, especially in our contemporary experience. Yet, it clearly shows the thrust of this story: hospitality rather than homosexuality.
Moreover, even if the 'men sleeping with men' is a topic in this story, one could hardly associate this with homosexuality today. In the first place, Lot's guests are not ordinary men, they are angels! In fact, if taken literally, the story does not refer to human intercourse, but 'human-celestial' intercourse. Not unlike the reference in Genesis 6:1-4*, the condemnation is not about homosexuality but about two different species interacting sexually!
Another reason this text is not about homosexuality, can be found in verse 4: all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. Even the gayest city in the world could not boast 100 per cent of its men being gay. In San Francisco for instance, estimates are that 25% of the population are gay, lesbian bi-sexual or trans-sexual. The men that are referred to in this story are (mostly) 'normal' heterosexuals! They, however, exchange their usual sexual behaviour for something new, that is: sex with men, or angels that appear like men. The hype described also seems like a call for an orgy including the whole community.
The incredible immorality demanded by the Sodomites are not contrasted with Lot's heterosexuality, or even sexual identity, but with Lot's hospitality to strangers. This is the core message of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah: one must show hospitality, even to strangers!
During the Old Testament era, the story was also not seen as a message on homosexuality. In Ezekiel 16:49-50, the sin of Sodom is explicitly referred to:
As is clear from this text: Sodom's sin was not homosexuality, but arrogance, a blatant indifference to the poor and needy. To refer to Genesis 19 as a case against homosexuality, is a misreading, perhaps even abuse of the Biblical narrative.
Now this was the sin of Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.
*"When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."