Sodom and Gomorrah 1980*
Why were those folks dumped-on so badly?
“Because they were queers!” we might say.
Yes they were, to use the slang term, “queers.” (Some may prefer the euphemistic “gay” in accordance with the thinking of our “broadminded society which has proclaimed homosexuality an alternative sexual preference.”) And yes, God condemns homosexuals along with fornicators, adulterers, idolaters, male prostitutes, thieves, the greedy, the drunkards, and the swindlers (1 C. 6:9,10; for additional lists of vices, see 1 C. 5:10,11; 10:7,8 Gal. 5:20; Col. 3:5,6; Eph. 5:5; 1 P. 4:3; Rv. 21:8).
So what is so bad about homosexuality? And what is so bad about these other vices? They are the fruits of selfishness. They are acts which proceed from the self-centered, rebellious nature of man (Gal. 5:18). These “character traits” reflect the innermost being of those who bear them (Mk. 7:20-22). Moreover, they are unregenerate, unsaved, unbelieving, and damned (Rev. 21:8)
Self-centeredness seeks activity which gratifies the self. So in our society we observe the hedonistic characteristics: sexual promiscuity, drug experiences, extravagant and frequent entertainment. Fun. Fun. Fun . . . . “Life is to enjoy . . . Live it up!”
Many people work long had days just so they can live it up! They are “lovers of themselves,” “lovers of pleasure,” rather than “lovers of God” (1 Tim 3:1-4). They are self-centered, and not God-centered (See Matt. 6:24).
Paul divides the vices of man into two categories in Romans 1. The first is sexual sin, or sin against the body (1C. 6:48). Sexual sin is rooted in the failure by man to glorify God as God – idolatry (Rm. 1:21-27).
The second category is sin against other people. These sins (1: 21-27) also derive from man’s failure to retain the knowledge of God (1:28).
I would sum up the first category as the sin of idolatry. The second would be described by greed or covetousness. Now Paul tells us that greed is idolatry (Col. 3:5). So on the scale of wickedness, it seems that we have the same reading for both.
Now let’s return to our original question. If you notice, we never answered it.
“Why were those folks at Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed?” Was it because they were queers? If so, shouldn’t homosexuality be higher up on the scale of wickedness than greed?
Let us look a little closer at the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah (which was also the sin of Judah and the cause for the destruction of the temple and the Babylonian captivity, 586 B.C.). Let us hear the words of Ezekiel:
“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; they were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen.” (Ezek. 16:49-50)
Greed and sexual sin both have their roots in self-centeredness. Greed and homosexuality are on par.
God has not placed Christians in His church so they can “live it up.” He has placed Christians in the church and given them spiritual gifts to glorify Himself (1 P. 4:10,11). As slaves of God, we are to do good works which result in God’s glory (Mt. 5:16; Eph. 2:10). We, who have been “overfed” as hearers, need to be doers (Jas. 1:22). Those who are “unconcerned” need to examine themselves to see if they are really believers (2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Jn. 3:17).
Ezekiel speaks of the “poor and needy” and the “overfed.” We are certainly well-fed and well-blessed in many ways. Even the brains we use to make a living were given by God (1C. 4:7; Ps. 139:15,16). We are the “haves.” Who are the “have-nots”? Who are those whom Jesus lists? (Mt. 25:35-36, 42-43).
Our Lord is concerned that we find out.
When we gather together, let us “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).
(*Originally published in the monthly newsletter, Gracevine (October, 1980), by Grace Lutheran Church in Bowie Maryland where Bray was employed on staff as Lay Assistant under Pastor Al Ericksen, c. 1980-1983.)