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Saturday, November 01, 2014

Inbox: The Sin of Sodom

In response to Thursday’s post on homosexuality, a reader writes:

Q: “Was [Matthew] Vines referring to Ezek. 16:49 which lists Sodom’s sin as being made up of a combination of pride, gluttony, indifference and unwillingness to share one’s bread (inhospitable?) but notably, no mention of aberrant sexual conduct? How would you answer?”

A: Well, let’s look at what Ezekiel says, for starters:
“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.”
There are two parts to my response:

“No Mention of Aberrant Sexual Conduct”

My first concern is that I believe Ezekiel DOES mention aberrant sexual conduct in the very context you have quoted. If you read past Ezekiel 16:49 (which those who advocate on behalf of Christian homosexuality, in my experience, do not), you find a second statement about a sin or sins for which Sodom came under God’s judgement in the very next verse, which reads:
“They were haughty and did an abomination before me.”
Hmm. What might this mysterious “abomination” be? To cover all the bases, one possibility is that it is God’s characterization of the city’s lack of hospitality, or in other words, a restatement of verse 49. But the much more plausible interpretation is that it is a separate (and possibly more significant source) of guilt. After all, “abomination” is a pretty strong word to use about lack of hospitality.

First, let’s clarify “abomination”. Is that word ever applied to homosexuality in the Old Testament? In fact, the very same Hebrew word translated “abomination” crops up in the law of Moses twice in just such a context:
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
(Leviticus 18:22)
and
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination …”
(Leviticus 20:13)
Interestingly enough, the condemnation in the Law is for lying “with a male as with a woman”. There are no contextual qualifications on that. It does not say, “If you lie with a man as with a woman but don’t love and commit to him, it is an abomination”, or even “If you lie with a man casually, it is an abomination”.

The abomination is the act itself.

Furthermore, note that homosexuality did not suddenly become offensive to God because it had been included in the Law of Moses. Its inclusion was no mere cultural accommodation to the Jewish preferences of the day. Rather, it was included in the Law of Moses because it was always an abomination to God. This is important to notice because advocates of Christian same-sex relationships insist that the Law has been fulfilled in Christ and therefore no longer applies to the believer. In this they are correct, though their reasoning is rife with self-interest.

But the Lord makes it clear that this particular abomination — lying with a man — is included in the Mosaic Law because it offends God, period. It is included on general principle. He might as well have added, “This is something I abhor always”, because he says this:
“You shall … do none of these abominations …”
Why? God goes on to explain why: “For by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.”

In other words, this particular abomination was one of the things that characterized sinners before the Law was given, and for which God felt compelled to judge them. It would have remained an abomination whether the Law declared it to be so or not. It is still an abomination even though the Law has been fulfilled. The act itself is defiling, whether it occurs in a “loving, consensual” context or not. It constitutes a type of sexual immorality, something the apostles told Gentile converts they ought to “abstain from” in the book of Acts,

Anyway, my point is that Ezekiel does mention aberrant sexual conduct.

I should be used to the particular trick of progressivist Bible interpretation that involves glossing over those things inconvenient to one’s argument, but I’m still learning. Whenever they wave a proof text, go read it for yourself. Almost invariably it in inappropriately truncated or wrenched out of context.

“Lack of Hospitality” was the ONLY Sin?

But forget that. Let’s pretend Ezekiel 16:50 does not exist, and that the things Ezekiel condemns about Sodom finish with “poor and needy”. The position that advocates of Christian same-sex relationships are taking, then, is that the sin for which Sodom was judged (and let’s say, for the sake of argument, it was lack of hospitality) was the ONLY thing worthy of judgment or displeasing to God that was taking place in Sodom.

That’s self-evidently ridiculous. It’s a completely deficient argument. That’s like me saying that “The sin of Washington is that they tolerated Mayor Marion Barry”. Is it true? I suppose it is. But does that mean that there was no other sin, individual or corporate, worthy of judgement and destined to eventually receive judgement, in the city of Washington, D.C.?

Of course not. We rightly recognize that a statement about the presence of a defining or characteristic sin does not suggest the absence of all others. The absence of specific condemnation in a passage dealing with corporate sin is no license for individual abuse.

If we leave Ezekiel and look at the actual account of Lot’s visitation by angels in Genesis, here is what we read:
“… the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.’ Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, ‘I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.’ ”
The fact that Lot offered his daughters to the would-be rapist Sodomites to save his visitors from rape is despicable and cowardly. It is neither praised by God nor to be considered a positive quality to be emulated by Christians. But to Lot, it was evidently more wicked to rape a man than to rape a woman, the question of hospitality aside.

So was this the “sin of Sodom”? It’s possible. If we include Ezekiel 16:50 in our thinking instead of just verse 49, Ezekiel may have been saying that homosexuality was characteristic of Sodom and therefore a reason for their judgement and a component of their “sin”.

But even if it is not one of the specific “sin[s] of Sodom” for which the city was judged — even if it was not characteristic of the entire city but only of the individuals who surrounded Lot’s house — it is clearly an “abomination” as spelled out in Leviticus.

Either way, what LGBT advocates do to the Old Testament to get where they want to go is, to my mind, pretty abominable.

3 comments :

  1. The reference below provides an excellent and informed discussion of this topic, well worth reading, that can supplement your own research. In that I found the reference to Romans, which I alluded to in my previous comments, concerning Gods punishment for homosexuality as him causing you to become even further caught in the addictive nature of it. To me, that is extremely serious and highly unusual for God in that he does not speak of repentance and forgiveness but actually causes you to become further engaged in, rather than removed from, your sinful behavior. This means he is removing you from the circle of sinners more easily willing to consider repentance and change leading to repentance. That therefore represents an extremely serious judgment specific to the sin of homosexuality compared to how sin is treated otherwise by God.

    Romans 1:20-3
    Rom 1:20-32 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. (21) For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. (22) Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools (23) and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. (24) Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. (25) They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
    (26) For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, (27) and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (28) And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done. (29) They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips, (30) slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, (31) senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless. (32) Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

    From

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  2. Looks like the reference link I meant to supply with the above comment got somehow lost. Here it is.

    https://bible.org/article/homosexuality-biblical-christian-view#I.


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  3. Here is another resource, which is highly technical and significant. It is actually one of the references provided in the link for bible.org I provided in my 2nd comment above. It deals with the modern attack by the educated and intellectual homosexual elite on the interpretation of the biblical teaching on that topic trying to make the point that the bible in reality is accepting of a committed homosexual relationship. Guenther Haas debunks that attempt in his paper below.

    "HERMENEUTICAL ISSUES IN THE USE OF THE BIBLE TO JUSTIFY THE ACCEPTANCE OF HOMOSEXUAL PRACTICE"

    Guenther Haas

    Redeemer College

    Ontario, Canada


    http://phc.edu/gj_haas_hermen.php

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