What could possibly be meant by the phrase, “the real sin of Sodom?” Isn’t it obvious? The sin of homosexual behavior draws its name from Sodom. What could be more obvious? And shouldn’t we be suspicious of any attempt to draw our attention elsewhere? As always, the answer to such questions is, “It depends.”
“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good” (Eze. 16:49-50).
The prophet Ezekiel is speaking the word of the Lord against the city of Jerusalem. In the course of his prophetic rebuke, he says that Samaria is Jerusalem’s older sister, and that Sodom is Jerusalem’s younger sister (v. 46). Samaria dwells at Jerusalem’s left hand and Sodom at her right. Moreover, the prophet denounces Jerusalem as far exceeding the sins of both these cities. Compared to Jerusalem, both these wicked cities seem righteous in comparison (v. 52).
We are addressing the politics of sodomy, and consequently we are addressing the corporate nature of a certain form of sin. But it should be acknowledged at the outset that the rejection of individualism does not mean that individual sin and rebellion somehow disappear. They do not disappear at all—rather, they are placed in their proper context. But so that we may know what we are placing in context, it is true that the sin that was being attempted at Lot’s house was the sin of homosexual rape (Gen. 19:5). Lest any sophists snatch at this and say that the only problem was the rape part, the Bible says that it is wrong for men to desire men sexually (Rom. 1:27), as well as for women to desire women (Rom. 1:26). The Scriptures say that individuals who live this way will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9). This includes both sodomites and catamites, the two aspects of homosexuality mentioned here. All this is to say that by addressing the root cultural problems, we are seeking to understand individual behavior, and not to excuse it.
But Sodom Was a City
When Ezekiel mentions the sin of Sodom in an aside, many conservative Christians might be surprised at where he starts. Sodom was a degraded city, and they had gotten to the point where the rape of visitors was something that a number of people thought should be allowed in the public square. But how did they get there?
This was the sin of Sodom—pride, fullness of bread, abundance of idleness, neglect of the poor, haughtiness, and abominations. At the end of that list we find what caused Sodom to become a household word. But consider what went before, and ask yourself how America got to the place where the folly from our federal courts is taken even halfway seriously.
Trampling the Courts
To this we may add the word of the prophet Isaiah. The point here has to do with the combination of worship with iniquity, and the central point here is not liturgical form. We must guard against any form which seeks to make room for iniquity.
“Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah . . . When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? . . . And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Is. 1:9-10, 12, 15).
So Therefore . . .
In our corporate capacity as a nation, why are we dealing (very unsuccessfully) with this sin at the very end of Ezekiel’s list? The answer is that we have long since given way to the sins mentioned earlier. Not only have we succumbed to these sins, some of them are our pride and glory.
Corrupt worship: across our nation, worship is not understood rightly, as holy covenant renewal with a holy God. Every Lord’s Day, millions of Americans cry out to God. Why does He not hear?
Pride: our pride can be seen clearly, even in how traditionalists oppose these recent legal developments. We want salvation, and we want it although we refuse to acknowledge the only Savior, Jesus Christ (Matt. 28: 17-20; Ps. 2:12). Traditionalists point to certain verses in Romans 1, verses that ignore the overarching context. Who does not honor God as God? Who does not give Him thanks?
Fullness of bread: do we really need to say anything here? But remember, the problem is not the wealth in itself, the problem is forgetting God in that wealth (Dt. 8:17-18).
Abundance of idleness: a recreational mentality, demanding entertainment in everything, has crept into everything, including worship and study.
Haughtiness: how is this different from pride? Haughtiness is pride manifested, superciliousness. Haughtiness is seen in daughters of Zion, strutting their wares at the mall (Is. 3:16).
Neglect of the poor: this is one of the areas where our wickedness is great, precisely because of the hypocritical posturing of those who defend the welfare state. Judas was concerned for the poor, because he kept the money bag (Jn. 12:4-6; 13:29).
Homosexual abominations: and so, here we are.