Confessions of a Sodomite
by Eric Lancaster
Did the title shock you? Probably because we have this idea in our head of what a sodomite is. It most likely comes from the dictionary definition and if you don’t know what that is, look it up in your Funk and Wagnall’s. However, before you go "eww, gross!" let me try to explain.
Words mean things. But most of the meanings we have for words today have been altered from earlier words due to errors in translation. The Eskimos have multiple words for snow and the Greeks have multiple words for love while we in the West simply say "snow" and "love". For the most part, the definitions of the words we use today came to us from medieval Europe complete with translation errors and all. And yet some of the words we use today have changed drastically in the last twenty to one-hundred years. So what does sodomite mean?
Since its root word is sodom, let’s take a look at Sodom. In a nutshell the story of Sodom and Gomorrah goes something like this… Abraham and his nephew Lot had traveled to the Jordan valley but had too much livestock and people for the land to support. Abraham told Lot if Lot goes west he, Abraham, would go east and visa versa. Lot saw the lushness of the Jordan valley near Sodom and the richness of the city and chose that area. Abraham nodded and went his own way.
Flash forward. God visits Abraham with two angels and tells Abraham his plans for Sodom's annihilation. Abraham pleads with God to save the city if he can find 50 righteous people. God agrees then Abraham bargains down from 50 to 45 to 40 to 30 to 20 to finally 10 righteous people. Maybe Abraham knew something about the character of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God sends his two angels to town and Lot who is sitting at the gate greets them. He invites them to stay with him at his home and when they decline, saying they’ll spend the night in the city square, Lot nearly panics. He convinces them to stay with him and takes them home.
Flash forward several hours. The men of Sodom gather around Lot’s place and demand that he hand over his guests so they can "know them" as the King James calls it and we all know what "know" means in the King James! Sexual relations. (Genesis 19:5) Lot panics again and offers his two virginal daughters who I’m sure said, "Daddy!", but the men declined the offer and started shouting, "Where’s the beef?!" The angels pull Lot inside and strike the men of Sodom blind.
The crux of the story. The angels warn Lot to gather his family and vamoose as God’s a little ticked with the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah and was going to nuke the area good. Lot’s family up and ran away being warned not to look back. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife turned to see what was going on and she was turned into the world’s first salt lick. Some scholars suggest she looked back with longing, desiring her old life and status in Sodom but it could have simply been a glance over the shoulder and ZAP, instant pillar of salt.
Therefore, this is where we get the idea that sodomy is homosexual sex and that’s what we find in our Webster’s dictionary. Nevertheless, the word sodomy carries a lot more meaning than just sexual sin. Ezekiel tells us about Sodom in chapter 16, verses 49 and 50. “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, over-fed, 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.”
"Aha!" You say. "You’re saying the sin of Sodom was inhospitality and a sodomite is one who doesn’t show hospitality!" Close, but no cigar. True, the people of Sodom were caught up in the numerous selfish sins listed in Ezekiel, who, by the way, is the only one to mention something other than sexual immortality. Let’s look at the other sins besides homosexuality.
"Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’" (Matthew 25:37-40) Ooops! Kind of sounds like what the good folks in Sodom were doing. In the following verses, Christ tells those that asked that they never did those things and "will go away to eternal punishment" and the righteous "to eternal life". Eternal punishment = hellfire and brimstone. Sodom and Gomorrah = destroyed by hellfire and brimstone. Coincidence?
I see other places in the Bible that focus on the sexual aspects of the sin of Sodom. Jeremiah 23:14 and Jude 7 talk about "adultery" and "sexual immorality and perversion" when describing Sodom and Gomorrah. In addition, the writer of Genesis brings the specific sin of homosexuality as an example of one of the most blatant of sins the people of Sodom engaged in. But the sin of Sodom is so much more than just homosexuality. Paul warns us in Romans 1:21-27 what happens when we "neither glorify Him as God nor gave thanks to Him?" We receive in ourselves "the due penalty for (our) perversion."
All sin is sin. There are no shades of gray. In your concordance look up "Sodom" and notice that, other than the references to the story itself and the verses I mentioned above, the rest of them are warnings to the nation of Israel and by extension, us, about what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah. We are told in Ezekiel that Israel’s sin was worse than Sodom’s and Samaria’s. Jesus tells us that if His miracles had been performed in Sodom the people would have repented. Yet how many times are we guilty of the sins of Sodom? You may not have engaged in homosexual sex but you have been arrogant, over-fed, unconcerned about the poor, and needy.
Consider the warning of Sodom the next time you see someone unlovely needing a hand. Consider the warning of Sodom when you see pictures of starving kids in another country or even your own. Do you say to yourself, "I should send them some money" but never do? Do you merely offer prayers that God will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, free those in bondage or do you rise up and meet the needs of the needy around you? I’m ashamed to admit it but I pray but don’t act. I’m ashamed that I don’t act but merely pray. James tells us to show our faith by what we do. Is my faith merely words recited or checks written to assuage guilt? Is yours?
So the sin of Sodom is what? Homosexuality? Inhospitality? Or is the sin of Sodom just plain old sin?
During a discussion in a chat room on this subject, one person defined a sodomite as a white suburban evangelical. I think, at times, I see one looking back at me in the mirror.