Little-Known Bible Verses: The Sin of Sodom

One of the biblical stories from which the modern-day religious right draws the most inspiration is the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The religious right has assumed that the sin for which they merited this fate was rampant homosexuality, to the point that “sodomite” has become a derogatory synonym for homosexuals. (Consider the Jack Chick tract “Doom Town“, which contains a variety of grossly offensive antigay caricatures.)

However, there is some evidence that this is jumping to conclusions. The book of Genesis simply says that God had resolved to destroy Sodom (and its sister city Gomorrah) because its sin was “very grievous” (Genesis 18:20) and its people were “wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (13:13). It does not, however, specify the nature of this sin.

The episode in this story from which conservatives draw this inference is in Genesis 19. When two angels come to Lot’s house in Sodom to warn him of the impending destruction, the men of Sodom surround the house and demand that he “bring them out unto us, that we may know them” (19:5), using a biblical euphemism for sexual intercourse.

Readers should notice, though, that this could not have been the sin for which God was determined to destroy Sodom, because he had already made that decision before this ever happened. The angels were coming to warn Lot to flee the city. And furthermore, could it not be argued that the sin in this was the intent to rape, rather than homosexuality?

In any case, this speculation is not necessary. The book of Genesis never explicitly says what sin Sodom committed, but another book in the Old Testament does. And, as readers might guess, what it says is something very different from what the religious right believes:

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
–Ezekiel 16:49 (NIV translation, emphasis added)

In light of this clear statement, it is surprising that “sodomy” has become so universally identified with homosexuality. Even the author of the New Testament epistle of Jude fell victim to this misunderstanding when he identified Sodom’s crime as “fornication” (1:7), a statement completely unsupported by any other scripture. It is completely ad hoc and unreasonable to believe that homosexuality was Sodom’s capital sin and the one for which God decided to destroy the city, and yet it was completely omitted by a verse that states it was listing Sodom’s transgressions. This little-known verse is an example of how presupposition and prejudice, rather than evidence, has shaped the tradition of biblical interpretation among conservatives.

There is a valuable lesson here about what is most important. Homosexuals in stable, committed, loving relationships are not sodomites, not even according to the Bible. Instead, the wealthy and arrogant televangelists and preachers of the religious right – the people who are haughty and proud, who have much wealth and influence but hoard it selfishly rather than using it to advance the cause of happiness for all people everywhere – are the true Sodomites, and should be described as such. I do not agree with much that is in the Bible, but this is a conclusion I can stand squarely behind.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Rowan

    I had a look at that Chick tract – never a pleasant experience – and I think any Chick-supporting Christian should be reminded of this: Lot says “My brothers, this isn’t right! Take my virgin daughters instead!”

    What a moral guy.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Oh yes. And of course, Chick does the obligatory fade-out before informing visitors that God kills Lot’s wife for merely glancing back at her burning home, or that Lot’s daughters then proceed to get him drunk and have sex with him. Perhaps he felt that those elements would not be “helpful” to the point he wanted to make.

  • Philip Thomas

    The Bible is a mess. The above should convince any Protestants whose minds are open. If you’re going to take on the prevalent attitude towards “sodomy” among Catholics however, you need to engage with Tradition as well. I’m not sure how far back the identification goes, but if it was present in the Early Church then we could have an uphill struggle…

  • http://skorohnomis.blogspot.com/ Simon

    Good post. Thank God for you.

  • http://franksatheisticramblings.blogspot.com frank

    Have you thought of contributing this entry to the Carnival of the Godless? I think it would be a welcome addition.

  • http://uncrediblehallq.blogspot.com Chris Hallquist

    If you look at Genesis alone, it would seem that the sin of Sodom was that they were in the habit of raping newcommers to the city.

  • L. Kallimanis

    Hmmmm, the hero in Chick’s super-campy comic strip looks very much like a Tom of Finland porn character. As a matter of fact, the lavish attention the artist pays to the hilariously clichéd Sodom scenes is a bit suspicious . . .
    But I digress . . . The bible reminds me of a 2000 year-old game of “telephone” (where one person whispers a word to a line of people and you see what it comes out like at the end and everyone laughs about how much it got perverted through inaccurate repetition and interpretation). Translations from Aramaic to Greek to Hebrew to Elizabethan English (a language where grammar and spelling were fluid) insure error. I won’t even suggest that anybody might have had their OWN PERSONAL AGENDA in translating this document (I’m talkin’ to YOU Justinian). The Old Testament seems to me to be a kind of Hebrew hygiene manual (don’t eat the shellfish, don’t touch that with those hands, don’t marry your sister, etc.), the New Testament allegedly transcends and overrides it, so why do the Bible thumpers constantly quote it and not the kinder, gentler Jesus stuff? But I do like the idea of referring to wealthy televangelists as sodomites with scriptural backup!

  • Quath

    When I looked at the tract, I saw something else that should be apparent to a reader. In one frame, he shows a hairy man about to molest a child. If you follow the story, what does God do for this child? He kills the child when He destroys the city.

  • Kim

    It’s intersting that whenever I check out an atheist site, atheists always seem to attack Christianity, the Bible, and Jesus. If atheism is the unbelief in any god, then why is only Christianity attacked? There are so many religions around the world that believe in their own different gods. It seems like the real issue isn’t an unbelief in God, but enmity towards Christ. If that’s so you’re certainly entitled to your own belief, but just say so.

  • Philip Thomas

    Kim, I think the reason is that you tend to look at English-speaking websites, and in the English-speaking world the dominant religion is Christianity, so it is naturally the focus of most attention. I don’t think atheists have enmity towards Christ, most of them don’t believe he exists, which rather precludes having feelings towards them.

    This particular entry has applications to Judaism as well, given it looks at the Old Testament.

  • Azkyroth

    I would also note that you’ve either missed an enormous range of atheist criticism aimed specifically at individuals who claim to be believers but act in a way that is flagrantly incompatible with a reasonable definition of morality and in many cases their own professed doctrine, unless you’re under the impression that criticizing them constitutes a general attack on Christianity….

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Hello Kim,

    If you take the time to thoroughly examine this site or my other one, Ebon Musings, you can readily determine for yourself that I do not confine my criticisms of religion solely to Christianity. I have articles that address ideas common to many different religions, as well as others that address doctrines of specific religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and in fact I have one coming up shortly about Hinduism.

    I do not deny that I write about Christianity the most, and the reasons for that are twofold. First, I am an American and Christianity is by far the predominant religion there, so I write about what I am most familiar with. Second, I write about what concerns me the most, and at this moment I believe Christianity (specifically the right-wing, militant fundamentalist version) poses a greater threat to my civil rights than any other religion in the world. While there are fanatical Muslim groups who want to kill me as well as every other American, the danger they pose is widely recognized, and people of all belief systems have come together to oppose them. On the other hand, the militant Christian groups who want to oppress and control my life and strip me of civil liberties (and there are even some who would see me dead, if they could; look into “Christian Reconstructionism” if you’re not familiar with it) are not as widely recognized as a threat. Indeed, a substantial number of people in America loudly approve of those goals, or at least silently assent to them. One of my primary purposes in writing for this site is to make people aware of this danger and make them realize that extremist religion of all types poses a serious threat to human rights everywhere.

    Finally, I have one piece of advice for you, and I counsel you to accept it in the friendly spirit in which it is offered: Grow up. Everything that happens is not all about you or your religion, and my life does not revolve around your beliefs. I realize a great many Christians believe that Christianity is the only thing in the world worth paying attention to, but it does not follow that everyone else believes the same.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com/ The Ridger

    Kim, we don’t (well, I shouldn’t speak for all freethinkers) – not all of us have “enmity toward Christ”. Most of us don’t believe he exists; how can you someone that isn’t real?

    What you perceive as hatred for Christ is actually hatred for people who try to force their conception of Christ down our throats.

    It’s different.

  • Philip Thomas

    I think what he percieves as hatred for Christ is (in most cases), not even “hatred for people who try to force their conception of Christ down our throats”. I sincerely hope most atheists don’t hate even evangelical christians, although I can see they might get quite annoyed by them. Its more that people criticise his beliefs, not because they are his, but because they think they are wrong, and he misnterprets this…

  • Raina Bee

    I think that most atheists actually respect the message of Christ, and his teachings. However, we’ve seen religion become so severely warped from it’s original intentions that we’ve become absolutely disgusted by it. The divides it creates, the genocides it’s induced, the wars and slaughter and oppression. Atheists are just absolutely done with religion and all of its evils.

  • Polly

    I agree that the specific sin of Sodom is not mentioned. And, I think if they don’t know they shouldn’t fill in the gaps with their own pet political issue.

    But, the Ezekiel passage is not meant, in my interpretation of the chapter as a whole, to be a literal reference to the actual Sodom. I think it’s symbolic language directed at a different contemporaneous city/state and describing THAT city’s sins – I’m not sure who the object of the term is. Edom, probably. They are to the south and they are related to the Israelites by OT genealogy thru Jacob’s brother,Esau, which would explain all the “sister” talk. Samaria was the “older sister” to the north.
    Anyway, it was meant to be insulting, just as today it would be insulting to call a city by the name Sodom…or Cleveland. Either way.

  • Mollie

    At the beginning of this post you say, “The episode in this story from which conservatives draw this inference is in Genesis 19. When two angels come to Lot’s house in Sodom to warn him of the impending destruction, the men of Sodom surround the house and demand that he “bring them out unto us, that we may know them” (19:5), using a biblical euphemism for sexual intercourse. Readers should notice, though, that this could not have been the sin for which God was determined to destroy Sodom, because he had already made that decision before this ever happened. The angels were coming to warn Lot to flee the city.”
    You seem to indicate that the homosexuality or rape incident was an isolated event. This is doubtful, given the verses below which point to the fact that these cities (or at least Sodom) had a reputation for its gross sexual immorality.
    Jude 1:7 seems to indicate that the sin Sodom and Gomorrah was of a sexual nature. “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”
    2 Peter 2:2-3, says, “Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” Then he gives the examples of the fallen angels, those who died in the flood and then of Sodom and Gomorrah in 2:6-10 as examples of how God does not ignore sin, “and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.”

    Again, I’m not trying to prove that sexual immorality (homosexuality) was the ONLY cause for the cities’ destruction, but it certainly was one of the reasons.

  • The Vicar

    Mollie:

    New testament authors were writing long, long after the event (assuming it happened) — not only were they using the old testament as their only sources, they were writing without the benefit of things like indices and concordances. They didn’t know, any more than we know how the apostles died. (In fact, they probably had less source material to draw on that we have on the subject of the deaths of the apostles.) And since the new testament authors had a tendency to focus on sexual sin as one of the only ones worth talking about. (And their modern-day counterparts follow in this tradition; just once I’d like to see a mainstream Christian moralist start a major campaign against greed, since it does much more harm than lust in the world right now. But no, if you campaign against greed, you can’t show slideshows of pornography to darkened rooms of Christian males — yes, this does happen — to, er, let them know what they’re trying to fight.)

    But if you take the standpoint that they were divinely inspired and therefore could only write truth, then you also run into problems. Jude says that there are people who are preordained to commit specific sins and are therefore condemned — goodbye, free will! — and Peter called Lot a “virtuous man” despite his giving his daughters to a croud of rapists to save his own skin, to say nothing of his incest.

    It also means that the early church behaved like a disreputable cult — Peter basically tells followers “give us all your money or god will kill you” in Acts 5, and I really, really doubt that they hesitated to spread that little anecdote around. (It’s funny that nobody, at the time, seems to have wondered why god would take money from his presumably more-worthy and definitely poor followers, but allow nonbelievers of all stripes to go about their business unmolested. Of course, given how the apostles seem to have run things, believers who asked questions were probably accused of demonic influence and kicked out.) And people wonder why the early Romans were anti-Christianity…

  • Mollie

    to The Vicar,
    I’m not sure what the deaths of the apostles have to do with what I wrote.

    As far as their supposed ‘sexual sin’ bandwagon, the New Testament writers use the phrase immorality or sexual immorality 21 times while speaking of greed or the love of money 15 times. I’d hardly consider that a greater focus on sexual sin. And I agree that the church should focus more on the sins of the heart- greed, lust, anger, bitterness, etc. rather than just outward sins. That doesn’t mean we should overlook other things like sexual sin though. However, I believe the church would do better to start a campaign of grace and forgiveness rather than condemnation.

  • The Vicar

    Mollie:

    I’m not sure what the deaths of the apostles have to do with what I wrote.

    It’s an example of a topic on which there is, to say the least, uncertainty in our own times, analogous to the uncertainty which the authors of the new testament who you referenced would have had about Sodom and Gomorrah. To put it bluntly: the new testament is completely irrelevant to the discussion of Sodom because its authors had no more to work from than we do. Arguably less, since we have archaeological studies, concordances, indices, and access to materials which the apostles — who admit themselves in Acts 4 to be ignorant and unlearned — would not have known even by reputation.

  • Mollie

    Vicar:
    I am curious as to why you hold the Old Testament in higher regard than the New. If you want to talk about the lapse of time between an event and its writing, Moses was the one who wrote about Sodom and Gomorrah and he lived quite a few years after Abraham and Lot.

  • The Vicar

    Mollie:

    I don’t particularly hold the old testament in higher regard; both are books of occasionally pretty-sounding lies which have been used to prolong human suffering for the benefit of professional priests. I’m just pointing out that in this particular debate, the new testament authors are so far out of the debate that your mention of them is just irrelevant.

    By the way: I am always suspicious of word counts like the ones you quote; I’m pretty sure that Paul’s writing alone accuses women of tempting men often enough to make your count unrepresentative of actual attitudes displayed in the text.

  • Mollie

    Vicar:

    I’m trying to recall any passages that Paul wrote regarding women tempting men. Could you name some?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    …Moses was the one who wrote about Sodom and Gomorrah…

    There is no evidence at all that Moses was the author of any part of the Old Testament. There isn’t even any evidence that he was a real person or that the Israelite Exodus ever happened. (See part 2 of my essay “Let the Stones Speak“).

  • The Vicar

    Mollie:

    Well, I dunno. Paul feels it necessary to tell men to sleep with their wives. So they weren’t doing that, otherwise he would have no reason to say anything. If they weren’t doing that, what were they doing? Not abstaining, because Paul also sees fit to put forth a wish that more people could be celibate like him. So there’s sex going on, and it isn’t within marriage. (To steal a line which was written for Chico Marx but not used: they could be playing pinochle, but I don’t think so.)

    Why is this happening? Well, it can’t be god’s fault, because god is perfect. God is love, but not free love. And Paul is very careful to point out that men are made in god’s image but women aren’t. He doesn’t come out and say “this is because women are evil evil evil” because he’s aware that women are instrumental in converting their husbands (and in bringing up children in the faith, presumably, although Paul clearly thought that the world would end soon so that was a lesser consideration) and he’s happy that this should be the case — he says so. But he is very careful to make it clear that women are inferior and not worthy to speak in church, etc. etc. etc.

    Of course, you can also put on the deliberate-obtuseness-colored glasses that people often use when reading scripture and deny this. Won’t turn up in a word count, either way.

  • Mollie

    Vicar:
    I Corinthians 7 says, “each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

    Sounds like they were abstaining to me.

    The call to abstinence was for those not yet married who could control their sexual desires. “But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

    Also- I would like to carry on a decent conversation with you, but sarcasm isn’t really necessary. Thanks.

  • Mollie

    Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This verse is talking about the equality of mankind- no matter what gender, station or nationality- under Christ.

    But he is very careful to make it clear that women are inferior

    Most people misunderstand the concept of submission in marriage- seeing it as the oppression of women or something like that. This might be a bad example of how to explain the teaching about married men and women in the New Testament, but I’ll give it a try (many Christians don’t get it either, so I’m not being optimistic). It is sort of like how there is order in the government. The president has certain ‘powers’ and his cabinet members must ‘submit’ to his authority. They are all citizens of the USA and have the rights of a citizen, but he is the President, so they obey his orders. They are his advisors, so they talk things through and then he makes a final decision. Things work best when one person is making the decisions and the others follow. However, there are checks and balances in the system. If the President does something against the law, he is held accountable for it and his cabinet members are not responsible to obey him in those cases (as I understand).

    Similarly (this is not a perfect analogy of course), God says that the husband/wife relationship works best with submission- it is a matter of ORDER, not WORTH. The husband has the last say- this is not to say that a woman is a doormat. I certainly don’t feel that way in my marriage. We talk things through and he values my opinion on things. Usually we can come to an agreement on a decision that needs to be made. However, if a disagreement comes about, the husband makes the final decision. And, with the checks and balances system, if he chooses to do something that is sin, the wife is not obligated to obey him or submit to his authority in that instance.

    As for WHY God chose the man to be the head of the household instead of the woman, I can’t say. I guess I don’t really care. I am married to a man who loves and respects me and values my opinion about things (which is how it should be). However, when it comes down to the final decision in areas where we disagree (which actually is very few things), it is his choice that stands and I choose to live with those consequences, be they good or bad. I guess if that’s what you call a doormat, then I’m a doormat.

  • The Vicar

    Mollie:

    Sounds really nice, except:

    1. That verse from Galatians basically is, once again, “it really doesn’t matter what you are in this world, because even if it never under any circumstances happens where you can see it, there is justice.” In other words, yet another “don’t try to change the status quo, even if you’re a slave”. As is so often the case, religion is a cover for maintaining injustice and suffering.

    2. Nobody has any problems with you choosing to give up your rights in favor of your husband. If that’s how you get your kicks — I hope not literally — then that’s fine. But when you — and if you’re here trying to proselytize to atheists, you do fall in this group — try to force others to do the same, then you are often giving the defenseless over to the care of the abusive. You sound like you’ve led a life sheltered from unpleasantness. Go volunteer in a battered women’s shelter in a big city for a few days, and see if your perspective remains the same.

  • Mollie

    Vicar:
    1. I still disagree with the meaning of the Galatians verse, but ok.
    2. I think that abuse would fall into the category of sin- where a woman is not obligated to obey her husband. God has given us brains to use, so (not saying that this is an easy situation by any means) getting out of a situation where you or your children are being abused and getting help for your husband (whether that be jail time, counseling, or whatever) is a good use of that brain. Also- these principles are given to believers. Your suggestion to volunteer at a battered women’s shelter is a good one. I have volunteered at homeless shelters before.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Mollie,

    I’d just like to point out that I, personally, think there is something wrong with the sexism of the idea of marriage that you have described, and find your claim that it doesn’t imply that women are inferior disingenuous or at best irrelevant. I won’t accept that every relationship needs to have one person with the ultimate power to make the decisions. Equal relationships can work, too — my mother’s a feminist and she and my Dad have been together more than 25 years. I’m very glad your husband respects your opinions, and of course you are free to live as you will, but that doesn’t change the fact that women are most definitely given inferior status in the system you have described, and that strikes me as wrong.

  • dg

    “There is a valuable lesson here about what is most important. Homosexuals in stable, committed, loving relationships are not sodomites, not even according to the Bible. Instead, the wealthy and arrogant televangelists and preachers of the religious right – the people who are haughty and proud, who have much wealth and influence but hoard it selfishly rather than using it to advance the cause of happiness for all people everywhere – are the true Sodomites, and should be described as such.”

    These arrogant and wealthy televangelists and preachers will surely get what they deserve. God hates their ways the same way as He hated the ways of the Sodomites.

  • Rowen

    If the sin of Sodom was truly homosexuality, then you have quite a few problems.

    1) God already decided to destroy the town for other reasons long before the angels showed up.

    2) Angels aren’t human so any sex that would be occuring would not be homosexual, but cross species.

    3) Depending on your translation, you either have ALL the town or all the men of the town. If it’s everyone in the town, that seems to knock out the idea of this being about homosexuality, since you don’t invite the wife and kids to your gay tryst. If it’s all the men (and hell, even everyone in the town) we’re still looking at a GANG RAPE. As in FORCED SEX. As in CONSENT IS NOT GIVEN. I don’t see what that has to do with a gay couple consenting to have sex with each other.

    4) You don’t offer you’re teenage virgin daughters to a group of men that you know to be rough, horny, aggressive gay men.

    It’s possible that the sins of Sodom do have something to do with sex, but the story points to rape. And plenty of places in the bible talk about the sins of Sodom being inhospitality, including Jesus (and he makes NO mention of sex).

  • http://www.atheistthinktank.net/thinktank spider

    Ugh… that tract… so bad… as if anyone threatens to taint the blood supply. That’s why there is screening of blood, given how many people are infected with HIV for a while before they know about, and wouldn’t know to avoid donating blood. That tract was so full of fail and logical contradictions.

    Also, they make out like little children were also subject to rape. So why did God wait until after children were being abused to then burn the town down, presumably with the children inside? Why not change people’s hearts so they wouldn’t hurt children anymore, or at least let the kids escape instead of Lot, a man who offers his own children up to be raped…

    You’re right – the issue should be rape not homosexual relations. But obviously consent is not a big thing in Christian sexual morality, so long as it’s all heteronormative.

  • krysanthemum

    “It also means that the early church behaved like a disreputable cult — Peter basically tells followers “give us all your money or god will kill you” in Acts 5, and I really, really doubt that they hesitated to spread that little anecdote around. (It’s funny that nobody, at the time, seems to have wondered why god would take money from his presumably more-worthy and definitely poor followers, but allow nonbelievers of all stripes to go about their business unmolested. Of course, given how the apostles seem to have run things, believers who asked questions were probably accused of demonic influence and kicked out.) And people wonder why the early Romans were anti-Christianity…”

    The Vicar, Peter never “basically” told the believers that God would kill them if they didn’t give Him all of their money. They were to give as much as they desired.
    “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 Ananias and his wife didn’t die because they did not give all of their money to the postles but because they LIED. the last part of chapter 4 right before this story talks about how the church shared all of their possessions so none of them would need anything. Acts 4:32 says, “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.” right under that it says that those who owned lands or houses sold their properties and brought the money to be distributed to everyone. But Ananias, when he had sold his land, only brought a part of the money to the apostles without telling them, “oh, btw this isn’t all of the money” which was UNFAIR because they all shared all of their stuff while he was deceitfully trying to keep a share to himself even though he would get his own share when everything had been distributed. He wasn’t forced to give them any money. as Peter pointed out in verse 4 of chapter 5, Ananias could have kept the money. Further proof of his guilt shows when his wife comes and openly lies about how much money they had really gotten after selling their land.

    lastly, you said no wonder the romans were anti-christianity because christians couldn’t ask questions [which is a big ole lie: Abraham, King Hezekiah, Job and even Cain(who murdered his brother) questioned God and He listened to them and did not annihilate them- God is a PATIENT, loving Father who wants His children to learn the right way not some evil, psycopathic dude above the clouds with a giant hammer just waiting for us to slip so that BAM! his hammer can come down on us miserable mortals- but of course you don't believe HE exists] and supposedly had to give everything they owned. -_- the same romans whose law required everyone to worship the emperor or be thrown into jail, a stadium with hungry lions or worse and who paid taxes that they would hardly benefit from. no offense but please pay closer attention to your ancient history. ^^

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

    Yup, you can give as much as you want…just remember that god wants you to give and give ’til it hurts. This is nothing more than guilting people into giving so that they will please god.

    Ananias and his wife didn’t die because they did not give all of their money to the postles but because they LIED.

    Glad to know that lying is grounds for death. Of course, it wasn’t anyone else’s business how much money they had according to your previous statement that they didn’t have to give their money at all. So, we end up with a situation where they withheld money and were punished for it. Alas, the situation in the bible sounds a lot like a socialist system, which I thought the religious right was very much against?

    …He listened to them and did not annihilate them- God is a PATIENT, loving Father who wants His children to learn the right way…

    Yup, which is why he sends people to hell, because he loves us soooooo much, right? That’s why he came down so hard on Saul, David’s predecessor. That’s why he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah or flooded the whole world or ordered the genocide of the Amalekites or the Philistines. Yup, he’s as patient and loving as any genocidal dictator.

    …the same romans whose law required everyone to worship the emperor or be thrown into jail, a stadium with hungry lions or worse and who paid taxes that they would hardly benefit from.

    Who told you that?

  • Clair

    Dear OMGF,
    God doesn’t send people to hell, we send ourselves by choosing sin.
    Krysanthemum, you are probably the most logical person on here. what’s your denomination?
    Vicar, you kinda creep me out. And you sound like a sexist ass. And Ephesians 5:22 says “Women, be submissive to your husbans as the Church is submissive to Christ”. This doesn’t mean that women are unequal to men. Genisis says both man and woman were made in God’s image. And the next line of Ephesians says “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her”. In other words, men, if called to be willing to die for her; devote everything to each other.
    Mollie, are you Christian? Because I think your heart’s in the right place.
    Rowan(cool name), spider, and dg; the point of destroying Sodom was sexual immorality, which is not confined to just homosexuality, but that is a major part. Children and women were seen as property back then. Unfortunately. As for the whole “why didn’t God just change their {the molesters’} hearts? argument? Freewill. God lets us CHOOSE. WE CHOOSE. And before you start on the “but isn’t God supposed to know everything?” tangent, HE DOES. Ever heard of alternate realities? (It’s not just Sci-FI, you know, it’s mathemattically fessable) We have to choose which path to take.
    Oh, and to clarify something I saw on the side, the Pope DOES NOT and WILL NOT welcome the excomunicated bishop Williams back. The Holocaust DID happen, the imbicel is a Brit and like a proud stubborn American, the only British I like are Sherlock Holmes and William Wilberforce. And a little Shakespeare. But very little.

  • Alex Weaver

    Krysanthemum, you are probably the most logical person on here. what’s your denomination?

    And Ephesians 5:22 says “Women, be submissive to your husbans as the Church is submissive to Christ”. This doesn’t mean that women are unequal to men.

    I suggest you consult a dictionary regarding the bolded terms. I do not think they mean what you think they do.

    Rowan(cool name), spider, and dg; the point of destroying Sodom was sexual immorality, which is not confined to just homosexuality, but that is a major part. Children and women were seen as property back then. Unfortunately. As for the whole “why didn’t God just change their {the molesters’} hearts? argument? Freewill. God lets us CHOOSE. WE CHOOSE. And before you start on the “but isn’t God supposed to know everything?” tangent, HE DOES. Ever heard of alternate realities? (It’s not just Sci-FI, you know, it’s mathemattically fessable) We have to choose which path to take.

    I know all these words, and I still can’t parse this.

  • Alex Weaver

    (PS: the “alternate realities” line was too much low-hanging [forbidden?] fruit.)

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    Mollie, are you Christian? Because I think your heart’s in the right place.

    I wasn’t aware that xians were anatomically different from the rest of us

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    God doesn’t send people to hell, we send ourselves by choosing sin.

    No one chooses hell. Do you honestly think some people wake up in the morning and think, “I want to be tortured for eternity!”

    …the point of destroying Sodom was sexual immorality, which is not confined to just homosexuality, but that is a major part. Children and women were seen as property back then.

    Which is why Lot offered up his daughters to the crowd outside….and god approved of the action.

  • Andrew

    Really, why does Sodom and Gommara’s sins have to be limited to one thing? It seems to me the Bible describes them as generally despeciable people. I dont see why they could be sexual perverse AND have failed to care for the needy.

  • Andrew

    OMGF where does it say God APPROVED of Lot offering up his daughters?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    The fact that Lot is called “just” and “righteous” in 2 Peter 7 might be taken as a hint. Also, the angels do not rescind their offer of rescue when they witness him make this deal to the crowd.

  • Virginia

    Christians using Jude or 2 Peter to justify their interpretation about Sodom overlooked the following
    (1) Modern textual analysis showed that 2 Peter was not written by Peter the Apostle, but by another Greek and ascribed to Peter — obviously not first hand knowledge of the OT as a Jew
    (2) Jude, another odd entry in NT, the author could not be associated with any of the Apostles in the Gospels — and it even quoted pseudepigraphic – the Book of Enoch – a work ascribed to Enoch – a book of wierd visions….

  • Virginia

    Clair…..As for the whole “why didn’t God just change their {the molesters’} hearts? argument? Freewill. God lets us CHOOSE. WE CHOOSE. And before you start on the “but isn’t God supposed to know everything?” tangent, HE DOES. Ever heard of alternate realities? (It’s not just Sci-FI, you know, it’s mathemattically fessable) We have to choose which path to take……..

    (1) Alternative realities ? How mathematically feasible ? What kind of mathematical training have you got to qualify you to say that ?
    (2) The crux of the problem is, God chooses to NOT review himself to all of us — this is the most simple way to clear up the mess and God choose not to — just for “faith” sake — this is not logical — if God intends to save as much people why don’t he choose the most effective means ?
    The truth is this “God” wants slaves, gullible people and bigots rather than freethinking, rational people — because in a matter of seconds our rational thinking and reasoning will blow him away

  • Ritchie

    Virginia,

    Isn’t the whole point of Lot being saved from Sodom that he was righteous while the rest of the city was sinful, and therefore destroyed? Surely we get the impression God approved of Lot by the fact that He let him escape Sodom’s destruction? Or have I missed something important here?

  • Paula

    God does not want slaves. Greater than the gift of life is the gift of choice. Would you rather have a friend who argued with you sometimes, who pissed you off royally, but in the end you had a good relationship with, or would you prefer a “slave,” a “gullible [person]” to share intimacy with, to love, to trust? It’s false, but unfortunately, since religion is, for the most part, in Man’s hands, of course we’re going to screw it up.
    I am a Protestant and I still believe the Bible is a bit warped. Well, that’s a understatement; it’s hella warped, but that’s not God’s doing. Unfortunately, what we humans know as “God” comes from a Man-made document thousands of years old where cultures were different, owning slaves was seemingly as necessary as breathing, and I’m sure somewhere along the line somebody wished to slip in a bit of their own ideas to benefit themselves. Of course; we’re human.
    Finding God, however, is an entirely different matter, and different for every single person. I can’t explain exactly how it happened, as the discovery of God is more a growth than a lights on/off switch, but I have not been “blinded” by religion; I still question my faith, and it’s part of that questioning, part of those arguments I have with God, that bring me closer to Him. Through friends, strangers, music, art, science, I sense God at work everywhere and looking into any face I see a piece of Him.
    God does not want slaves. God wants a relationship. But as with any relationship, it comes with arguments, questions, and doubt, but these are the very things that strengthen it.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    God does not want slaves.

    And you know this how?

    Greater than the gift of life is the gift of choice.

    Choice or eternity in hell, which one is better?

    …it’s hella warped, but that’s not God’s doing.

    So, god’s important book that he uses to describe himself to us and how to attain salvation is allowed to be warped by humans…and for what reason?

    Unfortunately, what we humans know as “God” comes from a Man-made document thousands of years old where cultures were different, owning slaves was seemingly as necessary as breathing, and I’m sure somewhere along the line somebody wished to slip in a bit of their own ideas to benefit themselves.

    And, how do you know it wasn’t all just made up?

    Through friends, strangers, music, art, science, I sense God at work everywhere and looking into any face I see a piece of Him.

    Could this not simply be confirmation bias to an idea that you were introduced to at an early age? Man makes up god, convinces you it’s real, you are convinced that god is real, even though you then turn around and denounce the very documents that led you to believe in the first place.

    God wants a relationship.

    Then, god should come down here and have a relationship with us.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Paula:

    I don’t see any “free will” when god would hold my soul hostage. Your argument is therefore threadbare, and akin to finding a robber innocent because his victim “chose” to give him the money. Don’t ask about that little gun-thingy, y’know?

  • Paula

    OMGF,

    “And you know this how?”
    I don’t know anything, really. If you think about it, no one really knows anything. For example, staring at the computer screen, do I know my face exists? No, because I don’t see it, and even then, my eyes could be tricked; surely this is proved by optical illusions and hallucinations. But do I believe my face exists? Would I be surprised if I looked in the mirror and saw that it didn’t? YES.
    The truth is I don’t know the Bible wasn’t entirely made up, I don’t know if God exists or doesn’t, and I don’t know that if He did, He wouldn’t want slaves. But it’s what I believe.
    I was never really close to God as a child anyway. I believed in Him as much as I believed Darth Vader was Luke’s father; because that’s what people say. But when it came to applying that to my own life, God just didn’t seem to fit anywhere. As I aged I realized how easily people could be brainwashed into religion simply because their parents believed it, but still I was too young to fully understand what it was I was being raised into. Then my family stopped going to church. When we did start going again, I was met with brainwashed preachers, so they had no effect on me. It was the preachers who really knew what they were talking about who changed my perspective. And of course, science forced me to question religion as well, but all these questions and all my wanderings have created a stronger connection between myself and God.
    When I said that “greater than the gift of life is the gift of choice,” I know there will be those who agree that they would rather die a free man than live a slave. Also, I don’t believe the ability to make choices stops after death (but this is, of course, against Christian belief).
    The Bible is not what led me to believe in God in the first place. People led me to believe, and not just what they said, but how they acted, how complicated they were, how sometimes they’d perform acts that defied all logic and desires of self-preservation in the name of love. I understand it may not be your way of looking at the world, (for we all have our own films over our eyes, myself included) but to me, surely something was at work here.
    The one particular person who brought me closest to God and essentially sparked my desire to be the greatest version of me that I could, was an agnostic. She is still my best friend in the world.
    God IS down here, and He does have relationships with us, even with those who don’t know it or see it. God worked through my friend though she didn’t know it. I’ve developed my own theories (which many of them are contrary to Christianity, by the way) and one is that there is a piece in each person that is God and that rejoices in the communion of other God-spirits. Each human is a vessel carrying God and the devil, but the part that makes us who we are is the CHOICE. We choose how to handle our emotions, what to say, what actions to take when presented with a situation, how to reason, etc. The love I felt through my friend, though she would have thought it came directly from her heart, though it did manifest there, the source was from God.
    So I don’t know anything really, but I believe what I do and the not-knowing leads to more questions, which leads to deeper levels of intimacy.

  • Paula

    Thumpalumpacus,

    Cool name. Anyway, I assume what you mean when you say God would “hold [your] soul hostage” is hell. Under than assumption, I shall make my argument.
    Hell is not necessarily the presence of any devil, for when the devil is there God must be as well, but hell is the absence of God. Hell is the undoing of everything everywhen everywhere, and in the choice to live without God, to claim one doesn’t need Him, God will grant them their choice. If someone wanted to live without Him, so be it; they will do so for the rest of eternity.
    God will not be holding souls hostage; God will be absent. There will be emptiness beyond imagining, because none of us has ever felt it before, because God has always been present. Though it probably tears God up to see one of His creations make that choice, He will, nevertheless, respect it, for there are also those who choose by their own free wills to come to God. That is better than any slave.
    But of course, I know none of this.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    Paula
    It’s hard not to admire your honesty. But what you say comes down to – You believe because you believe. There are other admirable theists on this site, who argue their corner very eloquently but in my opinion the bottom line is always, they believe because they believe. Very nice for you and them but still has no basis in observable fact.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    People led me to believe, and not just what they said, but how they acted, how complicated they were, how sometimes they’d perform acts that defied all logic and desires of self-preservation in the name of love.

    Which just goes to show, it is a remarkable and wonderful thing to be be human. I don’t see what adding a god to the story achieves, other than to suggest we are incapable of such behaviour without one. Now that would be a depressing conclusion on’t you think?

  • Leum

    Hell is not necessarily the presence of any devil, for when the devil is there God must be as well, but hell is the absence of God. Hell is the undoing of everything everywhen everywhere, and in the choice to live without God, to claim one doesn’t need Him, God will grant them their choice. If someone wanted to live without Him, so be it; they will do so for the rest of eternity.
    God will not be holding souls hostage; God will be absent. There will be emptiness beyond imagining, because none of us has ever felt it before, because God has always been present. Though it probably tears God up to see one of His creations make that choice, He will, nevertheless, respect it, for there are also those who choose by their own free wills to come to God. That is better than any slave.

    Paula, you can’t escape the horrific evil of Hell by making it about psychological torture for all eternity rather than physical. And if God demands that we choose him while in a state of complete ignorance, you can’t very well argue that he doesn’t want us to go to Hell.

  • Scotlyn

    Paula

    ” People led me to believe, and not just what they said, but how they acted, how complicated they were, how sometimes they’d perform acts that defied all logic and desires of self-preservation in the name of love. I understand it may not be your way of looking at the world, (for we all have our own films over our eyes, myself included) but to me, surely something was at work here. “

    Paula, I could say exactly the same thing, but what people led me to believe in was…people.

    In my experience most Christians, together with the beliefs they choose to cherry-pick and cobble together, are actually a whole lot better than their rotten Scriptures.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Paula,
    This all boils down to an argument from ignorance and god of the gaps reasoning. You don’t know how love could be a real emotion, so you invent a god to fill the gaps in your knowledge and reasoning. Yet, we know that other animals experience these types of emotions, which leads us to an evolutionary explanation. There’s no need to invoke a magic man to explain any of it, and there’s no reason to assume that it would be your specific idea of god.

    Also, for a god of love, that god sure does seem to visit lots of suffering on his people.

  • Paula

    Thank you for listening to a theist’s point of view and for expressing opinions different from my own. It’s healthy to be acquainted with ideas from different sources, but for now I have more searching to do. I hope I can be a part of these discussions later on while I trek through life and analyze my experiences. All of us are in the search for Truth, I believe, and we are all just trying to help each other there. Good luck to your Truth-searching and may you be blessed by benevolence, whether you believe it’s God or not. :)

  • http://deleted Thumpalumpacus

    Cool name. Anyway, I assume what you mean when you say God would “hold [your] soul hostage” is hell. Under than assumption, I shall make my argument.
    Hell is not necessarily the presence of any devil, for when the devil is there God must be as well, but hell is the absence of God. Hell is the undoing of everything everywhen everywhere, and in the choice to live without God, to claim one doesn’t need Him, God will grant them their choice. If someone wanted to live without Him, so be it; they will do so for the rest of eternity.
    God will not be holding souls hostage; God will be absent. There will be emptiness beyond imagining, because none of us has ever felt it before, because God has always been present. Though it probably tears God up to see one of His creations make that choice, He will, nevertheless, respect it, for there are also those who choose by their own free wills to come to God. That is better than any slave.
    But of course, I know none of this.

    Paula:

    This argument fails on several points:

    1) If god is threatening to punish my soul for eternity, whether by lake of fire, or pining for him, or what-have-you, he is still practicing coercion, and extortion. That is certainly not the act of a benevolent being. There can be no free choice between two options when one is penalized and the other isn’t.

    2) Free will is all fine and dandy, but in this instance it is a father giving his three-year-old son to “go on, cross the freeway, if that’s what you want. You know it’ll hurt if you get hit.”

    3) If the absence of god is suffering, then it doesn’t seem to be working. I’m pretty happy, aside from the odd vexations that keep life interesting.

  • http://deleted Thumpalumpacus

    Oh, and thanks for the kind words.

  • Geoff

    She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

    Christian check list:

    Arrogant – Believe the whole universe and everything in it was built just for them.
    Overfed – I think this one is pretty self-evident, at least in America.
    Unconcerned – God will make everything okay so why should I give a damn, it’s his problem not mine.
    Did not help the poor and needy – okay, on this one they do ‘sometimes’ help the poor and needy. But, only because they believe it will get them into a special place called heaven which was built just for them – Oh dear, that takes us back to arrogant again!

  • Rod

    Actually, there a number of other references in the bible to Sodom, and none of them even hint at homosexuality being a part of the story. Below is an excerpt from a piece I have written on homosexuality in the bible:

    Finally, from the viewpoint of context, what do other passages in the bible and other literature say about Sodom? It is interesting to note that while there are numerous references in the ancient literature, none of them, zero, say anything about homosexuality. Instead they focus on arrogance, in-hospitality, and intolerance as the abominations committed by the Sodomites. Consider the following:
    Isaiah 1; Judah is repeatedly compared with Sodom and Gomorrah in their evildoing and depravity. Throughout the chapter, Isaiah lists many sins of the people: rebelling against God, lacking in knowledge, deserting the Lord, idolatry, engaging in meaningless religious ritual, being unjust and oppressive to others, being insensitive to the needs of widows and orphans, committing murder, accepting bribes, etc. There is no reference to homosexuality or to any other sexual activities at all. Jeremiah 23:14 and Ezekiel 16:49-50 parallel the Isaiah reference. Neither includes any reference to homosexual activity.

    Matthew 10:14-15 and Luke 10:7-16: Jesus (the big man himself) implied that the sin of the people of Sodom was to be inhospitable to strangers. No mention of any sexual activity.

    Jude, Verse 7: The reference in Jude is ambiguous, at best. Jude described the Sodomites as “going after “sarkos heteras” in Greek. This can be translated as “other flesh”. This may be interpreted as sex with angels (bestiality), or perhaps it is a reference to cannibalism, which was practiced in early Canaanite culture. Or, it may mean something else entirely. If it had been intended to refer to homosexuality, the word used would have been “paiderasste”, a well known Greek word for same sex relations.

    Josephus, Antiquities I: 194-5: the Sodomites, overweeningly proud of their numbers and the extent of their wealth, showed themselves insolent to men and impious to the Divinity, insomuch that they no more remembered the benefits that they had received from him, hated foreigners and declined all intercourse with others. Indignant at this conduct, God accordingly resolved to chastise them for their arrogance…

    Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 109a: The men of Sodom waxed haughty only on account of the good which the Holy One, blessed be He, had lavished upon them…They said: Since there cometh forth bread out of (our) earth, and it hath the dust of gold, why should we suffer wayfarers, who come to us only to deplete our wealth. Come, let us abolish the practice of traveling in our land…

    So, according to these references, Sodomites were arrogant, inhospitable, cruel, intolerant, unjust, etc., but they weren’t queer. In fact, they were very much like the homophobes in today’s world!

  • Callie

    Little late to this party but I’ve started reading and hooked in deep.

    Mollie:

    “Again, I’m not trying to prove that sexual immorality (homosexuality) was the ONLY cause for the cities’ destruction, but it certainly was one of the reasons.”

    My question (1 of 2) is how can you consider homosexuality and sexual immorality synonymous? Rape, immoral, selling your family members as sex slaves, immoral, abusing, etc. you get my point. Whether you support equal civil libertiea of all individuals or not isn’t necessarily the all or nothing here. I believe acting immoral is almost always mental and not physical. The mental obviously progresses to make it physical, the point being you have to have the mental state to act immorally. There’s also little sense in getting into whether its not a choice or not, none come to an agreement, but to me a respectful, good hearted homosexual who wants to do right by others is not sexually immoral based upon something one cannot control. That individual is attempting to do right by God, and also by themselves. That’s truly courageous in my opinion. Now, the woman and child beaters, those who rape and ravage with no remorse over, and over. That to me is a sexually immoral, or just plain immoral person in my opinion. Saga part 1 over.

    Question/Statement 2: as far as marriage goes I believe all of the good ones, the ones that last, there is a leader, or a more dominant person which creates balance. Although this was probably was figured out way back when, I believe the men just wanted to make sure they retained the power. Religion is often a way to gain power and suppress others. I believe there can be straight couples with a female who wears the pants and in homosexual couples there is also one who plays that role. I suppose my point is while approach functions well, it is not limited to that singular model.

    Regardless of the words in the New or Old Testament a vast majority of these words come from the mouths of men. The Bible is the word of God transcribed through humans. It has so many different versions and editions in every language leaving such an enormous gap for whoever to fill them as they please repeatedly over a what roughly 3,500 years ago?

    Whewww that felt good.

  • GCT

    My question (1 of 2) is how can you consider homosexuality and sexual immorality synonymous?

    If one is to maintain that the Bible is god’s word and what god says is immoral is actually immoral, then one would have to equate homosexuality with sexual immorality. God, it seems, really does “hate fags” as the Westboro Baptist contingent contends.

    That individual is attempting to do right by God, and also by themselves. That’s truly courageous in my opinion.

    Except that god said, “Don’t do that, it’s an abomination” (obviously paraphrased). Homosexuals are not doing right by god according to the Bible. The fact that you see them as courageous for simply being who they are probably makes you more moral than the writers of the Bible. Congratulations.

    Question/Statement 2: as far as marriage goes I believe all of the good ones, the ones that last, there is a leader, or a more dominant person which creates balance.

    How does this make any sense? You need inequality and and imbalanced situation in order to obtain balance? Many marriages have lasted because women were put into a position of subservience for which they had no escape. That’s a situation with a clear dominant figure that would last, although not very happily in many cases. If that’s what you think is good for marriage, then I would suggest that you rethink your position.

    The Bible is the word of God transcribed through humans.

    Please cite some evidence for this position. And, when you’re done with that, please tell me how this helps in any regard. If these are god’s words, but are filtered through men, how can you tell which parts they got right and which they got wrong?