Why Did God Punish Sodom and Gomorrah?
The following is from a letter by Billy Graham posted on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website: “Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
She was probably thinking of a passage in Ezekiel where God tells why He brought those cities to ruin. “Now this was the sin of … Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed 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” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV).
I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today? In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.” After Billy Graham posted this statement on his website he received in my humble opinion, some undue flack by a few other men of God, one in particular labeled it “unhelpful at best, and biblically irresponsible at worst.”
Another critic even stated that she believed that for Rev. Graham, to include this statement made by his dear wife was somehow kowtowing to some religious special interest group and was even on the verge of preaching fire and brimstone. Fire and brimstone? Bill Graham? This does not compute! The statement was an observation made by the late Ruth Graham to her husband, nothing more and nothing less. It is an observation, in which I happen to be in full agreement with. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the most (if not the most) controversial stories in the Bible. I guarantee you that there are people who would have preferred that this biblical account be omitted from the Word of God. In fact, right here in my hometown of Houston, Texas there was an incident that caught my attention: "Two veteran preachers are now facing a bench trial for spreading the biblical message about homosexuality-and other sins-on one of their favorite street corners for preaching in Houston. What was their supposed crime? Having signs thicker than one quarter inch and having a sign made out of wood. They were tackled to the ground by HPD and handcuffed. Their case will be heard by a Lesbian judge." This kind of incident is taking place all over America and this is one reason I say that there are people who would have preferred that this biblical account be omitted from the Word of God.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is perhaps one of the most tragic and horrible stories in the entire Bible. And I will have to admit, listening to this story is very difficult. I would much rather entertain the beauty of the Psalms or of the Song of Solomon. I would much rather concern myself with the beautiful beatitudes of the New Testament, which spoke for those who had no voice of their own, the poor, the dispossessed and the powerless or almost any other story in the Bible than the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. This story almost plays out like a Hollywood disaster movie with evil villains; with desperate people struggling to get away from sure doom and destruction. This story is like the movie, Jurassic Park, because it tells of people running for their lives; being chased by dinosaurs all because they ended up in a place where they really didn’t belong in the first place.
Here in America today, we are in a place spiritually, where we really don’t belong. Why? We are dealing with issues that we need not deal with because God Himself has already established how we should live and conduct ourselves a long time ago. But today, here in the year 2013 many are sticking their fingers in the very face of God and are inadvertently or otherwise telling Him that they do not accept His way anymore; they want to do and are going to do what they want to do. Many today, here in the year 2013 are treating God’s Word as if they are just words printed on a piece of paper. Many today, are engaging in an open rebellion against the Creator the universe and of all things. And so this story of Sodom and Gomorrah just does not sit well with people today.
When and if they do consider God, He is only portrayed by them as a God of love, and as an all-embracing God. An “anything goes” type of God, but this particular concept of Him could not be any further than the truth. Although He is very well a God of love, He is equally a God of wrath. And before I am accused of preaching fire and brimstone myself I ask you to consider what is written in Job 36: 18, "Because there is wrath, beware lest He take thee away with His stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee" and the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 1: 18, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,” In short, the world needs to get right with God, and understand clearly that God’s wrath is indeed real. God’s wrath (orge): anger, not an agitated outburst of violence. It is not anger that quickly blazes up and just as quickly fades away, God’s wrath is not anger that arises solely from emotion. Rather, it is a decisive anger. It is an anger that has arisen from a thoughtful decision, an anger that is righteous, and just, and good. It is an anger that stands against the sin and evil, violence and slaughter, immorality and injustices of men. However, it is an anger that is deeply felt; in fact, it must be felt, because evil and corruption must be opposed and erased from the earth.
For sure, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a difficult one. It is very difficult to preach in these days of political correctness. If one preaches from this particular portion of Scriptures he or she runs the risk of being labeled a prude or at best a narrow-minded Christian. However, I will stand on the words spoken by the Apostle Paul long ago, “Woe unto me, if I preach not the gospel” (I Cor. 9: 16) because there are some similarities and parallels between America today and the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Note, I am not saying that America is just like Sodom and Gomorrah; I am saying there are some similarities we have with Sodom and Gomorrah today that we really need to address.
In Genesis 13: 13 we read, "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord, exceedingly so." What was the sin of Sodom that was so great and outrageous in the eyes of God, the sin that so angered him, so outraged him, that he annihilated the city with fire and brimstone? Homosexuality. Sodom is mentioned many times in both Old and New Testaments. Its name is synonymous with great and outrageous wickedness, the very height of wickedness. Today, we are taking the issue of same sex marriage to the Supreme Court in order to supposedly end this debate once and for all. If the Supreme Court Justices should ever give their approval, the prevailing thought is, same sex marriage will become the law of the land.
Question is, why won’t the proponents for same sex marriage just go to the Bible and save those learned Justices the bother? And the answer is, The Holy Bible is not a broad-minded, tolerant book. In fact, it is, in a sense, a very narrow-minded, intolerant book. God is
a God of righteousness who is patient but not infinitely patient. God is a God who will not tolerate mass disobedience. If you could, just ask the people during Noah’s day. Or just ask the people who were defiling the temple when Jesus passed by and they would (if they could) tell you that He could be very severe with the unrepentant and those who do not love, honor and serve Him. In the 18th chapter of Genesis, the Lord informed Abraham that "the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous." And Abraham responded by pleading with the Lord to have mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah because Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family lived in Sodom. (Genesis 18: 16-33)
Here the 19th chapter of Genesis, records the two angels, disguised as human men, visiting Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot met the angels in the city square and urged them to stay at his house. The angels agreed. The Bible then informs us, "Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom — both young and old — surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” This is how the city of Sodom got its name, the term "sodomy" came to be used to refer to anal sex between two men, whether consensual or forced. Can you see why I say that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a difficult story to preach?
In America today, almost everyone has a co-worker, friend or family member who has engaged or is engaging in the homosexual lifestyle. I have a few, and have many of you also may have a friend or family member who you love living what is now called an “alternative lifestyle”, and many people today, sadly enough to include the clergy do not want to offend homosexuals by directly confronting the issue of this sinful lifestyle. In fact, I have noticed many people today including ministers and politicians, the President of the United States among them, have now accepted this lifestyle as a normal lifestyle. They offer words of encouragement to those who have elected to “come out” and confess their homosexual lifestyle.
A professional NBA player has received accolades from very prominent people for “having the courage” to come out. Sadly, they never give it a second thought as to how God feels about it. No one to my recollection in the Senate or the Congress has publicly opened up their Bible to declare that God calls this a sin, they used the excuse called “the separation of church and state” eventhough they place the words, “In God we trust” on their dollar bills, they still infer that God has no business in governmental decisions, and prayer has no business being uttered our little ones in the schools across the nation and as result we have the lifestyle of homosexuality being applauded by people with so-called power and the call for their “civil rights” to marry and love whom they please. The supporters of the Gay lifestyle have pointed out with glee that the percentage of Americans who sincerely believe that homosexuality is a sin has decreased significantly. They eagerly point out as well that even the leader of the free world publicly embraced of same-sex marriage just last year and in doing so it "probably impacted the evolution of cultural values -– there is a real and substantive shift, surprisingly large for a one-year timeframe." (LifeWay Research Survey)
In America today, anyone who has not noticed that the Gay agenda is moving at an extremely fast must be in living in a cave somewhere. As of May 2013, there are nine states—Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington—as well as the District of Columbia and three Native American tribes— who have legalized same-sex marriage, representing 15.7% of the U.S. population. Homosexuals can marry one another in these states as well as adopt children in order to create what they call a family unit.
An issue that 50 years ago would have been completely unheard of has now made its way to the forefront. Hollywood has vigorously promoted it, for example, there is television’s Will & Grace or The L Word; movies such as Brokeback Mountain, and likable homosexual characters with prominent roles in films such as Bridget Jones Diary and As Good As it Gets. Amiable homosexual characters increasingly feature in modern film and television, and it is no accident. However, there is a great question that still stands before us today, why did God punish Sodom and Gomorrah? This story in the Bible, this sad and tragic story in which a few would like to follow Jehudi’s example, “Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll (Word of God), the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire.” (Jeremiah 36:23)
Why did Jehudi order that four pages or columns from the Word of God be destroyed? He was highly displeased with what had been read, and could not hear any longer with patience. It was the Word of God, but he disapproved of what God said. Can you even imagine the utter arrogance of this man? Let me say it again, he disapproved of what God said—and so, he took it upon himself to cast it into the fire, and there let it lie, until it was completely consumed; a very ungodly action I must say, to burn the word of God? This is evident of an ungodly mind, what this man did that day proved without a doubt that he had enmity in his heart against God, well, what does this say about America today? When we openly embrace something that God clearly said in His Word was an abomination to Him, ““Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)
Again, why did God punish Sodom and Gomorrah? To answer this question let us look closer at this story. It is a very harsh story, an unrelenting tale, and a favorite among those who would like to dismiss the entire Bible as superstition not worthy of their attention. For others, it is extremely difficult to read because it conflicts with their idea of a loving God. No one wants to carry with them the thought or view of a vengeful God. They just hate to read and/or entertain the story of the two unlucky cities named Sodom and Gomorrah, which disappeared in a cloud of smoke and fire. And it is to an extent understandable, because random destruction is indeed hard to accept. It would be much easier to simply blame the victim—let’s blame Lot’s wife, after all she was the one who dared to look back when she was distinctly instructed not to, and as a result she got what she deserved because she was turned to salt.
She wore loose and exposing clothes, and what was she doing in that part of town anyway? Let’s blame Lot’s daughters, because if homosexuality is considered sexual perversion, shouldn’t incest be equally considered as such? Better yet, let’s blame old Lot, he tried to prostitute his daughters as a replacement for the angels who all of the men of Sodom really wanted to the extent that they were struck blind. Since we’re playing the blame game, let’s blame the Conservative right and the Progressive left for not being able to see eye to eye on the matter.
Let’s blame Billy Graham, because he dared to put in print a casual statement made by his dear wife. Who is the blame? And why did God find it necessary to utterly destroy Sodom and Gomorrah?
Recently, on the History Channel, was aired another video in the "Histories Mysteries" series titled "Sodom and Gomorrah." The video features the ancient biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and presents information from skeptics who doubt the Bible’s accuracy concerning what led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
This video stated that it was not sexual perversion that cause these cities destruction, it was simply their lack of hospitality towards their guest like the two angels. The video completely overlooked what was written in the Word of God concerning Sodom and Gomorrah, “"Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange (Greek: different, other) flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude 1:7) The term "going after strange flesh" is explained to us in Proverbs 7:5 and Romans 1:26-27... "That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words."
"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet."
God—the only living and true God—shows wrath by giving men and women up to vile, unnatural affections. The term “vile affections” means passions, dishonor, disgrace, infamy, shame, and degradation. What this means is passions cannot be controlled or governed in the manner we are currently attempting to engage in at this present moment. It means that we can’t run loose and wild, no matter what we try to do. It means that the U. S. Supreme Court, or the POTUS, or the Senate and Congress, or the LGBT, or any other Civil Rights group has absolutely NO final say in this matter. What it does mean however is God is the One who is in control.
Why did God punish and eventually destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Again, God’s answer can be found there in the book of Ezekiel, “Now this was the sin of … Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed 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” they did not want God to have anything to do with their lives, they refused to accept His presence—they did not approve of God, recognize Him, and acknowledge Him, therefore, they were given up to a reprobate mind and evidentially wiped off the face of the earth. Who is to blame?
Each and every one of us are to blame because we allowed Satan to dull our minds and hearts to the point that America is no longer a Christian nation, but simply a nation with Christians in it, many individuals and societies are on the road to Sodom and Gomorrah and we need to heed the warnings implied. Yes, there are many voices speaking out on this issue in America today. I personally believe that the Church is not speaking out quite enough. Many voices, but of all the voices involved there is only One voice that really counts—the voice of God almighty Himself. And I could hear Him say even today in the year 2013, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Amen.