17
Jul
08

My Thoughts on Sodomy

Ha!  No, no, no — it’s not that kind of post.  In my morning devotions recently I’ve been studying Matthew and came to this text:

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town.   I assure you: It will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Matthew 10:14-15

While I was considering this text, Ezekiel’s comments on Sodom came to mind, and I found myself much more impacted by the Lord’s commentary on Sodom on that morning than on his statements about the woeful state of those who refuse to listen to the Gospel.   Here we go:

“As I live”-the declaration of the Lord God-“your sister Sodom and her daughters have not behaved as you and your daughters have. Now this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security, but didn’t support the poor and needy.  They were haughty and did detestable things before Me, so I removed them when I saw this. Ezekiel 16:48-50

Now, I read these verses and cannot help but think of my own situation and how I would matchup by God’s standards here.  We traditionally think of God’s problem with Sodom as being homosexuality, and I think that is part of it.  I’ve heard liberals interpret this verse to say that Sodom’s big problem was a lack of hospitality and I do not see that.  But let’s take God’s indictment here, charge by charge.

Proud

Now this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had prideOK.  Now, this is a huge subject.  In my own limited reading, theologians from C.S. Lewis to John Piper have laid out pride as the basic root of all sin, in one way or another.  At the end of the day, pride is basically a distortion of the universe:  it is realigning all of creation to revolve around me.  When Jesus laid out the two great commandments as love God with all you have, and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27), he was laying out a worldview that ends pride.   There simply is no room for pride if your foci are on loving God and loving neighbor.   A life that is devoted to care for self, to caring for one’s own, is a life dominated by pride.

When I consider my own life, where do I find pride?  It can be pretty subtle.  I find pride when I choose to do something for myself rather than for my neighbor; when I find a reason to complain about how somebody is doing things rather than helping them do it better; when I put my own opinions above the opinions of others; when I want to come home and just be a vegetable instead of being interested in the lives of my children.  I reviewed George Mueller’s Biography a few weeks back, and one of his principles was, as much as it was in his power, to never let people see him tired.  How often do I whine about being exhausted from work, perhaps seeing the pity or admiration of others?

Well-fed

…she and her daughters had pride, plenty of foodOK.  Now I think this is something that the typical American can understand pretty plainly.  There is such an industry for fitness and weight loss in this nation, and as I heard a man once say, “You don’t get this big just looking at food.”  There are riots happening in the world over the price of rice.  We (mankind) are just not making enough food right now.  Does this lead us in America to slow down?  Do we go to a restaurant and say “you know, one entre is really enough to feed my family – can we just do that?”  I know that doesn’t happen with my family.   There is certainly no question that the vast majority of us in America are well-fed, and I count myself in that number.

Secure

…had pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security…. This is another one that I think should land on Americans pretty forcefully.  Do we really have much to fear here?  Sure we have the occassional nut who goes on a killing rampage, and every few years a major terrorism event.  But we have to be honest here – the reason these displays of undiluted evil land so hard on us is because they are so rare here.  There is not an army on earth with a desire to challenge us militarily.  I tuck my daughters into their beds at night and don’t have to worry if something will happen to them (or me) in the night.

Selfish

…pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security, but didn’t support the poor and needy. This one I find particularly stark.  Having seen my own reflection in the first three charges – knowing the blessing that God has poured out on me, that word “but” is just devastating.  A large part of this, I think, is the way our cities have grown, where in the suburbs here I can keep the poor and needy pretty safely out of view.  There is a very delapidated looking trailer park in the three miles between my house and church, but really, I don’t have to look over there and see them.  My neighborhood has a lot of rental houses with very ugly cars in the driveway, but luckily those folks are never outside for me to talk to. It’s just not that hard to claim out of sight, out of mind. Will God buy that excuse?

Self-Exalting and Detestable

They were haughty and did detestable things before Me… OK, so the first thing we need here is a working definition of haughty, because to my mind they are very similar.  Here are the Bible dictionary’s definitions for “haughty” and “pride” used in these verses.  Haughty seems to be the idea of self-exaltation.  It’s the pride that wants to crown yourself king.  The other uses of it in the OT are words like “exalted” and “high”.  The people of Sodom were very full of themselves.  They had an arrogance and a total disregard for others that even extended to demanding to rape angels that came to visit Lot.

God also says they “did detestable things”.  As much as the liberal wants to say this text is saying Sodom is off the hook for homosexuality, I don’t think that flies.  The KJV word for detestable things here is “abomination”.   It is the exact same word God uses when he says:

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Leviticus 18:22 (KJV)

Now, it’s true that this could mean other things, but when one considers the actual story of Sodom it certainly seems that this is what is in view here.

That said, we must be very careful here about what we excuse ourselves from.  The commercials on your average college football broadcast contain plenty of stuff that would seem to be a blatant violation of God’s commands to a pure thought-life.

Judgment

…so I removed them when I saw this. And there it is.  Judgment fell.  Now, let’s take all of this in context.  The people were proud, well-fed, and secure.  They had no reasons to be selfish, and yet they were utterly selfish, and did not pay any attention to the poor around them.  They were haughty.  They were depraved.

Let’s also not forget Abraham’s negotiation with God, the world’s first used car sales-pitch.  At the end of the day, Sodom faced judgment as we all must.  If there had been any righteous in Sodom, it would have been spared.  But this really is not so different from the Flood, where God judged the world and saved the small pocket of the righteous.

God certainly paints plainly for us his concern for the poor.  I won’t belabor that point, except to say that in conservative Christendom, that is very much under-emphasized.  God cares for the poor and needy, and that was a major charge that He had against Sodom.  Would we rather be identified for our likeness to Sodom, or our likeness to Peter, Paul, John, and Jesus?

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