Tuesday, July 31, 2007

LIVING IN SODOM


The word “homosexual” did not enter the English vocabulary until 1869. It was coined by Hungarian physician Karoly Maria Benkert. Biblically speaking, homosexuals are sodomites. "There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel" (Deuteronomy 23:17). The first occurrence of the name Sodom is found in Genesis 10:19 which mentions the border of the Canaanite territory. In Genesis 13, we read of a division which occurred between the patriarch Abraham and his nephew, Lot, because the land was not big enough for their respective herds (6,7). In a deep display of grace and humility, Abraham deferred to Lot and allowed him to choose a suitable place for his family and herds. We read that "... Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom (Genesis 13:10-12). In Genesis 14:12, we discover that Lot “dwelt in Sodom”. Eventually, we see him sitting at the gate of Sodom (Genesis 19:1), which means he was serving in some capacity as a city official. Inside the gateway of ancient cities were rooms that served as communal areas for meetings and the administration of public justice by the elders of the city. It would appear that Lot had risen to the rank of a city magistrate. He had attained a high status in Sodom. However, he was not a contented man there. Indeed, while Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom one day, he was approached by two angels from heaven who were not paying him a social visit. They brought him the fearful news that God was going to destroy the city completely. Its sins were so grievous in the eyes of a holy God (Genesis 19:13) that no other punishment was fitting. We are told that they sinned exceedingly (Genesis 13:13). The apostle Peter, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says in 2 Peter 2:6-8: “[God turned] the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes [and] condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds).” Lot was living in Sodom, but the wickedness of the city was a constant grief to his soul.

True to His Word, God destroyed Sodom and the other cities of the plains with brimstone and fire (Genesis 19:24), and “the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace” (verse 28). Archaeologist Bryant Wood believes that the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah have been discovered southeast of the Dead Sea. He writes, "The modern names are Bab edh-Dhra, thought to be Sodom, and Numeira, thought to be Gomorrah. Both places were destroyed at the same time by an enormous conflagration. The destruction debris was about three feet thick. What brought about this awful calamity? Startling discoveries in the cemetery at Bab edh-Dhra revealed the cause. Archaeologists found that buildings used to bury the dead were burned by a fire that started on the roof. What would cause every structure in the cemetery to be destroyed in this way? The answer to the mystery is found in the Bible: "Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens" (Genesis 19:24 NIV). The only conceivable explanation for this unique discovery in the annals of archaeology is that burning debris fell on the buildings from the air. How could such a thing happen? There is ample evidence found in subterranean deposits of a petroleum-based substance called bitumen, similar to asphalt, in the region south of the Dead Sea. Such material normally contains a high percentage of sulfur. It has been postulated by geologist Frederick Clapp that pressure from an earthquake could have caused the bitumen deposits to be forced out of the earth through a fault line. As it gushed out of the earth, it could have been ignited by a spark or surface fire. It would then fall to earth as a burning, fiery mass.”[1]

The lesson for us is clear: God takes sin seriously! This is especially true when it is embraced wholeheartedly by a city or nation. While the sins of Sodom were numerous, the most heinous of all was the sin of homosexuality. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah were so evil that they wanted to have sex with Lot’s visitors. Jude verse 7 confirms this: “ ... [they gave] themselves over to fornication, and [went] after strange flesh.” The lust of men for other men resulted in an attempt at gang rape, and God abandoned Sodom and the cities of the plains to His Divine judgment. Any city or nation that condones homosexuality, which is wicked and deviant behavior, and publicly endorses it abides under the wrath of God: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20).
This warning from Isaiah applies to many localities in the United States, but I write in particular about the city in which I live. I reside in San Diego, California. The local politicians call it “America’s finest city,” but the reality is that I am living in Sodom. On July 17, 2007, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, with the unanimous approval of the city council “officially” designated July as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month."

The resolution reads:
BE IT RESOLVED, by the Mayor and Council of the City of San Diego, that this Council, for and on behalf of the people of San Diego, does hereby recognize the many civic contributions of the LGBT community in San Diego County, and encourages all people to share in the pride of our City's diverse citizenry by participating in the 33rd Annual San Diego LGBT Pride community celebration, parade, festival and arts and culture programs.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that July 2007, be and is hereby proclaimed to be, "LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH" in the City of San Diego.

The San Diego Union-Tribune called the annual gay pride parade that is mentioned in the resolution: “one of the most popular events of its kind in the country.” Indeed it is popular. The attendance at this year’s parade attracted over 150,000 people. On July 8, the San Diego Padres hosted “Pride Night” at Petco Park, and a gay men’s chorus sang the national anthem. In connection with this, the Padres offered floppy hats to children aged 14 and younger. San Diego has become a modern-day Sodom, but time does not change God’s view of things. Homosexuality is still a grievous sin before God: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Leviticus 20:13).
Is it popular to cite Scripture in the debate on alternative lifestyles? Absolutely not! The minute you do, the accusation of intolerance is lodged against you. So be it! True Christians must continue to be intolerant of sin. Those who still honor God’s Word are on the right side of this moral issue. God is not a God of tolerance and diversity when it comes to moral values: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Homosexuality is a destructive lifestyle. The truth cannot be hidden. The facts do not lie. The Centers for Disease Control reveal that homosexuals make up 80 percent of all AIDS cases in America. Add to this a very high incidence of many other forms of sexually transmitted disease, substance abuse, and depression among homosexuals. This is not the picture of a gay life in the traditional meaning of the word gay. The only true hope for deliverance from this bondage is repentance. Jesus can forgive every manner of sin and grant forgiveness. He paid the price when He died on the cross (John 3:16), but His forgiveness must be sought before the heart of a man is completely hardened (Romans 1:28). Homosexuals must turn to God with broken hearts that desire not only His saving grace (Ephesians 2:8-10), but also His grace to change (2 Peter 1:1-4).

In the book of Romans, Paul writes concerning those who rejected God and of their subsequent downfall. When you read the account, it is chilling: "... God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 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 recompence of their error which was meet [necessary] (Romans 1:24-27). Seminary professor and theologian Charles Ryrie translates the words God uses in the above text to describe lesbians and homosexuals in this manner: “degrading ... unnatural ... indecent.” [2] Homsexuality is likewise condemned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. God does not view homosexuality as acceptable. Where does that leave us, the residents of modern-day Sodom and of cities just like it? Certainly, our politicians cannot help. They have condoned wickedness. They have called evil good. They have offered their blessing on that which God has condemned. They have abandoned the idea of moral absolutes. In time, and God alone knows the hour, His fierce wrath will fall on this once- great nation. As tempting as it is to flee, where can one go if God has abandoned America? Bible- believing Christians must not run nor hide. We must stand our ground and faithfully proclaim the authority of Scripture. Like Noah in his generation, we must be “preacher[s] of righteousness” to our godless generation (2 Peter 2:5). Our hope rests in the Lord who made heaven and earth. He is Sovereign, and the Sovereign Lord will never forsake those who truly desire to live holy lives for His glory.

“ O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously” (Psalm 96:9-10).

Trusting in the Lord always,


Pastor Tom

[1] From ChristiansAnswers.Net article:Is there any evidence for the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah's destruction by fire and brimstone (sulfur)?

[2] Charles C. Ryrie, Biblical Answers to Contemporary Questions (Chicago, Moody Press, 1994), p.117

1 comment:

Holly Boston said...

Pastor Tom~

I think it is more than just repentance to God that is needed... often sin is rooted in deep heart wounds that were caused in the past. Some of them so ugly and terrifying that we cannot approach them alone. These wounds were caused by either sins done to the person or sins they did themselves. Either way, they are often left with deep emotional pain. Now this doesn't excuse it all together, but it helps explain what is going on. They still need to take ownership of this pain and their actions. To do this, I'd say many homosexuals need heart encounters with the Lord to face their pain from their pasts and receive God's healing words to allow them to live without sin in the present. This will take a lot of prayer and love from Christians who are willing to walk down the road to recovery with them.