For the longest time the sin of Sodom was clearly connected clearly with homosexuality. In the United States in particular we had laws against sodomy, which made homosexuality a crime. Most people, if asked today, would say the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexual behavior.
However, this assumption has been challenged of late. Bible scholars and students of the Bible have claimed that the sin of Sodom should not be linked with homosexuality.
The normal argument made against Sodom being an example of homosexual activity is that later Old Testament passages state a different reason for Sodom’s demise. Although most of the later Old Testament usage of Sodom is to illustrate how God will destroy a sinful nation, there are a few passages that speak of the sin of Sodom. One is Ezekiel 16:49, 50. It states that Sodom’s sin was pride and choosing not to take care of the poor and needy though they had the ability to do so. Another is Jeremiah 23:14, which states their sin was adultery, lying, and not repenting. A third is Isaiah 3:9, which states the sin is a lack of justice. The argument made from these passages is that the sin of Sodom is not homosexuality, but rather injustice, specifically toward the poor.
This argument is sound; in as far as it goes. It is sound to say that Sodom was involved in other sinful practices besides homosexuality. It is also a good corrective to those who describe the sin of Sodom in a singular way. It was not just one sin that Sodom was committing, but many.
However, the argument that homosexuality is not a part of the sinful equation in Sodom is lacking for a few reasons. First, the Genesis account of Sodom. The account of the men of the city (all the men) wanting to commit homosexual acts against the visiting angels (who appeared to them as men) is in Genesis to provide for us an illustration of the sin of Sodom. It is showing why God is just in destroying this city. We cannot get around the fact that the particular way chosen to illustrate Sodom’s sin was the desire to commit homosexual acts.
Second, in Ezekiel specific sins are mentioned and then a general term is used to describe Sodom’s sins. The general term is “abominable things.” This is the same word used to characterize homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 (more on those verses in this post). Thus, it is possible, and maybe even likely, that Ezekiel has homosexuality in mind.
Third, God’s revelation does not stop with the Hebrew Bible. The New Testament also describes the sins of Sodom. Two are important to our discussion (and will be looked at in more detail later). They are 2 Peter 2:7, 8 and Jude 7. In these verses the sin of Sodom is put in sexual terms. And the idea of strange flesh in Jude 7 would refer to homosexual behavior.
Putting this all together, we have certain conclusions. First, Sodom was not condemned for a single sin, but rather a plethora of sins. Second, although the Old Testament does speak of other sins condemning Sodom, it does not mean that Sodom was not also condemned for homosexuality. Third, the fact that the desire for homosexual relations was used in the Genesis account to illustrate Sodom’s sins cannot be overlooked. Fourth, the New Testament (and if our space would have permitted Jewish literature) shows that Sodom was condemned in part because of homosexual behavior.