Inhospitality Or Homosexuality – Which Explanation Is Given in The Bible For The Sodom Story?

nhospitality is always the reason cited in scripture for the destruction of Sodom. Homosexuality is never cited in scripture as the reason God destroyed Sodom. Isn’t that interesting?

A camel train was the common method of travel in Bible times.

Christians, Catholics, Evangelicals and Fundamentalists believe widespread homosexuality caused God to destroy Sodom. Yet when asked to produce a verse of scripture which clearly states that homosexuality was the sin of Sodom, they are unable to do so.

Perhaps that is because lack of hospitality (among other sins) provides a far better answer to the question than homosexuality.

It is difficult for modern Christians in an entirely different cultural setting, to grasp the importance of hospitality in Biblical times.

What does the Bible say about hospitality and lack of hospitality?

After a weary day of travel, even a Bedouin tent was a welcome place of refuge.

Hospitality in ancient near Eastern culture was far more important than in modern culture. Travel through an often desolate wilderness was a slow process. Inns and safe places to spend the night were few and far between. Therefore, travelers tended to stop and spend the night with whoever was friendly enough to invite them in.

Imagine yourself riding a camel or leading a camel through arid, dusty country day after day and you begin to appreciate the importance of hospitality in ancient times.

Welcoming weary travelers for an overnight stay was common in the ancient near east. Hosts welcomed travelers passing through, expecting the same hospitality would be returned to them in their travels.

Ancient travellers depended on the hospitality of strangers.

Desolate Israeli wilderness.

In the Sodom story, Genesis 19, Lot is responsible for the safety of his angel visitors and all their needs as long as they are under his roof. Travelers in ancient times depended on the hospitality of strangers for their lives and safety.

Testimony Supporting Inhospitality As The Sin Of Sodom

1. The Testimony of Lot, an eyewitness.

Lot and his daughters.

After the men of Sodom gather at Lot’s door and demand, “Bring the men out unto us that we may know them,” Lot steps outside, shuts the door to protect his guests and tries to reason with the would-be rapists.

Lot, the main participant and an eyewitness to the incident, cites hospitality as the primary reason the men of Sodom should not rape his visitors:

“for therefore [for hospitality] came they under the shadow of my roof” Genesis 19:8.

Lot’s appeal to the men of Sodom not to breach the hospitality ethic carries evidentiary weight for everyone who believes the Bible. For Lot, an active participant in this drama, Inhospitality was a major factor in the Sodom story.

Notice that Lot never says, Don’t rape these men because that would transgress male-female complementarity.

2. The Testimony of Jewish Law

A flock of goats in Israel.

Genesis 13:8 tells us the herds of Abraham and Lot were so large, they agreed to separate, in order to have enough room to graze. Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom. The pagan influence of the people of Sodom eventually caused Lot to lose his family.

Scripture demonstrates extraordinary concern for the welfare of strangers. God carefully instructs His people that strangers must be treated with hospitality, justice and righteousness. Emphasis on hospitality – being careful not to practice inhospitality – permeates Jewish law.

a. God contrasts the hospitality of Abraham with the inhospitality of the men of Sodom, Genesis 18-19.

b. God commands the Jews not to show inhospitality to strangers.

“Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 22:21.

God grounds the hospitality ethic in Israel’s history.

As strangers in Egypt, they had personally experienced inhospitality. They knew how it felt to be mistreated. Therefore, God commands them not to mistreat strangers in their midst. This is the Golden Rule in the Old Testament. “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

c. God’s next command against inhospitality is aimed at Israel’s heart.

Rugged Judean Canyon

“Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 23:9.

d. God next commands Israel to love strangers. Philoxenia, the Greek word translated “hospitality” in the New Testament, literally means “loving strangers.”

God instructs Israel that it is not enough to simply treat strangers with hospitality. The children of Israel must “love strangers” as they love their neighbors.

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18.“But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:34.

3. The Testimony of Ezekiel About Sodom’s Sin.

The prophet Ezekiel, writing under inspiration of God, precisely describes the sin of Sodom. He lists six transgressions which the people of Sodom committed. Homosexuality is not among these sins but Inhospitality definitely is. Isn’t that interesting?

“As I live, saith the LORD GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters. Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom,

  1. pride,
  2. fulness of bread, and
  3. abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters,
  4. [Inhospitality] neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were
  5. haughty, and
  6. committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.” Ezekiel 16:48-50

Ezekiel is very clear about the sin of Sodom.

Read and believe your Bible.

Had God intended us to believe that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality, God would have said so in unmistakable language. He did not. Instead, God points out, in unmistakable language, that Inhospitality is the sin of Sodom. Do you agree with God and His prophet Ezekiel about the sin of Sodom?

The abomination Ezekiel refers to (in Genesis 19) was the attempted gang rape of angels – gross Inhospitality. Genesis 19 is most assuredly not about a loving, committed relationship between two men or two women, according to this heterosexual scholar.

These Links Contain Additional Helpful Information.

Does the New Testament also affirm Inhospitality as the sin of Sodom? Is the hospitality ethic, so important in the Old Testament, also important in the New Testament?

The Babylonian Talmud On Sodom.

The Sodom story is not about consentual same sex relationships.

Hospitality in the New Testament.

The Real Sin of Sodom.

The Bible contains many analogies which affirm gay relationships as blessed by God. You’ve read about Inhospitality. Click here to return to GayChristian101 Home Page.


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