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So what’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word Sodom? Many associate Sodom with sexual immorality. The biblical city of Sodom is so connected with homosexual sin there is a word in current usage describing certain types of sexual acts: Sodomy.[1]

Years ago I heard a preacher say, “If God doesn’t judge America He will have to apologize to Sodom.” Interesting evaluation of what God must do.

The truth is there is more to the sin of ancient Sodom than simply aberrant sexual behavior. As we will see below:

Ezekiel was a prophet who lived and preached to the Southern Kingdom of Judah while it was in the process of being destroyed by Babylon. The prophet writes a scathing rebuke of God’s covenant people. He points out the plethora of ways they have been unfaithful to their Lord. He likens their idolatry to spiritual prostitution; however, unlike physical prostitution where a woman receives a gift or some payment, Ezekiel points out that the people of God paid their lovers simply for the privilege of letting them play the whore. Ezekiel uses caustic and offensive language to help sinners see what their unfaithfulness looks like to the God of the Covenant.

One might think that in a passage where Ezekiel calls them out for their spiritual prostitution that he might use ancient Sodom as an example of their whoring. But he does not. Instead, he uses Sodom as an example of another kind of sin of the people. He writes the following:

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.” (Ezekiel 16:49, HCSB)

So there you go. Sodom had another sin that served as an example to illustrate to Judah another aspect of her variegated unfaithfulness. God saw the stinginess, the selfishness, the arrogance of a people totally wrapped up in their own self-pleasures and self-promotion … to the detriment of the less fortunate and marginalized among them. God’s destruction of Sodom included judgment for their sexual sin and also for their sin of lack of concern for poor. Ezekiel makes it clear that God considered His own people of the Southern Kingdom of Judah MORE guilty of the same sin Sodom committed – the other sin of Sodom – the sin of prideful unconcern for the poor and needy.

Back to modern times: Does God owe an apology to Sodom for not judging America in her moral decline? I don’t think so. God’s ways and timing exist on a plane of wisdom and understanding far above and beyond our human comprehension.

But perhaps Sodom can serve as an example in our modern times. While we are comparing the moral decline of America to ancient Sodom, perhaps we could also compare the attitude of much of the theologically conservative evangelical church in America to ancient Sodom’s other sin? While we are building our massive structures and exporting our western idealism and rugged individualism, baptized in theology, around the world perhaps we should ask ourselves how we are doing with care of the poor and marginalized among us? God condemned His Old Covenant people partly for not ministering to the needs of the physically suffering. How are we doing?

Thanks be to God for the modern movement of the evangelical Western Church to care for the poor and marginalized in Jesus’ name – even while holding onto to biblical orthodoxy. Some see mission and mercy as cooperating partners of the same grace given to us from the Father and expressed through the sacrifice of the Son.

May effective mission and expressed mercy expand through His New Covenant people. And in doing so, may it redound to the glory of the One who humbled Himself and became one of us – suffered and walked among us – to bring us from darkness to light and from spiritual poverty to eternal riches in Jesus.



[1] Genesis 19:5; 2 Peter 2:6-7; Jude 7