What was the sin for which God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah?
The biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah is found in Genesis 18 and 19. In Genesis 18, the Lord shared His plans to destroy these cities due to their sins: "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave" (Genesis 18:20). Abraham begged for God to relent. The Lord said He would if He could find ten righteous people in the city (18:32).
In chapter 19, two angels appearing as men entered Sodom at night. Lot saw them and offered them housing. Genesis 19:4-5 says, "But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.'" When Lot refused, they attempted to break down the door and forcibly have sex with these two men.
The two men shared, "For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it" (Genesis 19:13). They clearly note the reason was due to the sin of the city. This was highlighted in the attempt of homosexual gang rape, considered a detestable act, but was not limited to this one action.
Instead, the overall sin of Sodom and Gomorrah had become so great that fewer than ten righteous people lived in the city. In fact, only Lot and his two daughters survived. In addition, the city was so wicked that its men would attempt to rape men visiting the city.
While modern readers of the account often focus exclusively on homosexuality as the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, the context clearly indicates this as one part of the overall sinful nature of the area's residents. Same sex activity was clearly condemned in Jewish teachings (Leviticus 18:22). The question is not whether this action was considered sinful, but whether homosexuality was "the" sin that led to Sodom and Gomorrah's destruction.
A more accurate view would state Sodom and Gomorrah were cities known for their many sinful actions, including homosexuality and even the attempted same-sex gang rape of visitors, and had fewer than ten righteous people. God condemned their sin and brought judgment upon the cities, sparing Lot and his two daughters (Lot's wife was also given opportunity to escape, though she disobeyed while fleeing and died, turning into a pillar of salt.).
Those who call homosexuality the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah are only partly right. All sin separates people from God. Every person stands in need of God's grace and forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ to receive eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).
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