The Shofar is the ancient trumpet which called the people of God to prayer, repentance, sacrifice and war.


Genesis 19:1-13
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By Stephen Green.  (First published in Christian Voice: July 2010)

Gen. 19:1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom : and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:

5 And they called unto Lot , and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,

7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.

8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot , and came near to break the door.

10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.

11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

12 And the men said unto Lot , Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:

13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

So much is being talked about homosexuals and what they see as their rights, not least in these pages, and how these collide with the duty of Christians to speak the truth of God's word, that it is with surprise I realise I have never made homosexuality the subject of a Bible article in Christian Voice.  But with the shocking possibility of 'gay marriage' being raised it is vital we contend for the truth.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is where most considerations of God's attitude to homosexuality start.  It is not the first place in the Bible to indicate God's plan for His people's sexuality, but we shall come to that later.  In the account of Sodom , two angels are sent by God to see if the men of Sodom are indeed "wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly" (Gen 13.13).

Lot takes them under his roof, and feeds them.  Later that night, the men of Sodom demand that the newcomers are brought out "that we may know them."  (Gen 19.5)  Lot goes out and implores the men of Sodom , "do not so wickedly."  He has two daughters, "which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof."

The men of Sodom , all of them, "old and young" tell Lot that he is only a visitor himself, and should not be "a judge."  Things then start to turn really ugly, and the angels pull Lot indoors, slam the door, and strike the nearest men blind.  Lot's family is evacuated, and Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed.  I love it that Lot is told not to be judgmental.  That is exactly what we are told today.  We, like he, are not actually judging those involved.  Like Lot we are witnessing against sinful conduct, which we are commanded to do (see Ezek 33:1-20 esp. v8).  But there is nothing new under the sun.

So what was the sin of Sodom ?  As long ago as 1955 Canon D.S. Bailey ventured, in "Homosexual­ity and the Western Christian Tradition," that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality but the violation of ancient laws of hospitali­ty.  He did not actually specify what these hospitality laws were precisely, nor which aspect of these ancient laws was being or was about to be broken, which rather weakened his argument.  Furthermore, to destroy a whole city because of a breach of unwritten arcane hospitality laws seems somewhat extreme, hardly justifying the description: 'wicked, sinners before the Lord exceedingly'.

Bailey further argued that to translate the Hebrew word "yada" (literally "know") as "have sex with" is wrong.  A better interpretation of a word which in over 900 Old Testament occur­rences means "have (heterosexual) intercourse" in only ten of them is "get acquainted with", he said.

The men of Sodom were not sure, said Bailey, of the credentials of these visitors to a resident alien ( Lot ) and simply wanted to interrogate them.  How that squares with or excuses the alleged hospitality breaches were points he did not address.

So God sent angels to see if the men of Sodom were wicked sinners and all they found was a bit of a misunderstanding and for that Sodom was destroyed?  Bailey claimed that Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel did not mention homosexuality as one of the sins of Sodom and that not until the letter of Jude does a hint of homosexuality surface.

This argument is flawed.  Firstly Isaiah and Jeremiah hold Sodom and Gomorrah up as examples of how God deals with those who depart from His law and Ezekiel, in a fair description of the people of present‑day Britain , says:

Ezek. 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before me.  Therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

Secondly the verb "yada" is used to mean "have sex with" in the Sodom story itself, when Lot offers his daughters who have "never known (yada) a man" to the men of Sodom .

Even Robert Arthur, an American liberal pastor, says of Bai­ley's argument "When the same word is used twice in the same passage, we have no choice but to understand it in the same way."  Mr Arthur, however, still draws Canon Bailey's ultimate conclusion that routine sodomy was not the problem.  For Robert Arthur, the sin becomes not sodomy but attempted gang rape.   But that comes up against Lot's offer of his daughters instead, showing that although rape is evil, sodomy in the eyes of righteous Lot was orders of magnitude worse.

The letter of Jude (v.7) tells us that " Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them in like manner" gave themselves over "to fornication and going after strange flesh".  This New Testament observation cannot be ignored.  Taken with Ezekiel's reference to 'abomination' it makes it clear that sodomy was a major part of the reason for the destruction of Sodom .  Mr Arthur, drawing upon the Authorised Version of Jude, in which it is said that the sin of Sodom was "going after strange flesh," eventually announces that the men of Sodom did wrong only to want to bugger angels!  The men of Sodom had no idea that Lot 's visi­tors were angels, so we can dismiss that argument.

I mentioned at the start that the account of the destruction of Sodom is not the first place in the Bible to show us God's position on human sexuality.  The first place is actually in the first two chapters of Genesis:

Gen. 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply...

Gen. 2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

The Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement claims that Jesus said "nothing" about homosexuality.  Something may be true yet still deceitful, for the Lord Jesus exactly affirmed God's created order when he spoke of marriage in Matthew 19 and Mark 10.  He repeated Genesis and showed that an exclusive union be­tween two individuals of the opposite sex was intended, accompanied by a public ceremony ‑ the leaving of parents ‑ and that in the life­long heterosexual partnership which follows, sexual intercourse would become the defining act and sign of the marriage covenant:

Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

This tells us that marriage of a man and a woman is founded, not on culture, but on the created order.  Secondly, the Lord says it is because we are made male and female that a man will form a new family with his wife and 'cleave' to her, and be one flesh with her.

Homosexuals hate Mark 10:6-8 because becoming one flesh is something a pair of gays or two lesbians can never be.  The parts of the body involved in sexual intercourse are complementary and perfectly designed for their purpose.  The sexual act between man and wife is holy, and the one-flesh union speaks of an emotional and spiritual complementarily which a pair of gays can never achieve.  Just as they cannot do 'one flesh' at a sexual level, and so have to resort to mutual masturbation or pressing into penetrative duty that part of the body perfectly designed for the extraction of water from bodily waste, so they cannot do 'one flesh' at an emotional or spiritual level either.  They are trying to solve the puzzle with only half the pieces.

That does not mean that every marriage is happy and fulfilled, but it does mean there is nothing self-limiting about marriage.  We see that homosexuals want to redefine marriage because they cannot stay faithful.   That is because they are chasing what can never be, what has never been from the dawn of time: a God-ordained sexual union between two members of the same sex. 

Let us pray in this debate that the Church will remain as faithful to God's created order as our Lord Jesus Christ and defeat the wickedness of 'gay marriage'.