In the video I did on this topic, I look at a sermon preached by James White on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. I agree with several of his points against his critics, but disagree with others. For a full explanation, please watch the video. In this article I will simply break down the major points.
1. Yes, the men were the problem, but…
Here Dr. White focuses on a specific verse, but leaves out a very crucial detail to understanding the passage.
Genesis 19:4 (ESV): 4 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.
He is correct that the word translated “men” specifically means only the males. However, the word translated “people” does not. Yet when breaking this verse down, he fails to notice that all of the people of the city, women included, surround the house. Yes, the men are the aggressors, but it is important to note that the women have an interest here as well.
2. The missed context in Ezekiel.
Dr. White complains that when referencing Ezekiel 16, many people leave out verse 50. While I agree that this approach is problematic, his approach is none better. He simply reads the verse while ignoring the context of Genesis.
Ezekiel 16:48–50 (ESV): 48 As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. 49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.
Here, Ezekiel points out that Sodom had committed sins that brought God down to visit judgment on them. These sins are explicitly identified as pride, and failure to care for the poor and needy. Removing verse 50 obscures the point that they also committed some type of abomination after God arrived on the scene. Dr. White thinks he can identify that abomination.
3. The false claim about homosexuality being the only abomination.
This is disturbing, because this claim is a complete fabrication. Yes, Leviticus 18:22 identifies men with men as an abomination. No other sexual sin has that Hebrew word in the verse describing that. However, one has to read in context.
Leviticus 18:26–27 (ESV): But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you 27 (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean),
Verse 26-27 call all of the sexual sins listed in Leviticus 18 abominations. Can we finally move on from this false teaching that only homosexuality is described as such?
4. Misunderstanding Jude.
James White then goes to 2 Peter and Jude to highlight their references to Sodom and Gomorrah. However, he completely misunderstands the passages.
Jude 6–7 (ESV): 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,
The words translated “unnatural desire” actually mean “strange flesh.” James White interprets this as “sexual desire for relationships that are forbidden to you.” However, in the context we can see the problem with this view. Both Jude and Peter follow the same order.
- Angels are bound.
- Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed.
Jude quotes First Enoch, so the reference is unequivocally clear. This is a reference to the “sons of God” who impregnated the “daughters of men” bringing on the worldwide flood of Noah. Therefore, the clear meaning of these passages is as follows.
5. Proper exegesis.
Before the flood, angels impregnated humans, creating nephelim or giants who ruled over humans and abused them. God punished those angels, binding them until the day of judgment. Jude says the people of Sodom “likewise” pursued sexual immorality “in the same manner” that these angels did, so they too were judged.
Reading this understanding back into Genesis, we see that the men of Sodom tried to kidnap the angelic visitors to force them into impregnating their daughters. This would recreate the nephelim, making Sodom and Gomorrah the world powerhouse that could then engage in world empire. They would use these giants to exploit the resources of the world for their own gain. Thus, Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing to do with homosexuality.