Homosexuality or Inhospitality? - Genesis 19:5

Question
Why was Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed because of inhospitality? After all, they just wanted to know the visitors, right? (Gen. 19:5, KJV)
Answer
Genesis 19:5 (KJV) 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.

Genesis 19:8 (NIV) Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."

Some commentators claim that Sodom and Gomorrah (S&G) was destroyed because the people of S&G were merely inhospitable. They claim this based upon S&G's reaction in just desiring "to know" the men visiting Lot. However, they desired to know them so much that they "kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door" (Gen. 19:9). Mere inhospitality? This does not fit the fuller context of what transpired.

Lot felt his visitors needed protection under his roof. Why did Lot assume these "men" needed protection? Why did he propose a solution that involved his virgin daughters? The reason is that the men of S&G were wicked. They desired to have sexual relations with the visitors (and who were angels)! How do we know this? The Hebrew word translated "know" (yada) in the KJV version of Genesis 19:5 means "intimate relations." The NIV is more clear and says "...so that we can have sex with them," and the NASB reads "...that we may have relations with them". The same term is used again in this chapter in reference to Lot's daughters not having "known" (yada) a man (Gen. 19:8). It is used several times in Scripture to mean "intimate knowledge" (sexual intercourse), such as in Genesis. 4:1, 17, 25 (KJV).

While S&G would be considered inhospitable by almost any standard, S&G was "wicked" and its sin grievous as we see in Abraham's argument of righteous vs. wicked in Genesis. 18:20-33. Lot, when men of S&G desired sexual relations with the angels, sought to appease the sexual wickedness of S&G by the offering of his own daughters! Even though Lot believed in God, he offered up an ungodly solution to the situation; he had been contaminated by the culture in which he lived (2 Pet. 2:7-8). Yet, Lot's response to these men in S&G was not merely "stop being inhospitable," but "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing" (Gen. 19:7; see also Ezek. 16:44-59 and Jude 6-7). S&G had already shown criminal intentions by surrounding Lot's home and making a move to break down the door to his home (Gen. 19:9-11). However, these preliminary crimes were preparation for a much more serious offense - to satisfy their sexual appetites (homosexuality).

God rescued the elect out of S&G (Matt. 11:20-24) and some others as well. We can't say everyone in Lot's family was saved, but Lot's wife was a favored woman. She enjoyed many privileges. Lot, a believer, was her husband. Abraham, the father of many nations, was her uncle. When the angels came to Sodom and warned Lot to flee, she saw them. She had many opportunities and means of grace, but despite all her special privileges she lived and died graceless, godless, impenitent, and unbelieving. As we can see then, God at times physically preserves some that are covenant members though they are not saved (see Was Ishmael Lost or Saved?).

God destroyed S&G for their wickedness, highlighting their sexual perversions.

Related Links:

Were Ruth and Naomi Lesbians?
Same-Sex Love?
Antinomianism and Homosexuality?
Is Passive Homosexuality Permitted in Scripture? - 1 Corinthians 6:9
The Queen James Bible?
No Cake for You?
Homosexuality and the Centurion's Servant?
Practicing Homosexuals Can Go to Heaven?
Was David a Homosexual? - 1 Samuel 18:1-4
Isaiah and Homosexuals? - Isaiah 56:3
God Hates...

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).