Correcting the old wrong ideas about Sodom, Gomorrah

Fundamentalists revel in the imagery of destruction in the Sodom and Gomorrah story, seeing it as a forecast of what's ahead for sinful nations. This image from the blog America's Last Days comes from the blog post "America is now Sodom and Gomorrah and will be destroyed by fire."
Fundamentalists revel in the imagery of destruction in the Sodom and Gomorrah story, seeing it as a forecast of what’s ahead for sinful nations. This image from the blog America’s Last Days comes from the blog post “America is now Sodom and Gomorrah and will be destroyed by fire.”

The activist religious organization Soulforce has published a free booklet seeking to de-fang the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, which for centuries has been routinely misinterpreted as a condemnation of homosexuality.

Titled “Breaking Open: Sodom and Gomorrah,” the publication “goes deep into one of the ‘clobber passages’ in the Bible, which are so named because they are the ammunition most often used to harm LGBTQI people through spiritual violence,” according to U.S.-based Soulforce, which works non-violently to end the political and religious oppression of LGBTI  people. The group adds:

“The story of Sodom & Gomorrah is weaponized against our people all across the Abrahamic traditions, making this resource applicable to multiple contexts. For this series, we specifically root ourselves in the Christian tradition, because Christianity is the language of power that we encounter most often and study most closely.”

Not about gay sex, but about power and violence

Cover of "Breaking Open: Sodom and Gomorrah" (Click on the image to register to receive a free electronic copy.)
Cover of “Breaking Open: Sodom and Gomorrah” (Click on the image to register to receive a free electronic copy.)

The booklet states:

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is the go-to Bible story to prove that “God hates gays,” but it is also one of  the clearest examples of mistaken identity in the Bible. …

Even a cursory look at the text reveals that this story is not about homosexuality at all. There are no depictions of men having consensual homosexual sex based in mutual desire. There are only two mentions of sex in the entire passage. They are both about rape. The first is the angry mob of all the men in the town demanding that the two foreigners who have just arrived in Sodom to come out in order to publicly gang-rape them. And the second is when Lot offers his two young daughters to the mob to “do to them as you please” (v.8). …

The text says that every single man in Sodom came to Lot’s house (v.4). This is not a mob of gay men in a sexual frenzy driven by homosexual lust. Surely, most of the men had not even seen the two visitors. This is about subjugation and domination and xenophobia. This is about power and violence and keeping foreigners in their vulnerable position.

How did Jesus understand the story of Sodom?

“Breaking Open: Sodom & Gomorrah” describes how Jesus referred to Sodom and Gomorrah — as a story about lack of hospitality:

In [Matthew 10] verses 14-15, Jesus pronounces that any town who
does not welcome the disciples with hospitality will receive judgement worse than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus is using Sodom and Gomorrah as shorthand for “The people of Israel have a moral obligation take care of you as part of their covenant with God. If they do not receive you and care for you with warm welcome and hospitality, God will be very displeased! Remember what happened to Sodom and
Gomorrah when they were inhospitable to strangers?”

If there is political commentary on Sodom and Gomorrah that applies to us today, it is about welcoming in the immigrants and refugees among us. It is about sharing our abundant resources with those who do not have enough because of systems of violence, injustice, and domination.

In other words, if we want to apply the lessons of Sodom and Gomorrah to our day and time, then we should use it in conversations about immigration reform and social services rather than issues of sexual freedom.

The booklet about Sodom and Gomorrah is free with registration at the Soulforce website. It is the first in the group’s planned “Breaking Open” series of Bible commentaries aimed at combating scripture-based oppression and the attitudes of Christian Supremacy that support systemic injustices like racism, homophobia, and classism.

Related article:

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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  1. “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49

    America and the world have so many sodomites and they are indeed wrecking our society !

  2. Press contact: Pamela Adie in Lagos, Nigeria; Senior Campaigns Manager at All Out, +2348110949524, [email protected], (English)

    South Africa: Anti-gay U.S. pastor Steven Anderson barred from entering the country

    Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, has acknowledged the thousands of signatures delivered by activists

    LAGOS, NIGERIA – September 13, 2016 – The South African Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, has announced today that U.S. pastor Steven Anderson will be denied entry into South Africa. The decision comes as a result of a campaign launched by global LGBT organization All Out, in partnership with Gay SA Radio. Steven Anderson gained notoriety after celebrating the massacre at a gay club in Orlando, saying ‘there’s now 50 less pedophiles in the world’. He planned to go to South Africa on what he described as a ‘soul winning’ trip.

    “We’ve seen how U.S. religious extremists have fueled violence and hate against LGBT people in other parts of Africa. It’s inspiring to see that the South African Government has made a stand for human rights and for the protection of their hate speech laws and constitution”, said Matt Beard, All Out’s Executive Director.

    All Out’s partner, Gay SA Radio’s Station Manager Hendrik Baird, also lauded Minister Malusi Gigaba “for taking this matter seriously and for coming to the right decision that is in the best interests of South Africa”.

    In his announcement, Minister Gigaba said “we have a duty to prevent harm and hatred in all forms against LGBTI, as any other person in a democratic state,” adding that “I have considered carefully the merits of this matter. Steven Anderson and members/associates of his church are prohibited from entering the Republic of South Africa. I have identified Anderson and associates as undesirable persons. Undesirable persons are barred from travelling to South Africa.” He also acknowledged the importance of the more than 60,000 signatures he received last week in raising the issue.

    The decision was based on section 29(1)(d) of South Africa’s Immigration Act, which allows the country to deny entry to any foreigner who is a “member of or adherent to an association or organization advocating the practice racial hatred or social violence.”

    For more information, please visit:

    About All Out

    In 71 countries, it is a crime to be gay; in 10 it can cost you your life. All Out is mobilising people and their social networks around the world to build a powerful global movement for love and equality. Our mission is to build a world where no person will have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or who they love.


    In solidarity,

    *Pamela Adie *Senior Campaigns Manager, Lagos, Nigeria [email protected] | *Skype*: pamela_allout | +234 811 094 9524

  3. Romans 1:26–27 (NIV)
    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    No one is without sin, and God sacrificed his only Son for all mankind. But the first step to be saved is to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Then you will be able to find out who you were meant to be in God’s image and how to let go of selfish desires. Don’t be misinformed by this ungodly society but turn to Christ.

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