Sin City In The Bible

Sin City in the Bible has one of the most original introductions I saw. The intro section is a little longer than average, but does a great job at telling you about how sin got to be such a big deal and why it’s a topic worth writing about. While some topics may have boring or “generic” introductions, Sin City In The Bible knocks it out of the park by showing off their writing style with fun and interesting paragraphs that capture your interest before you even start to read their post (more on that later).

Sin City in the Bible might be an odd title, but it is appropriate. The term sin city refers to a city that has grown and flourished due to engaging in sinful activities (thus the name). I am going to focus on two cities in the Bible. These cities are Sodom and Gomorrah, along with one individual, Lot. Lot was a resident of Zoar but he visited Sodom frequently. At the end of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis chapter 19, God destroyed Sodom and part of Gomorrah after receiving reports of him disturbing and watching angels who were visiting Abraham. This is our main message for this week with a small sub-topic on Lot. Let’s get into what happened in this sin city that was destroyed!

By definition a sinful city or town is an urban area rife with social problems, particularly in connection to the Church. Possible reasons for this are due to the fact that cities draw in the very poor, elderly, disabled and other needy populations of the community. Since churches generally assist those less fortunate, it stands to reason they would have more members in these urban settings. An additional factor has historically been racial segregation. This has changed over time but still presents in some areas today. As we seek to bring hope and recovery to individuals through the gospel it is helpful to understand the challenges we face. The following is just a sampling of some urban settings that would be considered sinful cities by many church members throughout history.

Sin City In The Bible An Illustration of Sin in the Bible Sin is defined as an immoral act that can lead to eternal damnation. The Bible describes different types of sins such as murder, lying, stealing and idolatry. However, most people readily identify sin as debauchery or sexual immorality. The Bible uses the word “sin” in reference to a range of behaviors; however, most people who hear the word “sin” immediately envision acts of sexual immorality. There are certain sins mentioned in the Bible that cannot be overlooked mainly because they have far-reaching implications regardless of their consequences.

Sin City In The Bible

The biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah is recorded in Genesis chapters 18-19. Genesis chapter 18 records the Lord and two angels coming to speak with Abraham. The Lord informed Abraham that “the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous” (Genesis 18:20). Verses 22-33 record Abraham pleading with the Lord to have mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah because Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family lived in Sodom.

Genesis chapter 19 records the two angels, disguised as human men, visiting Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot met the angels in the city square and urged them to stay at his house. The angels agreed. The Bible then informs us, “Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom — both young and old — surrounded the house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them'” (Genesis 19:4–5). The angels then proceed to blind the men surrounding the house and urge Lot and his family to flee from the cities to escape the wrath that God was about to deliver. Lot and his family flee the city, and then “the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah — from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities…” (Genesis 19:24).

In light of the passage, the most common response to the question “What was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah?” is that it was homosexuality. That is how the term sodomy came to be used to refer to anal sex between two men, whether consensual or forced. Clearly, homosexuality was part of why God destroyed the two cities. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to perform homosexual gang rape on the two angels (who were disguised as men). At the same time, it is not biblical to say that homosexuality was the exclusive reason why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were definitely not exclusive in terms of the sins in which they indulged.

Ezekiel 16:49-50 declares, “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. They were haughty and did detestable things before me…” The Hebrew word translated “detestable” refers to something that is morally disgusting and is the exact same word used in Leviticus 18:22 that refers to homosexuality as an “abomination.” Similarly, Jude 7 declares, “…Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.” So, again, while homosexuality was not the only sin in which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah indulged, it does appear to be the primary reason for the destruction of the cities.

Those who attempt to explain away the biblical condemnations of homosexuality claim that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was inhospitality. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah were certainly being inhospitable. There is probably nothing more inhospitable than homosexual gang rape. But to say God completely destroyed two cities and all their inhabitants for being inhospitable clearly misses the point. While Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of many other horrendous sins, homosexuality was the principle reason God poured fiery sulfur on the cities, completely destroying them and all of their inhabitants. To this day, the area where Sodom and Gomorrah were located remains a desolate wasteland. Sodom and Gomorrah serve as a powerful example of how God feels about sin in general, and homosexuality specifically.

Sin City In The Bible

Lot was living in the most sinful city that there was at the time, at least that we know of from the Bible. When the two men (which were angels) found Lot, he was in the gates of the city which indicates that he must have been silent about his faith in God because they wouldn’t have had Lot “sitting in the gate of Sodom” (Gen 19:1) if he’d been witnessing about God’s righteousness. To sit “in the gate” meant that he was one of the cities leaders. This is where the angels found him and they tried to have him flee the city right away but Lot urged the angels to spend the night with him (Gen 19:2-3) so they did. The next morning, the angels “said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 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.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city. But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting” (Gen 19:12-14). That indicates that Lot’s son-in-laws didn’t flee Sodom with Lot and his family to escape God’s punishment on Sodom. As the time of God’s judgment approached, Lot “lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away” (Gen 19:16-17). By Lot lingering, he was showing that he really didn’t want to leave Sodom, just like Lot’s wife didn’t, and when she looked back, she became a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26).

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