When most people think of the sins of Sodom, they remember the story about the men of Sodom wanting to rape Lot’s guests, who were actually angels. It’s an unthinkable tale about distasteful actions by the town’s people and even Lot himself, who offered to send his virgin daughter to appease the out-of-control mob. It’s an X-rated story you don’t expect to find in Genesis 19, the middle of the first book of the Bible. Lot could not protect his guests, and ironically they were sent to protect him and anyone in his family who would listen to him. This story is so famous it is known by even those who never read the Bible because the name of the town Sodom is associated with a form of homosexual rape.
Ezekiel seems to indicate that there is much more that we must learn from the sins of Sodom. These other sins are extremely convicting. According to Ezekiel 16:49-50 the sins were not limited to sexual sins,-although the rape and sexual perversion are not omitted when Ezekiel mentions the detestable things the men accepted and committed. The cries of Sodom’s victims had the complete attention of God, and Lot would have been burned down with the rest of the town were it not for the prayers of Abraham on his behalf. Ezekiel expands on the sins of this city.
“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. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”
Sins like being arrogant, overfed and unconcerned, not helping the poor and needy were first on Ezekiel’s list.
Living in America, a country that spent $62.75 billion on pets in 2016 (fortune.com/2016/08/26/pet-industry/) while the highest estimate of American Christians spending on missions is $24 billion (compassioninpolitics.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/how-much-is-spent-on-christian-missions-each-year/) I’m not sure how far we are from being arrogant, overfed and unconcerned, and not helping the poor and needy. The poor are not a political concern to exploit. I wonder how many of the people who get upset about our country’s immigration policies have ever helped an immigrant. They are often the poorest in their country of origin; and although they are offered governmental help, it is not enough to sustain life in American culture. They need a lot of help from their fellow Americans to learn the language, get jobs and transition into our culture. Jesus commissions us to care for the poor. We certainly are a country filled with the overfed. Those who do not look overfed on the outside because of their rigid diet and exercise may have higher budgets for their food. The point I take from Ezekiel’s words convict me that even if I don’t practice sexual sin, I am not immune from Sodom’s sins of omission like not being concerned and not helping the poor. I also commit the sins of arrogance and haughtiness.
These other sins committed by the people of Sodom are my sins, too. God sees these as abominable. No wonder Ezekiel chose to call Sodom “Israel’s sister.” Perhaps they didn’t think they had abominations going on in their lives. So, though we would rather not think of the sins of Sodom as our personal abominations, perhaps we should take a second look. Even Jesus mentioned the sins of Sodom in Matthew 11:23-24 for example.
“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
I’m not as worried about what man calls abominable as I am about what God and Jesus call abominable. Arrogance, haughtiness, unconcern and not helping the poor and needy are truly abominable to God.