Summary of this page
The story of Sodom is often used as a condemnation of
all homosexual sex. But a careful examination shows
that it is mainly condemning only men who try to force
other men to have sex with them, i.e. same-sex gang
The story is found in Genesis 19:1-29
The New International Version of the Bible gives the
highlight of the story as:
Before they [Lot, his family and guests] 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."
Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door
behind him and said, "No, my friends. Don't do
this wicked thing. 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."
Excellent accounts and interpretations of the
Sodom story are given by:
Rev Neil Dawson
Rev Dr Robert Goss and
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Further discussion about the use of the word “know”
to mean “have sex with” in Genesis 19:5.
Michael Carden* gives a comprehensive history of
interpretations of the Sodom story in Genesis 19
and the parallel Gibeah story in Judges 19. Among
other things, he points out that Philo, a contemporary of
Jesus, is the first person known to state that one of the
reasons for the destruction of Sodom was the practice
of male-male sex. Prior to that time, Sodom had been
thought of mainly as a cruel and unjust city whose
people abused the poor and outsiders.
*Sodomy: A History of a Christian Biblical Myth, 2004. Also
Picture: Lot and his daughters fleeing from Sodom
This site shows that the men of Sodom, instead of
being gay, could actually have been gay-bashers.
Here is a humorous account of the Sodom story.
Motive of the mob
Genesis 19 does not tell us why the mob wanted to
gang rape the strangers. However 2 motives can be
One possible motive is that the rape would be mainly for
sexual pleasure or lust. Another possible motive is that
the mob feared or disliked strangers being in their town
and gang rape would show the rapists’ power over the
vulnerable strangers. Anal penetration by a gang would
be an act of humiliation lowering the strangers’ male
status to that of women. Being forced to take the
female role in sexual activity would be the ultimate
insult. Under the code of hospitality, Lot offered the
mob his virgin daughters as a substitute for his guests
to protect their male honor and also his own honor as a
host. This shows the paramount importance of honor in
False views or misconceptions about the
Most of the following views (in italics) are those of
people who are anti-homosexual.
The Sodom story shows that God condemns
homosexuality or all sex between men (this is false)
The Sodom story is no more a condemnation of all sex
between men than the similar story in Judges 19, where
men gang rape a (female) concubine to death, is a
condemnation of all sex between men and women.
Instead both stories are condemnations of gang rape,
not of consenting sex.
The Sodom story does not explicitly or implicitly
condemn sex between men except where gang rape is
The reference in Jude 7 to the people of Sodom
having gone after strange or other flesh refers to
homosexual sex (this is false)
The true situation is explained by Richard Hays in The
Moral Vision of the New Testament. He states that the
phrase "went after other flesh" (apelqousai opisw
sarkos heteras) refers to their pursuit of non-human (i.e.
angelic) flesh. The expression sarkos heteras means
"flesh of another kind". Thus, it is impossible to construe
this passage as a condemnation of homosexual desire,
which entails precisely the pursuit of the same kind. (p.
404). Further, just as verses 6 and 8 are both talking
about angels, so verse 7 is also talking about angels.
The reference in Ezekiel 16: 50 to the people of
Sodom having committed abomination refers to
homosexual sex as in Leviticus 18 and 20 (this is
The use of “haughty and committed abomination” in
verse 50 does not refer to new sins but merely sums up
the sins in verse 49 (arrogance and not helping the poor
and needy). The two verses are constructed in the
common Hebrew pattern of parallel repetition.
The men of Sodom were all homosexuals (this is false)
Genesis 19:4 says that all the men from every part of
the city of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house. Lot knew
these men and would not have offered them his virgin
daughters for sex as a substitute for having sex with his
guests if all or most of them were homosexuals.
The mob surrounding Lot’s house did not want to rape
the men (angels) sheltering in the house but simply
wanted to get acquainted with them or interrogate them
(this is false)
Lot would not have offered the mob his virgin daughters
for sex if the mob simply wanted to get acquainted with
his guests or interrogate them.
The similar Gibeah story
The story of the attempted rape of a visiting man at
Gibeah is very similar to the story of the attempted rape
of 2 visiting men at Sodom. The Gibeah story is told in
Judges 19:14-29. The details and implications of this
story are here.
Author: Colin Smith