Genesis 18:20; 19:1-12, 24 and Sodom and Gomorrah

by Matt Slick

Gen. 18:20 "And the Lord said, 'The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave . . . '"  19:1, "Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 And he said, "Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way." They said however, "No, but we shall spend the night in the square." 3 Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. 4 Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; 5 and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them." 6 But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, 7 and said, "Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. 8 "Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof." 9 But they said, "Stand aside." Furthermore, they said, "This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them." So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 11 And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway. 12 Then the men said to Lot, "Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; 13 for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it . . . 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven." (NASB)

There are two issues that need examination.  The first is the homosexuality of Sodom, and the second is Lot offering his daughters to them. 

We begin by noting that Lot seems to be unaware that the two men were angels who had been sent from God.  Nevertheless, once they arrived in Sodom, all the men of the city (v. 4) gathered at Lot's home.  They called to Lot--telling him to send the two men outside, so they might have relations with them, i.e., rape them (v. 5).  The homosexuality of the people is clearly the case as is demonstrated by their desire to have relations with the two angels (v. 4), and this is the wickedness alluded to by God in Gen. 18:20.  Also, note the aggressive and threatening manner of the people of Sodom (v. 9) with which they wanted to carry out their "sexual orientation." It is this wickedness of pervasive homosexuality that is the reason Sodom was destroyed.

Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for being cruel--not for homosexuality

Some people have said that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality but that it was the attempted gang rape. In other words, the men of Sodom were destroyed because of their continued cruel treatment of outsiders.  Furthermore, pro-homosexuals sometimes say that this explanation is widely accepted among scholars.  Is it?

  • “The term “sodomy” is derived from this passage. It is widely held that the severity of God’s judgment of Sodom had to do with the prevalence of homosexuality there.”1
  • “Sodom and Gomorrah were filled with evilness and sexual perversion: “Then the LORD said [to Abraham], ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know’” (Genesis 18:20–21).2.
  • "They wanted homosexual relations with these two who they thought were men. As angels, they apparently were handsome. The men’s vileness was matched, surprisingly, by Lot’s hypocrisy, for he was willing to give them his virgin daughters (19:8) 3
  • "Every biblical reference to homosexuality indicates it is not an “alternate lifestyle,” but gross sin. Lev. 18:22–23 forbids homosexual acts and calls them “detestable.” Rom. 1:24–27 speaks of homosexual desire as “shameful lusts” and calls homosexual acts “indecent,” a “perversion,” and “the degrading of their bodies.” The Christian must take a stand with God’s Word, to reject homosexuality as a personal option and boldly identify it as wickedness and sin.4

Lot offering his daughters

In the ancient culture of the near east, there was a hugely important custom of taking care of guests.  We have no modern cultural equivalent, but to entertain guests required their protection, food, and shelter (v. 8) at whatever the cost.  To not offer these with graciousness was a great shame.  So, Lot offered his daughters to the men of Sodom in a perverted attempt to honor his guests.  There is nothing in the verses that says God approved of Lot doing that.  Furthermore, Lot demonstrated his hypocrisy and his own sin as he offered his daughters.  Perhaps he believed that the men would reject his daughters.  Nevertheless, Lot had been compromised morally by living in such a wicked place full of sexual immorality and should not have offered them.  His obligation was to protect his family.  As he sought to prevent one sin, he became guilty of another.

  • 1. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, Page 8. (Contributing scholars are Craig Blomberg, Darrel Bock, William Lane Craig, William Dembski, John Fram, Norman L. Geisler, Gary Habermas, Philip E. Johnson, John Warwick Montgomery, J.P. Morland, etc.)
  • 2. James M. Freeman and Harold J. Chadwick, Manners & Customs of the Bible ("Rewritten and updated by Harold J. Chadwick"--Cover.; Includes index.;, Rev. ed.].; North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 30.
  • 3. John F. Walvoord et al., The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 1:60.
  • 4. Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Readers Companion (electronic ed.; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996), 37.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.