Tradition from centuries ago tells us it was homosexuality. Even the word "Sodom" gave rise to the word "Sodomy" - which, according to the dictionary, means "copulation with a member of the same sex."
Many churches today subscribe to this interpretation. I remember being taught this as a child.
The LDS church certainly shares the popular interpretation of the sins of Sodom. If you look up "Homosexuality" in the Topical Guide in the LDS version of the King James bible, you get
Gen. 19: 5 bring them out unto us, that we may know them.If you read Genesis 19:1-14 it's easy to reach that same conclusion. Two men - angels - came into the city and were greeted by Lot who took them into his home. The men of Sodom, both old and young, demanded that Lot send out the visitors so that they could "know" them. In the bible, when a man "knows" a woman it is usually referring to sexual intercourse. So, it's understandable that people would draw the conclusion that the men of Sodom wanted to have sex with the visitors - male visitors - men who wanted to have sex with other men.
Lev. 18: 22 (Lev. 20: 13) Thou shalt not lie with mankind . . . it is abomination.
Deut. 23: 17 there shall be no . . . sodomite of the sons of Israel.
Isa. 3: 9 (2 Ne. 13: 9) declare their sin as Sodom.
Rom. 1: 27 men . . . burned in their lust one toward another.
1 Cor. 6: 9 nor abusers of themselves with mankind.
1 Tim. 1: 10 them that defile themselves with mankind.
Jude 1: 7 as Sodom and Gomorrha . . . going after strange flesh.
2 Ne. 13: 9 doth declare their sin to be even as Sodom.
In Genesis 19:2 it says the angels wanted to abide in the streets for the night and Lot "pressed upon them greatly" for them to come into his house - giving further credence to the popular interpretation - Lot obviously knew what kind of people lived in Sodom, and he knew what they would want to do with with the visitors if they were found alone in the streets.
Further support to the popular interpretation arises with the part of the story where Lot offered up his daughters, who were virgins, to the men of Sodom - and they were rejected. The men of Sodom were obviously queers because they wanted to have sex - but not with women.
But, there are aspects of this story that have always bothered me.
- These angels were sent from God to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. They had power; they even blinded the men of the city when they tried to break into Lots house. With such power, why would Lot be concerned about them being raped in the streets?
- What kind of father offers up his daughters to be raped? Especially to protect a couple of men he only just met. Lot is supposed to be a man of God.
- If the men of Sodom were a bunch of horny queers - why didn't they just go have sex with each other?
- If you read all of Genesis 19, after escaping the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lots daughters got him drunk and seduced him - and they both became pregnant by him. Can you imagine if the newspapers today got hold of a story like that in our modern society?
But, what if the sin of Sodom was something other than homosexuality? Is there another interpretation that can stand up to scripture?
Deuteronomy 23:17 says
There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.So, whatever those men of Sodom did, it was akin to being a whore. But, does that really mean they were male prostitutes? The biblical use of the word "whore" can also be used more generally to denote corruption and debauchery. Heterosexuals can be just as corrupt and debauch as homosexuals.
What if being a Sodomite really refers one who is corrupt? That is certainly consistent with Genesis 13:13 which says
But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.But, does it hold water with the rest of the story? Why were the men of Sodom so insistent upon seeing Lots visitors? Why did they dismiss Lots daughters so readily? I don't know, maybe they were a bunch of Amway salesmen and viewed those guys as "fresh meat", and they knew Lots daughters didn't have any money or perhaps had already bought as much of their product as they could use.
Other interpretations for the sins of Sodom have been given
They were uncharitable and abusive to strangers, the poor, sick, and disadvantaged.I'm no scriptorium by any stretch of the imagination - and I'm not going to claim to be smart enough to know what the real sins of Sodom were. But, and maybe I'm biased - equating the sins of Sodom with homosexuality just doesn't ring true with me - at least not any more. I used to buy into the popular interpretation. But, that was before I really studied the story on my own.
In ancient biblical society, a person had a very strong obligation to protect any guests in their home.
They wanted to humiliate their visitors by engaging in "an act of sexual degradation and male rape...
It is not unheard of for a heterosexual male to use this sort of violence to show their hatred and dominance for those they are degrading.
They wanted to engage in bestiality -- having sex with members of another species.
This theory goes that the mob wanted to rape the angels; angels are not human beings; they are of a different species.
They wanted to adsorb the power of the angels:
In ancient times, sacred sex was very common. People would engage in sexual intercourse with temple prostitutes who represented a god or goddess. By doing so, the people believed that they would receive a blessing from the deity. If the people of Sodom realized that angels sent by God were present in their city, the men of Sodom may have concluded that raping the angels might give them supernatural powers.
This is what I did in Sunday School today - instead of going to Gospel Doctrine class