Sodom and Gomorrah - The Myth, The Truth
The Truth About Sodom and Gomorrah
The citizens of these cities were not homosexual. Let’s get this point out there right at the very beginning, because nothing flies in the face of reality like trying to say that an entire population of a city was homosexual. How, then, did they reproduce?! Sometimes, people don’t even begin to analyze the absurdity of their prejudices. Once they do, they start trying to defend them by circumnavigation, as in, “Well, most of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah had started practicing homosexuality.” Of course, as we delve into fact, we will find that this, too, is absurd and false. Historically, even the term “homosexual,” did not exist at the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, since the word was not invented until 1869.
Every time that I have heard a preacher use this story as the foundation of his sermon, it has been to preach against gays... every time! And this willful ignorance is no longer excusable. The story of Sodom is not one of sexual orientation. Let me repeat this for emphasis—the story of Sodom is not about, and has nothing to do with, sexual orientation. If any sermon should be preached based in the significance of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, it should be for the despicable level of inhospitable, greedy and self-serving nature, the total lack of compassion for other human beings, that had grown commonplace with the citizens of these cities. Nowhere in the Bible is Sodom and Gomorrah equated with homosexuality. In every instance that Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned, the iniquities described are everything BUT homosexuality. In Ezekiel 16:49 & 50, the sins of Sodom are listed:
“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and an abundance of idleness, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before me: therefore, I took them away.”
What this says is that Sodom and Gomorrah had plenty of food and tranquility, yet did nothing for the poor and hungry. The magnitude of their cruel haughtiness was such that they became an abomination to God. To further stress the point that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were not homosexuality, look at the first chapter of Isaiah in which Judah is compared with Sodom and Gomorrah, and again, not once is sex, or sexual orientation, even remotely part of the discussion. The sin most railed against when referring to these two cities is inhospitality. In Luke 10:12, Jesus, Himself, refers to Sodom when He tells his disciples to go out and preach the Word in various places, and referring to the inhospitality for which He knew Sodom to be equated, He warned those cities that did not show hospitality to His disciples, “...that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.” Nowhere in the Bible are Sodom and Gomorrah equated with homosexuality, and in every instance where these cities are mentioned, the Bible does not rail against homosexuals, nor does it even mention gay people at all. In every instance, the passages deal with the sins of Sodom that are apparent once anyone reads the narrative in Genesis with a clear mind. These cities had grown wickedly inhospitable and cruel to fellow human beings. The love of God was not in them. The answer to their salvation is taught in Galatians 5:14, wherein we are told that all of God’s laws are fulfilled when we love our neighbors as ourselves.
In actuality, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, as told in Genesis, is an embellished, pro-Israelite story recounted by Jewish people in ancient times to make it appear that God favored Jews over all others. When Sodom was destroyed, who were the only ones who supposedly made it out of the destruction? Jews. Lot, being Jewish, was delivered from Sodom before the destruction, because he was a righteous Jew. Everyone else living there was pagan, and they were, therefore, all wiped out by the god of the Israelites. Am I over-simplifying? Not really. And this mythical misrepresentation of an actual historical event has gone uncorrected for centuries, used by every homophobic Church leader to attack gays for several hundred years now. Few have stepped forward to put the picture into correct focus. Most heterosexuals do not feel the sting of anti-gay bigotry and are, therefore, unmoved to right the injustices that evolve from the incorrect translation of this story. At the same time, gays who know the truth are seen as having an ulterior motive and are thought to be merely twisting the story for their advantage. But, centuries of misinterpretation are put to the task with the light of recent archaeological discoveries, and the evidence shows the Jewish version of this story to be exaggerated.
Before I share the archaeological evidence and conclusions, let’s look at just the text of the story itself. When reading the account in Genesis, it is important to know several things in order to properly understand. First, there were several cities in the Valley of Siddim—Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar. These cities are mentioned in Genesis 14:2 & 3, which also names the respective kings of the first four with these words:
“That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.”
The city of Bela was renamed Zoar after the destruction—Genesis 19:22. The first important note is that Sodom was only one of several small cities in this valley of Siddim, yet all of these communities, with the exception of Zoar, were destroyed when the great cataclysm occurred. Were these other cities guilty by association? Did they bear the burden of being judged just as sinful as Sodom? Why were they destroyed? And why is their destruction not mentioned?
Nonetheless, the story that leads up to the destruction takes place in the city of Sodom. My point is that this information should make educated readers sit up and take notice. In Genesis 19:13, the angels tell Lot, “For we will destroy this place...” meaning the city of Sodom, and lest anyone not be certain that this refers to the city of Sodom, the very next verse clarifies it further. Lot says to his family:
“Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city.”
So, because Lot lived in Sodom, this becomes the only city of importance to the ancient Jewish writers relating this event. Of little or no importance to them is the fact that other cities existed in the valley of Siddim, and that they were all affected by what transpired in that region around 2350 B.C.
Another interesting note, as you will later realize, is that the angels warn Lot and his family not to stay in the valley, but to head into the mountains—Genesis 19:17
“...neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”
The reason that I point this out here is that archaeological evidence shows that volcanic and seismic activity was what drove all of the inhabitants of the valley of Siddim to move to higher ground. More on this later. But this shows that those who recounted the tale of the Jewish patriarch, Lot, were at least somewhat correct in this portion of the story. The valley of Siddim was becoming unstable due to the evolving cataclysm, however, the truth of the matter is that Lot and his family were not the only ones to escape this event of Nature.
The story that evolves in Genesis is basically that Lot was living in a wicked city, Sodom, and that God decided to destroy it. God sent two angels to tell Lot that he and his family were to be spared, and that they were there to rescue Lot and his family before the destruction began. Fundamentalists like to tell us that the city was destroyed for its homosexuality, but only by literally torturing the Scriptures can one come to this conclusion. To understand the true meaning of the story, it is not even necessary to go into the present day and view the archaeological evidence that shows what really happened there. While the archaeological evidence adds a great deal to disproving the Fundamentalist interpretation of the events surrounding the destruction of these cities, the biblical rendition of the events leading up to the destruction is sufficient for what I want to point out, and that is that Sodom, whether you believe God destroyed it for its sinfulness, or whether you believe that Sodom was merely a victim of Nature, was not destroyed for homosexuality.
This story is not about homosexuality, and it says nothing that could be used to condemn gay people. It is the constant misinterpretation of this story, done deliberately, that is one of the greatest sins in humanity, and any church that abuses this story to reinforce bigotries against gays shames Christianity. Such churches have a form of godliness, as the Bible says, but they deny the power thereof, for if they were truly tuned into God, they would follow the Scriptures to Galatians 5:14, in which we are told that we have fulfilled ALL the law if we do one thing, and that is love our neighbors as ourselves. How can anyone, who brings pain and suffering to so many, call themselves followers of Christ and children of God? Refusing to consider their wrongs, refusing to listen to proper interpretation of the Scriptures, refusing to let go of their tradition of anti-gay bigotries and prejudices merely because they have found comfort in holding on to their wrong thinking, all of this has made most churches nothing more than private clubs for self-centered, arrogant, thoughtless and hurtful people. If anything is an abomination to God, this is.
The description of what a true church is goes right back to Galatians 5:14. If the members of that church cause people to love their neighbors as they love themselves, then that church is true. I do not mean those who love their fellow members because they are clones of each other. The Bible does not list any exclusions in that verse. It does not say love your neighbors as yourself as long as they are not Black, or Jewish, or Gay. In fact, we find many instances in the Bible where Jesus was condemned by the “church members” for keeping company with “sinners,” those who lived outside of the ideals of the religious elite. Often, some of those very sinners are closer to God than many of the “self-righteous.” Holding on to unfounded bigotry that brings suffering to other people whom God also created is almost the same sin for which Sodom was supposedly punished—lack of compassion for other human beings.
If you read the account in Genesis, it is important to know some of the customs of that region at that time in history. The Valley of Siddim, wherein lay the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, was surrounded by the most inhospitable desert one could imagine. Genesis 14:10 alludes to just some of the naturally occurring, treacherous conditions that existed there—
“And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits...”
Geologically, this was one of the most unforgiving areas to inhabit because, not only was it desert, but it was full of sulfur pits, salt waters, gas pockets that could erupt and catch fire, and tectonic activity that could literally liquefy the ground a person stood upon, not to mention the numerous earthquakes. Even in recent times, while drilling a water well in the same area, a gas blowout erupted, and it was only a miracle that the gas did not ignite. In ancient times, tectonic activity would easily have released pockets of gas that resulted in fires and great pillars of smoke. These hellish conditions made it unsafe to travel carelessly by day, and no one in his right mind traveled this region by night. For these reasons, one custom evolved into a moral requirement that seemed only natural: if someone came to your city at sunset, and if you were the first one to see them, it became your responsibility to give them shelter from the desert for the night. So, whether this was a person you knew, or someone from an enemy tribe, come sunset, if he presented himself at the gates to your oasis, you provided for him. This meant food and shelter, as well as water to wash the salty, sulfurous, desert dust from his feet. To turn someone away at this hour of the day would be unthinkable! To do so would be to condemn someone to possible death. What if one of your loved ones were out in the desert and had to stop at one of the other cities for the night? Would you want them turned away? No. And so it was, that everyone was expected to observe this custom of reciprocal hospitality.
Now read the passage, and if you read it slowly and let this sink in, you will notice several things right away. One is the time of day that this story begins—at the setting of the sun.
Genesis 19:1 “And there came two angels to Sodom at even...”
The two visitors, considered angels, arrive at the city of Sodom at sunset. And who is sitting in the gate leading into the city? Lot.
“...and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom...”
“Sitting in the gate” is a phrase similar to a bridge tender, someone who minds the city gate. Also, by custom, since he is the first one to lay eyes on the strangers advancing to the city, he must extend the welcome, and if they do not have lodging with relatives or friends there, thus being strangers at the mercy of the desert, he must make arrangements for their safety for the night. I have never heard a single preacher even allude to knowledge of this custom. They are often so hell bent on getting to the really important part of the story, the part where gays are the reason Sodom was destroyed, that most preachers speed past this portion of the story. Who needs to know cultural customs at the time of this event? After all, isn’t this only about gays? If people would just have an original thought, stop and think for themselves, read this passage and stop reciting the pre-digested and bigoted dogma that has been handed down from one believer to the next, they would find that this story is exactly what I am telling you it is: an account of an actual event in history that was embellished by Jewish authors later as a morality lesson. Without studying about the harshness of life in that desert region and the risk of death to anyone trying to travel in that desert by night, the term inhospitable seems trivial, but it is precisely that which is the theme at the foundation of this story, and those who would preach without adequate study are indeed the fulfillment of the biblical verse that calls them the “blind leading the blind.”
Reading further, we find that once Lot took the men to his house, word went around the city that Lot had strangers in his home, and the men of the city showed their wickedness. Instead of showing the required hospitality to someone stranded in the desert at night, they wanted to do the exact opposite. They wanted to so humiliate these visitors that they would never dare set foot in Sodom again. “How odd!”, we might wonder. Why would people be so cruel? (We might ask that of people today who are anti-gay. Where did such intolerance come from? Certainly not from God.) In light of further study, we find that the men of Sodom wanted these strangers to take back a warning to the enemies of Sodom, to let the known world hear that the men of Sodom were fierce warriors, and woe be to the stranger who tried to attack them ever again. The men of Sodom were intent on building a reputation that traveled far and wide, one that would help prevent their ever being attacked and conquered again.
In Genesis 14, the Bible tells us that the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as the other cities in the valley, had been taken captive and held in slavery until Lot’s uncle, Abraham, came and rescued them. So, what had begun as a defensive attitude had apparently degenerated into a custom of automatic and extreme cruelty, and the men of Sodom were going to make an example of these non-residents. Surrounding Lot’s house, they demanded that Lot send the visitors out to them.
The word used here is to “know” them, send them out “so that we may know them,” and this has been interpreted by some to mean, “Send these men out so that we may have sex with them.” From this cultural misinterpretation, people have built centuries of anti-gay prejudice and hatred. It is here that all preachers who preach against gays go into long and torturous efforts to paint these men of Sodom as homosexuals who were out to have sexual pleasure with the angels who are visiting Lot’s house. The biblical account says that the entire male population surrounded Lot’s house, to the very last man and boy in the city. Realize, of course, that none of these cities had a very large population. A conservative estimate of the entire population of the city, male and female, would be less than one thousand people. Bear in mind here that Abraham rescued all of the captive inhabitants of these five cities by using only 318 men:
Genesis 14:14 “And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.”
Nonetheless, never in the history of mankind has there ever been a city that was composed entirely of homosexuals. It would be biologically impossible to maintain such a city for long, since they would die off from lack of reproduction. Just look at the Shakers, the religious sect that forbade sex of any means. Their membership was made up of converts and adopted orphans, but eventually, since they did not reproduce, they became extinct. And if Sodom was destroyed for being homosexual, then what was the sin of Gomorrah? Or the other cities of the Valley of Siddim? Why did they go under when Sodom sank? Sodom was not a homosexual city. It was heterosexual.
There are some very interesting points in this story, ones that most preachers gloss over, or mumble, or don’t read at all. My favorite? That Lot, in an effort to quell the mob, offers them his two virgin daughters for a night of debauchery. It does not take a scholar to translate what Lot says.
Genesis 19:8 “Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes; only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.”
Here we see the phrase “to know” again, a phrase that often is used to mean “sexual relations.” The men said that they wanted “to know” the strangers, and Lot offered the men the opportunity “to know” his daughters, instead. Interesting! A lot of getting to know each other.
Lot clearly tells the men that his two daughters are virgins, and he then invites the men to take these two daughters and use them in any way that they want for the entire evening... just don’t bring any harm to the two visitors who are his guests. What an example for a patriarch! Telling neighbors to have sex with his two young daughters! I have listened as preachers tried to explain away this moral problem by saying that Lot was merely bluffing, trying to shame the homosexuals. What a stretch! The truth of the matter is that Lot was indeed offering his two virgin daughters for the sexual pleasure and entertainment of the men of the city. Since women were not considered the equals of men at that time and in that culture, Lot’s offer was not unusual. Remember, too, that Lot is considered righteous, so much so that he is saved from the destruction. Something to think about, isn’t it? If we are supposed to follow his example as a model for morality in our present time in history, I know a lot of Christians who would be upset with any person who would suggest borrowing their daughters for the evening.
One cannot wiggle out of this contradiction. Either some religious beliefs change with time, or nothing changes with time. Understanding cultural values relevant to a particular time in history is important if one is going to properly translate the Bible, for, as simple as this sounds, the Bible was not written in our present age. It does not reflect our current society, but the societies of various ages down through history. Each story was written in the eyes of those who lived in another time and another culture. And if what Lot did with regard to offering his daughters is no longer correct for our time and in our eyes, then we need to evaluate what beliefs we hold, and sort them according to teachings, cultural ethics, doctrines and absolutes. And as for the question of how to treat gay people, one need only go to the teachings of Christ and stop going back to seemingly convenient passages in the Old Testament. Christ made the Old Testament past tense, His sacrifice changing all, and not once does Christ speak against homosexuals. Moreover, in John 3:16, ALL people can take comfort in His promise:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
That “whosoever” means everybody—you, me, heterosexual, homosexual... everyone. God made us all, God loves us all. He does not hate His creation. Of course, I am well aware of those who then say that, “Well, yes, anyone can be saved, but once saved, a homosexual asks God to cleanse him of this sin.” Read my book to the end, then see if you can still say that. Homosexuality is no more a sin than any other of the various sexualities that God created and placed in human beings. God did the same for animals in the world of nature, so science is with those who are willing to take the time to properly study.
So, what did the men of Sodom who had gathered at Lot’s door want to do with the two visitors who were Lot’s guests? This question is at the heart of many a debate on this subject, and for most, the argument hinges on the correct interpretation of the word “know.” In the original text, the word in Hebrew is ידע ” yada,” which simply means “to know.” Whether this can be interpreted to mean “to have sex with someone” in all instances is an ongoing debate, but one thing is for certain—the men of the city were obviously intending to mistreat the visitors, because the person closest to knowing what this word meant in that time and era took it to mean something harmful. Lot’s actions to protect his visitor guests show that the men of this city were a lot like the men of the old wild west in America, possibly worse. Further proof that they intended to do the visitors harm is shown by the fact that the men of Sodom quickly lost patience with Lot and told him to get out of the way, they were coming in. According to the story, the angels rescued Lot from the angry mob by pulling him inside the house, at which point they then struck the mob blind. One thing is for sure—the word “to know” cannot mean one thing for what the men of Sodom were going to do to the angels, and completely something else when it came to the two virgin daughters of Lot. It is apparent that the intention of the men who gathered at Lot’s house was to sexually humiliate the two angels, a barbaric tactic that is still used in the Middle East today. We need only look at the incredible number of cases of heterosexual males raping male prisoners during the Bosnian war to permanently humiliate them, cases that were brought before the War Crimes Tribunal, and we see exactly what was going on in the story of Sodom on the night in question.
Let’s look at some obvious problems with the story as recounted by ancient Jews. It actually begins in Genesis 18, wherein Abraham, Lot’s uncle, sees three men approaching his tent in the middle of the day. The story relates that Abraham called one of these men “Lord,” as in the same term for Lord used whenever they refer to the Lord their God, יהוה “adonai.” Now, if this is the same being who is God, then how is it that Abraham prepares a great welcome dinner for the three men, and they eat it like mere mortals? He offers them the customary foot washing common to desert dwellers. Why would God need to wash His feet? From walking in the desert? Further, the one identified as Lord says that he needs to go down to see Sodom in person to see if what he hears about its wickedness is true. If he is God, he would already know. He would not be walking to get there, either. Abraham pleads with this person to spare Sodom, indicating that this is God, a being who has the power of destruction over mortals. Note that there are three men being entertained by Abraham, and the one he calls the Lord states that he is going to physically visit the city to see for himself the extent of the wickedness, yet in chapter 19, only two men appear to Lot.
Genesis 18:2 “And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him...”
Genesis 19:1 “And there came two angels to Sodom at even...”
What happened to the three that appeared in chapter 18? And in chapter 19, they are no longer referred to as men, but as angels. Three men appear to Abraham in his tent, one of them is identified as “the LORD,” the “LORD” says that he is going to go down to see if Sodom and Gomorrah are as wicked as He has heard, yet only two angels, not men, appear at the gates of Sodom. Where did the Lord go? Why didn’t He keep His word? These are called problematics, and you can wrestle with them later.
Going further into the story, these men originally told Lot that they were going to sleep in the open street in the middle of the city. Well, if they were sent to take Lot out of the city, then why did they not go straight to his house in the first place? Lot had to prevail upon them to spend the night in his home.
Genesis 19:1-2 “And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servants house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.”
There are so many problems with this passage, yet preachers never preach on them, mainly because they are in such a blind rush to get to their favorite point, that of making this story seem to be God’s divine disgust with homosexuals, that they never, and I mean never, address the problems that exist right here. Problems like—Why did the angels not identify their purpose to Lot, the “chosen?” Why did they treat him as a stranger when they were sent there to save him? Why would they refuse the hospitality? More problems—When the mob rushed the house to attack the “angels,” and the “angels” struck the mob blind, if they had this kind of power, why did they only strike the mob blind? After all, the blindness was temporary, since the mob was able to find their way back to their individual homes for the night. And if these were indeed real angels, then why spend the night there in the first place? Did they need to rest? Also, being angels, they would have known what would have happened in advance, and they could have very simply appeared on Lot’s doorstep at the rising of the sun, issued orders to evacuate, and none of this soap opera would have happened. What is the point of going into the city and provoking a riot? And finally, when the temporary blindness wore off of the mob, why didn’t they come back for another round of mayhem?
Still more problems—When the angels told Lot and his family to flee, they were ordered not to look back...
Genesis 19:17 “And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”
Genesis 19:26 “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”
Genesis 19:27-28 “And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD:
And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah...”
... Lot’s wife did, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. Yet, in the same chapter, when Abraham looks toward the destruction, he is not turned into anything. Why not? Male chauvinism? Time limits? And when Lot is told to flee to the mountains, he begs to stay in the next city over from Sodom, Zoar, and the angels agree not to destroy Zoar. However, once there, Lot flees into the mountains, because he is now afraid of Zoar. The destruction was pretty fickle for something so damnable. Why was Zoar ever in the cross hairs in the first place? It was never accused of the sins of Sodom.
As you can see when you read this story closely, there are many problems, and these problems should not be ignored. As I said from the beginning, people would rather hold on to their prejudices and bigotries, because it is a comfort zone. It requires nothing to maintain, or so it seems, but there is a cost for ignorance. People do suffer, and no true Christian should be guilty of contributing to the suffering of others. The problems that I have pointed out thus far need to stare people in the face, shock them into facing reality, and anti-gay phobias should be addressed. Too many suicides can be traced to this unnecessary prejudice, and it is not over-simplifying to say that it all begins with this ancient story. How many actually read the entire story? Very few. Most people only know Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, and they all believe that they know why. However, the real story becomes even more apparent when we apply archaeological evidence to this event, and we get a much clearer picture of what really happened.
Since the 1960’s, archaeologists have discovered mass graves on the Lisan Peninsula which juts out into the Dead Sea. These bones date from the same period as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. To add to this, in the nearby cliffs, sulfur, what was historically called brimstone, is plentiful. Could this be the location of the cities of the plain? Almost to a certainty. As far back as the times of the historian Josephus, people were not only sure that these cities existed, they knew where, as Josephus states, in “Wars 4.8.4, that “...vestiges of the divine fire and faint traces of five cities are still visible.” He may be referring to the ruins of several communities that have been recently excavated in this area, which ruins were referred to by nomads over the centuries as the remains of the cities of the plains. Even though Josephus was referring to ruins that were above ground, it is plausible to think that several of the cities of the plains may have been inundated by the catastrophe, so we may also want to continue our search under the Dead Sea. Several years ago, a radar image created by using a microwave emitter aboard the Space Shuttle produced photos showing the geometric formations of what appear to be ancient dwellings under the waters of the Dead Sea in the very area thought to be the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. I’ve seen the photos, and the outlines are clearly visible and obviously man made. On the floor of a Byzantium church, approximately fifty miles from this area, dating from the 6th century A.D., there is a mosaic known as the Madaba Mosaic Map which shows the city of Zoar. This map matches the satellite photos.
In an article in the September/October 1979 edition of the Biblical Archaeology Review titled, “Have Sodom and Gomorrah Been Found?”, we read that this site, Bab edh Dhra, has a town and a cemetery, and the cemetery contains some half a million bodies. Two more cemeteries close by bring the total in bodies to nearly one-and-a-half million. These cemeteries are dated to have been in use from approximately 3200 B.C. to approximately 2200 B.C. Some scholars feel that some of these graves represent relocation sites of the remaining populations that moved away from the cities in the plains, Sodom and Gomorrah being among them. In other words, while it can be shown that Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as other cities in the Dead Sea area were destroyed centuries ago, the inhabitants of these cities fled ahead of the destruction and relocated their civilizations on higher ground. This is very important. For nearly two centuries after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the cemeteries are still in use... by the thousands.
The Jewish account of the events alludes to what must have been earthquakes and aftershocks among the disastrous effects happening during the destruction. Along this area runs a fault line four-thousand miles long that divides the African Plate from the Arabian Plate, an area subject to earthquakes and volcanoes. In fact, in the past one hundred years, there have been seventeen earthquakes recorded here. The Bible says that even though Lot begged the angels to let him stay in the city of Zoar, rather than flee to the mountains and higher elevation as he had been ordered, once he arrived in Zoar, the fear of what he was experiencing caused him to change his mind, and he fled to the mountains after all. So, what was going on?
According to a quote made of Peter Styles, on the staff of the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology, in December of 1995, “The area is made up of rock types which, when subjected to a large earthquake, will actually liquefy.” According to the book, “The Destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Jericho; Geological, Climatological and Archaeological Background,” by David Neev and K.O. Emery, the components in the soil of this region “may produce a highly pressurized mixture of gasified liquid hydrocarbon rich in sulfur and hydrogen sulfide. This mixture when burned probably would emit large volumes of thick black smoke capable of being seen from great distances...” According to these authors, a great earthquake hit this location around 2350 B.C. The most plausible conclusion from leading experts in various scientific disciplines is that a series of earthquakes struck the area, thus triggering a chain of natural events that brought about the destruction of the cities of the plain. Once the earthquakes began, natural pockets of gases ignited throwing asphalt and sulfur into the air, and the shock of the earthquake liquefied large areas of land, possibly dropping the valley to below the level of the Dead Sea and bringing about the inundation of the various cities. Because this event was most likely one that transpired over a period of days and weeks, possibly even months, the inhabitants of these cities fled to higher ground, as indicated by the cemeteries mentioned earlier.
Over the centuries that followed the demise of the cities of the plains, the real names for these two cities was lost. Sodom comes from the Hebrew word “s’dom,” which means “burnt,” and Gomorrah comes from the Hebrew word “amorah,” meaning “a ruined heap.” For centuries, nomads wandering past these ruins related the stories, embellishing and adding to what they had heard, and the story we read in the Bible was not written down until fifteen hundred years after the catastrophe, yet so many uneducated people rely solely on biblical rendition as if it were an eyewitness account written at the time of the event.
I could go into lengthy and exhaustive renderings here of all the scientific evidence, that when placed together, like a giant puzzle, shows the full picture of what really happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, but the point of this chapter is not to be a scientific review for some journal. Rather, I want to point out that the myth of Sodom and Gomorrah has been abused for long enough to bring pain and suffering to gay people. Ignorance is a disease that brings only sorrow, and the cure for ignorance is truth. It is time we faced the truth of what really happened to these ancient cities and stopped using embellished versions to answer questions we need to address. As a gay child of God, I wandered from the church of my birth, enduring great pain and sorrow in the process. I thank God that, although I lost sight of Him at times, He never lost sight of me. A church is a gathering of people, and that gathering can be a private club of hypocrites, or it can be a gathering of people who are true followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ. A building is just a building. It is not a box that contains God, since He cannot be owned or regulated, and He is certainly not limited to those who think they control His love. God’s love is limitless, and if we look at Isaiah 56:8, we see that God has more children than just those who belong to a particular denomination:
“The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered to him.”
It is time to destroy the myth of Sodom and Gomorrah and teach the truth. Fact is that these cities underwent a series of natural events that destroyed them along with neighboring cities. But these cities were not destroyed for being homosexual, and I sincerely doubt that they were destroyed by the God I worship. I don’t think God sent hurricane Katrina to destroy New Orleans for sin, nor do I believe God sent terrorists to destroy the TwinTowers in New York on September 11, 2001, for the same reason. Life on this planet is filled with great joys and great sorrows. It is filled with great successes and great failures. It is filled with life, and it is filled with dying. And none of this experience should be interpreted to justify the deliberate infliction of pain and suffering on any living creature. Prejudice wrought by ignorance and maintained through lack of compassion for those who suffer at the other end of prejudice, this callous disregard for its effects on others, passing on the unbroken chain of unnecessary pain and suffering, is the greatest sorrow I see afflicting our world. There is a cure. The Bible says to know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free.