Reading an op-ed by Nicholas Kristof titled, “Learning from the sin of Sodom,” I was reminded of the biblical passage, written by the prophet Ezekiel where the nation of Israel was judged by God. Here is the paragraph from Kristof:
In one striking passage, Stearns quotes the prophet Ezekiel as saying that the great sin of the people of Sodom wasn’t so much that they were promiscuous or gay as that they were “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49.)
The Stearns he references is the CEO of World Vision, Richard Stearns, who last year published a book, The Hole in Our Gospel. The book calls Christians away from the culture war into a war on apathy and poverty. The passage in Ezekiel is well worth the read for evangelicals just sure that defeating homosexuality is the highest bullet point on God’s agenda.
Chapter 16 begins with a recitation of the sins of Israel with particular scorn for their idolatry and sacrifice of children. Then God through Ezekiel has an interesting commentary on the relationship between Israel and Sodom (Ezek. 16:46-48)
Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom. You not only walked in their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.
On the scale of sin, Israel tops Sodom. But what sins are we talking about? The next verse may surprise those who are calling for a ban on sodomy.
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.
The real sodomite is the arrogant person, the overfed and apathetic person who ignores the poor and others in need. The sexual sins of Sodom are second rate compared to the sins of pride and greed. Ban Sodomy, anyone?
Sodomy, viewed from God’s perspective, is practically the American way. I guess we have been exporting sodomy to Uganda.
The sins of Sodom mark the American church in ways that are very uncomfortable to confront. Defined biblically, I hope we can unite against sodomy. Defined biblically, we have all been sodomites, have we not?
Ezekiel goes on to put things in perspective and offers hope (Ezek. 16:52-53).
Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.” ‘However, I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them.
We are all in this need-of-redemption thing together. Rather than pick out sins and sinners to protest, it appears we would do better to walk humbly, and take heed, lest we fall.