The biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah is recorded in Genesis. Genesis 18 records the Lord and two angels coming to speak with Abraham. The Lord informed Abraham that “the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous” (Genesis 18:20). Verses 22–33 record Abraham pleading with the Lord to have mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah because of the righteous people who might be there. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family lived in Sodom.
Genesis 19 records the two angels, disguised as human men, visiting Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot met the angels in the city square and urged them to stay at his house. The angels agreed. The Bible then reveals the sin lurking in the Sodomites’ hearts: “Before they 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’” (Genesis 19:4–5). The angels proceeded to blind the men surrounding the house and urge Lot and his family to flee the city. The wrath of God was about to fall. Lot and his family fled the city, and then “the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities” (Genesis 19:24).
What was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? According to Genesis 19, the sin involved homosexuality. The very name of that ancient city has given us the term sodomy, in the sense of “copulation between two men, whether consensual or forced.” Clearly, homosexuality was part of why God destroyed the two cities. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to perform homosexual acts on what they thought were two men.
This is not to say that homosexuality was the only reason why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Ezekiel 16:49–50 gives some more insight: “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.” So, the sins of Sodom included pride, apathy, complacency, idleness, and unconcern for the underprivileged.
Ezekiel 16:50 adds that a sin of Sodom was that they did “detestable things.” The Hebrew word translated “detestable” refers to something that is morally disgusting. It is the same word used in Leviticus 18:22, where homosexuality is an “abomination.” Jude 1:7 also weighs in: “Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.” So, again, while homosexuality was not the only sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, it does appear to be the primary reason for the destruction of those cities.
Those who attempt to explain away the biblical condemnations of homosexuality claim that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was inhospitality. That’s one of the sins—the men of Sodom and Gomorrah were certainly being inhospitable. There is probably nothing more inhospitable than homosexual gang rape. But to say God destroyed two cities and all their inhabitants simply for being inhospitable ignores some obvious details of the story.
Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of many other sins, but homosexuality was the principal reason God poured fiery sulfur on the cities, completely destroying them and all of their inhabitants. To this day, the area where Sodom and Gomorrah were located remains a desolate wasteland. Sodom and Gomorrah serve as a powerful example of how God feels about sin in general and homosexuality specifically.