Sodom and Gomorrah in Fort Lauderdale: It’s not what you think (COMMENTARY)

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(RNS) What, precisely, were the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah? Sodomy, right? That is what we have always believed. But the ancient Jewish sages said the people of Sodom passed laws that prohibited giving to charity.

  • rob

    Luther had to deal with these ancient Jewish fairy tails to .. LUTHER made the Jewish people of his day read the biblical text “Kosher”. this fresh look at the biblical text is rather easy ——– What God says is what God means..

    fairy tails have there place,, but not when it comes to Gods word.

  • Karla

    So true! People always want to focus on homosexuality so they don’t have to
    face their own sin. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt cause she looked
    back so all sin is bad not just gay marriage or abortion. 1 Corinthians 6:9-12
    lists all swindlers,thieves,drunkards,slanderers/gossips/liars,idolaters and the
    greedy coveters,the sexually immoral/adulterers with the homosexuals as who
    will not inherit the kingdom of heaven unless they Repent. We must Repent!

    Ephesians 5:18/don’t get drunk! 1 Corinthians 6:10 says drunkards go to hell.
    Being mean/sharp tongues,gambling,jealousy,pride,taking the Lords name
    in vain also need to be confronted. Bible says all the sexually immoral go to
    hell and so do all drunkards yet people still sleep around/get drunk like it’s
    no big deal. The wine that Jesus made was for symbolic reasons not to get
    drunk plus it was new wine/diluted and the Bible also says don’t get drunk on
    strong wine/don’t get drunk with wine for it’s debauchery so all of the people
    who still get drunk with wine/try to justify their drinking by only drinkin wine
    are also wrong/go to hell too unless they all Repent. We all must Repent!

  • Ben in oakland

    Don’t forget the slanderers and revilers, who will tell any lie about gay people as long as it’s vicious and untethered from reality.

    Tony Perkins, pat Robertson, jerry Falwell, Kevin Swanson, and a host of others, all going to burn in hell forever and ever. Almost makes me wish I believed in hell, just for the pleasure of seeing their faces.

  • rob

    @ Karla

    yes karla– God bound all people over to disobedience so he could have mercy on us all, in Jesus.

    There is no one righteous not one OF US ..NOT YOU OR ME .. That’s why GOD SENT Jesus to live perfect for us and die for our sin’s..
    TRUE Repentance is a fruit of faith in Jesus Karla ———Romans 2:4


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  • Robbie Morris

    well said Jeff! Having moved back to South Florida after a 38 year absence, I was saddened to see the callousness of our system. When the authorities fail in their attempt to strengthen our social “safety net” and then hassle good people for doing a mitzvah it truly makes me pause and think how drastic a change need be made to our moral obligation to do what is right and just.

  • Frank

    Ezekiel 16:49-50 declares, “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 Hebrew word translated “detestable” refers to something that is morally disgusting and is the exact same word used in Leviticus 18:22 that refers to homosexuality as an “abomination.” Similarly, Jude 7 declares, “…Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.” So, again, while homosexuality was not the only sin in which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah indulged, it does appear to be the primary reason for the destruction of the cities

    Read more:

  • rob

    not long ago both abortion and homosexuality was listed as sins against humanity reflected in the laws against
    doing these things by state governments .. Now if Christians don’t tell people these are sins also who will ?

    Rabbis? lol ————– if you think they will you DONT KNOW ABOUT THE Talmud..

    it would be more moral FOR A PERSON to be INTO radical Islamism than DO WHAT the Talmudic TEACH’S,

    THANKFULY MOST RABBIS would never DO all the things IT actually TEACHE’S..

  • Jack

    Obviously, when we combine Genesis with Ezekiel, Sodom was guilty of both sins — homosexuality and heartlessness toward the poor.

    IN our society, there are sins that are pet conservative peeves and sins that are pet liberal peeves.

    But in the Bible, sin is sin….all is tied together.

    And actually, in real life, this tends to be true as well.

    People who commit sexual sins tend to embrace the same sort of narcissism that leads to unjust treatment of the poor.

    In the ancient world, the same people who were sexual libertines were abominable exploiters of the poor — the common thread was narcissistic selfishness.

    And if our society moves downhill morally and spiritually, we will see the re-emergence of this with a vengeance.

  • Jack

    As to the issue itself, of cities banning giving food to street people, Rabbi Salkin is a bit naïve. The reason for the ban is the fear that if you keep showing up with free food, you will find larger numbers of people congregating in that area, not just the neediest….and you really won’t be helping anyone to get out of their mess.

    The better way to help these people is to try to get them to privately run shelters, where they will get not just a hot and a cot, but caring people who will help them with underlying problems such as substance abuse.

  • Doc Anthony

    Great post, Frank.

    The Gay Marriage supporters love to bring up Ezekiel 16:49, but they NEVER want to bring up the very next verse — Ezekiel 16:50.

  • Sins are not real crimes.

    Sins are bad in the same way that yelling at Gandalf is ‘bad’.

    total pretend.

  • Dave V

    To compare Falwell, Robertson and the rest, to gays and lesbians that preach another Gospel (the Gospel of lasciviousness and rebellion) is the proof that we should now have four lands on the list:

    Sodom, Gomorrah, Europe and America. And of course Australia is coming up fast to the worship of depravity.

    Not very hospitable for sure.

  • Dave V

    BINGO !!!!

    “Haughty” means “pride.”

    For those that have eyes, let them see.

  • Eric

    Thank you Rabbi, great article.

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  • Yeah Doc and Frank, and the same Hebrew word you translate there as abomination is also the word used to describe the serving of cheap wine at a wedding. According to you, serving bad wine at a wedding reception is equally as bad as homosexuality. Except of course, the Hebrew words used are not translatable as homosexuality, as there was no concept of that in biblical times.

    Just like you half-hearted Christians don’t like to bring up the story of Centurion in the New Testament. Jesus looks at his entourage, and explains to them that the Centurion has faith greater even than theirs. He says that right after healing the Centurion’s slave? No, actually not, again, if you bother with accuracy in translation, you understand that the word frequently translated as slave or servant, is actually the Greek word used for the younger lover of an older man. Wow, how’d that happen. The only reference Jesus ever makes to homosexuality, and he says the gay man has greater faith than any of the Disciples. There might just be a lesson there for people who like to try to use religion to justify hate.

  • Frank

    Oh dear. It’s amazing that these completely dismantled and destroyed arguments keep coming up. Just shows how desperate people are to justify their sins.

  • Aquifer


  • Larry

    Not like such spiritual paradises like Russia, Uganda, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

  • Zino

    The issue at Sodom is not homosexuality; it is attempted rape: the men of Sodom wanted to rape Lot’s guests. I’m amazed how many people do not seem to notice this.

  • Karla

    All sin is wrong! The New Testament says in Romans 1:18-32 that all sin is
    bad including homosexuality so people who try to say homosexuality is okay
    are wrong! Bible says all sin is wrong! We must Repent. We all must Repent!

  • Shawnie5

    “…the word frequently translated as slave or servant, is actually the Greek word used for the younger lover of an older man. ”
    That so? Whose same-sex lover was Jairus’ twelve-year-old daughter that Jesus healed? Because you know, He addressed her by that same word when He told her to rise.

    While you’re at it, please do explain how both Jesus and David managed to be the same-sex lover of God — since the same word is used thusly as well and we’re all about “accuracy in translation” and all. Much obliged.

    ROFL! And they call this the “information Age!” Generalized ignorance has never run higher.

  • Jane S.

    Key word above is “fear.” Thank you to all who feed the hungry. You truly are inspirational.

  • Jack

    Hi Shawnie…..and an amen to your point about generalized ignorance.

  • Jack

    It’s not so simple, Jane. While giving street people food is better than giving them money, which in many cases will be used to buy liquor or drugs, the real answer is to give them references to local private shelters where they can get help in all ways.

    Remember, it’s not about feeling good, but doing good. And in order to do good to someone, good intentions aren’t enough. You also need to think about what you’re doing, to make sure that what you’re doing will make the person better, not worse or the same.

  • Jack

    Zino, check out the verses preceding the ones about the men of Sodom wanting to accost Lot’s guests. God had a big problem with Sodom even before that.

  • Larry

    God had a big problem with Sodom for being inhospitable to strangers. The oldest taboo in antiquity. Making conservative christians the clearest examples of Sodomites one sees nowadays.

  • Larry

    Of course there would not be so many homeless if not for the complete breakdown of the mental health care system of our country. We can blame fiscal conservatives for that one.

  • Jack

    Larry, that’s like saying, “Hamas is a group of murderous thugs…..and oh….to make things worse, they have very bad table manners.”

  • Jack

    Larry, you conveniently left out the massive deinstitutionalization of psychiatric patients, thanks to the rise of ACLU-like views which made involuntary institutionalization astronomically more difficult. You also left out the absolute phobia the radical left has always had for any public support for faith-based efforts to help such people, even though it can be readily shown that, as you would say, such proposed support was for a “secular” purpose — ie to help the needy get back on their feet again.

    The phobia, borne out of anti-religious bigotry, got so intense that President Clinton, certainly no roaring reactionary, signed “Charitable Choice” legislation to try to ensure that faith-based poverty fighters would not be discriminated against in public funding for unmistakably secular aims like the alleviation of poverty and pathology.

  • @Jack,

    “anti-religious bigotry”

    There is no such thing.

    If preaching about Jesus is not bigoted, it follows that it cannot be bigoted to preach against Jesus.

    If preaching about Mohammed is not bigoted, it follows that it cannot be bigoted to preach against Mohammed.

    Arguing against bad ideas (such as Jeeebus) is not a crime – it is a RESPONSIBILITY!

    To hell with Jeeebus. Try and sue me.

    For Peace, Humanity and the Separation of Church and State
    Question religion relentlessly.

  • Jack

    Max, it’s your ACLU friends who are suit-happy. Most other people are not.

    And as for you, any plaintiff’s award – no matter the issue — would likely be symbolic.

  • Larry

    It wasn’t the left which defunded the state mental institutions. That all started with conservative icon Reagan and snowballed from there.

    And if those “faith based” efforts weren’t so riddled with sectarian discrimination, under the table proselytizing, and in many cases horrifically under qualified or useless (yet dogmatically correct) practices there would be a little more trust in them. 🙂

    When given a chance to feed at the public trough, many religious groups chose to abuse the privilege. Attacking public secular efforts at relieving the poor in order to support faith based ones doesn’t help much for credibility either.

  • Jack

    Actually, Larry, the problem wasn’t lack of funding for state mental institutions. The problem was the lack of funding for community-based mental health infrastructures. Deinstitutionalization moved forward, but infrastructures never materialized. Predictably, patients went from the hospital to the street.

    Concerning faith-based, community-centered anti-poverty efforts, distrust in them remains largely confined to the precincts of the dogmatic far left which hates all things religious. Throughout American history, until well into the 20th century, what Tocqueville called “voluntary associations” were society’s principal poverty fighters. And compared to the large federal social services bureaucracies, they had very low overhead costs, direct contact with needy people, and the ability and inclination to deal not just with material needs but with behavioral causes like substance abuse.

    IN other words, these organizations had key traits that the feds lacked. The big exception was money. And to any sensible person, that suggested the desirability of a partnership between the two — the expertise of the poverty fighters and the financial resources of the government. What emerged were public-private partnerships between governments and these groups. In the 1990s and into the early years of this century, this idea spread across the nation and not only helped pull people out of poverty, but renovated entire sections of major cities — as the faith-based nonprofits also partnered with for-profit groups, bringing in businesses, builders, and other job creators.

    This was one area where in the 1990s, Republicans and Democrats came together and made things really work. The sole opponents were the far-left fundamentalists who cared more about maintaining their ideological purity than helping pull people out of poverty.

  • Alexander

    The Hebrew does not say the men (males) of the city, but use the word that covers both sexes. This changes the complexion of the story. The sexual angle is not referred to in the 37 subsequent mentions in the Bible. The underlying point of the story is lawlessness lack of respect, violence.

  • Very Nice article. Truly helpful for everyone.

  • Interesting Article.