To those who know better, it is uncanny the excuse that Sodom and Gomorrah was about “hospitality” has actually remained in the apologetic of the homosexual advocates for so long, being that it is one of the most ridiculous answers ever devised by intelligent men. I remember I first heard the “hospitality” excuse when I was in college in 1978. I took a minor in Psychology and in a class on Abnormal Psychology the professor, with tongue in cheek, stated that the more popular explanation psychologists were giving at that time concerning the story of Sodom and Gomorrah was that it had nothing to do with homosexuality; rather, it was about the sin of “inhospitality.” I remember distinctly, as soon as he uttered those words, the whole class went into hysterical laughter. And that, of course, is what we can do with “Reverend Cheri DiNovo’s” present advocacy of the “hospitality” argument.
Any biblical exegete worth his salt would tell DiNovo that in order for “hospitality” to be the central focus of the Genesis narrative, there would have to be some mention of “hospitality,” or some similar term, as that which was the object of God’s concern regarding the events occurring in Sodom and Gomorrah. As it stands, there is not one word about hospitality.
The only time hospitality is part of the narrative is when Abraham meets the three strangers who eventually condemn Sodom and Gomorrah. (Genesis 18:1f). To show kindness, Abraham and Sarah provide nourishment for the three strangers.
Second, Genesis 18:16-33 provides us with the actual conversation between God and Abraham concerning the fate of the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah. Verse 20 states: “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.” Thus, the Lord has ALREADY seen the sin of Sodom, and it is exceedingly perverse. Hence, this couldn’t be the sin of “inhospitality” because the event concerning Lot and the men pounding on his door seeking to consort with the angels has not yet occurred. That event won’t occur until the next chapter, Genesis 19. So “Reverend Cheri’s” argument is completely anachronistic, not to mention completely bogus.
Evidently, the Lord had been observing the sin of Sodom for quite some time, and it is the very reason he has come to Abraham. So perverse and so complete is the sin of Sodom (long before Lot’s door is accosted) that Abraham finds himself bargaining with God not to destroy the city if he can find 10 righteous people. Evidently, Abraham can’t find even 10 righteous people, and thus God plans on destroying the whole city.
Granted, Genesis 18 doesn’t tell us what the sin of Sodom is, but that information is supplied in Genesis 19:5 when the men at Lot’s door say: “and they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.’” (NASB)
The clause “that we may have relations with them” is from the Hebrew word YADAH, which means “to know,” and is often used in idiomatic form to represent sexual relations (cf., Gn 4:25: “And Adam knew his wife and she bore a child”). We know that sexual relations is the meaning of YADAH in this context because it is used again in regard to sexual relations with Lot’s daughters, as Lot says in verse 8: “Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations [YADAH] with man” (NASB).
It is obvious to any unbiased exegete that the context of the narrative demands that sexual relations is the focus of the passage.
How else do we know that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah involved illicit sexual relations? We know it from the many commentaries in Scripture on this very event. In fact, “Sodom” is used as a figure of sexual sin and is referred to as the place of divine judgment over two dozen times in Scripture (cf., Dt 29:23; 32:32; Is 1:9-10; 3:9; 13:19; Jr 23:14; 49:18; 50:40; Lm 4:6; Ez 16:46-56; Am 4:11; Zp 2:9; Mt 10:15; 11:23; Rm 9:29).
But more importantly, there are two explicit passages in the New Testament that tell us precisely that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was sexual in nature. First there is 2 Peter 2:6-8:
“and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds)”
The words “sensual conduct” are the Greek ASELGEIA ANASTROPHES. The first ASELGEIA, appears 9 times in the New Testament and is usually translated as “lasciviousness” (Mt 7:22; Rm 13:13; 2Co 12:21; Gl 5:19; Ep 4:19; 1Pt 4:3; 2Pt 2:18; Jd 4), which refers to one having lustful, lewd or wanton thoughts or behavior.
We also note here that the men of Sodom were tormenting Lot “day after day.” Hence, this is not merely a one-time occasion of force exerted at Lot’s door, but a continual display of lascivious behavior long before the angels ever arrived.
Then there is Jude 7:
“just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”
Here it is even more explicit as to the nature of the sin of Sodom. The clause indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh is from the Greek EKPORNUESASAI and APELTHOUSAI OPISO SARKOS HETERAS. The first is a combination of the Greek PORNEIA, which is derivation for our English word “pornography,” and the prefix “EK,” which means “out of.” The second phrase literally means “going after different flesh.” The operative word here is “different,” which is from the Greek HETERAS. In this context it refers to sexual relations that are “different” than normal sexual relations, i.e., homosexual relations.
Hence, DiNovo’s interpretation of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being accepted by reputable biblical exegetes.
There is one curious fact we also need to mention. The mere fact that DiNovo feels compelled to answer the Bible shows that she implicitly regards the Bible as a practical authority on the issue. If she didn’t esteem the Bible, then all she would need to do to answer the narrative is say: “The Bible is not an authority, and therefore we are not compelled to answer its assertions.” Instead, DiNovo implicitly subjects herself to the authority of Scripture, and thus, if she is wrong about her interpretation of Scripture (which we have clearly shown), then she will also suffer the condemnations Scripture specifies for those who practice or advocate homosexuality.
Read more from Robert Sungenis at Catholic Apologetics International