What was Sodom's sin?

I finished my first draft of Sarai the other day! I do not know if the story makes complete sense as I have not yet read it over from the beginning since I began many months ago. My first thought is to reread the whole thing right now, but I decided a break is better. So a break it will be. As I study to write a biblical novel, I read various sections of Scripture and pray for guidance. Not everything a story needs is found within the primary biblical text. Sometimes other Old Testament or even New Testament books give insight into what went on during those times. I found this true as I wrote about David's wives and it is true again in telling the story of Abraham and Sarah.

What I didn't expect as I was nearing the climax of Sarai's story, was to find a verse that so well explained why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. But God surprises me with verses in His Word all the time. I think He might even enjoy tucking truth into the most unlikely places. Or answer questions later in His Book that we might miss if we don't read the whole thing.

That happened this week. I opened to Ezekiel a week or so ago and the verses that caught my eye so intrigued me that I decided to start at the beginning. So each morning I've been reading a chapter or so, which brought me to chapter 16 a few days ago. The passage is talking about God's anger with Jerusalem for her many sins, and when we get to verses 48-50 God tells Jerusalem why He destroyed her sister Sodom.

"As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it."

The NIV puts it this way:

"As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. '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. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen."

If we only take the story in Genesis 19 as basis for Sodom's destruction, we would assume it was their sexual sins, which would fall under "detestable things" that caused their downfall. But this list in Ezekiel clearly speaks of far more. It is also interesting to note that haughtiness (pride), excess of food, and prosperous unconcerned ease were at the top of God's list. Can we in American churches not relate to this? Have we become proud, overfed, and unconcerned with the needs of those less fortunate? Has haughtiness taught us to sit in judgment on others - even on fellow believers? How often have those without Christ looked at His people and seen pride and anger, even hatred for those who are not like them, rather than compassion and concern and love? Where is the joy of the Lord in our lives?

I am saddened and humbled by these verses in Ezekiel, but they are also quite eye-opening as I try to see the things Lot and his wife saw, as I envision what it might have been like to live there. Not so very different from the society I see around me today. But the verses are also a wake-up call to me to take care to watch my own attitude, to pray to keep myself from growing arrogant and self-satisfied and unconcerned with those in need.

I think there is a reason God lists these things in the order in which He does, because when we let ourselves grow proud and overfed and unconcerned, it is that much easier to slip into doing the other things that God detests - things like lying, killing, devising wicked schemes, spreading strife among brothers (Proverbs 6). And of course, the sexual sins Sodom is known for most.

Why did Sodom really fall?

Many reasons, whose details you can read about in Genesis 19. But in truth, their downfall didn't start with sexual sin. It started with pride.