For most clear thinking people, the story of Sodom in Genesis is a clear condemnation of homosexuality . Let’s look at the tra ditional interpretation for some background to the story. Two male visitors (actually “angels” who take on human form and act as God’s “messengers” of judgment and redemption: Gen. 18:22; 19:1) “came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.”

Lot invites the two men “to spend the night” at his “house” (19:2). The angels insist on spending “the night in the square ” to observe the wickedness firsthand (19:3). Lot “urged them strongly ” not to stay in the square but to enter “his house” (19:3). Before they all went to sleep, “the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter” (19:5). Without any desire to meet the str angers, the men of Sodom demanded that Lot “bring them out to [them] that [they] might know them” (19:5).

There are several key elements to the Sodom story. The first is the proper interpretation of Genesis 19:5. The New American Standard Version translates the Hebrew word yadha as “have relations with,” with a marginal note which reads “have intercourse.” The New King James Version maintains the literal translation of yadha as “know ” but then adds “carnally.” Yadha appears nearly fifty times in the book of Genesis, and in at least seven instances it serves as a euphemism for sexual relations.[1] For example, “And the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain” (Gen. 4:1). The translation “had relations with” is based on the Hebrew word yadha. Literally, the verse should read, “And Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain.” Yadha is used in an identical way in 4:17 and 25. It’s obvious that “knew” means more than “to be familiar with,” “to show hospitality toward,” or “to inspect passports, ” as homosexual revisionists insist. Adam “knew his wife . . . and she conceived.” The logic is pretty clear for anyone who does not have an aberrant sexual axe to grind.

Context is also important in determining how a word is understood. When Lot offers his daughters as sexual substitutes for the Sodomites’ request for the two male visitors, he uses yadha: “Now behold, I have two daughters that have not known man” (19:8, ASV). If the word yadha means “to get acquainted with” or “to show hospitality toward” in verse 19:5, then it has the same meaning in verse 19:8. Following the revisionist translation, Genesis 19:8 should read: “Now behold, I have two daughters who have not been hospitable toward man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men.” There is no getting around the fact that the men of Sodom wanted to have sex with the visitors, and they were angry with Lot that he hid them in his house. James B. De Young responds to the inhospitality argument :

The passage reads: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know” (vv. 21–22 NIV). God sends the angels as men to Sodom to validate the outcry against its people (19:13). The text specifies only one sin relating to the angelic visitors, so only one sin exposed the wickedness and validated the outcry. That one sin is the demand “to know” the male visitors (19:5). In the entire context, this is the only deed that the writer considers to be wicked (v. 7; cf. Judg. 19:23–24).[2]

The Bible cannot be used to support the claim that God approves of homosexual behavior by an appeal to the story of Sodom. Subsequent passages in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:10, Romans 1:24–28, and 1 Timothy 1:8–11 confirm that homosexuality is a grievous sin. Homosexuals are being told that once a homosexual always a homosexual. The Bible disagrees: “And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9–11).


[1] Gen. 4:1, 17, 25; 19:5, 8; 24:16; 38:26; Num. 31:17, 18, 35; Judges 11:39; 19:22, 25; 1 Sam. 1:19. [2] James B. DeYoung, Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 200), 37.