What did Yeshua (Jesus) have to say about Sodom?
(Note: I will use the name Yeshua, the Hebrew given name for Jesus throughout)
A new friend asked me what to say to his gay friends who are being called by God when they ask if they as well as others being called, can be part of the new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). He knows, we all know, that a practicing adulterer, liar, thief, extortioner, homosexual or abuser of himself with mankind, etc. etc. will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11). But God IS calling sinners from all backgrounds, including gay men and women. What does scripture say to them? This is my encouraging answer.
We ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But WE like to categorize sinners and levels of sin into ‘not so bad – a sinner like me, much worse than me, unforgivably bad, so bad he/she should be banned from others for forever and ever”. So we can end up feeling some people with sins in the last 2 categories we set up should never ever be allowed in church fellowship.
That is so wrong. That is so un-Christ-like. Let’s look into this. There was a Corinthian man who had done some sexual things so bad that it could barely be described – and he was thrown out of the fellowship (see 1 Corinthians 5). But later Paul ordered the brethren to welcome him back in upon his repentance (2 Cor. 2). I’m sure there were some there hoping they’d never have to see him again. Some could have argued he was too dangerous to allow back. Paul said – extend your love to him, welcome him back, lest Satan take advantage.
We can all easily end up a bit like the Pharisee who stood praying how grateful he was that he was not as bad as other people. Yep, you’ve thought those thoughts; I’ve thought those thoughts, forgetting we all need the same forgiveness. And we want nothing to do with someone who has issues going on that we hate. So we might not want to be seen with repentant sinners who were hooked on porn, or who have tattoos all over their body, or who had been practicing homosexuals, or people who had committed serial adulteries. No, those are not our friends as a rule of thumb. We like to be seen with acceptable people.
I remember pastoring a church where we had some indigenous American Indians – Mohawks - attending with us. Some voiced some concern. So in the next sermon I made a statement, “I would be so thrilled if ALL the Mohawk Indians from the reservation nearby would be called by God and start attending with us!”.
Sometimes we’re that way with homosexuals God is calling. Yes, God calls people from all backgrounds. Yes he does. And yet some of you wouldn’t be caught dead near a gay man or woman in the world or even one being called by God. What about Yeshua? Could he have had friends who were gay who were being called into relationship with God Almighty? Could he? And what did Yeshua (Jesus) have to say about Sodom?
IN spite of how bad any and all of us were in the past, when we acknowledge and repent of all our sins, and then accept Yeshua as our Savior, then get immersed in water baptism into the name and body of Christ, and then have hands laid on us to receive God’s holy spirit – we become new creations of God. See what Peter said in Acts 2:38. Peter said “ALL” of you. ALL who go through that entire process are, and can be, new creations of God, in spite of their past. God the Father no longer sees the old you but the new creation you are in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17, but read verses 16-20).
A new creation is a new creation. Someone who didn’t exist in this state of newness before. Being a “new creation” does not mean we never sin or slip back again. Even the great Apostle Paul admitted years after his conversion, that “the thing which I hate, I do” (Romans 7:15-20 …please read It.) because as flesh and blood beings we just fall short! Period. We still – even with God’s spirit – sometimes slide back into sin and have to beg God’s forgiveness again, and again and again. Just admit it. This includes you. It certainly includes me. Paul even says “it’s no longer I doing it, but sin that dwells in me is what’s doing it”. That last sentence deserves a blog or sermon all by itself, but let’s move on.
But that doesn’t mean you’re not a new creation anymore when you sin. (I hope you’ll hear my sermon on New Creation by the way.) The perfect, sinless, faultless you (see Jude 24) will appear when you are resurrected or changed to spirit at the last trump and your corruptible puts on incorruptible (1 Cor. 15:50-53; Ephesians 5:37). Christ sees his imperfect Bride as “without spot or wrinkle”.
Folks, I’m laying the groundwork that these statements in scripture are to EVERYONE who is in Christ and a new creation. Everyone. No matter what their sinful, wicked or aberrant past was.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:16 that we should not even think of anyone the way they were before they fully repented. Then v 17 – “if ANYONE is in Christ, he is a new creation…”
“Anyone” must include “straight” people who have lied, cheated and committed adultery - - and, yes, this new creation must also be true of gay people, homosexuals who also repent of their sins. Sin is sin. Sin is the breaking of God’s law (1 John 3:4) – no matter your color, no matter the type of sins you’ve engaged in.
And this includes anyone with any kind of sin they are struggling to overcome. This includes liars, thieves (no matter how small the theft is), sabbath breakers, gossips, obese gluttons, covetous men and women – and yes, it must include gay people whom God is calling into a close relationship with Him in Christ. Yes, including gays.
But humanity likes to feel better about some sins than others. So this blog today is this: What did Jesus have to say about Sodom? Can repentant sinful gay people come to Yeshua (Jesus) in deep heart-felt repentance and be a friend of the Savior as much as any “straight” person who repents? And remember, we’ve ALL been sinners.
So – perhaps shocking to some of you – if a homosexual repents and is baptized and seeks his God, guess what? God welcomes him joyfully into His arms as much as He welcomed you and me into his arms with our sins that we had to repent of. Yes, God is calling people of all types, from all sin backgrounds, including you, including me, including gays. Everyone has the potential of being called and chosen by our great God and become new creations in Christ. Hallelujah. Everyone. Anyone. And I’ll say it again: even gays.
Now don’t misunderstand. If you have been committing adultery, you gotta stop and repent. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is very clear about that. You and I gotta stop committing our habitual sins or we simply won’t be in the kingdom of God. Let’s read it:
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 -- “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 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 and by the Spirit of our God.”
Paul does not isolate homosexuals as somehow being in a worse category of sinners than adulterers or extortioners. We’ve ALL sinned, and we can all be washed and declared righteous by Christ (justified) and set apart for holy use (sanctified). Praise our God!!!
God loves everyone, and does not want a single person to perish if possible. Even while we were yet sinners he sent his Son to die for us (Romans 5:8). Our job is to love God and love one another and leave the judging and changing up to God. Making someone NEW is HIS specialty and He will finish what he started in each of us.
If my statements are shocking you, then don’t forget that the religious folk of Yeshua’s day were stunned by how many well-known deplorable sinner types were actually becoming Yeshua’s FRIENDS. He was quite happy to be “a friend of sinners”. He enjoyed eating with sinners who came to him. He said he came to call sinners to repentance (be sure to read Matthew 9:10-13.
IMPORTANT: If Yeshua the Messiah lives in you, He will live the same way he did before! He doesn’t change (Hebrews 13:8). But WE must change – by LETTING Yeshua actively live again through our bodies. If we do that, guess what? We TOO become friends of sinners, just like the Saviour.
What makes it hard is when “God’s people” refuse fellowship and acceptance to people who have committed certain sins, even though they’ve repented. This includes homosexuals, drunkards, pedophiles, rapists, murderers – if they’ve repented and come to Christ – like you did, like you had to – then we must accept one another in Christ, or you’re rejecting the work of Christ, AND Yeshua himself residing in these people.
Now go back and read the whole chapter of Luke 15. In that chapter we have my most loved parables by Christ: the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son – the story of the Prodigal Son, my favorite. I see it as my story. I hope you see it as your story. And do you remember how Luke 15 BEGINS? Do you? Go back in your own Bible and check it out.
Luke 15:1-2—“Then ALL the tax collectors [lying, stealing cheats!] and sinners drew near to him to hear him. And the Pharisees [religious self-righteous leaders] and scribes complained saying, "This Man receives sinners and eats with them." 3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying….”
And then what follows are Christ’s classic series of parables about the joy in heaven over lost souls coming to salvation. The lost coin, the lost sheep, the Prodigal son. My favorites.
It was in THIS judgmental context, when Christ was being derided for talking to ex-whores, ex-sinners, and he was loving that interaction – that birthed the glorious stories of the Prodigal Son and his amazing Father. THAT was the context! That Christ loves people. Yes, Yeshua is the friend of sinners who repent.
So what DID Christ have to say about Sodom?
First understand that “sodomy” was not the only sin in Sodom. We all think Sodom was destroyed because of rampant sodomy, due to the story of Genesis 19. But keep these other facts in mind:
****Abraham in Genesis 18 actually petitioned YHVH to spare the entire city if 10 righteous people could be found in it. Did you get that? Abraham, in effect, was praying for Sodom! Sure, I know, he really was hoping Lot and his family would be spared, but that’s not what he asked for. He asked for SODOM to be spared, if there were 10 righteous in it. Abraham was not a part of Sodom, did not live in it, but he still cared for them.
In fact in Genesis 14, when Sodom was captured by enemy kings and they took the people hostage, Abraham and his men did not only save Lot and his family, but many people of Sodom. Abraham was used by God in Genesis 14 to save many people of Sodom alive for a time. Now I’m certain many of them still had horrible sins, but Abraham prayed for them and saved many of them alive.
****When GOD LISTS the sins of Sodom that caused their destruction, sodomy is not even mentioned in the list! In Ezekiel 16, YHVH (God) likens the kingdom of Judah to ancient Sodom. Elsewhere in this chapter He even says Judah became worse than Sodom. Perhaps he’s really talking about Judah, but it appears he’s equating Judah to Sodom.
Ezekiel 16:49-50 – “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.”
*** Having said all that, please don’t misunderstand me. Sodom was blasted out of existence for a series of despicable sins they were committing. In fact the evil final last days of this world’s way is likened to the time of “the days of Noah” and “the time of Lot”. (Luke 17:28-30). Even in that context, Christ lists a bunch of ordinary activity going on – eating, drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.
Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”
So besides that verse, what else did Jesus Himself actually SAY about Sodom? He said the people of his day, the cities of Capernaum and others, were in for more severe judgment during the Day of Judgment than the people of Sodom would be in the Judgment! He uses the term “more tolerable” time of judgment for Sodom compared to the sabbath keepers of his day. Did you get that?
Matthew 11:23-24 – “And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment than for you."
Any of you who have gay friends whom God may be calling, understand that a more tolerable time is coming for the city of Sodom in the resurrection than the people of Yeshua’s day! And help them see that God loves all of us who repent. We DO have to repent. We do have to change. We do have to walk a different path with God’s spirit guiding the way.
And yes, God is calling liars, adulterers, sabbath breakers, sodomites, cheaters, gossips, gluttons and self-righteous people – who, when they come face to face with their calling and come to “see” God as Job did, will repent and change. You see, God truly wants everyone to come to salvation and to inherit his glory.
Yeshua our Saviour went on to say that even those cities that refuse to let Christ’s followers work in those cities, will have a tougher future in the coming judgment than Sodom. Read Matthew 10:14-15 on your own.
So there’s a “more tolerable” time coming for ancient Sodom than for the synagogue-attending people of Christ’s day who rejected him.
I have a confession to make. I used to despise gay people and other types of sinners many years ago. But as I came to see them as people made in God’s image as much as anyone else is made in God’s image, I began to feel God’s love and compassion on them, and on all people who respond to Him. I now have several real friends and work acquaintances who are gay, and I can enjoy time with them as much as I can enjoy time with a carpenter who breaks the sabbath, or someone who mows lawns who cheats on his wife. I hate what they do of course. I hate what I do at times too when I’m not abiding in Christ. But we can love the people. We must love people and accept ALL sinners who repent as members of the body of Christ.
What about 1 Cor. 5:9-13 that says not to even eat with such sinners? Folks, go back and read that passage again carefully and in context. Paul clearly states that we can fellowship with sinners of the world. But he’s explaining we are not to associate with a brother or sister who IS continuing to live a life of sexual immorality or other sins as a way of life. He is NOT referring to brethren who USED TO do certain sins but have since repented and stopped those sins. And he also adds at the end that he certainly is not talking about disassociating from people of the world who are far less than perfect – or we’d have to leave this world.
Now as far as brethren go, remember
- Sin is sin. We’ve all sinned and became worthy of death.
- When we repent, the blood of Christ covers ALL sin, washes away all sin, no matter how bad it was
- Once a person has God’s spirit, he/she is now a new creation and the past is past.
- We are no longer to “see” one another the way we used to be, but the way we are becoming in Christ, a new creation.
- Christ was a friend of sinners who come to him – and he still is.
- Christ in us will help US be a friend of sinners as well. This includes ANY kind of sinner who is coming to God. They should see the love of God through our compassionate eyes and by our acceptance of them… no matter what their sins of the past have been.
- And remember, Christ himself said there is coming a “more tolerable time” even for Sodom than the cities Christ was preaching to.
So – any of you – if God is calling you into his body, I sure hope you accept that high calling. If He reveals to you that you have ongoing sins in your life that you must stop, must give up – then you and I better give them up. Right now! I had some horrendous sins in my past that I acknowledge, but they ARE PAST. And as 1 Cor.6:10-11 says – but God washed me, cleansed me, and sanctified me. And he’ll do the same for you.
Perhaps it’s recognizing how much we’ve each been forgiven (and it’s a LOT, folks) that will hopefully allow us to be so happy to see sinful people of all stripes finally repent, no matter what they had done in the past. And we welcome them with open arms into the body of Christ. With open arms. With JOY. Without condemnation.
Those who see their own wretched past – now washed away – are more likely to feel the love of Christ in their own lives. Read the story of the sinner woman washing Jesus’ feet . Yeshua said she loved much, because she knew how much she herself had been forgiven.
If you can’t accept repentant sinners - adulterers, liars, gays, thieves and “worse” by human estimation – coming into the Body of Christ (the church), then maybe YOU are the one who needs to wake up, see yourself, recognize how much YOU’VE been forgiven -- and YOU be willing then to love, accept, forgive, befriend, celebrate and rejoice in your new brother and sister God is working with.
Paul hated to see this holier-than-thou stuff going on in the body of Christ. He asks, “Who are you to condemn and judge a brother, for whom Christ died?” See Romans 14:4, 10, 12.
So – regardless your past – regardless what you currently struggle with -- if you are seeking your Messiah and our Father in heaven, if you have repented and repent each day too, if you are baptized in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and have received our Father’s spirit – then welcome dear brother and sister, welcome into the body of Christ.