Published: 17 January 2022

Why Did God Destroy Sodom?

Destroy Sodom

Why did God destroy Sodom? Here is the simple answer:

But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD. (Gen. 13:13 NKJV)

It really is just as simple as Genesis 13:13 says. The men of that city were great sinners and God will only tolerate so much. The question should not be why did God destroy Sodom, but how did He decide when it was time to destroy the city? To what depths of sin must a society sink before God takes action?

Point of no return

The Bible gives us clues that God delays His judgement until there is no hope that a society will turn away from their sin. A key verse in this regard is found in Genesis 15. This is the chapter where God formalized His covenant with Abraham. In a vision, God told Abraham that his descendants would sojourn in another land, but that they would ultimately return and take possession of the land of Canaan.

And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Gen. 15:16 ESV)

This sojourn would span four generations of Abraham’s descendants. What was God waiting on? Why didn’t He just go ahead and give Abraham the land right then? Because the present occupants of the land had not yet reached a point in their sinning that they couldn’t turn back from. God would not use Abraham’s descendants to punish the land’s current occupants until the time was right. In other words, they were still capable of repenting and turning to God. Their iniquity was “not yet complete.” 

However, there comes a time when people’s hearts are so hardened by sin that repentance becomes impossible. Only God can know when a person or society has reached this point, but we can see the signs of it. 

Symptoms of a depraved society

Romans 1 gives us a vivid description of such a society. 

24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done. 29 They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them. (Rom. 1:24–32 NET)

A self-absorbed society

Homosexuality tops the list when we think about the sins of Sodom. Rightly so because homosexuality is at the forefront of the events on the eve of Sodom’s destruction. Be that as it may, Romans 1 is teaching us that people do not commit sins of a gross sexual nature in isolation of other sins. This is reinforced by Ezekiel:

49 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. 50 They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. (Ezek. 16:49–50 ESV)

Even though Sodom was prosperous and had more than they needed, they did not help the poor and needy. This is a sign of a totally self indulgent and self absorbed people who only lived to gratify their own desires. This ultimately resulted in abomination (Ezek. 16:50). Was the abomination Ezekiel mentioned homosexuality (a likely possibility, e.g. Lev 18:22, 20:13), or was it all of their sins taken as a whole? Ultimately it doesn’t matter because, according to Romans 1, all of these sins go hand in hand. 

Some people try to deny that homosexuality played a part in Sodom’s judgement. They claim that the sin of the men of the city was not homosexuality, but inhospitality in the form of attempted rape. I think all would agree that attempted homosexual rape is certainly inhospitable. However, they miss the point of the narrative. Sodom’s sin was not only homosexual practices, it was a complete rejection of God which manifested itself in sins of the grossest kinds. The Bible is quite clear that homosexuality is indeed a sin as Paul reveals in Romans 1 and elsewhere.

Whitewashed sins

We tend to whitewash some of these “everyday sins.” Notice how Romans 1 associates the sins of gossiping, arrogance, and disobedience to parents with hostility, murder, and homosexuality! Likewise, just as Paul said in Romans 1, we are seeing in our society those who themselves may not commit some of these sins, but support and approve of those who do (Rom 1:32). As evidence, consider those (some of whom claim to be Christians) who come out in support of same-sex relationships in defiance of what God says about it.

Not even ten righteous

Abraham “negotiated” with God in Genesis 18 to spare the city if enough righteous people were found in Sodom (i.e. Lot). God agreed that if ten righteous people could be found he would spare the city from judgement and destruction. Ten righteous could not be found. This reveals the depths of depravity that was to be found in Sodom and the surrounding cities. Similarly, not even ten people could be found in Noah’s day. Only eight people on the Ark avoided judgement when God destroyed the world by a flood (1 Pet 3:20). 

This is not to suggest that ten righteous people is the threshold below which God will bring judgement. The point is that when a society is so thoroughly corrupt that not even a handful of redeemable people can be found, that society has reached the point of no return. They are no longer capable of repenting and are only fit for judgement and destruction. When does God bring judgement of this magnitude? Not until there is no hope that anyone will repent.

God does not desire for any to perish

God is very patient with us. 

But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. (Psa. 86:15 NKJV)

It is God’s wish that all would draw near to Him turning from their selfishness and from doing the wishes of the devil. 

The Lord is not being slow in doing what he promised—the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning. (2 Pet. 3:9 ERV)

Ultimately, God honors our choices; He does not force Himself upon us. As the judgement brought upon Sodom, Gomorrah, and the cities of the plain reveals, there are consequences to our choices. Let us choose well.