“I feel stupid and contagious; here we are now, entertain us,” sang Kurt Cobain in 1991, on one of my favorite albums: “Nevermind.”
Almost immediately, he became a multi-millionaire who could not only entertain but obtain all the entertainment he desired; He could live the lifestyle of Sodom or Vegas.
How do you feel about Sodom, Vegas, or Kurt Cobain? Do you think he should be punished? Are you jealous?
“And I forget just why I taste. Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile. I find it hard, it’s hard to find. Oh well, whatever, never mind.”
April 5th, 1994, Kurt Cobain put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. And you know what’s weird? I’ve known more pastors that have killed themselves than drug addicts or musicians.
In Genesis 18:1, the LORD (Yahweh) appears to Abraham in the form of three men. At least one of them must be the God/man, “the Promise (Rom. 9:9),” and “Word,” Jesus. The Lord informs Abraham that they are on their way to Sodom. The Lord had told Abraham that through Abraham he would bless “all the nations of the earth.” And that creates a crisis: Sodom is a “nation of the earth.”
In Genesis 18:22-32, “The men” go toward Sodom, but Abraham stops the Lord and begins to argue. “If there are fifty, forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty, or ten, surely you would not sweep away the righteous with the wicked,” says Abraham. He argues like Moses argued for Israel, and the Lord doesn’t seem to mind but, instead, seems to delight in Abraham’s argument—his compassion.
In Genesis 18:33, The Lord goes “his way” . . . to Sodom.
What is the sin of Sodom? What is the punishment upon Sodom? When did Jesus go to Sodom?
We’ve been trained by ages of church tradition and the signs of protestors, like the Reverend Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church, that the sin of Sodom was “sodomy.” Sodom is a noun and a place, but there is no verb based upon that noun in the Bible. So, the Bible never says that the sin of Sodom was “sodomy,” but it does tell us exactly what it was.
“This was the guilt of… Sodom: she… had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination (Ezekiel 16:49-50).” According to Jesus, to “justify” oneself in order to “exalt” oneself is an “abomination (Luke 16:15).” According to Jude 7, “Sodom indulged in [transactional sexual relationships] and pursued heteros sarkos (other flesh)—NOT “homo sarkos,” “heteros sarkos.” That’s any sex outside of marriage, for in marriage, two become one flesh.
In Genesis 19, “the people” (not just the men), gather around Lot’s house and demand “to know” the angelic God/men. That’s their sin. And it should sound familiar to us. The snake said, “take the fruit of the tree of knowledge and make yourself like God.” And what was it that was hanging on the tree? . . . the God/man.
Perhaps this is why the institutional church has blamed the sin of Sodom on one particular group of people? In the words of Kurt Cobain, “A denial, a denial, a denial… And I forget just why I taste. Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile… oh well, whatever, never mind.”
The Lord was not threatening Sodom with “Hell, (Sheol, The Abyss);” Sodom was literally located on the banks of the Dead Sea—the lowest spot on the face of the earth. Sodom couldn’t go to hell if she was already there. The Lord was not threatening Sodom with Hell but threatening Hell with Himself.
And yet, when “the men,” who are the “messengers,” that is the “angels,” arrive in Sodom, we only read of two men, and not three. We’re obviously supposed to ask, “Where’s Yahweh, the God/man; where’s Jesus?”
Maybe he was in the fire? The God/man appears throughout the Old Testament as a Pillar of Fire, the Angel of Fire, literally, a Man of Fire . . . Love is Fire (Song of Songs 8:6).
And Maybe he was in “the last and least of these, his brethren?” Isn’t that where he said that he’d be on judgment day—on his throne, and in the last and the least of these (Matt. 25)?
The Story of Sodom doesn’t end in Genesis 19, it continues in Ezekiel 16 where God is speaking to Jerusalem, who has made herself a whore—one who engages in transactional communion—rather than free communion in an unconditional covenant of Love.
Her sin is pride, just as Sodom’s sin was pride. But her sin is worse than Sodom’s: In Sodom they used people to exalt themselves; in Jerusalem we use God to exalt ourselves, even as “Sodom” becomes “a by-word” in our mouths (v.56).
Her punishment is to see Sodom restored and to be restored, herself, in Sodom’s presence—“When I atone for you, for all that you have done, declares the Lord GOD (v.63).” Then, “you will be a consolation to them (v.54),” declares the Lord.
In Revelation 11:8, two messengers, like God/men, are murdered, and we learn that “the great city in which the Lord was crucified” is “spiritually named (which means, ‘really named,’ not ‘symbolically named’) Sodom.” Sodom is Jerusalem and Jerusalem is Sodom.
The Sin of Sodom must’ve looked something like Fred Phelps and his hateful signs, and yet if I don’t have compassion for Fred Phelps, I make myself worse than Fred Phelps. But that’s not hard for me, for I was never jealous of Fred Phelps . . . or Kurt Cobain.
I recently watched a video of Lonnie Frisbee, the hippie evangelist highlighted in the recent film, “Jesus Revolution.” And I thought, “I’m Jealous… I never wanted to be a rock star, but I did want to be a Christian superstar like Chuck Smith or Lonnie Frisbee.”
I googled Lonnie Frisbee, discovered that he struggled with secret sins and died of Aids.
Then I had this thought, “Maybe, I am better than Lonnie Frisbee?” That part of me is evil and must be consumed by Eternal Fire, it’s hell.
But another part of me just broke for Lonnie Frisbee, but not because he was gay—all sorts of wonderful people are gay. Not because he was gay, but because he’d been taught, and must’ve taught, that God saves some and God endlessly tortures others with eternal fire. That must’ve been hell, for perhaps he didn’t know that the Eternal Fire is Relentless Love, Relentless Love that destroys the Old Jerusalem and liberates the New. That part of me isn’t threatened by the Fire; it is the Fire.
The Sin of Sodom is condemning others to save oneself.
The Grace of God is suffering condemnation in order to save all.
And when did Jesus go to Sodom? The moment he cried “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” The moment he said, “This is my body. This is my blood. Drink of it all of you.” The moment eternity touches time: right now.
This is the Judgment of God: We must all die with him and rise with him. And when we do, we will have compassion on all.