We do not know for sure how many children Lot had. He must have had at least four daughters, maybe more. (Genesis 19:12−15.) We do not have a record that he had any sons. All his daughters were growing up in Sodom. What was it like to grow up in Sodom?
This may be disturbing, because when we study what it was like for a girl to grow up in Sodom, we discover that we have many girls growing up in Sodom today. “Private and public corruptions of every sort, are making the world a second Sodom.” The Signs of the Times, October 17, 1878. Ellen White expressed this sentiment a number of times. Perhaps you have read those statements.
So, there are lots of daughters growing up in Sodom today. What is it like to grow up in Sodom? Well, I will not try to give an exhaustive list, but I am going to list five things, and almost every one of them is shocking.
We are not going to go into the worst of the things in Sodom. When evangelical Christians and conservative, Bible-believing Christians talk about Sodom, they usually talk about the homosexuality that was in Sodom, and that was part of the problem in Sodom, no question about it. We are not ignoring that issue, but we will focus on other problems. As far as we know, no one of Lot’s family was involved in the homosexual practices in Sodom.
Not Just Homosexuality
You do not need to be a homosexual to be a Sodomite; did you know that? What is it like to grow up in Sodom and become a Sodomite?
“Any youth who would submit her body to be handled by a man is in no way fit for the kingdom of heaven. All this vile practice and commonness is what is ruining our youth. . . .
“These are the very sins which corrupted Sodom. Their evil practices did not come all at once. First one man and woman stupefied themselves by unholy, polluted habits. Then as inhabitants settled in Sodom, they did as you are doing.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 125. To whom was this directed? To a Seventh-day Adventist minister! Ellen White was writing to an Adventist minister, and saying, “What is it that you are doing that these young women are allowing their bodies to be handled by a man? What is going on here? This is what happened in Sodom. That is sodomy. That is the practice of Sodom; that is wicked.”
People think that unless you are a homosexual, you are not a Sodomite. Oh, no! This is what they are doing in Sodom. We just read it. Oh, my dear friend, this petting, this handling one another when you are not married, is a Sodomite practice. That is what they did in Sodom. We must come out from that sort of thing if we want to go to heaven.
Continuing, Mrs. White wrote to this same minister, “You say you did not commit adultery. God charges adultery against everyone who doeth these things, and all who will communicate these vile practices to another are polluting that soul with vile imaginations.” Ibid., 127.
“Not one particle of Sodomitish impurity will escape the wrath of God at the execution of the judgment. Those who do not repent of and forsake all uncleanness will fall with the wicked.” Ibid., 119.
About what is she talking? Read it in really plain language: “Handbills on which indecent pictures are printed are posted up along our streets to allure the eyes and deprave the morals. These presentations are of such a character as to stir up the basest passions of the human heart through corrupt imaginings. These corrupt imaginings are followed by defiling practices like those in which the Sodomites indulged. But the most terrible part of the evil is that it is practiced under the garb of sanctity. Our youth will be defiled, their thoughts degraded, and their souls polluted unless they are barricaded with the truth.” Ibid., 120.
What was going on in Sodom? Well, they had billboards too. They had indecent pictures too. They had corrupting pictures that they were looking at too. That is what was going on in Sodom. That was what it was like to grow up in Sodom. They were looking at indecent, corrupting pictures.
This point is really startling to most people who have never before studied this. This is what we should do for our young people: “Far greater pains should be taken to instruct them [ministers’ children] so that they shall have beautiful characters and keep the way of the Lord than to have them make a stylish appearance, taking the way of the Sodomites.” Pastoral Ministry, 63.
What is the matter with the stylish appearance? The problem is that the styles and the fashions are designed to awaken sensuality and sensual passions. If you are wearing any kind of garment or adornment that is designed to arouse sexual passions, you are following in the way of the Sodomites. That is the way they dressed.
The teaching of celibacy is a point that has to do with Sodom which almost no one has ever considered. In the first centuries after Christ, the devil introduced this idea into the Christian church. I have a book on this subject that was written by Henry Charles Lea; it is called the History of Sacerdotal Celibacy. (Philadelphia, 1867.)
The idea came into vogue that if you were celibate, you were more holy than the people who were married. This idea has persisted in the world through the Catholic Church to the present day. We will never know here how much homosexuality, fornication, adultery, and all other kinds of lewd practices have resulted in the world as a result of this teaching.
An attempt was made to introduce this practice into the Seventh-day Adventist Church during Ellen White’s lifetime by a lady named Anna Phillips. If you have access to a CD-ROM of Ellen White’s writings, do a search on “Anna Phillips,” and look at all the testimonies written in regard to her. Anna Phillips claimed to have the gift of prophecy, and she came into the Adventist Church and was teaching celibacy. She proclaimed that the time had come to become celibate, that the Lord was coming soon, and that even if men and women were married, they should be celibate.
“In a ‘Testimony’ written on August 10, 1892, Anna Rice Phillips stated, ‘The time has come of which Paul spoke when he said, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none.” . . . Satan will make you feel that you cannot give up this one thing, that it is yours by right my brother, but is it when God has spoken?’—White Estate Document File No. 363.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 109.
Mrs. White wrote: “The work of Anna Phillips does not bear the signature of heaven. I know what I am talking about. In our first experience in the infancy of this cause, we had to meet similar manifestations. Many such revelations were given, and we had a most disagreeable work in meeting this element and giving it no place. Some things stated in these revelations were fulfilled, and this led some to accept them as genuine.
“Young unmarried women would have a message for married men, and in no delicate words would tell them to their face of their abuse of the marriage privileges. Purity was the burden of the messages given, and for a while everything appeared to be reaching a high state of purity and holiness. But the inwardness of these matters was opened to me: I was shown what would be the outcome of this teaching.
“Those who were engaged in this work were not a superficial, immoral class, but persons who had been the most devoted workers. Satan saw an opportunity to take advantage of the state of things, and to disgrace the cause of God. Those who thought themselves able to bear any test without exciting their carnal propensities, were overcome, and several unmarried men and women were compelled to be married.
“I am afraid of those who feel so great a burden to labor in this direction. Satan works upon the imagination, so that impurity is the result, instead of purity. . . . Married men and women were following after the sins of the inhabitants of the world before the Flood, and of the Sodomites. I know what I am talking about, for most solemn messages were given me to correct this evil that was growing to large proportions among those who had so great a burden to set people right in regard to purity. The state of things was terrible.—Letter 103, 1894, pp. 6, 7. (To Elder A. T. Jones, March 15, 1894.)” Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 119, 120.
The History of Sacerdotal Celibacy explains how things proceed from celibacy to Sodom. There is a definite way that it proceeds, and Ellen White said that if it is taught, you are going to wind up with a situation like it was in Sodom. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, by the way, does not teach having a celibate clergy, and it does not require celibacy from any class of men, because Ellen White said that Jesus did not require that.
How amazing that the very thing that people think would be the farthest thing from Sodom winds up in Sodom!
Forwardness of the Youth
What is it like to grow up in Sodom? Ellen White wrote: “I have had a sharp, pointed testimony for the youth, and I am pained to the heart to see the little modesty and real, good, decent behavior in the young. [There are] young girls so forward as to make advances to young men; so destitute of Christlike humility and elevation of character. The young girls [are] flirting with young men, sitting in meeting and exchanging notes with them at the very time I am presenting a message from God to the people.
“The young women make advances to the young men and get up a flirtation with them. Their forwardness, their common, cheap talk and ways, are offensive to God, and I told them last Sabbath that they were fast becoming like the Sodomites. . . .
“It does seem that Satan has lifted his hellish banner in the families of professed Sabbathkeepers. Their young men and women think only of how they can get into each other’s society and break down all the barriers of reserve and true decorum. It is a pitiful condition of things. . . .
“Boys flirting with the girls, and the girls flirting with the boys, seems to be a passion which destroys common sense. . . .
“Unless the moral taste is refined, unless Christ becomes an abiding principle in the soul, but few of the youth will ever see heaven.” Ibid., vol. 19, 218–220.
What was it like in Sodom? It was a place where the young people were flirtatious with each other.
Summary of Identifiers
How is it going to be with you? Do you see what a dangerous thing it is to grow up in Sodom? Not many people got out of Sodom. Are you going to be one of those who gets out of this world and goes to heaven?
Remember these five things which are consistent with life in Sodom. This is not an exhaustive list; it does not include some of the most shocking activities of Sodom, but these things are quite apparent in our world today:
- women allowing men to handle their bodies;
- indecent pictures;
- stylish appearance that attracts and develops sensual, sexual thoughts;
- teaching celibacy;
- forwardness of the youth.
Escape or Stay
Very few people got out of Sodom, and only a few people from the large cities of the world today will escape. Most will stay in the cities. How about you? Are you going to stay in Sodom, or would you like to get out of Sodom? If you want to get out of Sodom, you are going to have to leave the lifestyle of Sodom, and, of course, it would be helpful to physically get out of Sodom.
Writing about this subject, Ellen White penned: “Lot could have preserved his family from many evils, had he not made his home in this wicked, polluted city. All that Lot and his family did in Sodom could have been done by them, even if they had lived in a place some distance from the city. Enoch walked with God, and yet he did not live in the midst of any city, polluted with every kind of violence and wickedness, as did Lot in Sodom.” Country Living, 30, 31.
“Cities and even country towns are becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah, and like the world in the days of Noah. The training of the youth in those days was after the same order as the children are being educated and trained in this age.
“Those who will take their families into the country, place them where they have fewer temptations.” Pamphlet 140, 42.
So, there is nothing wrong with getting out of Sodom and getting into the country so that the children will not have the temptations, but it is not enough to get your body out of Sodom. You have to get Sodom out of your mind! That is our problem today. We have so much electronic media that it is possible, even in an isolated place in the country, to still access all the pleasures of Sodom with video, television, or the Internet. If you want to get out of Sodom, you have to get Sodom out of your mind.
Principle of Honor
Now, one of the principles in the Ten Commandments is the principle of honor. You see, if you are giving or receiving attentions from someone of the opposite sex who is not your wife or your husband, how do you know but what God has intended that person to be the spouse of someone else at some future time? You are dishonoring your heavenly Father, and you are dishonoring other people in the human race whenever you do something like that.
In Sodom, the concept of the principle of honor was lost. As I have studied this subject, I have come to realize that we as Christians need to study and to ask the Lord to help us get back the principle of honor.
Ellen White wrote to a woman concerning the subject of honor. This woman had decided that she was going to divorce her husband, but the husband did not want to divorce her. He was trying to win her back. A portion of the letter is quoted here: “I have written to Brother Harper [this lady’s husband whom she planned to divorce] that he ought not to take the matter so to heart. He feels like death over the thought that he must give you up, but in this sad case it is the best thing he can do. But do not then receive any money from him or expect him to defray your expenses.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 218.
Did you get that? This is directly contrary to what people do today. Ellen White was writing to a woman who was going to divorce her husband. He did not want to divorce her, and Mrs. White told this woman to not accept any money from him or expect him to defray her expenses. She was going to divorce him; she should not be expecting him to give her money!
“While you consent to receive his money of course it encourages him to be of the opinion that you will again live with him as his wife and be true to your marriage vows. But if you design to cut loose from him, it is in poor taste [in other words, it is not honorable] for you to accept anything financially from him.” Ibid.
Honor! That is what the people of Sodom lost. That is what we have lost in our country today. People will take money from one another whether they deserve to have it or not. They have no sense of honor whatsoever anymore. If we do not regain our sense of honor, we will never go to the kingdom of heaven.
Sodom’s Last Night
The time came when it was the last night for Sodom, and two angels came to town. Lot was a very hospitable man, so he invited them to his home. (See Genesis 19.) They came to his home, and Lot prepared a meal for them to eat. Before they retired for the night, the men of the city gathered around the house, and they said to Lot, “Bring those men out, so that we might have sexual relations with them.” (Verse 5.)
There are some parts of this story that I have difficulty understanding. I do not understand how Lot could ever be called a righteous man in the New Testament (11 Peter 2:7, 8) with what he did on this occasion, because he offered his two daughters, who were virgins, to these men to try to keep them from committing homosexual acts with his guests. I cannot comprehend why he ever did that. He obviously was under a lot of pressure. He was afraid, no doubt, that he would lose his life, and perhaps everyone in the house would be killed. (Homosexuality, since the time of Sodom right to the present day, has always been associated with violence.) It was at that time that Lot, who thought he was entertaining ordinary guests, learned that these were supernatural guests, because they struck the men outside the house with blindness, and they could not locate the door to enter the house.
Then Lot’s guests told him what was going to happen. These two angels said to Lot, “The God of heaven has sent us here to destroy this city, and this city is going to be burned up tomorrow morning.” (Verse 13.) Lot was in a frantic state.
Just think for a moment what must have been going through Lot’s mind at this time. We need to consider this, because there are people who will have to make the same decision that Lot had to make.
Why had Lot chosen to go to Sodom? Why did his wife want to go down there? It was because an individual could make a lot of money there. Lot was a very wealthy man. His daughters who had married men and were living in that city were wealthy too. The whole family was wealthy. Lot’s wealth was not in the plains of Mamre where Abraham dwelled.
Lot’s wealth was in Sodom, but the angels told him, “You must get out of this place, because tomorrow morning we are going to burn up this city.” That meant that he would lose everything he had. The reason he had come to Sodom was to get wealth, and now he was going to lose everything for which he had come.
Do you know that this is going to happen again?
Ellen White states, in The Great Controversy, 404, that when God’s children are delivered, they will have given up all for Christ. Every single one of the 144,000 will be poor in this world’s goods when they go to heaven. But, actually, will it really matter? You see, when Jesus comes, this world is going to be cleansed with fire. Your house, your car, your bank, your stocks and bonds, and your business will all be destroyed. All the wealth that you have in this world is going to burn up.
From a worldly point of view, all the saints are going to be very poor. They will have nothing when Jesus comes, but what is the difference? The world is going to burn up, but if your heart is in Sodom and you love these things, then what? Then it is going to be hard for you to leave Sodom. That was Lot’s problem.
Lot had so much wealth that it was hard for him to give it up, because he realized that when he left Sodom, he was going to be a poor man. If there is anything that rich people do not ever want to happen to them, it is to be poor—especially if they were previously poor. They do not ever want to be that way again. They would rather be sick than be poor. This was Lot’s situation.
Lot’s wealth was not all, however. There was something even worse. His family was all in Sodom. His daughters were married, so he pled with the angels, “Oh, please, let me go out. I must go to my daughters and to my sons-in-law and tell them what is going to happen.”
Lot knew. He had witnessed the angels smite those men with blindness. He knew these were supernatural beings, and he knew they were going to burn up the city. He knew what they told him was the truth, and he pleaded, “Please, let me go and talk to my daughters and to my sons-in-law.” The angels granted his wish.
Lot exited the house. He could walk through all the rabble, because they could not see, and he makes his way downtown to one of his daughter’s homes. It was midnight, but Lot was knocking on the door. He wanted above all things to warn the daughter and son-in-law, and when they came to the door, he warned, “Get up! Get out of this city! The Lord is going to burn up this city.”
The son-in-law turned to Lot’s daughter and declared, “Your father has become insane!” The Bible says that he seemed as one that mocked. (Verse 14.) They would not listen.
What was the problem? Why would they not get out of Sodom? This is what we need to study and understand.
They had lived in Sodom for so long. They had looked at the indecent pictures of Sodom for so long. They had witnessed the sensual practices going on all around them for so long. They had observed homosexuality for so long. They had seen the flirtation for so long. They had seen all these things happen for so long that Sodom did not seem that bad to them anymore.
Do you know that this is one of our greatest dangers today? The same things that were happening in Sodom are happening around us today, and as we look and see and hear all these things, after a while, they do not bother us as much! Lot’s family could not comprehend that Sodom was so bad that God would actually burn up the city and the people. Some people cannot get that figured out today.
The Bible tells us that the Lord is coming again, and when He comes again, the world is going to burn up just as Sodom did, and all the ungodly are going to perish. But many people exclaim, “Oh, no! We have not done anything that bad!”
Well, Lot failed. His family thought he was insane. There was nothing for him to do but to go back home. When he returned home, he was really discouraged, because his loved ones would not listen; they thought he was crazy.
Upon arriving back home, Lot lingered. The angels finally took him by force and started to lead him, his wife, and their two daughters out of town. (Verses 15, 16.) They just could not stand to walk away from all their wealth and away from their remaining family members. The angel encouraged them to, “flee to the mountains.” (Verse 17.) But Lot cried, “Oh, Lord, you have been so merciful and kind to me; please, do not make me go that far. Could I just go to a small town closer by, so I do not have to go clear up to the mountains?” (Verses 8−20.)
Lot had lived in the city for so long that he was afraid of country living. He was afraid of some bear, snake, or other wild creature. About this lingering, Ellen White wrote: “If Lot himself had manifested no hesitancy to obey the angels’ warning, but had earnestly fled toward the mountains, without one word of pleading or remonstrance, his wife also would have made her escape.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 161. But because he lingered and was afraid, pleading that the Lord would give him a little easier exit from Sodom, his wife manifested unbelief, and when the Lord said, “You go right now and do not turn back,” she disobeyed a direct divine command from the Lord Himself, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. (Verse 26.)
And Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Luke 17:32.
We are living in a world that has become a second Sodom. Are you going to get out alive? Is your wife or your husband going to get out alive? Are your children going to get out alive?
The decisions that you are making day by day will determine whether or not you and your family get out alive. Remember, it is not enough to get your body out of Sodom; you have to get Sodom out of your mind.
[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]
Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.