Sodomy in the Old Testament

Author: Fr. William Most


Genesis: Gen. 13:13 says: "The men of Sodom were wicked and sinners exceedingly before the Lord."

COMMENT: In 19:5 the men of Sodom of every age seek sex with the angels visiting Lot.They are struck blind in punishment. Cf. Judges 19:22-23.

Leviticus: Lv. 18:223: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination." And 20:13: "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death."

II Kings: 2 Kgs. 23:27. King Josiah destroyed the houses of the male cult prostitutes. Cf. also I Kgs 14:24; 15:12; 22:46 and Wisdom 14:26.


1 Cor 6:9-10: "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolators, nor the effeminate, nor those who lie with males...will inherit the kingdom of God."

Romans 1:26-27: "For this reason God handed them over to dishonorable passions, and their women exchanged their natural use for the unnatural. And similaly the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned with desire for one another, males working impropriety on males, and receiving in themselves the pay which was proper for their wandering."

1 Tim 1:9-10: "Knowing this,that the law is not there for the righteous man, but for lawless ones...sexually loose, those who lie with males...."

Jude 7: "Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire."


2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch. Late 1st cent.AD.:10.4. in J recension Ch. I.118: "This place, Enoch, has been prepared for those who do not glorify God, who practice on earth the sin which is against nature, which is child corruption in the anus in the manner of Sodom...." (Provenance. Charles said 1st cent. BC hellenized Jew in Alexandria; Milik said Christian monk in Byzantium in 9th cent. AD).

2 Enoch J recension 34.2. Ch. I.258: And all the world will be reduced to confusion by iniquities and wickednesses and abominable fornications that is, friend with friend in the anus...."

Sibylline Oracles 2nd cent. BC to 7th cent AD. Introduction by J. J. Collins, p. 323 of Charlesworth I: "All forms of sexual offences are condemned, but special reproach is poured on homosexuality. It should be noted that the sexual polemics usually are not inspired by asceticism but rather by a concern for the natural law.....while both polemic against idolatry and against homosexuality are typical features of Jewish apologetics, both can also be paralleled amply in the preachings of gentile moralists."

Sibyllines II.73 (part of Extract from Pseudo-Phocylides--latter in Charlesworth II. pp. 565-82. Editor there, P. W. Van der Horst, on pp. 567- 68 favors date 50 BC -100 AD, and probably by an Alexandrian Jew.): "Do not practice homosexuality". (From Ch. I.347)

Sibyllines III.597 . Ch. I.375. Prob. date 163-45 BC. Prob. Alexandrian Jewish. "They [Jews] do not engage in impious intercourse with male children."

Sibyllines IV.34. Ch. I. 384-85. Probably from Hellenistic age, updated by a Jew in late first century AD. No sign of Christian redaction in it. "Neither have they [the righteous] disgraceful desire for another's spouse, or for hateful and repulsive abuse of a male."

Sibyllines V.167. Ch. I.397. Between 70 & 132 AD. Christian redaction of this section unlikely. "With you [Rome] are found adulteries and illicit intercourse with boys."(Cf. ibid. lines 386 & 430).

Testament of Levi 17.11. Ch. I.794. .Prob. 2nd century BC. "In the seventh week there will come priests: idolators, adulterers, money lovers, arrogant, lawless, voluptaries, pederasts, those who practice bestiality."

Testament of Naphtali 3.5. Ch. I.812. 2nd cenury BC. "But you, my children shall not be like that you do not become like Sodom, which departed from the order of nature."

Testament of Benjamin 9.1. Cf. I.827. 2nd century BC. "From the words of Enoch the Righteous I will tell you that you will be sexually promiscuous like the promiscuity of the Sodomites and will perish."

Testament of Isaac 5.27. Ch. I.909. Second century AD. Probably originally from Egyptian Judaism, but shows pronounced Christian elements. "The angel said to me, 'Look at the bottom to observe those whom you see at the lowest depth. They are the ones who have committed the sin of Sodom; truly, they were due a drastic punishment."

Testament of Jacob 5.8 & 7.19-20. Ch. I.916 & 917 Second- Thd cent. AD? Seems Christian in origin. "They were prepared to torment the sinners, who are these: adulterers, male and female; those lusting after males...." " For the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God, nor will the adulterers, nor the accursed, nor those who commit outrages and have sexual intercourse with males..."


1. Journal of the American Medical Association 1984.251.237-41, comments that the vagina has a multiple layer of epithelium, so that it is designed for repeated penetration, while the anus has only a single layer. Adds that the use of the anus expedites the development of antibodies in the blood, which can impair the immune system.

Same article, p. 241 reports that a study of monogamous, i.e., not promiscuous---homosexuals showed that three-fourth of the passive partners showed sperminduced immune dysregulation.

"Science" magazine, 1984.224.390-92 reports that rectal insemination of rabbits altered their immune responses, even without addition of the AIDS virus.


NAB in note on 18.20 said Israelite tradition on the sin of Sodom varied: Isaiah 1.9f and 3.9 said it was lack of social justice- Ezek 16, 46-51 said it was disregard for poor--Jere 23.14 said it was general immorality. (Using RSV)

Isa 1.9-31 does speak of social justice sins--but it does not say that the sin of Sodom was the same, it merely addresses Zion thus: "Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom. Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah." They are said to be as wicked as the two cities- does not say it is same sin.

Isa 3.9: "they proclaim their sin like Sodom, they do not hide it."--Same comment as above.

Ezek.16.44-51: "Behold, everyone who uses proverbs will use this proverb about you. Like mother, like daughter....Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite...your younger sister is Sodom with her daughters. Yet you were not content to walk in their ways, or do according to their abominations; within a very little time you were more corrupt then they in all your ways. As I live, says the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of you sister Sodom: she and her daughers had pride, surfeit of food and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy."

COMMENT: Jerusalem the city really had been a Hittite and Amorite city. But this is an allegory. Jerusalem is now worse than the pagans. The great luxury of Sodom led to its sexual immorality- a common sequence. So this does not deny that the sin of Sodom had been Sodomy. This is means of saying Jerusalem is more wicked.

Jer 23.14: "But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah."

COMMENT: Again it is merely a comparison, it does not say that the sin of Sodom had been the same as that of Jerusalem- rather, Jerusalem is worse than Sodom.