Our portion this week, for all synagogues around the globe, is “VaYera”, which means “And He Saw”. יהוה sees EVERYTHING. Nothing we do gets away from Him, including our selfish motivation, which is behind almost everything we as humans do.
This portion is about the cities of S’dom and Amorah being destroyed. It invokes passion in a lot of people, and I think it is because the portion is a bit misunderstood, and too much self-righteous overreach accompanies its preaching in most circles, and the vast majority of those who oppose that bent swing too far the other way and employ far too much latitude in its interpretation. The true lesson of it, I believe, is right up the middle, threading the needle.
First, let me make it plain and clear, that the obvious sin of the men of the city of S’dom was indeed a desire to lie sexually, against the will of and with the two male visitors who went into Lot’s house. They were wanting to force themselves on these men regardless of any shared desire or not. This was in direct violation of the scriptures, in regard to the prohibition that men should not lie with men sexually as men lie with women. That is a plain and simple statement made up of six very simple Hebrew words, “Et zakhar lo tishkav mishk’vei isha”. “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman”. There is no room for fanciful interpretation of these words. They are very plain and simple.
People of ‘faith’, however, have taken those six words, paired with the destruction of these two cities, and turned those six words into the ONLY sin that G-d stands against in our day. “Christians” and “Messianics” shout with vitriol, and hatred, and condemn anyone that even looks remotely like they might think about such a sin, yet at the same time commit fornication and adultery at alarming rates, or overlook the same; they vote for abortionists, and/or overlook alarming abortion rates; they watch movies and television shows filled with murder and sexual deviance, vile language, innuendo, and witchcraft, without one ounce of disturbance for their conscience. But, if one apparent or latent ‘homosexual’ surfaces near them, they jump on their soapbox of self-righteousness, putting their hypocrisy on display, allowing the enemy to use them to make a mockery of the faith. It is disingenuous.
The men of S’dom and Amorah were not destroyed because of this one sin, that of being inhospitable and wanting to force men against their will into sexual subservience. They were indeed the ‘advanced’ sinners of the land of Kena’an, the cursed son of No’akh. Their neighboring cities and brothers had not gone as far as they in their sin, but were well on their way. But, S’dom and Amorah were beyond doing teshuvah, beyond TURNING from their sins back to יהוה , the G-d that Avraham and Lot were calling on and serving in their midst. They would not listen to reason. Their passions, ALL of them, had so overtaken them, they did not care about any of their sin. The book of Romim explains to us the full extent of their sin:
21For they knew Elohim, and did not glorify Him and give thanks to Him as Elohim, but became vain in their imaginations, and their hearts were darkened so that they could not understand. 22And while they thought within themselves that they were wise, they became fools, 23and they have changed the glory of the incorruptible Elohim for an image made in the likeness of corruptible man, and in the likeness of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things on the earth. 24That is why Elohim also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves; 25and they have changed the truth of Elohim for lies, and worshipped and served the created things more than their Creator, to whom belongs glory and blessings forever.
Their sin was turning to pagan ways, forgetting their creator, and putting stock in and working toward exalting things made with their own hands. They made themselves ‘creators’, forgetting their Creator, the Almighty, ignoring the purpose of HIS design. THAT was their grave sin. Their perversion was the outgrowth of THAT sin; their sexual deviance was the RESULT of that sin, as was their lack of regard for the feelings of others, who might not have wanted to participate in that particular perversion, as the two visitors of Lot surely would not have. This incursion against Lot’s guests was so heinous, that Lot was willing to give his two virgin daughters to them, in the place of these two men. That is how very deviant and violent toward these men they were behaving. And that is how grievous their desire was to Lot, who was tormented in his soul daily because the people of S’dom were so devoid of the Torah. [“Lot HaTzadik, [was] mortified by the filthy conduct of those without Torah; for while that Tzadik dwelt among them, in seeing and hearing their deeds against Torah, his righteous soul was vexed from day to day.” Kefa Bet 2:8] We today do not quite understand that vexation, as we are far too tolerant of most sin, far too ignorant of His Word to understand Lot’s vexation fully. But, Lot, being so tormented, yet did not condemn them while living in their midst. Rather, he sat in the city gate as a judge, trying to influence them. And it was not until יהוה commanded him to leave that he did so, when it was no longer fruitful to try and influence them anyway. His plea to give them his virgin daughters fell on deaf ears. They were gone. We are not there yet, as the Creator has not sent imminent destruction to our land. Though it may be nearer indeed than any of us think.
Does Abba then condemn EVERY person who ever has the thought or desire to have sex with the wrong person? No. Many think that anyone who ever does so is automatically going to hell. That is simply not the case. Yeshua came to save EVERYONE from ALL their sin. So, there are those who have lived in this sin whom Yeshua has forgiven, because He has revealed Himself to them, and shown them His compassion, and forgiven them of their sin. It is the classification of THIS sin into the ‘they’ category by ‘believers’ that causes so many to condemn the slightest evidence of this sin in others. The community of ‘faith’ seems to stand watch, to be on the lookout for this ONE Torah infraction, as if it is the end all be all of sin. This one is SO bad, in the minds of many, that children, taught the same mindset by parents, TORMENT other children whom they ‘think’ might be ‘gay’, simply because they do not act like the rest of the children, and they hear their ‘righteous’ parents condemning only this one act of sin. These same cruel children later go into fornication without any shame whatsoever, or correction from their parents, while condemning others for simply ‘acting’ like a homosexual, being suspicious of anyone who might remotely evince ‘other’ qualities.
Some boys simply do not exude the requisite testosterone and its accepted traits quite as much as the average boy, so, they are excluded from the ‘boy’ club. The mirror is true of the girls who are less feminine. But, those boys, who are being told from very early on that they are ‘gay’, end up thinking they indeed must be. Everyone is telling them they are: their classmates, parents, teachers, psychologists/psychiatrists, television, movies, commercials, video games, etc, etc, are bombarding their minds with the assault that they are ‘other’ than normal. This is the unseen adversary behaving toward them through people who inadvertently become their ‘accusers’. At some point, they have, in their minds, no choice but to believe they are not ‘normal,’ and are chosen for that lot, even ‘designed’ that way. The enemy manages to take normal male admiration for strong male features and pervert it in their young minds, convincing them they are ‘other’. Society participates in the making of these minds. They become prisoners.
We, humans, are bent toward ‘wrong’ from our youth up. In spite of being innocent of committing any acts of perversion or wrongdoing, before we actually can as young children, we are bent that way, because we are born without the light of G-d in us. [Gen 8:21 : כִּי יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע מִנְּעֻרָיו , for the inclination of man’s heart is evil from his boyhood ] And the adversary comes, who is very cunning and deceitful, and knows how to take what is good and pervert it, and make the perverted version of it appealing to us. And then tell us we are not against G-d in following that perverted version of it. This perversion of truth was the first sin [twisting what is good, and dismissing the error of that twisting, making it ‘right’ in ones own eyes]. But, what I want to point out, is that part of that human perversion is to condemn others who are beguiled away from truth by a different “twist” than the one that has affected us! And for many, that perversion is SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Righteousness bequeathed by Yeshua is GOOD. SELF-righteousness is of the flesh, promoted by the adversary, and is the WORST of evils.
No one is sent to earth to condemn other people of their sin and damn them to hell!!!! That is not what we, especially believers in Messiah, are called to do. We are, in fact, called to RESCUE them, to declare LIBERTY to those who are captive. Condemning them to hell does not do that! In fact, it is a way to shore up their captivity, further decieve them, to stand perpetually in the role of the accuser/adversary, AND, further condemn oneself! And so few endeavor to understand this! If someone thinks a person is caught in ANY sin, their desire ought to be to RESCUE them from it in compassion, to help them understand their captivity, to ‘see’ that there IS a way to be free, not to accuse them of it! And condemnation does NOT lend to any rescue! It enhances the imprisonment. It strengthens the fetters, just as much, if not more so, than anyone who has come along and told them they are ‘okay’ in their sin, that G-d does not hold it against them. This, too, is indeed a ‘twist,’ a perversion: G-d indeed has forgiven us of ALL our sins, but, HE DOES expect us to “Go, and sin no more”. Being accused and condemned by people further torments the one who may indeed be in prison already, or in a struggle against a perversion of the right way. We humans are so thoughtless and cruel in our self-righteousness; we only think about our opinions at times, and not what our ‘opinion’ does to others, who are simply in need of HIS COMPASSION. Especially in regard to a sin that has such a reputation in our society’s community of ‘faith’. The scapegoat is indeed driven off the cliff.
If someone is caught in any sin, even if they know it is morally wrong, by and large they continue to do it. Why? Because they do not see a way out. They have been made ‘captive’; they have been convinced that there is no possibility whatsoever of change. There is no ‘hope’. They are tired of the fight. They’ve tried every recommended remedy, to no avail. They have concluded that it is just their plight, their destiny, their just reward, or their ‘DNA’. That G-d does not wish to help them. They are convinced NO ONE understands how they have tried, nor cared how they feel, what their perspective is. And for those who have been part of the community of faith, and yet have struggled with such a plight, they have, most often, been further abused not by the enemy only, but by fellow congregants, whose sin is merely different, less visible, and rooted in religious arrogance, who point the finger of condemnation at them, but perhaps with a fake veil of ‘mercy’.
Sexual sin is sin against one’s own body. It then becomes the struggle of a believer, one who has been made aware of the error of it, a fight against one’s own flesh, one’s “self”, an epic struggle against the mind, which is the precipice between this world and His Kingdom. It is similar in nature to addiction to drugs or alcohol in that regard. The victim seems/feels powerless to overcome it. It tears at a soul; it can make the heart weak, and self destructive, or it can make the heart callous, and indifferent to the plain truth. This type of affliction is not only that of the homosexual, but of many other sins which the community of faith ignores. But, for some reason, the homosexual today seems to be the scapegoat of the religious community. They point the finger in a ‘we-they’ fashion. The sin of the homosexual seems to offer solace that one is not ‘as bad as that guy’. It puts many on the high-horse of self righteousness.
One sexual sin is just as egregious as the next. Each is an abomination. Sex before marriage is an abomination. Sex with someone other than one’s spouse is an abomination. Each incurred the death penalty in the age of the Temple. Yeshua stood IN THE TEMPLE, during one of the Holy appointed times of G-d, and the P’rushim brought to him a woman caught in adultery. This means they KNEW, with eye-witnesses, that she had committed adultery. They brought her to Yeshua, certain that they had him trapped, and that he must get on the high-horse of condemnation with them. They used the Word of G-d against her, standing before the LIVING WORD, and laid her sin bare before Him, thinking that HE thought and felt about it just as they did, or at least that He SHOULD feel that way.
5Now in the Torah of Moshe it is commanded that women such as these should be stoned; but what do you say?” 6They said this to test Him, that they might have a cause to accuse Him. While Yeshua was bent down, He was writing on the ground. 7When they were through questioning Him, He straightened himself up and said to them, “He who is among you who is without sin, let him first throw a stone at her.”
First, they ‘twisted’ the scripture from the get-go. It was not only women that should be stoned, but the men who committed adultery as well. Second, if they were serious about it, they’d have brought the man with her to be accused. Third, they’d have done what the Torah says and bring both of them, with witnesses, before the court/judges of Yisra’el. So, the whole procedure itself was a violation of the Torah they claimed to believe. Yeshua’s bending down to write in the dust was deliberate, and after, He stood up and challenged them with their OWN sins, some of which were made bare by their very actions! SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS is more GRIEVOUS a sin than her adultery! Because it flouts the GRACE and COMPASSION of the Creator!
When they could not answer His question, and I believe, when they saw their names written in the dust in the order of their age, they turned away one by one, dumbfounded. Yeshua then looks at the woman and says,
“Where are they? Did no man condemn you?” 11She said, “No man, Adon.” Then Yeshua said, “Neither do I condemn you; go away, and from henceforth, do not sin again.”
Oh, how I wish that EVERY ONE OF US could hear Yeshua, the very Son of G-d, say that to each of us as people. That we could ‘hear’ HIS COMPASSION for our sin plight. And that He would give us “ko’akh”, ‘power’, to turn away from it, as He must have for that woman. But how much more do I wish that those who ‘think’ they are righteous would HEAR His plea to the P’rushim: “He who is among you who is without sin, let him first throw a stone…”
EVERY LAST ONE OF US deserve to die the death of condemnation. Yeshua said plainly that He did NOT come to this world to condemn anyone. Those who stand condemned already are the religious who do not come to Him in HUMILITY, recognizing their own fallen state. Yeshua told the congregation at Efesus, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I will come to you very soon, and I will remove your Menorah from its place, unless you repent.” He was speaking to the Congregation, and threatened to remove the Presence of Messiah, His Ru’akh [Breath/Spirit], if they did not humble themselves. Humility and the recognition of our COMMON PLIGHT will save a sinner SO much faster than our self-righteousness.
“Neither do I condemn you; go away, and from henceforth, do not sin again.”