Friday, June 5, 2009

The Real Sin of Sodom

"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. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me..." Ezekiel 16:49-50.

"Also on your skirts is found the lifeblood of the innocent poor,though you did not catch them breaking in. Yet in spite of all these things* you say, ‘I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.’Now I am bringing you to judgement for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’ How lightly you gad about, changing your ways!" Jeremiah 2:34-36.

"The people of the land have practised extortion and committed robbery; they have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the alien without redress.." Ezekiel 22:29.

"The word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying: Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgements, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another" Zechariah 7:8-10

Many times in my youth I heard the US compared to Sodom and Gomorrah, and how God was getting more and more angry with her. I have come to the conclusion that He in fact is, but not for the reasons most street side preachers think. Let's look at some facts and figures. Here in one of the richest nations in the world:

In the US: 3.5 million people, 39% of them children, currently experience homelessness every year. 60% of all new homeless cases are single mothers with children.

2008 was a record year for harvests worldwide, and yet roughly 6 million children still die from malnutrition worldwide.

In the US: Data from the 1985 survey of family violence suggest that from 1.5 million to 3.3 million children witness domestic violence each year.

Roughly 37 million people living in the US live below the poverty line.

Approximately 47 million people in the US are uninsured and have little to no access to health care.

The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was in how they treated one another, according to Ezekiel. In their excesses, they didn't take care of those in need. How does that compare to us today? You've seen the statistics above. You decide.

Just like the former cities, the US has an abundance of wealth. Even in this economic crisis, we are better off than most other nations. And yet we are more concerned about who is winning on American Idol than we are about the man sleeping on the bench across the street.

Ezekiel also compares the sins of the Israelites to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. And he finds them to be even worse. He finds them to be worse because they knew what it was to be the outsider, the marginalized, and yet they looked upon the less fortunate and aliens among them with the same contempt as Sodom and Gomorrah. That was their sin.

And it is ours as well. Christians should be arguing about how to help the poor, how to take care of those in need. We should be falling over ourselves to give to charities that help people. But instead we are locked into fighting about things like who gets to marry who rather than about how to keep marriages that exist together. We worry more about the unborn child in the womb than we do about the child in foster care who has been through three or four homes because they are unwanted and unloved.

Last year Focus on the Family spent $1.25 million on efforts to pass Proposition 8 in California.

Here in Arkansas, the Arkansas Family Council spent $346 thousand campaigning for Act 1.

How much did these non-profits spend on helping foster children or for helping current marriages stay together? How much did they spend to help teach age appropriate sex education, which would drastically reduce the number of abortions in this country? How much did they spend to help those in need in their own back yards? Truthfully, almost nothing.

Yes, we are going the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are a prideful, greedy, selfish and self righteous nation, just as they were. That was their sin, and that is our sin.


Lauralew said...

Preach it, Brother!

I'm toying with writing an essay on why I wish to leave South Dakota. One thing that brought it immediately to mind was an Internet talk show called Vermont Edition. The question on this particular episode was how to feed kids who depend on school lunch programs during the summer. People who called in had all kinds of ideas, like growing an extra row in their gardens to give away, etc.

The question in South Dakota in response to the Vermont question would be, "And why would you want to do that?" Just this past Monday, a former editor of our local newspaper ended a rage filled column by telling people all they needed to live for were themselves and their families.

Get me out of here! I never thought I'd see the day in which those who help others are seen as chumps. And those people are responsible for the mess you speak of nationwide.

Arkansas Hillbilly said...

I have never been to Crusillo, but I have heard the Catholic version has a saying, "Bloom where you are planted." A similar message from Buddhism tells that the true teacher is the one who, rather than climbing over the wall into Nirvana, goes back to show others the way. Sometimes we have to fight the good fight where we are.

South Dakota is a much more rugged place than Vermont, so I don't doubt the whole "self reliance" ideology is strong. It's what they needed to survive back in the day. But now we need to think more globally, while acting more locally.

That's just my two cents. I could be wrong, and sometimes am.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

But you're not wrong on the identity of the real Sins of Sodom, dear Hillbilly!