Christianity,  Homosexuality,  Theology/Bible

Pride Month and Ezekiel 16:49

I’ve gotten quite a bit of pushback on a thread I posted on Twitter a couple days ago to resist the abominable observance of “Pride Month.” I was inspired to post the thread in part by Carl Trueman’s excellent column marking the first day of this month-long celebration of sin. (If you haven’t read Trueman’s piece yet, I highly recommend it.) My thread was simply a list of Bible texts dealing with sexual perversion and God’s grace to sinners. You can read the entire thread here, but the push-back I’ve read focuses on the text from Ezekiel 16:

That tweet is getting ratioed right now by folks complaining because I didn’t print verses 49-50 in full but instead used an ellipsis over part of verse 49. Critics online allege that I was trying to mislead readers by concealing what the real sin of Sodom was. Nothing could be further from the truth. For reference, here’s the full text with the part I had under an ellipsis in bold:

49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. 50 Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it (Ezek. 16:49-50)

I find it interesting that the complaints center on my ellipsis in Ezekiel 16:49 but not on my ellipses in the other texts in the thread. If an ellipsis is a hermeneutical travesty in Ezekiel, then why not in Genesis, 1 Corinthians, or 1 Timothy? I suspect that critics singled out the ellipsis in Ezekiel because they feel it undermines what is a common argument among so-called “affirming Christians.”

Those who affirm homosexuality often use Ezekiel 16:49 to make the case that Sodom’s offense in Genesis 19 had nothing to do with homosexuality but with social justice. They observe that Ezekiel’s description of Sodom in verse 49 focuses on hard-heartedness toward the “poor and needy” without saying anything at all about the attempted homosexual rape that is famously recorded in Genesis 19.

The problem with this interpretation is not that it is wrong about social injustice recorded in verse 49. The problem is that it stops at verse 49 without adequately accounting for the sin listed in verse 50. Verse 50 confirms that in addition to social injustice, Sodom also had “pride” and “committed abominations.” The Hebrew word for abomination is toebah, which Ezekiel’s readers would have immediately recognized as a call-back to the holiness code in Leviticus 18-20, where the term toebah describes God’s detestation of sexual sin—in particular the sin of homosexuality.

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination (toebah)” (Lev. 18:22).

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination (toebah)” (Lev. 20:13).

When Ezekiel says that Sodom had “pride” and “committed abominations,” he is explicitly linking Sodom’s sin to the homosexual acts that God condemns in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

I used an ellipsis not to conceal Sodom’s social justice sins (which are not in dispute) but to highlight Ezekiel’s allusion to Leviticus 18-20 (which is disputed by those who approve homosexuality).

It is worth noting how Ezekiel lists “pride” right before Sodom’s sexual “abominations.” I don’t think this is accidental. Pride refers to Sodom’s boastful and self-regarding arrogance. As the Bible teaches elsewhere, whatever is in the heart will eventually spill out into action. The Lord Jesus himself confirms that this is particularly true of sexual sin (Matthew 5:28). The people of Sodom had arrogance in their hearts, and that pride turned out to be the wellspring of sin, including their abominable sexual immorality.

And perhaps that is the lesson to be learned here at the beginning of “Pride” month. Pride is not something to celebrate or flaunt. It is a grave sin in need of repentance before a holy God. Eventually, those who approve of homosexuality will find out that even their affirmation is a grave sin. For judgment falls not only on those who commit abominable sins but also on those who “give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32).