Sodom and Gomorrah

     JMSmith's recent post at the Orthosphere "The Luxurious Road to Lot's Door" discusses the danger of luxury in regards to the sinful city of Sodom:  

    "Idleness is luxuriant rest, and it has fell consequences, just like every other luxury.  This is because idleness permits the pursuit of pleasure, pleasures pale, and the pursuit of plesure is therefore an endless chase after new and increasingly piquant pleasures.  This is what St. Augustine meant when he said that the overgrown power and wealth of Rome caused the Romans to fall into the trap of luxury and chase an 'infinite variety of pleasures.' "

    The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is also interesting for other reasons.  In addition to striking details, such as Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt and Abraham watching smoke rise over the plain in the morning, it is one of the three big times in the Bible that overwhelming supernatural force is used against the wicked.  The other two are the tower of Babel and the Deluge.   

    These three punishments use archetypal forms of destruction: fire, water, and the breaking up of human society.  The people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the people before the Flood were proverbially evil.  Geneis 18:20 says: 

    "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great."  

    while Genesis 6:5 says about the people before the Flood: 

    "The the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was altogether evil all the time."  

    But even despite that, their ends were fairly merciful.  Being burned alive by fire and brimstone is not a pleasant way to die, but it is much better than what the Sodomites would have visited upon the people of any city that they had conquered.       

    One reason might have something to do with the statement expressed by the Neo-Pythagorean Iamblichus

    "As it is better for a part of the body that contains purulent decacy to be burned than to continue as it is, thus also is it better for a depraved man to die than to continue to live."

    In other words, once someone goes wrong enough, it is more merciful for their soul that they die than live because otherwise they would continue to get worse and worse.  Furthermore, the thought of imminent death may lead to repentance. 

    This also relates to what Francis Berger writes about in his post: "The Misguided Yearning for a Vengeful God Part I" which discusses Berdyaev's ideas about how Jesus offered salvation, but also a new dispensation for creative freedom.  It may be that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, it is better for sinners to live and repent and continue to learn than to die.  

     I find these questions worth thinking about, but these are deep waters, which involve knowledge of times long past, so an answer will probably always remain elusive.

10 comments:

  1. " In other words, once someone goes wrong enough, it is more merciful for their soul that they die than live because otherwise they would continue to get worse and worse. "

    This was my understanding of the End Times, when I first considered the matter back in 2010 using Russian Orthodox sources and perspective - but scaled up to the level of the world population. That a point would be reached where things could only get worse, so it was merciful to end things.

    I still think there is probably some truth in it.

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  2. On this point Bruce, I would utterly agree with you...
    ....and as a parent, I would go so far as to say that I would consider it far more merciful that the world my child lives in be 'ended' -
    - then to ever see her fall into the hands of the kind of depraved (in growing degrees and numbers), torturously insane, sadists who can even be found lurking behind the seemingly benign smiles of 'that nice couple next door' these days...
    (such cases involving 'missing' children are increasingly reported in the local news)

    But also, I keep imagining that here must be some way that God could 'save' the world (from the 'insanely depraved'/the demonic) rather than ending it....
    ...And just as Abraham (in Genesis 18vs 23-33) petitioned The Lord on behalf of Sodom (for possible righteous citizens) and secured an agreement that God would "not destroy it for the sake of ten" -
    - so, I find myself continually petitioning in prayer that God find some merciful way to 'end' the reign of the 'demonic' powers and miraculously 'spare' the world, for the sake of our children.

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    Replies
    1. @Kevin, I'm so sorry! I meant to sign my name above - Carol

      As well, on rereading my comment, I seem to have sacrificed clarity in the attempt at brevity...
      The first section was intended as an illustration (albeit a very dark one) of my agreement with your remarks on the "merciful" end of the Sodomites -
      - in comparison with the suffering they'd have inevitably inflicted on conquered peoples (though I was writing from the POV of the victims).

      The next section was intended to draw a link between Berdyaev's ideas on being co-creators with God, and that notated biblical episode in the life of Abraham...

      ...if you take a look at this Feb. 2 post by Francis Berger:
      https://www.francisberger.com/bergers-blog/we-must-begin-to-live-up-to-the-trust-and-faith-god-has-in-us

      ...and read my comment there (to which you gave a perfect reply!), I think you will understand what I'm trying to get at, as far as that 'Berdyaev/Abraham story' linkage....I hope ;)

      I'm sorry it's all so convoluted - I'm no writer, especially when it comes to trying to corral a lot of widely spread yet connected ideas into a coherent linearity which adequately shows 'how' they fit together.
      Thanks for your patience!
      Carol

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    2. Carol, thank you for your comment.
      No need to worry about confusion; your previous comment was perfectly clear.

      Also, I like your connection of Abraham's intercession for Sodom with co-creation.

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    3. In case you were interested, another connection to 'Abraham's intercession and co-creation' is Mathew 18:19...
      "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by MY Father in heaven."

      Oh, and C.S. Lewis's book "Miracles" comes to mind in this, as well.

      (Do you see what I'm trying to do here? It's ok, if you think I'm a fruitloop ;))

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  3. Ok. I see you are doing something here. Euthanasia is never acceptable.

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  4. In my truthful observation and understanding.

    There is a reason why suicide is considered a sin.

    You give into despair.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks you for commenting.

      I agree that suicide and euthanasia are sins, but that is not the theme of this post. Iamblichus's statement was trying to emphasize the importance of avoiding the corruption of sin. It could also refer to execution of particularly egregious criminals.

      Also, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by angels, not human beings. I agree that it is not proper for human beings to usurp the position of angels and try to manage the world, but that does not mean that angels are wrong to do so since they are higher than humans.

      The main purpose of this post was to consider the story on its own merits, not as an example of what current human beings should do.

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  5. You are really not hitting the nail on the head. God is creator. Full Stop. It is an absolute requirement on the step you take to understand God, He is higher than you. You always must take a step higher whether the material holds you back, makes you want to give up. Truth has been hijacked. First rule: If you feel so brave and good intentions...don't get upset by a negative reaction. That's the whole point of why He placed you here.

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