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An R-Rated Pulpit?

Know one story worse than what happened in Sodom before its destruction? You know the one in Genesis 19, where the angels visited Lot, his house was surrounded by a homosexual throng, and he offered his daughters to the lusters instead of the visitors they were seeking?

The story that immediately follows after the destruction of Sodom. Lot ended up living in this cave with his daughters and…well, go ahead and just read Genesis 19:30-38 for yourself. The sordid details are there, but for a clue just realize his oldest daughter named her new son “From father” and the youngest daughter called her pride and joy “Son of my (father’s) people.” What creative, shameless names.

As I have been preaching through Genesis, the question did arise whether this story was appropriate sermon fodder. One commentary expressed the sentiments of others: “This text should never be used for a sermon.” Sensitive people and children are there, and we are in the presence of God for goodness sake. Yet Paul taught that we are to “preach the whole counsel of God,” and being committed to expository preaching, I plunged ahead with a message entitled Sodom Reborn. The fascinating thing about preaching on Lot was that he must be treated as a righteous man, for that is what God says about him three times in II Peter 2:7-8. I sought to help the congregation see that this story is not to be a strange comfort for sin among God’s people (“Lot committed incest but, hey, don’t worry, he was forgiven”), but rather a strong warning against sin (“Look at the devastating consquences that being affected by sinful culture will have on you and future generations”).

Anyway, my point is not to preach it again but to tell you what happened that day to make a point. It just so happened on that particular day a man was visiting the church who, unknown to me at the time, is being charged for a hideous act he committed against a minor while drunk, i.e., he had behaved just like Lot. Those who have knowledge of the situation told me later that each point addressed exact issues he was facing. May God also grant him the faith Lot had.

God in His wisdom put stories like these in the Bible because he knew people like this man – and people like this preacher – need to have every issue of life addressed and His ways made known. If we try to sanitize the Bible, and not be forthright in all that it contains, we will become prudish churches and pastors, and sinners will not be reached with the gospel.

So having this story preached might lead to the accusation of having an R-Rated pulpit, but the response would be that’s because preachers have R-Rated congregations. Oooh, I know that might sting some, but consider having all your actions and thoughts over your lifetime put on a movie for others to watch like God sees you. Then you might just consider me generous in my rating. Or better yet, read Matthew 5:22 & 28 and see if that is not what in so many words the Lord Himself is saying.

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