July 18

Genesis 18:20-22

“Then the Lord said, ‘How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin!” vs. 20

For the early part of the Twentieth Century Los Vegas was known as “Sin City,” a place where decadence and immorality were a part of the culture. The phrase “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” was coined to reflect that reputation, and is still quoted with a wink and a smile when people speak of spending time there. Other American cities like New Orleans or San Francisco, rightly or wrongly, have similar stories told about them, and they all bring to mind the ancient story of Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis. Back then it was taught that such cities would eventually catch the attention of the Lord, and that there would be hell to pay. There are some who still feel that way, and some preachers were quick to bring up Sodom when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. They implied that the wholesale destruction was the work of the Lord and could have been predicted. In reality of course, such stories always are told post-disaster and are always unhelpful in helping us understand the destruction that periodically comes from volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, earthquakes, or weather events. Yes, those things do happen, and sometimes thousands die, but it’s not because the victims were worse sinners than anyone else. That’s just not how God operates!

Thought for the Day: Why are natural disasters called “acts of God”?

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