This lesson addresses a sin that was prevalent among the people of Sodom and Gomorrah—homosexual behavior. Three messengers revealed to Abraham that they had been sent by God to ensure that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed because of the wickedness of the cities’ inhabitants. Abraham asked the Lord if He would spare Sodom if righteous people could be found there.
Note: This week students studied the scripture mastery passage in Abraham 3:22–23 and memorized a portion of it. As class begins, you may want to review or recite the passage with them and ask them to explain its meaning.
Ask students how they might react if they were told that a neighboring city (perhaps one where they had relatives) was going to be destroyed.
Remind students that three messengers from the Lord visited Abraham and revealed that the Lord planned to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Invite a student to read Genesis 18:20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the Lord planned to destroy these cities. Then ask them to report what they find.
If students have the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible, invite them to look at Genesis 18:20, footnote b, to discover what was included among the grievous sins being committed by the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. If students do not have the LDS edition of the King James Bible, explain that the grievous sin mentioned in verse 20 included homosexual behavior. This behavior stemmed from pride and was widely accepted and practiced among the inhabitants of Sodom, Gomorrah, and nearby cities (see Ezekiel 16:49–50; Jude 1:7; note Jude 1:7, footnote c).
Based on Genesis 18:20, how does the Lord view homosexual behavior? (As a “very grievous” sin. Explain that all violations of the law of chastity, or sexual sins, are very serious. Consider writing the following truth on the board: Homosexual behavior is a serious sin.)
You may want to explain that from the beginning, and consistently throughout the scriptures, the Lord has condemned violations of the law of chastity, including homosexual behavior. Consider inviting students to read Romans 1:24–32.
Note: The topic of same-sex attraction requires great sensitivity. As your class discusses this issue, ensure that it is done with kindness, compassion, and civility.
Explain that in order to understand why homosexual behavior is a serious sin, we must understand the doctrines behind the purposes of marriage and family in Heavenly Father’s plan. To help students understand these doctrines, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (you may want to provide a copy for each student). Ask students to listen for doctrines that can help us understand why homosexual behavior is a serious sin.
“We encourage all to bear in mind our Heavenly Father’s purposes in creating the earth and providing for our mortal birth and experience here as His children. ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth’ (Genesis 1:27–28). ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). Marriage between a man and a woman was instituted by God and is central to His plan for His children and for the well-being of society. Strong families, guided by a loving mother and father, serve as the fundamental institution for nurturing children, instilling faith, and transmitting to future generations the moral strengths and values that are important to civilization and crucial to eternal salvation.
“Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established. God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society. His law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. We urge you to review and teach Church members the doctrine contained in ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World.’
What are some doctrines that help us understand why homosexual behavior is a serious sin?
In what ways does homosexual behavior go against Heavenly Father’s plan?
Explain that those who experience same-sex attraction can enjoy all the blessings of the gospel as they keep the covenants they have made with God. As they choose to live the law of chastity, they can have pure and virtuous thoughts and avoid lusting. They can counsel with trusted family members and their bishops or branch presidents about how to remain sexually pure. Remind students that any member of the Church who breaks the law of chastity in any way must repent, which includes confession to a bishop or branch president, who will lovingly help him or her repent and obtain forgiveness from the Lord. The Lord loves all His children and wants them to repent and to be clean from sin.
Invite a student to read Genesis 18:22–26 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Abraham asked the Lord concerning Sodom. Have students report what they find.
Why do you think Abraham would ask the Lord whether He would destroy the righteous people along with the wicked? (Students may suggest that Abraham desired to minister and care for all people. He also knew that Lot and his family were living in Sodom.)
How did the Lord answer Abraham’s questions?
Explain that Abraham continued to ask the Lord whether He would spare Sodom if any righteous people could be found there. Invite students to read Genesis 18:27–33 silently, looking for the Lord’s responses to Abraham’s questions.
How did the Lord respond to Abraham’s righteous concern for others?
What principle about the Lord can we identify from His response to Abraham? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: The Lord listens to our righteous pleas for others. Consider writing this principle on the board.)
How can remembering and believing this principle help you when you have a family member or friend who needs help?
When have you experienced the Lord answering your righteous prayers on behalf of others?
Encourage students to set a goal to pray for those people who they know need Heavenly Father’s help.
Invite students to consider the following as they prepare to study Genesis 19–27: What happened to Lot’s wife during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? Why did God warn Abimelech in a dream and say, “Thou art but a dead man”? What did the angel say to Hagar after she went into the wilderness? Like Abraham, even after we enter into covenants with the Lord, we will still be tested and tried. As you study more about Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac, consider how to increase your obedience to the Lord’s commandments.