Illuminating the Governing Body's New Perspectives on Sodom & Gomorrah

The Damned and the Worthy

A sudden burst of pyrocumulus clouds creates a smoke screen around your surroundings. Your vision is lost by the sting of polluted air. Between the earsplitting screams of friends and family, your home destroyed around you, the sound of voices nearby coaxing you to come near seems to be your only hope of being saved. Are the voices god, or is it man? 

The “Pagan City of Sodom and Gomorrah” Has been referenced on the Watchtower Organizations site, JW. Org in their publications, videos, and dramas hundreds of times since this organization began. It’s become a cornerstone concept infused with warnings on the dangers of disobeying Jehovah.

This article goes into the damned city and how new interpretations can shake the pillars of this organization. The Jehovah’s Witness Organization created an example out of Sodom and Gomorrah, mainly through 3 significant lessons:

  1. Being too Prideful, Selfish- Its absence, as illustrated in the case of the inhabitants of Gibeah and Sodom, can give rise to acts of extreme selfishness.” Watchtower 1975 -Why be hospitable? 
  2. Homosexuality- Lot’s neighbors in Sodom were gross sinners against Jehovah. They were depraved homosexuals, from boy to old man.”Watchtower 1984 -Why hesitate? Listen! And Obey! 
  3. The Wife of Lot They must have been very sad that Lot’s wife had disobeyed. But they were glad that they had listened to Jehovah’s instructions.”- Remember the wife of Lot- Lessons you can learn from the bible, Lesson 10.

The organization’s teaching’s ‘Everlasting fire’ symbolizes the same thing as Gehenna, namely, second death.

The Summary of Sodom and Gomorrah

Starts in Genesis 13, though I won’t go into the entire timeline of events that reached to the city’s demise- the questions that have been “answered” throughout the Organization’s doctrines circle to, ‘Will the people of Sodom and Gomorrah be redeemed? Is their fate sealed? Will they be resurrected into paradise, or stay with their everlasting doom?

The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures goes into how Abraham attempted to make a deal with God- The one that could read hearts, that if he could just find 10 good people in the city- including the children and babies, they would be spared. 

One day, Lot, Abraham’s nephew- once a foreigner but invited to Sodom and Gomorrah to live was met with two angels that came to the city. This city according to Watchtower’s teachings was known for its materialistic pleasures, selfish ways, and homosexuality.

The angels were persuaded by Lot to stay with him, giving them clothes, food, and a place to sleep. When men from the city had found out there were strangers at Lots’ house, they came banging on his door demanding for the men to be sent out. Sodom and Gomorrah- like all cities have rules. The context about the intentions of the men knocking on Lots’ door is based on many different understandings of bible translations.

NWT of the ‘Sodomites’ and the ties with Homosexuality

Genesis 19:4-5 reads: “Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” The fact that homosexuality is never mentioned in this passage nor a word of it in the bible is already a keynote of how religious leaders change scriptural meanings to fit their narrative. The New World Translation (NWT) translates it into the men of the city wanting to have sex with them, therefore the city was filled with homosexuals. This has been the question in the air with other Christian religions. If the city was destroyed by ‘homosexual tendencies,’ or because of their selfishness and pride. Other translations of these scriptures read: “Know them” instead of “So we can have sex with them.”

Therefore stemming from this came the Sodomites- Sodomite being a person who engages in sodomy.

Instead of Lot sending the Angels out, or these Angels instantly using their powers, Lot 1st offered his daughters- his property, who were virgins for them to take instead. Only then after this, the Angels caused blindness to all the men, young and old outside the house.

“Their immoral behavior was so extreme that even when they were miraculously struck with blindness, ‘they were wearing themselves out trying to find the entrance’ of the house to get inside to have intercourse with Lot’s visitors (Gen. 19:4–11). Will such terribly wicked persons be resurrected during Judgment Day? The Scriptures indicate that apparently they will not” -You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, 1989, 178–179

"Remember The Wife of Lot"

Screenshot from a 3-part segment ‘Remember the Wife of Lot’ from Jw. Org

The Angels viewing the city as a whole to be wicked, told Lot to grab his family and run out of the city, for the promise between Abraham and God was being broken. Lot attempted to tell the rest of his extended family in the city that this destruction was about to occur, but to sum it up they thought he was joking, and most likely that he had gone mad, understandably. 

The Angels taking Lot’s wife and daughter’s hands helped them flee the city, as Lot pleaded for the angels to allow them to go to the nearby town Zoar instead of fleeing to the mountains (*Cue the hills are alive with the sound of ~Destruction) Yet as Lot’s family were leaving, Lot’s Wife looked back on the destruction of her home, her city, and instantly became a pillar of salt.  In the scriptures, they recover from the loss of their mother and Lot’s wife rather quickly. She isn’t mentioned again. On Jw. org though, there is an entire 3 part segment on the selfish and materialistic ways of Wife’s lot ( Who was not named in the scriptures).

 A rain of fire and sulfur fell from the sky, destroying those deemed by what the organization calls the “Gross ones, exceedingly grave, wicked ones” 

The fear of being destroyed this way is one of nightmares. One that is a normality for Jehovah’s Witness adolescents that were read to before bed from ‘My Book of Bible Stories.’ 

 Lot and his daughter’s story continues, with even  more vile occurrences than the entire destruction of the city “for the greater good.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses Instill the lessons

“What do we learn from Jehovah’s actions regarding Sodom and Gomorrah?

  • Jehovah will not indefinitely tolerate wickedness
  • Those who survive the coming judgment will be those who pay attention to God’s will and do it.​-Luke 17:28-30

ASK YOURSELF: ‘Does the brazen conduct of this wicked world distress me?’ 2 Peter 2:7. ‘Does my daily life show that doing Jehovah’s will is most important to me?’”

-Treasures from God’s Word 02-2020 pg. 6

Jehovah’s Witnesses, like many other Christian denominations, interpret the account of Sodom and Gomorrah and use it as a warning example for a few things. On having wicked and immoral behavior, a materialistic mindset, or homosexual tendencies.

The New Testament Ezekiel 16:49 reads that God had “removed them as I saw it” insinuating that the people of the city had an abundance of materialistic things, being “haughty” therefore they were to be destroyed. 

In Matthew 10:15 Jesus to his apostles specifically referenced Sodom and Gomorrah as being unwelcoming, saying the judgments of God would be worse than that city.

The story is often cited as an example of God’s justice and about the consequences of disobedience to divine principles. As a lesson viewed in talks and publications, the organization emphasizes the importance of moral conduct and obedience to God’s standards as outlined in the Bible. To not be like those who had died in the flood or in Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Sodom, Gomorrah, and surrounding cities furnished a warning example “by undergoing [Jehovah God’s] judicial punishment of everlasting fire,” eternal destruction”-Watchtower 08-18-1982 pg. 24-29

From Russels 'Photo Drama of Creation1914

Changes of the Organization’s Doctrines on if the People of Sodom and Gomorrah will be resurrected/ who will be on earth

  • Watchtower 1879 Jul 1 p.8– yes, they will be resurrected
  • Studies in the Scriptures Series V 1886 p.478 – Russell
  • Armageddon- The Greatest Battle of All Time- Who Will Survive? 1937 Rutherford- “To say they would, would be unscriptural”
  • Watchtower 1913 Feb 1 p.45- Their fate is not sealed
  • Watchtower 1920 Oct 15 p.316– Yes, they will be resurrected
  • The Harp of God 1927 p.328- Yes, they will be resurrected
  • Salvation 1939 p.224 – Rutherford- “There is no support in the scriptures for that answer.”
  • Watchtower 1941 p.367 – No, they won’t be resurrected
  • Watchtower 1952 Jun 1 p.335– No, they won’t be resurrected
  • Watchtower 1954 Feb 1 p.85– No, they won’t be resurrected
  • Watchtower 1965 Mar 1 p.139– maybe they will be resurrected
  • Watchtower 1967 Jul 1 p.409– No, they won’t be resurrected
  • Awake 1974 Oct 8 p.20– Yes, they will be resurrected
  • Insight on the Scriptures, 1978 Volume 1 p.616- Some will be resurrected
  • Watchtower 1988 June 1st -some will be resurrected
  • Watchtower 1990 Apr 15 p.20– No, they won’t be resurrected
  • Watchtower 2005 Jul 15 p.31– No, they won’t be resurrected
  • Annual Meeting Talk October 7th, 2023 ‘Trust in the Merciful Judge on Earth!’ – We just don’t know
  • Watchtower July 8th, 2024 – We just don’t know

 

Since the mid-1800’s this organization has changed its outlook on the results of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah over 20 times, and that is only the referenced in the publications- not including broadcasts, dramas, video’s, and so forth.

In the ‘Photo Drama of Creation’ 1914- Charles Russell, the founder of the organization stated that “Sodomites would have the privilege of returning to human perfection” and that “all who do not receive a knowledge of God in the present life are to have the opportunity during Messiah’s Reign.”

Now interpretations are swirled together once again to a new “true” prophecy of the scriptures. The new light was announced at the Annual Meeting of 2023, and officially in writing- the May 2024 Magazine, study addition for their members in congregation meetings for July and August. 

New understanding regarding those who would be resurrected

Watchtower study article July- August 24th, 2024 “Trust in the Merciful “Judge of all Earth!”

On October 7th, 2023 at the Annual Meeting, Governing Body member David Splanes talk  “Trust in the Merciful Judge of all Earth!” went into Sodom and Gomorrah, stating instead of the doom and hopeless state of the people they had previously prophesied, now they simply “Do not know” if there will be people from Sodom and Gomorrah resurrected, and have a chance of being redeemed of ‘sin.’

“Wait a minute. Did I hear that right? We don’t have the answer to those questions? I thought we did.” -David Splane 10-07-23 Annual Meeting

It boils down to the Governing Body stating that through further prayerful study, “Jehovah’s judgments are beyond human understanding” and there now have been recent clarifications and adjustments to the understanding of the resurrection of life and the resurrection of judgment based on John 5:28-29. So now there may be hope, again. One has to think how many times will it take to change doctrines until it doesn’t make sense for the Governing Body to know the true answers-  unapologetically. In the Governing Body’s life span, They have had to announce a ‘new outlook/perspective/understanding of the scriptures‘ many times. While doing so, the consequences of having a different perspective not aligned with the teaching at the time have caused many to be shunned from the Organization. 

Points about this ‘New Light’:

One thing that does seem blatantly clear, is the lack of knowledge. For the one direct channel of God as the Governing Body has stated before, God knows how to keep things uncertain.

  • No Universal Preaching: The May 2024  article also compares the change to Noah’s time, pointing out that while Noah was a preacher of righteousness, the Bible does not explicitly state that he tried to reach every individual on earth. Similarly, it questions whether everyone in the nations of Canaan had the opportunity to learn about Jehovah and change their ways. This is very different then the numerous accounts of again- articles, videos, and dramas the organization has depicted on how we are to preach in every part of the earth. 
  • Back to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Watchtower questions whether all the wicked residents had the chance to hear about Jehovah and change their ways. Highlighting that a crowd in the city sought to harm Lot’s guests -the angels, ranging “from boy to old man,” there could be a possibility that they had a lack of universal knowledge or understanding. The organization site has 767 pages regarding this topic- all now boiled down to the lesson of this bible passage as ‘unknown.’
  • Hope of Resurrection: The now unknown raises many more questions, leaving the air filled with confusion for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Has Jehovah, this merciful god condemned each individual in Sodom and Gomorrah to a catastrophic execution of pyrocumulus clouds of sulfur and fire with no hope of a resurrection? Yes? No? Maybe So? We just don’t know. What about all of the past teachings linked to the city’s destruction? God assured Abraham that there were not even 10 righteous men in the city, but it stopped short of definitively stating that none of them would have a chance in the “resurrection of the unrighteous.”
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Miss Usato

Aiding Transparency to Watchtowers teachings. If you have additional information about this topic or would like to reach the author- Please email [email protected]

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