Sodom and Hospitality

I am just reading through Ambrose’s Hexameron, or The Six Days of Creation.  Ambrose was a very powerful church father who lived in the late 4th century.  He was the bishop of Milan, which during his bishopric was the capital of the Roman Empire. 

I just got to an interesting part, which is Book 5.16.53.  In this chapter Ambrose is going through the wonders of birds.  In section 54 he is talking about storks and how he sees their flight as having military precision.  He also talks about the crows which accompany and protect the storks (remember this is the late 4th century and animal behavior is not yet a science!).  Section 54 is interesting because Ambrose mentions Sodom and why it got the punishment it did:

Let men learn to preserve the rights of hospitality and from the examples of birds realize what reverence is due and what courtesies accorded to one’s guests–courtesies which expose crows even to danger.  Whereas birds offer even their own lives for strangers, we close our doors to them.  We ban from our doors those birds who at risk of peril to themselves serve as escort to others.  Whereas the storks consider these as their defenders, we frequently treat them as enemies.

I may be in error, but this may have been the reason why the people of Sodom suffered punishment or why the fury of the Egyptians, when they attempted war on the people who had been their guests, brought its penalty for their lack of hospitality when the waters overwhelmed that perfidious race.

Notice that Ambrose does not mention what fundamentalists mention today as the sin of Sodom–homosexuality.  It is the sin of inhospitality. This is just another piece of proof that the fundamentalists of today have moved very far from where Christianity used to be.  And another piece of proof that the sin of Sodom is inhospitality. 


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