• Last modified 483 days ago (Nov. 22, 2017)


to the editor

Biblical hospitality

To the editor:

You will not believe this, but I am grateful for the letters to the editor that have talked about Genesis 19 and Sodom and Gomorrah and the terrible sin that brought to them the judgment of the Lord God, even that some have disagreed with what was said.

I stated the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was lack of hospitality and meanness to visitors who had come there. Some have implied that not being hospitable was somehow rated less sinful than homosexual acts.

What worries me is the misunderstanding of the importance of hospitality in the Bible and in Near Eastern culture past and present. To not show hospitality, to not welcome the stranger and the foreigner was, and still is, a grave sin.

When one entertains foreigners or people we do not know, we may be entertaining the angels of God, even God himself, and not to welcome them is a serious infraction of good manners and a terrible sin. Hospitality is a sacred duty, more stringent than other written laws.

In Jesus’ teaching about the judgment of the nations in Matthew 25: 31-51, He said: “I was hungry … I was thirsty … I was a stranger (a foreigner, a sojourner) and you welcomed me … I was naked … I was sick … I was in prison ….”

He also said: “I was hungry … I was thirsty … I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me ….” How we welcome the stranger will be part of our judgment.

Many Bible verses that speak to welcoming the stranger: Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1: 6-8; 1 Peter 4:9; and Hebrews 13:2, “Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it.”

I think the saddest verse in the Bible is St. John 1:11, “The light (Jesus-Emmanuel) came to his own people and his own people didn’t welcome him.” Another version says, “He came to his own family and his own family received him not.”

Suppose with me that Jesus comes to us in a person not accepted by society in general — will we welcome him?

I regard Jesus, the Christ, as the perfect host. The Bible tells me He welcomes, “all who would come to him.”

I can do no less.

I was really calling in my first letter for a dialogue, even a forum, where this and many moral and social issues could be discussed.

It seems only one part of what I said got the attention of readers. That is a start.

Bob Priest
Marion County Lake

Last modified Nov. 22, 2017