The Story of Roy Clements

In the early 2000s, I came across the story of Roy Clements, a name that might resonate with many who appreciate deep biblical exegesis and commentary. Clements was a well-respected evangelical leader and a scholar who contributed significantly to biblical interpretation. His commentaries, particularly on the Gospel of Matthew, were highly regarded in evangelical circles for their scholarly depth and commitment to authorial intent. He was involved with the Evangelical Alliance, a prominent organization representing over a million British Christians across various denominations.

However, in the late 1990s, Clements’ life took a dramatic turn that shocked many in the evangelical community. He publicly came out as homosexual, left his wife and children, and began to advocate for a progressive interpretation of biblical texts regarding homosexuality. This was my first introduction to this very progressive strand of Christianity, and it was both surprising and disturbing (source).

The Progressive Argument

Matthew Vines, in his book “God and the Gay Christian,” emphasizes that the primary sin of Sodom was their arrogance, gluttony, and neglect of the poor and needy, rather than the attempted sexual assault on the angels. This view, which traces its roots back to scholars like Roy Clements, suggests that the traditional understanding of Sodom’s sin as homosexuality is incorrect and that the real issue was their social injustices and lack of hospitality (sourcesource, source).

Other notable voices in the progressive interpretation include John Boswell and Shannon Craigo-Snell, who also argue that the sin of Sodom was more about social injustice and inhospitality rather than sexual immorality. Boswell, for example, suggests that the demand to “know” Lot’s guests was about interrogation rather than sexual intent, while Craigo-Snell highlights how interpretations focused on sexual sin are relatively recent and shaped by later social attitudes (source).

Ezekiel 16: A Fuller Context

However, this interpretation overlooks the full context of Ezekiel 16. The chapter begins with, “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations'” (Ezekiel 16:1-2). God then describes Jerusalem’s sins through the metaphor of an unfaithful wife. In verse 44, it becomes clear: “Everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you: ‘Like mother, like daughter.'” This sets the stage for a profound comparison with Sodom.

The Sins of Sodom

Ezekiel 16:49-50 states, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” This shows a clear progression from arrogance, overindulgence, and neglect to committing “detestable things.”

This passage illustrates how Sodom’s initial sins of arrogance, overindulgence, and neglect of the needy led to a deeper moral laxity and self-indulgence. They became narcissistic, focusing only on themselves, which set the stage for their eventual downfall. The text highlights how these basic moral failures lead to greater depravity: “They were haughty and did detestable things before me.” The detestable practices mentioned here, left unnamed due to their severity, are understood to include the acts described in Genesis 19.

Understanding the Consequences

By emphasizing the transition in the text, we see how basic self-concern and neglect of others can lead to greater immorality. This progression is not unlike Romans chapter 1, where failing to honor God and give thanks led to a series of escalating detestable acts. God, in the illustration, assumes we understand the gravity of these detestable practices, which were so morally corrupt that they are left unnamed in the passage. These practices, historically detailed in Genesis 19, included severe acts of immorality and sexual perversion. Your and my detestable act may not be homosexuality, but rest assured, allowing self-indulgence to grow unchecked will manifest in some detestable behavior particular to our sin nature.

The Importance of Focusing on Others

This comparison urges us to understand the dire consequences of allowing self-concern to grow unchecked. It reminds us of the importance of focusing on others continually. When we focus solely on fulfilling our own pleasures, it inevitably leads to detestable practices. The text emphasizes the need to avoid the path of narcissism and instead cultivate humility, compassion, and communal responsibility.


Reflecting on the lives and arguments of figures like Roy Clements and Matthew Vines helps us to understand the ongoing debate within Christian theology regarding the interpretation of scripture. While modern reinterpretations can provide fresh insights, it is crucial to examine the full context of biblical passages to grasp their deeper meanings. Ezekiel 16 serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of moral laxity and self-indulgence, urging us to maintain a focus on communal responsibility and compassion.

By engaging deeply with these texts and their interpretations, we can better navigate the complexities of theology and maintain a balanced approach that honors both tradition and contemporary understanding.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    2 replies to "The Sad Story of Roy Clements and the Progressive Reinterpretation of Sodom and Gomorrah"

    • Pastor Larry Roy

      Very interesting read! A stark reminder that as humanity continues on its path to “enlightenment,” it will forever strive to reinterpret scripture so as to bask in the glow of cultural relevance. One positive is that the chasm between sin and sanctification continues to widen, making it more and more difficult to confuse which side you are on when faced with God’s truth.

    • Jason McCool

      Good reminder about the inclusion of the “detestable acts” comment in the passage in Ezekiel. I knew regressive people liked to point to Ezekiel for a social justice reinterpretation of the sin of Sodom, but I’d overlooked the rest of the passage reiterating the end result that culminated in their punishment was their eventual perversions, or detestable acts. And a good reminder of the slippery slope we can all find ourselves on when once we allow sin a foothold in any area of our lives. Thank you!

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