Understanding Lot

Someone I know has departed from the Christian faith because of the moral standard of many in the Bible. This person claims that the Bible is full of archaic forms of morals and exemplified by many in the Old Testament. Primarily, this person mentioned the trouble of Lot.

In Genesis 19, the reader learns that welcomes two angels in disguise. He invites them over to demonstrate his hospitality (because hospitality was a common trait in the ancient Near East households). Unfortunately, the townspeople come banging on the door demanding a release of the foreigners so they can have sex with them. Lot is unwilling to give the angels up, but instead, offers his daughters to appease the angry mob.

That’s a very twisted situation. Willingly sacrificing his daughters to protect someone else totally seems out of place by today’s standards. Also, I concede, it makes Lot look like a horrible person. As I spoke to this person, they really couldn’t get past Lot’s horrible example he set by offering his daughter’s. In our brief conversation before being interrupted, I highlighted some key aspects about Lot that help us understand how poor of a follower he was and that his offering only attests to his wicked behavior recorded in Scripture.

So much could be said about this infamous character named Lot. He’s mentioned scarcely and scattered throughout chapters 12-19 of Genesis. From the biblical information we have, when learning that Lot is Abraham’s nephew. Soon into the chapters, we discover the type of nature Lot has, one of greed, indifference, and selfishness. These three traits add further context behind Lot’s actions at Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19.

As we already know from Gen. 12, God establishes the covenant with Abraham to inherit a sacred land and make him a mighty nation. Per God’s command, Abraham, Sarah, Lot, and their household all leave to Caanan. Along the journey, Abraham acquires a great deal of livestock and fortune. So does Lot. The land becomes too small for both of their possessions. In addition, both of their hired hands got into many scuffles. As a result, Abraham provides Lot an opportunity to branch away. He shows him the land of Canaan and asks him to pick which side to dwell in it. Abraham doesn’t really care about which side he has. He’s more concerned about preserving peace among the two groups. However, Lot is more concerned about selfish gains. One of the areas Abraham displays is very fertile and plentiful and Lot takes notice of this. As a result, he chooses the side with abundant resources for himself.

Didn’t Jesus say take the lowest seat so that you may reap a better reward (Lk. 14:10)? Sadly, Lot chose the portion for himself that was appealing to the eyes rather than being humble toward a totally free gift that he wasn’t supposed to have. Isn’t that so much like our human nature? Selfish and only seeking to maximize our own benefits.

As a result of our nearsightedness to temporal gains, sometimes there’s a danger. This would soon plague Lot. When we continue reading Genesis, in chapter 14, we discover that four kings seize control of a large portion of land and Lot is somehow captured while living in Sodom. Thankfully, Abraham comes to rescue him from captivity. This proves the age-old phrase “all that glitters isn’t gold.”

The next time we read about Lot is chapter 19. This is the chapter on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the wicked city that God promised to destroy because their sin was so grievous to Him. What a thought. A city full of sin that God had to obliterate it because the offenses against Him were so horrendous. Lot lived in this city. Perhaps Lot conformed his patterns and ways to the standard of those that surrounded him. Lot certainly knew God through Abraham, so him having spiritual fellowship was certainly there. Perhaps, he allowed his light to dim, making him a lukewarm believer in God. Instead of pointing others toward righteousness or interceding on behalf of the citizens (as Abraham did in Gen. 18: 16-33) he embraced an apathetic view of the salvation of others and focused on his riches and contentment.

Sadly, how many of us today allow our witness to be ruined by bad examples? I’ve always heard the saying, “People may not read the Gospels, but your life will be the one they will read.” How true is that? Jesus says the world will know we’re his by our love, but exactly one mishap can permanently damage or fracture people’s perception of Christ.

Perhaps, there are many who would love to be Catholic, but the priest child abuse scandal is a huge barrier to their belief. Maybe that one experience with an evangelical protester with a sign that says “God hates (fill in whatever sin)” pushes someone away from being a Christian. All of these things can damage our ability to demonstrate Jesus. Yes, our witnesses matters in our world.

Overall, when examining Lot’s actions leading up to offer his daughters, this reveals more about his character. This kind of behavior was perhaps his M.O. If anything is to be learned from Lot, it is, to quote St. Paul, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds (Rom. 12-2).”

Follow me on Twitter @Menny_Thoughts

2 comments

  1. There’s a lot going on here, starting with contrasts between Abraham and Lot. Lot may not be the most outstanding example of poor choices in Scripture, but I think he’s well above – or below – average.

    About wealth and other alternatives, I see being rich or poor as being equally favorable and unfavorable for living well – or not. There’s no great virtue in either, or vice. What matters, I think, is what we do with the hand we’re dealt.

    Your friend’s perception at least shows awareness of what’s in the Bible. That’s a huge step up from the occasional Christian who apparently gets Biblical mandates and personal preferences confused.

    I don’t know how many folks of any faith or un-faith appreciate just how much cultures have changed over the last several millennia.

    Human nature hasn’t, I think, changed since day one: but our lifestyles, customs, economies – a comparatively new word and concept – and laws are not like 11th century Europe’s 1st century Rome’s, or the various snapshots of Mesopotamian/Middle Eastern histories we get in the Old Testament.

    The ‘hospitality’ angle is, I think, important. So, arguably, was Lot’s obligation to protect those he had already sheltered under his roof. The method he tried was ill-conceived, although I’m not sure how much it shows Lot’s flexible ethics and his cluelessness – – – offering his daughters to that particular mob seems almost laughably inappropriate. As well as appalling: but what was he *thinking?*

    That gets me into the status of women in ancient cultures – it was far from uniform – natural law and remembering that living in the time of the Apostles wasn’t exactly like suburban America of the 1950s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You bring a lot to consider about Lot. Definitely the point on human nature. That’s very true. History is very repetitive. Hence, why the past is important.

      The point you make on wealth and poverty is important. Some years ago when I first became a Christian (I’m talking newbie status) I wondered how could those with little still love God. I thought it was a horrible question, but I ultimately found peace in the reply you gave on “what we do with the hand we’re dealt” and also the fact that their faith is so rich and unselfish. Their faith in God is so amazing. They always trust God in the midst of so much catastrophe. Considering where my father is from in West Africa, I see the growth boom in Africa as a visible sign of childlike faith and fidelity to God. It’s amazing.

      Good point on women in antiquity and the role of Lot offering them That’s always something to consider deeper.

      Liked by 1 person

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