An Offensive Story | Part 1

by Elouise

Scandalous. Painful to read and painful to hear. The story is about Lot, his two virgin daughters, two visitors (strangers), an unruly mob of men, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Because Genesis 19 is a bit long, you can read the story here. Notice how much descriptive detail the narrator includes. This is unusual in Hebrew narrative. The narrator is inviting us to pay close attention. There are no wasted words.

* * * * *

Who has ever heard of it?

A city so wicked that all the men–
young and old, every man to the last man–
come together with one perverse will:
The will to violate two strangers spending the night in the city.

Who ever heard of a father
trying to bargain away his unmarried daughters to a mob of unruly men–
Men who lust after their own way.
Who has ever heard of such a thing?

Who ever heard of entire cities
being destroyed by sulfur and fire sent from heaven by God.
Entire cities!  Not just the unruly men of Sodom lusting after their own way,
but the women, young children and infants
who live with these men day after day.

And not just the men, women, young children and infants,
but the animals and plants–
anything and everything that grows on the ground.
All of it gone up in smoke like the smoke of a great furnace.
Who has ever heard of such a thing?

And who ever heard of daughters
plotting to make their father drink wine
so they can become pregnant by their father.
Who has ever heard of such a thing?

*

No wonder we work hard trying to take away at least some of the offense.

Just look at the extreme wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, especially its flagrant sexual immorality.  I’m glad God’s justice is being served!

Why waste time crying for the
men, women, young children, infants,
animals or plant life of Sodom and Gomorrah?
What happened was richly deserved.
We shouldn’t waste our tears.

And why be so hard on Lot?
He was just trying to be hospitable!
He did the best he could under the circumstances.
He chose the lesser of two evils.
It may have been a strange and unusual form of hospitality,
but Lot was clearly trying to be a good host.

Was he?

Two angels arrive at Sodom in the evening, with no place to stay but the public square; Lot offers his house for the night. This sounds like the beginning of hospitality.

Lot prepares a great feast for his visitors. This definitely sounds like hospitality.

But when Lot goes outside his house, shuts the door, and tries to appease the unruly mob of men by offering his two virgin daughters instead of his visitors? This sounds like what it is–a desperate and cowardly act.

In the Bible, hospitality is about the way we treat strangers who are in our midst.

Hospitality is never about offering two visitors, our own daughters or anyone else
to an unruly mob for any reason whatsoever,
whether the mob is inside or outside the house.
Hospitality, like justice, begins at home.

*

By verse 12, Lot has every reason in the world to listen to whatever his two visitors say to him.

  • They’ve opened the door, reached out their hands and rescued Lot by pulling him back into his own house.
  • They’ve shut the door.
  • They’ve blinded the unruly mob of men–all of them, great and small–so that no matter how much they fumble around, not one of them can find the door.

In short, they’ve done what Lot couldn’t or wouldn’t do for himself, for them, or for his two daughters. With their own hands they’ve provided safe shelter for the night. Why would Lot not listen to whatever these visitors have to say next?

To be continued…

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 March 2015