Thursday, January 29, 2015

The story of Lot

While Genesis 19 with it's gruesome story of Sodom and Gomorrah's destruction is often used as a proof text for God's feelings about gay sex and equally often dismissed from the other side of the same discussion as simply being about bad hospitality I wonder if that has obscured some of the more important clues as to authorial intent (if we believe there might be such a thing). Here are some thoughts I have for your consideration,

1. When Lot and Abraham separate in Gen 13:5-7 Lot is a wealthy and powerful man like Abraham owning flocks, tents and at least employing (if not owning) enough doughty herdsmen to put up a quarrel with Abraham's. So how does he end up living in a town house without any apparent respect or power? Are his herds and herdsmen out in the field, or has he sold up (or been swindled or gambled it away) and exchanged the pastoral life for the urban? The implication seems to be that Sodom has rubbed off on him and weakened him materially, financially and morally (cf. 13:13).

2. Although the story does not give God's opinion of the attempted forced buggery of the visitors, it is clear that Lot feels the gang rape of his two virgin daughters is preferable. (personally this is where I lose all sympathy with Lot if he was that concerned about his visitors he should have offered his own virgin backside) Presumably in Lot's arithmetic of honour and shame the dishonouring of his home's reputation for hospitality (Gen 19:8) is greater than the shame of having your daughters raped by the entire town. Why doesn't Lot feel the "protection of his roof" should also extend to his daughters? It seems fairly obvious that their sexual purity was of a lesser value to Lot.

3. When the visitors/men/angels rescue Lot from his shameful negotiations Lot is described as both hesitating (19:16) and then refusing to go too far (19:18-20). What has happened to the decisive nephew of Abraham who boldly chose the best pasture and set out on his own (13:10-12)? Lot appears not as a man of faith but of hesitation and half measures and the reason given for Lot's rescue from the conflagration is not Lot's faith or righteousness but God's consideration of Abraham (19:29). Thus Lot's dubious moral judgements (see above) should certainly not be taken as exemplary.

4. The punchline of the whole sequence is that Lot, after finally making it to the mountains, is then drugged and raped by his own daughters and out of all the booze, incest and shame pop (ta-da!) the nations of the Moabites and Ammonites (19:30-38). The Hebrew fascination for genealogy especially in relation to the awkward origins of the surrounding tribes is revealed in all it's glory and presents itself as the main reason this story is told which doesn't help our arguments about homosexuality very much.

Let me know what you think, :-)

2 comments:

  1. I wonder about your first point, (a) Lot "sat in the gate" suggesting he was an elder in the town, (b) city dwellers were by and large the elite vs. the rural workers (rich [semi?]nomadic people like Abraham were an exception to this general rule perhaps.

    Hadn't God's opinion (if not of homosexual rape at least of generalised oppression ) already been given in 13:13?

    Apart from these quibbles I think you present the horrid story well.

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  2. Thanks for that insight Tim, i missed that, although clearly being an elder didn't count for much when push came to shove he was an outside who had no right to speak against the townsfolk. Is the incident with the visitors the reason S&G are destroyed, an example of their iniquity, or just another incident of injustice in a long line?

    yes the town is under God's judgement but is it because of the debauched practices or are the debauched practises just evidence of their prior iniquity a la Romans 1?

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