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, :-)

Friday, January 2, 2015

“Samuel Marsden” Speaks 200 Years On


Disclaimer: This talk was prepared for a Christmas Day service for the combined churches of Blockhouse Bay commemorating 220 years since Samuel Marsden preached for the first time on NZ soil. It is a devotional rather than an academic talk. While this speech did involve a lot of research it also involved a lot of imagination. This is very much my biased interpretation of Samuel Marsden and not intended to be taken as a historically rigorous account. I would encourage others to do their own research and find out more about such a fascinating character and time in NZ history.



Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Tena koto, tena koto, tena koto katoa

My name is Samuel Marsden and 200 years ago I had the singular privilege of being the first person to preach the gospel on NZ soil. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep a copy of that sermon, although I do know that I preached on Luke 2:10, the words of the angels to the shepherds at the birth of Christ.

Today, I expect you have some questions for me, I’ll do my best to answer them.