Twin Cities of Sin: The Judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah

Continuing a plan to get through the entire Bible in a year, follow as I journal through the reading. I have chosen a straightforward approach that begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. This will not be an in-depth study or a comprehensive commentary. There are plenty of sources for such material. This is stage one Bible reading, taking the text at face value and sharing impressions.

Today’s reading comes from the book of Genesis, chapters 19 through 21, chronicling the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, along with the events surrounding the birth of Issac. Some impressions from the text:

  • The account of Lot hosting angelic visitors whom the men of Sodom came to assault proves highly controversial. Atheist critics such as Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher have cited the story as an example of biblical immorality. What kind of father would offer up his daughters to be raped? This criticism proves dishonest on at least two fronts. First, the account of an action in the Bible is not a divine endorsement of that action. There are all manner of deeds recorded in scripture which were not prescribed or condoned by God. Second, Lot was acting under coercion and in defense of his guests. He was not presenting a moral ideal. He was presenting an option that was, to his mind, the lesser of two evils.
  • The rescue of Lot and his daughters occurred despite their lack of urgency. It’s quite remarkable to consider. The biblical account says they “lingered” in the midst of the angelic warning that Sodom was about to be destroyed. We might imagine them futzing about with odds and ends, fretting over possessions and their own comfort. It’s easy for us, in retrospect, to judge them as foolish. But how are we likewise futzing and fretting, lingering while the world burns around us, and neglecting the work which the Lord has commissioned?
  • The death of Lot’s wife at God’s hand may seem cruel at first glance. After all, she merely “looked back” upon the cities which they had fled. What was the great sin here? Lot’s wife coveted the cities, and the life they had within them, more than she desired to obey or align with God. She was put out by God’s judgment, so he included her in it.
  • The account of Lot’s daughters plying him with wine and then lying with him to conceive heirs has, like the account of the attempted assault on Lot’s angelic guests, been cited by critics as evidence of biblical immorality. Is the Bible here advocating incest? Of course not. Again, the Bible contains many accounts of actions which God does not endorse. It’s worth noting that the Moabites and the Ammonites who descended from these incestuous unions were antagonists to the Israelites and ultimately judged by God.
  • The account of Abraham and Abimelech once again recounts how Abraham and Sarah attempted to deceived their hosts. They again attempted to pass off Sarah as Abraham’s sister, for fear that their hosts might otherwise kill him and seize her. This fear proved unfounded, which they should have realized, not due to the righteousness of Abimelech and his people, but due to the promise of God to make a mighty nation of their offspring.
  • God sides with Sarah in her depute with Abraham over the disposition of Hagar and Ishmael. “Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you…” He says. This demonstrates that the headship of the house does not convey upon a man the role of domestic dictator. Nor does the submission of a wife invalidate her judgment or leave her without a voice. Godly men listen to their wives and take their concerns seriously, noting among other things, that God made women to be helpers.

Return soon as we continue our year-long journey through the text of the Bible.

Catch up on the previous entries:

In the Beginning: The Creation, His Rest, Our Fall – Genesis 1-3

An End of All Flesh: Abel’s Murder, Man’s Corruption, and the Great Flood – Genesis 4-7

Noah’s Flood Led to History’s First Post-Apocalyptic Society – Genesis 8-11

Abram Believed: The Pre-Gospel Gospel – Genesis 12-15

Abraham, the Father of Faith, Also Harbored Doubt – Genesis 16-18