By Vexen Crabtree 2012
7And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. 8Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
Lot lived in Sodom, with his wife and two daughters. Genesis 19:1-5 says that one day, three visitors arrived in the city, and Lot kindly put them up for the night but all the people of Sodom, young and old, crowded around Lot's house and wanted sex with the visitors. Lot thought it better to send out his daughters, telling the crowd they were virgins and they could do what they want with them (Genesis 19:7-8). But the men from Sodom were so immoral, they didn't want to rape his daughters - they wanted his male guests! Genesis 18:23-33- had already revealed that there are fewer than 10 righteous men in Sodom, and, therefore, God blinded the crowd and then destroyed the city (Gen. 19:11-13,24-25). Lot went on to live in a cave with his two daughters and they both had children by him (Genesis 19:3-38).
The morals of the story of Lot:
It is important to be hospitable and kind to strangers.
Safeguarding male adult guests is more important than preventing the rape of your own children.
You need not fight against immoral mobs if you can instead give them something they might want (such as your daughters).
Lot, for his bravery in trying to save his male guests by sending his daughters to get raped, was considered favourable by god, and was saved from Sodom's destruction by God's angels (Genesis 19:11-13, 15-17,19). Lot is also described as just and righteous in the New Testament (2 Peter 2:6-8). But everything to do with Lot is highly uncomfortable; his morals and priorities seem irreconcilable with any form of goodness. Any moral person, or father, would have physically fought to safeguard his daughters from mass rape. I'm sure if his guests were moral people, they'd have fought too. Safeguarding male adults at the expense of (virgin) daughters can never be the right thing to do. Lot survives and has sex with both of his own daughters, and they have children by him (Genesis 19:30-38). This horrid and unwholesome man is unfortunately endorsed by God and the Bible.
The entire episode of Lot, Sodom and Gomorrah, as explained in the Bible, is fantastical and very hard to take seriously. Its moral teachings are so absurd and upside-down that it numbs the brain! I cannot fathom how anyone can read this and still consider themselves to share a belief in the same God as Lot and Abraham. But the immorality is not the only confusing aspect; various aspects of this story contradict the rest of the Bible.
There are many places in the Bible where God is said to be all-knowing, but, there is also a surprising number of places where God is not all-knowing. See: "Is Omniscience Possible? Does God Know Everything?" by Vexen Crabtree (2002)
In Genesis 18:20-21 God is said to have heard that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are full of grievous sinners. So he determines to personally go down in order to find out if this is true. Abraham and God argue and tussle over how many righteous people there might be there; it is revealed that there are fewer than ten (Genesis 18:23-33). It cannot be the case that Lot and Abraham were conversing with any actual God as it would clearly have known exactly how much sin there was in Sodom and Gomorrah, and would have known exactly how many people there were worth saving, and Abraham would have known that God knew. That the 'God' described in Genesis apparently doesn't actually know, and leads Abraham along in this extended and pointless discussion, is a big hint that Genesis 18 and 19 is more concerned with fiction and story-telling rather than any element of divine truth.
Lot is saved by God's angels, favoured, and described as just and righteous (Genesis 19:11-13, 15-17,19, 2 Peter 2:6-8). Lot then has sex with both of his own daughters, and they have children by him (19:30-38, with no word of opposition from the Holy Book.
There are many incestuous relationships in the Bible. It is best to concentrate on the stories where there is some moral judgement, positive or negative, of those relationships. Some instances are merely described and not commented on. But some of those occasions include some of the most highly revered figures of the Bible, who are said to be righteous and just, like the person of Lot, who fathered children with his own daughters. Others, such as Abraham and his half-sister, are actively rewarded by God for incest (in their case, rewarded with a child). God made incest necessary by creating just two humans to start off with (Adam and Eve), and later, by killing off all humans except Noah and his family (at which time, animal-kingdom incest was just as necessary). Although Noah's family was already a spiderweb of close family marriages: the five generations of parents that preceded both Noah and his wife Emzara all descend from just three individuals1. Inbreeding causes countless genetic problems in families, which get worse per occurrence and leave detectable dents in the genetic makeup of species. Yet, in our genetic record there are no signs of periods of intense incest in Humans resulting from Adam and Eve, nor are there such signs in animals nor humans resulting from inbreeding after Noah's Ark. After creation, and after the flood, incest was rife and necessary, as part of God's plan. So it can't be bad or immoral, and to condemn incest is the same as saying that God's plan is evil. Even if you take the story of Adam and Eve and Noah as myths, their moral teachings imply that incest is ok. Predictably from such a disparate collection of writings, incest is explicitly condemned in quite a few other places in the Bible.
The familiar story of Lot is told in Qur'an 15:51-84 and repeated in 29:26-35. Some people visit Abraham and tell him they are on the way to deal with some guilty people; they will be killed, except Lot's followers. Except his wife; she will not be saved. They tell Lot to take his followers and drive them away, not letting any of them look back. The rest will be "cut off" in the morning. A crowd approach and want Lot's guests. He offers his daughters to the crowd. But stones rained upon them and they were punished. The guilty people are sometimes called "dwellers of the rock" and lived in houses in mountains. The whole story of Lot in the Qur'an is very difficult to follow, and poorly written.
In the 7th sura (chapter) of the Qur'an Lot is mentioned briefly and the prime concern is pointing out the immorality of homosexuality. Homosexuality in all the tellings of the story in the Qur'an is "the worst sin", "never committed before" (7:80, 29:28)! Lot's people "practise their lusts on men instead of women". Such homosexuality is sinful transgression, and for this, Lot's people are destroyed in Qur'an 7:84. None of Lot's other behaviour is mentioned, because the Qur'an describes Lot as a prophet (Qur'an 26:161), sent to Sodom and Gomorrah, and therefore cannot be sinful. The Qur'an's solution to the atrocious acts committed by them is simply not to mention them!
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