Re: Lot and his daughters

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Thu Jul 04 2002 - 21:15:44 EDT

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    I missed the reference to adultery in Jer. 23:14, and thank you for the
    correction. I think Ezek 16 is debatable as a reference to sexual
    activity--as you know, sexual imagery is commonly used in connection with
    idolotry in the prophets, but see how that could be argued. My take on Jude
    6-7 is based on 2 Peter 2:4-6, which seems to me (assuming that many
    biblical scholars are correct that the author of the latter used the former)
    to be a development of Jude's example. There seems to be a parallel in the
    Petrine passage between the "sons of God" in Gen. 6:1-4 who mated with "the
    daughters of men" on the one hand, and the men of Sodom who attempted to
    sexually violate the angelic visitors in Gen. 19 on the other. The parallel
    seems to be the unnatural congress (achieved or attempted) of divine beings
    with human beings, in the first case leading to flood, in the second to

    I would still argue that the story of Sodom overall presents the
    consequences of the violation of hospitality, in this case against "divine
    beings," the angelic messengers. The experience of the visitors in Sodom
    (19) needs to be read in contrast to their hospitable reception by Lot's
    uncle Abraham by the terebinths of Mamre (18). I agree that the men of Sodom
    were attempting homosexual rape, a heinous form of extreme humiliation of an
    enemy or some person not enjoying the protection of a sacred custom or a
    stronger defender.

    I also agree that passages for forming a position on homosexual acts must be
    sought elsewhere in Scripture, but I would not say, "on homosexuality," for
    I do not think that the Bible addresses homosexuality, if by the term one
    means what the term strictly speaking does mean, "a sexual orientation" and
    not "same sex sexual acts." "Homosexuality" is popularly used to embrace
    both (no pun intended), but on moral issues, I would argue that acts and
    orientation should be distinguished. Thanks for the reference to the book
    by Jones and Yarhouse. It would be interesting to see if they address this

    A historical footnote: the term "sodomy" to describe anal intercourse
    between men appears to have been invented by theologian Peter Damian in the
    11th century AD. The concept, so named, becomes a more developed topic in
    moral theology with St. Thomas and other 13th cent. writers. According to
    historian Mark D. Jordan (_The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology_),
    the term does not exist (though, obviously, the act does) before this

    Bob Schneider

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "bivalve" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Thursday, July 04, 2002 4:44 PM
    Subject: Re: Lot and his daughters

    > >I think that the popular notion that the story of Sodom constitutes
    > >a condemnation of homosexuality is mistaken; rather, the story is a
    > >condemnation of the violation of the sacred law of hospitality. It
    > >is interesting that none of the 18 references to Sodom in the OT
    > >outside this story refer or allude to sexual sins...<
    > Most of the references to Sodom do not make any more explicit
    > reference to sins against hospitality than to sexual sins. Rather,
    > Sodom is used most frequently as exemplifying thorough depravity.
    > However, Jeremiah 23:14 lists adultery among the sins that make Judah
    > like Sodom, and Ezekiel 16 uses sexual imagery in conjunction with a
    > comparison of Judah and Sodom. The latter is focused primarily on
    > idolatry as spiritual adultery, but much idolatry, especially the
    > most popular idolatry of that time, also involves physical adultery.
    > In the NT, Jude explicitly declares that sexual sin was a major
    > factor in Sodom's earning of judgement.
    > This does not mean that the anti-hospitality and oppression of the
    > poor in Sodom were not serious sins. Also, the specific sexual sin
    > seen in Genesis 19 is intended homosexual rape. Lot's offer does
    > suggest that they were not exclusively homosexual but rather they
    > were willing to assault anyone. A more general assessment of
    > homosexuality requires other passages. The latest Modern Reformation
    > has a review of Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse, 2000,
    > Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church's Moral
    > Debate. InterVarsity Press, 192 p. Judging by the review, it
    > provides a good example of trying to integrate faith and science on
    > this issue.
    > > Finally, I'm not sure I would agree that Lot is a good man. He
    > >really doesn't come off well in the Genesis stories.<
    > II Peter identifies Lot as righteous, perhaps drawing on the
    > resentful mention by the Sodomites in Genesis 19 of his acting as a
    > judge. His making the entire trip with Abram may reflect faith.
    > However, he is by no means close to perfect, and Genesis generally
    > highlights his failings rather than his merits.
    > Dr. David Campbell
    > Old Seashells
    > University of Alabama
    > Biodiversity & Systematics
    > Dept. Biological Sciences
    > Box 870345
    > Tuscaloosa, AL 35487 USA
    > That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
    > Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at
    > Droitgate Spa
    > ---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
    > From: "Robert Schneider" <>
    > Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2002 22:22:40 -0400
    > >Commenting on
    > >
    > >GE 19:6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him
    > >7 and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing.
    > >8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man.
    > >Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them.
    > >But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the =
    > >protection
    > >of my roof."
    > >
    > >Burgy writes:
    > >
    > > 2. In Genesis 19:6 Lot, who was a "good man," offers up his two =
    > >virgin
    > >daughters to the rabble outside his door to protect his guests. Now I =
    > >admit
    > >that this was a terrible situation, one which all of us sincerely hope =
    > >we
    > >will never approach. My guess is that Lot, in terror, made the offer =
    > >because
    > >he hoped to be able to continue the arguments through closed doors and =
    > >that
    > >he had no intention of a follow through. But whatever Lot's intentions, =
    > >I
    > >think none of us would ever consider such an action to be moral or =
    > >ethical.
    > >
    > >
    > >Bob's comments:
    > >
    > >
    > >Let me offer another explanation, based on my interpetation of Genesis =
    > >19. I think that the popular notion that the story of Sodom constitutes
    > >a condemnation of homosexuality is mistaken; rather, the story is a =
    > >condemnation of the violation of the sacred law of hospitality. It is =
    > >interesting that none of the 18 references to Sodom in the OT outside =
    > >this story refer or allude to sexual sins; and of the 9 in the NT, the =
    > >defining reference for me is Jesus' in Luke 10:10-12 (Matt. 10:14-15): =
    > >Jesus tells his disciples that if they go to a town to preach the good =
    > >news and are not welcomed and received, they are to shake the dust from =
    > >off their feet, and that it will be better for Sodom in the day of =
    > >judgment than for that town. The connection that Jesus is making with =
    > >Sodom is clearly the rejection of God's messengers.
    > >
    > > Rather than making the offer in terror, with no intention to =
    > >following through, I think that Lot is going to extremes to protect his =
    > >guests, to whom he has shown hospitality, from the violation the men of =
    > >Sodom seek to visit upon these strangers: a most heinous =
    > >violation--sexual abuse. He does so by offering his daughters in place =
    > >of the strangers (a curious offer if the men were homosexuals). While =
    > >Lot lived (and the ancient Hebrews as well) in a society where daughters
    > >are perceived to have a different role in the family from ours, such an =
    > >offer must strike any of us as indeed shocking. That none of the early =
    > >Jewish or Christian commentators found it worthy of comment may be =
    > >equally shocking--it is to me. But the point I believe the writer of =
    > >this story is making about Lot's offer is that he is so aghast at this =
    > >violation of hospitality (the "wicked thing" he is referring to) that he
    > >is willing to abandon his own daughters in order to preserve it, =
    > >because, as we know both from the Law of Moses and the customary law of =
    > >other ancient cultures (and some modern Muslim cultures, e.g., =
    > >Afghanistan, today), hospitality was one of the most sacred of customs =
    > >and to be violated at the risk of divine displeasure. If Lot had agreed
    > >to turn over the visitors to the men of Sodom he would have become =
    > >complicit in their crime and subject to divine punishment. The men of =
    > >Sodom should have been aware of this sacred obligation, which makes =
    > >their behavior rather astonishing.
    > >
    > > I say all this not to defend what Lot was willing to do, because
    I'm =
    > >not certain it was defensible even on ancient custom and law, and is =
    > >certainly not defensible by any standard of Christian rightness, but =
    > >rather to try to explain and make sense of Lot's decision. It is a fact
    > >of the story, and it ought to trouble any reader on this list. What are
    > >we to say of Lot's behavior? There is a lot about sexuality in the =
    > >story of Sodom, and all of it is disturbing to us, or ought to be. I =
    > >wonder what the Hebrews who heard this story in its early tellings =
    > >thought of it all?
    > > =20
    > > Finally, I'm not sure I would agree that Lot is a good man. He =
    > >really doesn't come off well in the Genesis stories.
    > >
    > >Bob Schneider
    > >=20
    > >

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