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Genesis 19:1-20 tells the famous story of Soddom and Gomorrah. In the story, the men of Sodom come to Lot's house, and demand that Lot release his visitors to be raped by the men of the town. Lot refuses, and instead offers his virgin daughters (verse 8) to appease the crowd.

Nothing else is ever mentioned about Lot offering his daughters to be gang-raped by a crowd of men.

In light of this, why is Lot considered "righteous?" (See 2 Peter 2:7)

Can we draw any other conclusions from Lot's actions here?

I guess I don't really know what question to ask... I'm just kind of dumb-struck by the situation... What in the world?

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+1 I've never heard a good answer for this one! –  dancek Sep 12 '11 at 18:05
    
I'm not a Christianity expert; just browsing through. I saw this question and was reminded of verses in the Qur'an (the book that Muslims believe was revealed to God's last messenger) that talk about the Prophet Lot and his townspeople (more information here). The verses referred to are 15:71 and 11:78. There are more. I believe the interpretation is that he offered his daughters' hands in marriage to them. Could this not apply to the Biblical verses? –  Ansari Sep 12 '11 at 20:12
    
A link wouldn't be a good answer, but in this article you may find what you are looking for. gotquestions.org/Lots-daughters.html –  James Black Sep 12 '11 at 20:15
    
@Flimzy Would you accept that Peter was simply incorrect regarding Lot's righteousness (in that he might have somehow glossed over this important detail of the story and instead focused on his attempt to save the angels)? –  Chelonian Sep 13 '11 at 3:03
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@Chelonian I am not quite willing to accept that (though I'm not @Flimzy). –  swasheck Mar 29 '12 at 20:18

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Building on @warren's response:

Yes, righteousness does not indicate that he was perfect. Additionally, crimes against humans by humans are particularly abhorrent to both humans and God. So why, then, would Lot be considered righteous?

There are also a couple of other factors that may influence our understanding of this:

  1. Context. Peter is addressing a group a Christians who were being persecuted for their beliefs. The author explicitly compares (or contrasts?) the two parties ("Lot" and "the godly") so there is some sort of relationship between the two.
  2. "Righteous." This is one of the most fascinating words on the NT. Without going into too much detail here, "righteous" and its analog "just," stir up quite the controversy. We'd have to look through Peter and read a bit of personal theology into this passage to conclude if Lot was "justified" or "righteous" because of his actions, or because of a declaration made by God. Again, I've done very little research on Peter's use of "righteous"/"just" so I can't definitively say that it is one or the other, but it is certainly a topic to explore.
  3. Why the distinction between "godly" (lit. "pious") people (the author's presumed immediate audience) and "righteous Lot?" I would probably contend that there is nothing more implied here beyond a separation of the two objects since the author goes on to compare or contrast the two.
  4. We can't really eliminate the potential for irony here. The description of Noah immediately prior to Lot may also help us understand this better. The description of Noah is brief ("preacher of righteousness") and Lot's is significantly longer. So either the author is trying to justify Lot as actually righteous, or he's demonstrating God's power through the irony of physically delivering someone with Lot's past.

Anyway, this is longer than I thought it would be. The reality is that there's plenty of study to be done on this particular section and there are a few weighty factors to consider before we can come to a definitive solution. I'm not a fan of citing Matthew Henry, or any of the older commentaries that are freely available online, so I apologize in advance for just coming out and citing something with an answer.

What I would say, though, is that this is a passage that is designed to inspire hope and should be understood through that lens. Whether you accept an ironic interpretation, or one that sees the sovereignty of God's decree (and I do not believe that these are mutually exclusive), or some combination of them, the point of this passage is to say that God can deliver you.

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I also find it interesting that the same segment in Peter's letter names Noah as a righteous man. Yet, in Gen. 9:21, we see that Noah is also far from perfect, getting so drunk he passes out naked in his tent. And if there's any doubt that this behavior is frowned upon, the events that immediately follow make it pretty clear that his drunkenness is not praiseworthy. –  svidgen Dec 21 '12 at 21:53

A natural harmony between Genesis and Peter is found in the harmony between Peter and Paul. Someone who reads the Bible as a disaparate collection of different people's opinions might object that to import Paul is the wrong way to answer the question. But such an approach does not even require a reconciliation between Peter and Genesis. Copies of the Scriptures were not as plentiful as they are now, Peter was an uneducated man, and someone who holds that position has no reason to be puzzled if he practices historical revisionism or drew from a different source about Lot. Thus, to even ask for reconciliation between Peter and Genesis presupposes the reasonableness of harmony between Peter and Paul (i.e. on the basis of the inspiration of Scripture).

Lot's offer of his daughters was a horrifically wicked action. Any man who does not diligently guard the chastity of his daughter greatly offends a righteous God. A man who would encourage her to be unchaste is worse; but a man who offers not one, but both, of his daughters to not one lone, but a whole town full of men, is a criminal of the first order. Indeed, my own inclination would be to say that Lot's offer of his daughters is more wicked than the men of Sodom. If we do not emphasis the great monstrosity of what Lot did, we do not uphold the moral character of God. The man was vile!

How then is Peter able to hold forth Lot as a righteous man? Because he holds to the same doctrine of righteousness as Paul—alien righteousness through faith in the Messiah. Lot was more righteous than the men of Sodom because he believed in God. This faith is evidenced by his distress at the wickedness of the people around him, as mentioned by Peter; but were we to tally up his righteousness, his distress at the wickedness of the Sodomites would certainly have been far outweighed by his own lack of moral fortitude. Distress at the wickedness of others is hardly a thing of positive merit—but it can be a sign of a heart which faith has begun to soften. The only possible way to consider him righteous, then, is to recognize that his wicked deeds were washed away by the blood of the Messiah. This salvation by faith that he experienced resulted in his disgust at the evil around him, even though his faith remained wavering and imperfect.

If Peter's doctrine is to be separated from Paul's, then why not Genesis also? And to man who minimizes the horror of what Lot suggested, what can I say?—may daughters never be born to him! Justification by faith alone is the only viable way to reconcile the two passages.

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Except that when Peter called Lot "righteous", it was after reading the same account from Genesis. –  Flimzy Dec 21 '12 at 6:45
    
@Flimzy But that supports my point. The only way he could read a passage like that and call Lot righteous was if he believed in an alien righteousness. –  Kazark Dec 21 '12 at 14:40

Lot's visitors were "men of God." His daughters were "mere" human beings, and as Muke has suggested, may have been "less unwilling" to be raped than Lot's guests.

Essentially, Lot was faced with a choice of evils. So he offered his (human) daughters to protect God's messengers, consciously choosing the "lesser" evil. (In this regard, his actions may have been similar to that of Abraham "offering" his son Isaac to God on Mount Moriah.) Such actions or intentions, would make Lot (and Abraham) "righteous" in God's eyes.

Of course God wouldn't stand for this, however well intentioned. So he ordered his "messengers" to intervene, just as God himself had intervened on Mount Moriah.

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Outside of being offered by their father in this incident, there are really only two things we know about Lot's daughters:

  • they were betrothed or in some translations actually married to men of Sodom (Gen. 19:14 - the latter option making Lot's claims to their virginity suspect), and
  • after the destruction of Sodom, they get their father drunk and seduce him (Gen. 19:30-38)

They may well have been pure-hearted young women, but the text itself doesn't suggest this. So while the situation might have resulted in gang rape for Lot's unwilling guests, his daughters might well have been enough of the Sodomish mindset where they wanted to join in—and while allowing one's daughters to join an orgy is not the most fatherly of actions, if they were consenting it would at least move it out of the category of offering them up for gang rape.

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I've heard a variety of theories on this topic:

  1. He "knew" (or hoped) the crowd wouldn't accept them (they were asking for men, after all)
  2. Females were considered a sub-class of society, and therefore were his "possession" wherewith to do as he pleased
  3. It was the offer of a desperate man trying to save the guests whom he suspected of being more than just "visitors" (but did not know were messengers of God)

Lastly, the "righteousness of Lot" does not indicate he was perfect, or even the best representation of a God-truster of the day - Abraham was "righteous", and yet on two occasions tried to save his own skin by telling his wife to say she was his sister.

Lot elected to go towards the greener pastures near the cities when Abraham offered him the choice of land on which to graze his flocks - and he continually migrated closer and closer to sin until he was living in Sodom: a phenomenal shift from being with Abraham and away from such obviously-evil influences.

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protected by Caleb Oct 28 '12 at 17:47

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