I’ve written about Lot’s righteousness before, in brief, to say Lot and his daughters appear to me to be classic moral relativists. They are in that category of people who are in trouble (though not without hope). Paul tells us that the “damnation is just” for those who say, “Let us do evil that good may come” (KJV Rom. 3.8). Lot does that. His daughters do that. So I think we can agree there is evidence in the text that all three of them are naughty. (That can’t possibly surprise us; we have all fallen short of the glory, no?)
Incidentally, in some commentary on the passage about fleeing S’dom, someone pointed out the ironic twist of the story: Lot offers his virgin daughters for sexual abuse by the mob at his house; instead, Lot himself becomes sexually abused by the very same daughters in a cave. What goes around comes around, as they say, and the apples do not always fall far enough from the tree to save us from feeling the consequences of our own sins. Parents beware.
I’m inspired by Ama’s post “I Have Questions” to say a few more words about Lot. She finds something inconsistent about God not punishing Lot’s daughters when God does a lot of punishing elsewhere and even seems to punish those who don’t deserve it. There are a couple of ways to address that.
First, is it true that Lot’s daughters themselves go unpunished? I am not at all sure. That we don’t read of something fantastic like fire falling from heaven doesn’t mean they didn’t suffer consequences. The personal consequences–whether they were there or were not there–are simply not part of the story.
Second, are we sure that Mo’av and Ammon are not punishment enough? We do know things don’t go well for them. Something goes terribly wrong. Is it a generational curse? Something wired into their DNA from springing from that unholy union? I don’t know. But I do know it is a forbidden union. And I do know that Lot benefited from being Abraham’s nephew in a way that does not transfer to his children.
Not to create my own “What if” channel, but bear with me for a sec. Could the daughters have justified themselves to their children and instilled in their descendants a bitter heart against the God who sent judgment and pushed their mothers to such desperate acts? That’s pure speculation, of course. I’m not saying they did that. It is human nature, though, to pass the blame, even to the point of maligning God. The reasoning would go something like this: “We cannot rebuke the daughters of Lot who intended to save the world when the God of Abraham set out to destroy the world (or so they thought). Surely the daughters of Lot are righteous and the God of Abraham unrighteous” [God forbid!]. What if a spiritual rebellion manifested in physical rebellion? That would be a kind of punishment.
But there is a third way to think about why we don’t see Lot’s daughters punished (if we don’t). There’s a difference between what we’re told and what God approves of. Some of the Bible is descriptive, describing what happens, and some is prescriptive, telling us what to do. Sometimes people think that because events are reported without moral commentary that God approves. I can’t see any reason to make that assumption. What Lot’s daughters do to him is reported. If we want to think about God’s perspective on it, we have to go elsewhere to see what God says about incest and put it together.
At this point, I have to return to the parenthetical comment I made at the beginning, which is that Lot and his daughters are not without hope just because they were naughty. In fact, in 2 Peter 2, Lot and his daughters are examples of how God is able “to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (KJV 2 Peter 2.9). Lot–and his daughters–have a righteousness. They had enough believing faith not to fight the angels and be destroyed. Let’s not forget to grant them that.
Beloved, is it possible that we who believe also sin–even grievously at times? Is it possible that some of us don’t know our right hand from our left when it comes to doing the right thing even though our hearts desperately want to please God? Is it possible that we are like children, always growing in knowledge and faith along with hope and love, but sometimes falling way short?
Back to the “What if” channel for another segment: What if the cave incident propelled Lot and his daughters to extreme repentance? What if that was the final straw? Remember the darkest part of your life, the time you finally humbled yourself enough to accept grace from the Living God? Who’s to say Lot and his daughters didn’t find that moment at some point after the cave? They may have. And in the end, they may have retained the description of “godly” to the end, not because they were perfect but because God’s forgiveness is perfect.
In the end, the gospel is about hope for sinners, Lot and his daughters included. We were all without hope once, but now we have hope in Christ’s faithfulness. Thank God.