“Before they went to bed, all the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, closed in on the house.” (Genesis 19:4)
So often, emphasis is placed on the next verse to condemn homosexuality, but this is not lust, this is a mob, a violent mob. A pogrom mob. A Kristallnach mob.These are people among whom a wild beast has been released, one that devours, one that has preyed upon many who cried out to the Lord (Gen.18:20-21). And Lot lived among them, lived with such familiarity that he did not want to leave, with such familiarity that his wife looked back with regret (Gen.19:26). He and his daughters were saved for Abraham’s sake (Gen.19:29), but they were so warped by their experience the daughters were unmarriageable (Gen.19:30-31). I find myself thinking of the Parable of the Sower (Matt.13:3-8, Mark 4:3-9, Luke 8:5-8), of the shaping influence of our environments. The Lord attempted to remove Lot from a life in which he was surrounded by evil, but Lot resisted. The angel had to seize his hand to get him to leave Sodom (Gen.19:16), and then he refused to leave the plain (Gen.19:18-19), refused to seek higher ground both physically and morally. He protected the angels, I suspect, because his uncle Abraham had sent a messenger before them, telling of the prophecy that Sara would bear a son (Gen. 18:10) and asking Lot’s protection. He may even have told Lot of his bargain with the Lord (Gen.18:20-32). Whatever motivated Lot, his hospitality was limited; he served only bread (Gen.19:3). And his own callous disregard for human life was seen in his willingness to sacrifice two young girls (Gen. 19:8), probably the daughters of slaves. Yet, we do not take from this story a lesson that can help each of us to live holy lives. We are not cautioned to stay alert, to discern whether our environment shapes us for good or for evil. Instead, we use it to justify violence — at least in our hearts — against those created in God’s image, but whose sexual orientation is different from our own. I can’t help but wonder whether we’re learning the right lesson.