This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
Good News Translation (GNT)
The Sinfulness of Sodom
19 When the two angels came to Sodom that evening, Lot was sitting at the city gate. As soon as he saw them, he got up and went to meet them. He bowed down before them 2 and said, “Sirs, I am here to serve you. Please come to my house. You can wash your feet and spend the night. In the morning you can get up early and go on your way.”
But they answered, “No, we will spend the night here in the city square.”
3 He kept on urging them, and finally they went with him to his house. Lot ordered his servants to bake some bread and prepare a fine meal for the guests. When it was ready, they ate it.
4 Before the guests went to bed, the men of Sodom surrounded the house. All the men of the city, both young and old, were there. 5 They called out to Lot and asked, “Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them out to us!” The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with them.
6 Lot went outside and closed the door behind him. 7 He said to them, “Friends, I beg you, don’t do such a wicked thing! 8 Look, I have two daughters who are still virgins. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want with them. But don’t do anything to these men; they are guests in my house, and I must protect them.”
9 But they said, “Get out of our way, you foreigner! Who are you to tell us what to do? Out of our way, or we will treat you worse than them.” They pushed Lot back and moved up to break down the door. 10 But the two men inside reached out, pulled Lot back into the house, and shut the door. 11 Then they struck all the men outside with blindness, so that they couldn’t find the door.
Lot Leaves Sodom
12 The two men said to Lot, “If you have anyone else here—sons, daughters, sons-in-law, or any other relatives living in the city—get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The Lord has heard the terrible accusations against these people and has sent us to destroy Sodom.”
14 Then Lot went to the men that his daughters were going to marry, and said, “Hurry up and get out of here; the Lord is going to destroy this place.” But they thought he was joking.
15 At dawn the angels tried to make Lot hurry. “Quick!” they said. “Take your wife and your two daughters and get out, so that you will not lose your lives when the city is destroyed.” 16 Lot hesitated. The Lord, however, had pity on him; so the men took him, his wife, and his two daughters by the hand and led them out of the city. 17 Then one of the angels said, “Run for your lives! Don’t look back and don’t stop in the valley. Run to the hills, so that you won’t be killed.”
18 But Lot answered, “No, please don’t make us do that, sir. 19 You have done me a great favor and saved my life. But the hills are too far away; the disaster will overtake me, and I will die before I get there. 20 Do you see that little town? It is near enough. Let me go over there—you can see it is just a small place—and I will be safe.”
21 He answered, “All right, I agree. I won’t destroy that town. 22 Hurry! Run! I can’t do anything until you get there.”
Because Lot called it small, the town was named Zoar.[a]
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
23 The sun was rising when Lot reached Zoar. 24 Suddenly the Lord rained burning sulfur on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah 25 and destroyed them and the whole valley, along with all the people there and everything that grew on the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.
27 Early the next morning Abraham hurried to the place where he had stood in the presence of the Lord. 28 He looked down at Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole valley and saw smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a huge furnace. 29 But when God destroyed the cities of the valley where Lot was living, he kept Abraham in mind and allowed Lot to escape to safety.
In the previous section Abraham has argued with God over his inended destruction of Sodom that to kill righteous people along with unrighteous would be unjust. God has agreed that if he finds even ten righteous people he’ll spare the city. This story confirms that he has not found ten, but only the family of Lot, whom he decides to spare for “Abraham’s sake”, that is, because Abraham’s argument has aroused his mercy.
His mercy on the innocent, that is, but not on the guilty. The story reveals the crazed brutality of the Sodomites-it’s not just homosexual behaviour, as has often been claimed, but the rape of strangers, which reveals their perversity. It also reveals something less than righteous about Lot who offers his daughters to their lust.
Lot and his family are curiously lackadaisical in response to the imperative of getting out of Sodom. There’s a triviality in their delay and in Lot’s plea to remain near the doomed cities. This is contrasted with the firmness of Abraham who has understood the danger before it happens and who comes anxiously to look after his brother’s welfare after it has happened. Lot’s wife is perhaps an emblem of this strange reluctance to move away from wickedness, even when it threatens her own life. The storyteller gives a subtle picture of the power of a destructive culture to poison the springs of life in those who are touched by it.
The story itself is no justification for the traditional use of the word “sodomy” in the English language; its meaning should have been restricted to homosexual rape. The association of homosexuality with forced sex has no justification in fact (perhaps heterosexuality would be more justly accused of this). Vladimir Putin’s arrogant plea for visiting gays to “leave the kids alone” shows the power of such a prejudice. It lets bullies use it to enhance their own popularity.