Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Calcium Chloride (image in the public domain)
Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
— Genesis 19:24-26
Genesis 19 is one of the most disturbing chapters in the whole of the Old Testament. We have Lot hosting guests (angels in fact, but Lot doesn't know this yet), a mob coming to his door demanding he send them out so they can be raped, Lot offering his virgin daughters1 to the mob instead, and the angels striking the men blind. Then Lot, his wife and daughters flee the city, his wife is struck down2 and Lot ends up in a cave with his daughters, who get him drunk and copulate with him.
It is a complex story, no doubt riddled with metaphor, much perhaps lost when reading this in a very different time and place. What arises for me on considering this story, is the sad truth that any behaviour, however reprehensible can become acceptable, and seem normal. God destroys Sodom as punishment for the inhabitants' sexual depravity, but living in such a place for so long, it seems that Lot's daughters have normalised such behaviour, and see nothing wrong in their manipulative, incestuous exploits—just as Lot himself apparently saw nothing wrong in sending his daughters out to be raped in place of his male guests.
Sexual violence and depravation are borne of selfishness and self-centredness, the inability to care for another. The real sin of Sodom was not a sexual sin, but sin of pride, greed, lust and gluttony—the sin of self. And we have that in excess today in the form of consumerist entitlement and covetousness, to the point where we have normalised it and it has fully become our way of life in the west. Perhaps then, we are not so different to Lot and his daughters after all.
1 We learn later in Gen.19:14 that both daughters are actually married, so Lot's offer of "virgin daughters", already dishonourable, is now seen as dishonest.
2 Or maybe not. In researching this chapter I came across a fascinating alternative interpretation of this incident, indeed of the whole of Genesis 19: Lot's Wife Was Never Salt (And Why That Highlights the Greatness of Abraham) by Rabbi Mark Glass, 04/11/2020. Highly recommended.