Genesis 19

Love conquers all?

Shocking! I mean, sodom has been synonymous with homosexuality however that doesn’t start to express the infamy of this city culture.  Gay pack rape of random strangers is a long way from the culture of your average gay couple.  And clearly the Sodom mob will bonk anything, as Lot has some hope that they might take his daughters, otherwise he wouldn’t have offered them.

Lot has some residual spiritual sensitivity, as he, like abraham, recognises God’s messengers straight away. He and the angels do a little dance around the impending situation, without saying out loud that they both know full well what is brewing; the Angels propose to stay in the square (I mean, why not hey Lot?)… he persuades them to come home and enjoy his “hospitality”, (ie: protection), and after a nice family meal the men of city encircle the house and demand to rape the strangers!

That he offers his vigin daughters is a startling indictment of both him and the city.  What is this place?  (Though its strangely remenicient of Abram in Eygpt, who pretended his wife was his sister so the Pharoah could have her).  The ancient world makes sin city Sydney look like sunday school.

I mean how much does God know the depravity of man?  The image we have of christians wagging their finger when people eat without saying grace doesn’t do his knowledge justice.  He really has known intimately since forever what utter scumbags we can be.  The citizens motives are also xenophobic, its a little nazi or KKK.  His offer of the daughters is not declined exactly.  While they do still insist that the men be bought out, they say they’ll get to Lot and his family in due course and give them worse.

I was sort of touched that the angels used blinding to control the men and get back in the house, don’t know why.  Its the least violent aspect of this vivid story, just practical and minimal to get the situation under control.

As the story unfolds, it reminds you of Abrahams haggle with God.  Are there 6 righteous people in this city?  God is determined to be merciful to them.  The 2 future son in laws think the coming destruction is just a joke.  They are first out.  And Lot’s wife looks back longingly at the riches and luxury of the city (how could she – the place where they were about to throw her daughters to the mob?) and is turned to salt.  She’s out.  Then there are three.

God’s endless emphasis on separateness, circumcision etc. makes sense now.  This is the alternative. How deeply embroiled in the culture of Sodom had Lot become? He was clearly wealthy and comfortable and just moments away from losing any sense of his own spirituality and connection with God.

Lot still can’t face the wild and does a deal with God to go to a village not the cave in the mountains. I imagine Lot is sort of soft and in love with luxury. He really doesn’t trust God will provide, and God actually adapts to his request and a whole town is spared just so Lot can avoid roughing it.

The judgement when it comes is hot coals, a natural disaster.  My feeling about it moderated when I read that. At first like Abraham I was “how could God kill all those people” but somehow then I felt “Oh that. Terrible, but it happens all the time”.  We all have a survivor guilt, as we grow up hearing about earthquakes, tsunamis, not to mention car accidents, wars, etc.  Lives are cut short every day.  We are always appalled… and then life goes on. And we are aware that we too will die.

When we object to God ending peoples lives, what are we actually asking?  That no one should ever die? Well that is a strong urge.  But its not rational in our experience.  That everyone should have a long life?  The same number of years? Why? Is that really a sensible proposal – like Logan’s run, in our utopia, everyone gets precisely 70 years, say.  And no one suffers to die.  Just get to the age and pop, you’re gone, like a chicken. Is the utopia we propose a chicken farm? That’s crazy talk.

Yet still it hurts when babies die. Where am I going with this? Don’t know, I suppose the pain of death is a universal human experience even before ours comes.  Death doesn’t tell us a clear message however.  It doesn’t necessarily tell us to love God, though it could, as he promises death will have no sting if we trust him.  It doesn’t necessarily tell us to hate God, though it could, because it is part of the world he made, and comes at his hand.  Death speak with forked tongue.

Does God have Munchausen’s syndrome: he feels good by creating disasters just to save us from them?  That is at the base of many people’s hatred of God. But he says that is not it.  He says the abilty to hate him and death are the same thing, and that they are what make us the pinnacle of creation, in his image.  That is all too mind blowing to actually think about.

However, I do take from this meandering stream of consciousness that I really don’t believe God’s judgement of death is unfair.  Something can be painful, but fair.  And poignant, ironic, frustrating.  And death can be. But I don’t really think its unfair that some people have short spans and others long.

The shock of this chapter is not over though.  Cue incest.  The girls, now living in a cave, get Lot drunk and conceive with him.

Then it says what nations they founded from this offspring.  There seems to be a halo to the covenant with Abraham.  Abraham will father the chosen nation through his old, barren wife, miraculously, that’s the big promise.  But even slave slash second wife Hagar will also found nations.  And now his brothers grandchildren via incestuos relations with his daughters will found nations.  God really is able to pour blessing into sub-par, messed up situations.  The Psalmists will eventually grizzle about this.

When I read that the children of the daughters founded nations, I start to think: Is this real?  It reads a bit like a fable, “how the rhinocerous got his skin” or something.  One of those origin stories.  And the checklist of depravity and disaster: the threat of gay pack rape (of God’s holy messengers, no less), incest, cities destroyed, people turned to salt. It reads like a sensationalist novel. Game of thrones on fast forward. The story hangs off the real, recognisable stuff. The nastiness, the weakness, is so real. Nothing at all unbelivable about the human behaviour. Knowing we are capable of this stuff, being tempted by it, is part of human existence.

And I believe in the reality of God’s intervention in the affairs of men (and women!). He is love and love really does, eventually, conquer all.  I am reading how it does. Hallelujah!

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