|from The Book of Genesis illustrated by R. Crumb|
Genesis 19 tells the story of Lot residing in the city of Sodom, from which we get the word "sodomy." Lot takes in two men who have arrived in town late in the day, rather than leave them to sleep in the town square. The men of Sodom, however, are not deterred by Lot's having sheltered the strangers under his roof, and they surround the house shouting demands: "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them." That word "know" refers to sexual relations, which is why fundamentalists use this story to prove God hates homosexuality. Determined to protect his guests, Lot says:
"Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof" (Genesis 19:8).How honorable of him, people say, to have tried to prevent homosexual gang rape of his guests. In seminary, I was taught that what Lot was actually championing was not the prevention of homosexual rape itself, but the hospitality he owed these strangers. Here's a footnote from my New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (Oxford Annotated edition) for the verse quoted above:
"Once guests had eaten in his house, Lot felt he had to obey the law of oriental hospitality which guaranteed protection. Thus his proposal to hand over his daughters showed his determination to put first his obligation as a host."So this is an example of a good man, right?
No! What father would do that? His daughters are also "under the shelter of his roof." We aren't told how old they are, but I couldn't do that to my daughters whether 6 or 16 or even 60 years old. Why don't his daughter count? Is this an example of where patriarchy has taken us, to a place where women (any females) are less important than men, even strangers? And don't tell me how righteous Lot was when he himself later fathered sons by both of his daughters. "Thus the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father" (Genesis 19:36-38). The first daughter bore Moab, ancestor of the Moabites, and the other bore Ben-Ammi, ancestor of the Ammonites (Genesis 19:36-38).
What I see here is that hospitality to a couple of men was more important to this father than his two virgin daughters being gang-raped. He was a horrible father, not an honorable man. Yet all some people can see here is that "God hates homosexuality." Why don't we think, instead, that God would hate treating your daughters this way?