A common accusation from atheists involves questioning God’s character. Specifically, their claim is that “God is evil” or “God’s Word (the Bible) advocates evil.”
Once such example given is an account found in Genesis 19 where Lot receives two strangers into his dwelling:
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.” But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house.
And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.”Genesis 19:1-9
The account makes it clear that these two men are actually angels sent by the Lord to rescue Lot from impending judgment. When the men of Sodom learn these men are in Lot’s house, a mob of homosexual men demand Lot release his guests with the intent to gang rape the two men. In Lot’s attempt to protect his two guests, he decides to offer his two daughters
To this specific historical account, the accusation is: “Why would God command Lot to sacrifice Lot’s daughters?” But the obvious question is: did God command Lot to sacrifice his daughters to the mob? Examine the text above and see if you can find anywhere that God told Lot to sacrifice his daughters.
Of course you won’t find any mention of God causing or commanding Lot to do such a thing.
So why did Lot choose to offer his daughters?
While we can’t say for sure, here are some plausible reasons:
- Lot made an evil choice in the heat of extreme duress and fear.
- Lot’s decision is consistent with his life choices up to this point, willingly sacrificing his family, especially his daughters, by continuing to live in Sodom with its evil influences and practices, even marrying his daughters off to two Sodomites. While Lot was “righteous” in not living like the Sodomites, his conscience grieved by the evil, he was either unwise or even “unrighteous” in staying in Sodom.
- Lot is making a hyperbolic offer knowing the men of Sodom will not choose his daughters because of their desire for homosexual sex.
- Lot is willing to sacrifice his daughters virginity knowing their own wicked nature (as indicated by the daughter’s later actions) having been negatively influenced from their prolonged stay within the gates of Sodom. This is a more palatable version of the “lesser of two evils” argument.
- Lot knew these men were angels of the Lord and would’ve foolishly feared divine retribution if he allowed any harm to come to them (failing to realize these angels don’t need protection).
But in no scenario does the Lord ever approve of Lot’s actions. In fact, if these angels are doing the Lord’s will, He stops the evil Lot is about to commit by commanding the angels to intervene. God cares deeply for women, as well as men. He is no respecter of persons, but a loving God toward His Creation.
Why is this even in the Bible?
Recording the apparent heinous decision of Lot is consistent with the Bible honestly portraying the faults and blemishes — and even at times exceeding evil of many biblical characters, including the “righteous” ones.
- David is recorded as committing adultery and then murdering to cover his sin.
- Judah recklessly sleeps with a prostitute.
- Noah gets drunk and naked.
- Peter denies the Lord three times, and is later recorded as being hypocritical. Paul has to rebuke this church leader in front of everyone.
- Moses refuses at first to speak for God.
- Moses gets angry and impatient with the people.
- Sarah foolishly has Abraham sleep with her handmaiden to try to fulfill God’s promise.
Many more examples can be given, but if the Bible was a marketing piece to favorably paint God’s people, they would’ve never included these accounts. This is fact one reason you can trust the scriptures. God has been honest about the many unfavorable actions of His people’s history.
In fact, the Bible accurately records the good and bad decisions of God’s people to show their sinfulness and the consequences for their choices. And that if God can work through and forgive those “less than perfect” people, there is hope for you and I!
What have others said?
Here’s a quick look at what other Bible scholars and commentators have written on this issue:
Nothing but that sacred light in which the rights of hospitality were regarded among the eastern nations, could either justify or palliate this proposal of Lot. A man who had taken a stranger under his care and protection, was bound to defend him even at the expense of his own life. In this light the rights of hospitality are still regarded in Asiatic countries; and on these high notions only, the influence of which an Asiatic mind alone can properly appreciate, Lot’ s conduct on this occasion can be at all excused: but even then, it was not only the language of anxious solicitude, but of unwarrantable haste. – Adam Clarke
This was unadvisedly and unjustifiably offered. It is true, of two evils we must chose the less, but of two sins we must chose neither, nor ever do evil that good may come of it. – John Wesley
Christianity on Stack Exchange:
Lot’s offer of his daughters was a horrifically wicked action. Any man who does not diligently guard the chastity of his daughter greatly offends a righteous God. A man who would encourage her to be unchaste is worse; but a man who offers not one, but both, of his daughters to not one lone, but a whole town full of men, is a criminal of the first order. Indeed, my own inclination would be to say that Lot’s offer of his daughters is more wicked than the men of Sodom. If we do not emphasis the great monstrosity of what Lot did, we do not uphold the moral character of God. The man was vile!
The text does not explicitly say if Lot knows that the two men he is protecting are actually angels in human disguise. Based on his protective treatment of them, it’s safe to assume Lot does not yet realize he is sheltering creatures who fear no human being. On the other hand, if Lot does think these are holy visitors sent from God, it might help us to comprehend the baffling suggestion he makes in this verse.
After begging the violent, corrupted men of his city not to follow through on their threat to rape his guests, Lot offers them his own virgin daughters to do with as they will, as an alternative. Suddenly, Lot doesn’t seem to be such a righteous man. Even assuming that Lot is speaking in the typical, overstated style of ancient middle-eastern hospitality, this seems to be a ghastly suggestion. Maybe Lot is simply trying to demonstrate how evil the mob’s demands are. Perhaps, if Lot really believes the men he is sheltering are messengers of God, he fears such an act will bring down immediate annihilation from God.
Then again, it must be said that this offer is consistent with Lot’s character. Lot has remained “righteous” in the sense that he is not participating in the wickedness that every other man in his city embraces. He seems to be a kind, generous, and hospitable man. However, Lot hasn’t moved his family away from the wicked influences of Sodom. For whatever reason, wealthy Lot has continued to make the choice, year after year, to raise his family there. In a sense, as the leader of his home, he has been sacrificing his family to the influence of Sodom for quite some time, fully of aware of the depths of depravity all around them. As we’ll see in the following verses, Lot is even preparing to marry his daughters to a couple of the wicked men of the city.
So, while the idea that Lot would offer his daughters seems appalling, Lot has already, in some sense, given his family over to the Sodomite culture. (ref. https://www.bibleref.com/Genesis/19/Genesis-19-8.html)
What can you take away from Lot’s account?
Bible Ask offers this perspective:
Bible askLot made very poor decisions in his life. He chose to live in the city of Sodom instead of a simple life outside the cities for the sole purpose of gaining material prosperity. The few years he lived in Sodom resulted in the loss of his whole family and his possessions. And the wicked and idolatrous Moabites and Ammonites were his only posterity. Whereas Abraham, who chose to dwell outside the wicked cities, was preserved with his entire family and possessions, and more importantly, his legacy. (ref. https://bibleask.org/explain-action-lots-daughters-father/)
We need to heed God’s warning to stay far away from sinful influences and protect our spouses and children from its affects.
Answers in Genesis adds to this:
Although we live in a sinful world that hates God, we are not to be conformed to this world, but by God’s grace we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). Lot, however, had a choice; he could have chosen to live outside the gates of the city, raised his family in a more godly way, and still attempted to have told the people of Sodom about the true and living God. The fact is that he did not do this, and his family was influenced by the wicked culture around them, even as Lot was tormented by it. The point can best be summed up by 1 Corinthians 15:33. “Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits.” (ref. https://answersingenesis.org/bible-characters/a-lot-of-righteousness/)
But couldn’t God have stopped Lot?
If the argument is that God is sovereign and causes all things to happen, the Bible never says such a thing. In fact, the Bible makes it plain that God gives us free will, which would include Lot. This is not to say God is not actively ruling and reigning. But allowing others to exercise free will is His choice and only His choice to make, which supports His sovereignty but gives room for His creation to exercise freedom… even against His will.
But if God is sovereign, couldn’t He have stepped in to stop this from ever happening?
Yes, of course, God could do that at anytime. But doing so at all times would eliminate free will, which would ultimately be unloving by forcing those who don’t want to love Him into a relationship. And yet, God does intervene at times, for the good of those who do trust and love Him. This is one of the many possibilities of why the two angels blinded the mob of men: in His mercy, God ordered the angels to protect the daughters (from harm) and Lot (from his horrendous decision).
But in no way does Lot’s evil decision impugn God’s character. God is good in spite of the evil that exists in the world.