Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
There are many groups these days trying to push one agenda or another down society’s collective throats. Often they will try to justify themselves by using part of an obscure text from the Bible, usually in some odd sort of attempt to create a form of hypocrisy that doesn’t really exist.
Truthfully, this really is nothing new. Believers and non-believers alike have tried to use obscure Biblical texts for decades to justify themselves in one fashion or another. This really is just an ongoing trend, and is most often used when when one side or the other has reached a point in which they have no other way to justify their position. This approach was used to justify slavery, despite the existence of a verse in which slaves were encouraged to gain their freedom (1 Corinthians 7:21,22).
The simple truth is that many simply don’t know what the Bible really says. Sadly, this is why the Christian church, particularly in the United States, is in the sad condition that it is in. Too many have bought into a bandwagon, happy-clappy, feel good “christianity” that is no where close to what the Bible has to say about Christianity. Even worse, such churches ignore, quite wilfully, just about every verse regarding God’s judgment of sin, except when it doesn’t apply to them.
How does this happen? There are a few reasons. To start with, there are many scholars who have made it their life work to muddy the waters in terms of bibilical translation. They will either try to overly simplify what the Bible says, or they will cut out anything that they personally disagree with, in an attempt to “sanitize” the Bible, claiming that God would never say something like that, despite the most reliable, as well as some of the less reliable, of ancient manuscripts having that text. Some groups will even go so far as to completely rewrite the Bible so to justify their social or political position, and remove anything that denies that position.
Why do I write this? Probably because such attacks, which is what they are, are becoming more common. Also, it has become more common, and obvious, that many Christians simply don’t know what the Bible really says. This really came to a head when a homosexual group tried to challenge the fact that many churches still condemn homosexuality as sin (which it is), and yet they don’t condemn Lot for sleeping with his daughters. First, I would like know who wouldn’t condemn Lot. Second, why are you mixing up the message?
Did Lot sleep with his daughters? Let’s get that out in the open, especially as some Christians seem oblivious to this. The simple answer is “Yes”. Why? That is a little more complicated, and it relates very nicely to the incident of Sodom and Gomorrah. However, to really understand, we need to knock Lot off the pedestal that many Christians like to put him on. To do that we need to get back to Genesis, and look at how Lot ended up in Sodom.
In the 13th chapter of Genesis, we read that Abram had become wealthy, so too it seems that his nephew, Lot, also was quite wealthy. The fact is that between the two, they had so much cattle that the land could not support them, and there was constant strife between Abram’s herdsmen, and those of Lot. Sick of the fighting, the two of them made a deal. Abram told Lot to choose. If Lot went into the high country, Abram would go down to the valley of Zoar. If Lot would choose to go to the valley of Zoar, then Abram would go to the high country (the high country would be the right, and the valley the left). Lot saw how fertile the valley was, and chose to it, despite how well know the wickedness of Sodom was. Simple truth, Lot’s choice was based entirely upon greed.
It wouldn’t be long before a war broke out, and Lot would be taken hostage. In short, four kings decided to take on five kings, and won. A lone individual escaped, and ran to tell Abram. Abram armed his best trained servants, and went out to rescue Lot. Unfortunately, Lot would return to Sodom shortly after being rescued.
It wouldn’t be long after that the Lord would visit Abram, and announce that Sarai would have a son. It would be during this episode that the Lord would reveal that he intended to overthrow Sodom and Gomorrah due to their wickedness. Abram would plead with the Lord, and the Lord would agree that if he found ten righteous people, he would not destroy the city. As well all know, such would not be found, neither adult nor child, and Lot would be rescued, along with his daughters, from Sodom by the Lord.
Now then, it is in Genesis 19:30 that we read of the incident regarding Lot and his daughters. One thing to remember when reading this is that Lot had just lost his wife, being turned to a pillar of salt for looking back at the city. Another thing, however, it to notice who initiated the incident, namely his daughters. Yep, Lot’s daughters were not innocent in the least. It was oldest who decided that it would be a good idea to intoxicate their father and lay with him. She was also the one who would be the first to do so, and then her younger sister would do likewise. Yes, both girls would become pregnant, and their sons would be the fathers of two nations, both of which would be mentioned again later in scripture, but it would also be the last we read of Lot.
I can not justify what Lot’s daughters did. However, this tale is quite tragic. Two girls took advantage of their grieving father, so that they might have children. Lot was not a righteous man, as some churches try to make him out to be, nor was he some sort of pervert that thought it was a good idea to sleep with his daughters. If anything, it was his daughters who were the perverts. Had Lot decided to go up into the high country, rather than the valley, perhaps this whole ordeal would have been avoided, but it is too difficult to know. This act on the part of Lot’s daughters was the result of Lot’s own greed, greed made manifest when he chose to live in the valley.
It really makes a difference when you have the full story. Yes, Sodom and Gomorrah were exceedingly wicked cities, which probably contributed to later the actions of Lot’s daughters, however, it seems likely that gang rape homosexuality (which would be quite the lack of hospitality) against God’s angels was the final straw, and not necessarily the only reason that God chose to destroy these cities.
I use Lot’s story to demonstrate just how important it really is to know what the Bible says about an issue, and in proper context. It is just so easy to take a given Bible verse, and run with it, even if what the position the verse is used to justify is not what the verse really means in it’s proper context.
Let me give just one more example, and this is from the New Testament.
Joel Osteen has a devotional calendar. One of the devotional verses is Luke 4:6,7. Which in part, reads “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” It sounds like a great verse, until you go back to verse 5 and realize that Satan is making this offer to Christ Jesus. OOPS!
Unfortunately, so few modern Christians really read and understand their Bibles, despite their constant bickering over the “best” version of the Bible. In fact, many KJV only types don’t really understand it, as can be evidenced in their inability to understand “Romeo and Juliet” or “Othello”. They cling to it because of that is what their church uses, and yet they haven’t really taken the time to examine other versions, or the various arguments, or research that goes into a proper translation. Don’t get me wrong, the KJV is a good translation, just not a great one. I suggest modern readers use the ESV and RSV, which generally have some of the best possible scholarship available, as well as a wealth of source materials, including recent discovers in the caves of Qumran.
The modern church has many problems. The most obvious is that if its people not actually knowing what the Bible really says, nor understanding it in its proper context. If the churches would really teach what the Bible says, and carefully examine the claims of people such as Jack Chick, Joel Osteen, and others, perhaps the church would be better able to answer society’s challenges and critcisms of holy scripture, though that also requires know just what the Bible really says, rather than what we want it to say. May God forgive us for not truly knowing his word.