In chapter 19 of Genesis, we run headlong into situations that are just outrageous to our modern sensibilities of social common sense.
Again, it is important to remind ourselves to interpret things through the lens of the ancient Middle Eastern culture we find ourselves immersed in as we walk through the Torah.
First, in verse one, we find Lot greeting the two angelic messengers with a heavy amount of bowing and scraping.
At first glance, our initial impressions might be that Lot recognized the heavenly origin from which these men preceded and thus was according them the appropriate degree of respect.
This is not the case.
At this point, Lot has no idea where these men are from.
He just thinks they are a couple of outsiders who have no idea of the wicked nature of the town they have just descended on.
In fact, the whole situation smacks of your typical Middle Eastern kabuki dance between host and guest.
When an offer of kindness is extended to a guest, the recipient is obligated to first turn down the offer, and then after a bit of hemming and hawing, finally accept.
As of this writing, I have lived in Japan for close to about 15 years and South Korea for one year before that and I can attest firsthand that such customs do exist and are deeply ingrained among the Asian cultures.
But wait, things get even more confusing.
The two visitors accept Lot’s invitation to stay at his place, a meal is prepared and eaten, and just as they are about to kick back and relax, Lot’s house is surrounded by the thugs of Sodom.
And thus begins, one of the most perverse and confusing dialogues ever to occur in the whole Bible if not all history, the gist of it is as follows:
Men of Sodom: Bring your two guests out so we can have sex with them!
Lot: Please don’t think of doing such a thing. Here I have two virgin daughters. Please feel free to fulfill all of your carnal desires through them!
Men of Sodom: Who does this foreigner think he is telling us what to do? We’re going to harm you more than them.
Perversity on top of perversity.
First, notice that the Scripture says all the men of the town came and surrounded the house, both young and old.
The whole town was given over to perversity.
However, as tragic as that situation was, what are we to make of Lot’s response of offering up his daughters to them?
Okay, I know my answer is going to jolt your senses to the hilt but the simple truth is that the Middle Eastern cultural norms of that time demanded that a man was obligated to protect the guests under his roof, even at the sacrifice of his family or the cost of his life.
As unbelievable as it may sound, Lot’s response would not have been so surprising to the people at that time.
It was all about hospitality.
Actually, I will get into this later but the whole theme of why Sodom was destroyed was due to the “lack of hospitality” of it’s residents and NOT homosexuality as is commonly believed and taught.