02 August 2014

Lot's Daughters: Desperate

Genesis 19:30-38

Behind me destruction,
before me fear.
What choice do I have?
I'm desperate.

Today looks bleak,
tomorrow darker still -
the days stretch out to hopelessness
and I see myself
defenceless, alone,
at the mercy of strangers,
far away from a home
that no longer exists.
Childless, helpless,
no one to provide,
destitute and lost -
so desperate.

If this is my outlook
what choice do I have,
but to do the unthinkable
though it be unforgivable?
I'll quell my qualms
and kill my conscience -
for what is good
and what is evil
and what can be called sin
in this state of desperation,
this one-way street,
where the only way out
seems giving in?

_______________________________________________________________

[19. January 2013]

This is one of the stories they censor from children's Bibles. But I think I first heard it when I was 10 or younger...

Remember Lot? God helped him escape from Sodom and Gomorrah with his family when it was destroyed. What happened afterwards is less well-known. Lot and his daughters lived in a cave - his daughters were afraid that they would not find a husband and not be able to have children - subsequently they made their father drunk and slept with him.

Pretty extreme...

I was wondering how I'd write this one.
There is actually one interpretation of the text that says the text is "covering up" what "really happened", and says it was Lot who raped his daughters but the opposite was recorded. I don't agree with picking apart a text like that, though, and I'd rather not simplify a difficult story. Men are not always to blame, it does happen that women abuse men...

But I'm not interested in passing blame either. I think to understand this story we need to understand that in the culture Lot's daughters were in, having children was deemed very important. In many cultures not long ago (or even today still...) a woman was not really a full woman unless she had children. Plus, protection and provision from a man was important. It's only quite recently that women could start living independently and fend for themselves without drawbacks and stigma.

Lot's daughters were under the pressure of that system, they had just gone through the traumatic experience of losing everything (including their fianc├ęs who refused to escape with them), and they were facing an uncertain future. Their father was afraid of going anywhere near a town, so they felt themselves at a point where they needed to go to desperate measures.

I guess sometimes we can get so desperate and afraid that we no longer care about whether something is right or wrong. We go to desperate measures instead of being patient and trusting. Well, being patient and trusting and waiting for God to help can be very hard!! But maybe that's what Lot's daughters should have done... It's interesting how this comes right after the saving of Lot from Sodom, which was destroyed because of its sin. Lot was saved because he was a righteous man... and yet no one is sinless. Sin still goes on, as long as we try to save ourselves and don't remember it is God alone who can save us, even in the most desperate circumstances.

But it's also important not to judge too quickly people who do rash and wrong things in a desperate situation. They may do wrong things because they think there's no other solution - they might find it wrong themselves, and struggle with themselves afterwards. So harsh words won't help in such a case... rather, being loving to them and gently showing them that although what they did was wrong (and they might come up with that by themselves, one doesn't have to poke it in their face...), there is forgiveness and grace. These are hurt and damaged people who need healing instead of another bashing on an already bashed conscience...

Picture: Bonifacio de Pitati (and I like how it has the burning Sodom in the background...)

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