Questions From Readers
● Did God condone Lot’s getting drunk and fathering sons by his own daughters?—U.S.A.
The answer to this question must be determined in the light of the background of this incident and in relation to other scriptures.
Lot and his two daughters were the only persons to survive the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. After this destruction they began residing in the city of Zoar. However, for some reason Lot was afraid to continue dwelling there and, with his daughters, took up residence in a cave. (Gen. 19:30) Thereafter the firstborn said to her younger sister: “Our father is old and there is not a man in the land to have relations with us according to the way of the whole earth. Come, let us give our father wine to drink and let us lie down with him and preserve offspring from our father.”—Gen. 19:31, 32.
The fact that they sought to get their father intoxicated suggests that they realized he would never have consented to having sexual relations with them in a sober state. But under the circumstances, they felt that this was the only way to prevent the extinction of Lot’s family. They were aliens in the land and there was no one of their kindred with whom they could enter into marriage and thus preserve the family line. It should also be remembered that Lot’s daughters had resided among the morally debased inhabitants of Sodom. In view of these factors, it would not have been difficult for them to justify their course of action in their own minds. Why, then, does the account appear in the Scriptures?
The narrative is not presented in the Bible to stimulate erotic thoughts. It is there for a purpose, revealing the relationship of the Moabites and Ammonites to the descendants of Abraham who became known as Israelites. Lot being a nephew of Abraham, the Israelites were related to the Moabites and Ammonites, who descended from the two sons that Lot produced by means of his daughters. (Gen. 11:27) Later this fleshly relationship came to govern Israel’s actions in dealing with the Moabites and Ammonites. For example, in their taking over the land east of the Jordan River, the Israelites, under divine orders, were careful not to trespass on the landholdings of the Ammonites and Moabites.—Deut. 2:9, 18, 19, 37.
Is any sincere reader of the Bible left in doubt as to the conclusion that is to be drawn from this account concerning Lot and his daughters? Is he made to feel that such conduct is, perhaps, approved by God?
It is true that in Genesis chapter 19 the historical facts are conveyed without any comment respecting God’s approval or disapproval of Lot’s twice committing incest in an intoxicated state. But in later portions of the Bible record, God’s condemnation of drunkenness is clearly stated again and again. (Prov. 20:1; 23:20, 21, 29-35; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10) Likewise, in his Law to Israel, God later made clear his prohibition of incest, saying: “You people must not come near, any man of you, to any close fleshly relative of his to lay bare nakedness. . . . The nakedness of your father and the nakedness of your mother you must not lay bare.” (Lev. 18:6, 7) The penalty for violating the law on incest was death. (Lev. 18:29) While Lot and his daughters were not under the Law, they were, nevertheless, aware of the impropriety of having relations with their own father, as shown by the fact that they first got him intoxicated.
Why, then, is Lot called a “righteous man,” at 2 Peter 2:8? Not because God approved of his getting drunk, nor because God approved of incest. God did not approve such conduct. But it should be noted that there is nothing in the record to indicate that Lot was a habitual drunkard, nor was he habitually involved in acts of incest. His reputation was that of a “righteous man,” and this reputation he had with God, who examines the heart. Lot deplored the “lawless deeds” of the people of Sodom. And, evidently, for the Examiner of hearts to view him as righteous, Lot must also have grieved over the wrong conduct in which he himself got involved.
The inclusion of the information about Lot and his daughters in the Scriptural record should really help us to appreciate that the Bible is a book of truth. Even when persons who were known as God’s servants became involved in improper acts, the Bible does not conceal this. However, at all times such things are recounted, not to entertain or to stimulate a desire to indulge in immoral conduct, but to provide a background for understanding other events.