Remember Lot: The Fruits of Compromise in the Sodom Narrative

Joonas Laajanen

The Sodom narrative is found in Genesis 19, with the context being provided at the end of Genesis 18. Usually, Christians’ interest in this text in our cultural context is occupied by the issues of homosexuality. Certainly, this passage is vital to the conversation. Christians are also well aware of the lesson Christ drew from Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt in Luke 17:32. All of this is very important. However, the purpose of this article is neither of the above. Instead, I want us to focus on Lot, the righteous man who was highly spoken of by Peter (2 Pet. 2:7–8). Although a true believer, Lot was compromised in many ways and reaped the consequences for his foolishness. Since many Christians are tempted or even live with the same compromises and in a similar environment to Lot, this is a relevant study.

The article will focus on Lot’s compromises in the areas of marriage, familial duty, and fatherhood. The bizarre ending of Lot’s story will be explained. Finally, gospel hope is offered to Christians who find themselves in shameful situations.

Compromise in Marriage

Throughout salvation history, God made it known that His people should marry only within the faith (Gen. 24:3). The adverse consequences of being unequally yoked were not merely hypothetical but were globally and individually realized in the book of Genesis (Gen. 6:1–7; 26:35). One example of this is Lot and his wife in the Sodom narrative.

Apparently, Lot’s wife was from Sodom since there is no indication of Lot having a wife before his separation from Abraham (Gen. 12:4–5; 13:8–13). The Lord Jesus mentions her as one of those who did not receive everlasting life because she clung to her life here on earth (Luke 17:32–34). It is safe to say that she was a materialist who loved the things of the world that are passing away (1 John 2:15–17). It does not seem like her soul was too tormented by what she heard and saw around her. After all, it was Lot, not his wife, who was a stranger in Sodom (Gen. 19:9).

Lot had married an unbeliever, and it cost him spiritually. In many ways, Lot had become lukewarm. When the angels warned Lot, he was hesitant to leave the city (Gen. 19:16a). Only the sovereign faithfulness of God to the covenant of grace ensured his escape (Gen. 19:16b). How different would his devotion to Christian duties have been if he had married a woman who feared the Lord? How differently would he have raised his daughters or made other decisions?

The single Christian should learn from this account. Do not go against the clear command of only marrying in the Lord. The desire behind this command is not to take away your future; it is to protect you. 

The saint who is unequally yoked should examine himself if he is experiencing a downward spiral in zeal, commitment, and love for the Lord, partly because of the worldly influence of their spouse. If this is the case, it would be wise to speak to elders and ask for wisdom. Being unequally yoked does not mean that you are doomed to fail spiritually; it simply makes growth and faithfulness, in many ways, more difficult.

Compromise in Familial Duty

Another compromise in the Sodom narrative displays how Lot may have been willing to sacrifice his family for the service of others (Gen. 19:8). In the same event, Lot’s actions in this scenario encompass both a notable example and a deplorable failure, as Calvin explains. On one hand, Lot’s desire to protect his guests demonstrated a real willingness to act righteously. He boldly ventured outside, closed the door behind him, and confronted the men of Sodom, condemning their malicious intentions (Gen. 19:6–7). Despite being clearly fearful and distressed, he acted rightly. However, under immense pressure, he uttered something rather scandalous – offering his own daughters to the men of Sodom. Lot’s proposition to the city’s men is quite eyebrow-raising. It’s not impossible that he was merely attempting to confuse them, but regardless, this was wicked. Lot’s duty was to safeguard both his guests and his children, being willing to sacrifice himself to protect them from harm. Thus, in Lot’s actions, we witness both the influence of grace and the lingering presence of sin within him.

May we pray for grace not to compromise the mental and physical well-being of our children by treating them as second in rank to outsiders. May our children know that we do not deem them disposable in the face of danger. We live in a time when parents’ hearts are cold toward their children as we witness the realities of abortion, abandonment, and absence. The righteous Lot is an example of how Christians need the grace of God to love our children as we should (Mal. 4:6).

Compromise in Fatherhood

It is very common that the sin we justify to ourselves is also what we justify and support in others. In the Sodom narrative, it is implied that Lot’s daughters were both engaged to godless jesters (Gen. 19:14). It is, therefore, clear that Lot did not put effort into finding proper spouses for his children, unlike Abraham (Gen. 24:3). What we later learn about Lot’s daughters is that they themselves were not believers either. It seems reasonable that Lot did not fulfill his duties as a shepherd of his family. He did not raise his daughters in the fear and admonition of the Lord. This is also consistent with his neglect of them physically.

As a pastor who works full-time in a secular job, I can sympathize with hardworking men who struggle to lead their families spiritually. Yet, I am not convinced that family worship and personal spiritual discipleship of the children are not doable. Little things can always be done. God’s desire is that you would instruct your children and your household so that they would ‘keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment’ (Gen. 18:19). Who else will do this? We cannot afford the natural consequences of neglecting our children’s spiritual needs.

The Bizarre Fruit of Compromise

Devastated by what had happened, Lot found himself living in a cave with his daughters (Gen. 19:30). Here, he reaped the most shameful fruit of his negligence and compromise. The full effect of living in a godless environment, with a godless mother, and without godly discipline and instruction, is seen in Lot’s daughters. We are not to overlook their actions as a mere desire for survival. There is nothing to justify the reality that the daughters conspired to sexually abuse their father (Gen. 19:31–35).

It is indeed sad how Lot’s written story ends in Genesis 19. Devastated, lonely, raped, and now a father to two nations that became enemies of Israel. These were the final fruits of his many compromises that, in themselves and at the beginning, might not have looked too serious. But they were.

Gospel Hope

Despite all the sin and shame that Lot’s compromises produced, the Lord loved him. He was one of those sheep for whom Christ came to lay down His life. Grace did not remove the natural consequences of his actions in this life, but it did guarantee repentance and trust in God. Like in the case of Noah and Elijah, we are to believe that Lot was awakened to new hope and vigilance. From the analogy of Scripture, we can conclude that this saint did not die in a cave with his sins. 

Perhaps you have reaped the bitter fruits of shame? You are not the first sinner to be in your situation. God inspired Genesis 19, among other things, to remind you of that. Do you trust in Christ? Then you can be sure that He carried your shame. He is preparing a home for you where you are welcomed. You do not deserve His grace and faithfulness, yet your Maker remains your provider and protector. Your name may be covered in shame, but the Lord of Hosts is His name, and that name is filled with honor and glory. This is where to find hope.

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