Lot, a Criminal, is Breaking the Law. Should we Follow Him?

Sodom and Gomorrah #11 (Genesis 19:4)

Lot and the angels finished their feast and are getting ready for bed.  But somehow, despite the guests’ attempt to hide their presence, the people of Sodom find out, and all of them come to siege Lot’s house. For them Lot is a criminal. They want justice.

Genesis 19:4 translation and transliteration. Like an angry mob the people of Sodom surround Lot's house, try to execute vigilant justice and treat him like a criminal

Nothing Now Can Save Sodom

The first point to notice in this verse is that all the people of Sodom came to siege Lot’s house. This clarifies that you could not find the required 9 more righteous people to save the city. Therefore, now all options have been exhausted. The sentence must be carried out.  

Lot is Committing a Crime

The more subtle point in this verse is that Lot is breaking the law.  And while we might consider him a righteous man, and we feel that protecting the angles is the right thing to do, he is breaking the law of his city, the city he should abide by its rules and regulations.

But should he have abided by them?

We admire those who have the power to follow their internal moral code regardless of the external situation. These are the people, in our society, who put themselves at risk to fight corruption and injustice. Most of us want to believe that we, too, would do the right thing when the situation arises, that we too would have protected the angels if we were given the chance. But let’s be honest with ourselves, most of us would not have done so.

Psychological and sociological research shows, over and again, that most people would abide by the law. They do it, not only because it is safer and because they do not want to risk themselves and their families. Most of us have turned abiding by the law into a principle to live by. We pride ourselves for being ‘good citizens’. We believe that we should follow the law because this is what good citizens do, that it is the right thing to do.  We often blame and call to punish others who break the law, those who are not β€˜good citizens’.

But what if the law is immoral? What if the law is unjust? Will we follow it then? 

Lot did not.

You can clearly see in your mind’s eye how the people of Sodom passed the rumour from one person to the next: β€œLot’s breaking the law. Lot’s a criminal and must be punished,” they tell each other, as they gather to go to his house, probably on their way picking up anything that can be used as a weapon, while some feel that the light they are carrying would be enough to torch his house. In their eyes, they are good citizens. They are following the law of their city.

Since Lot’s time we have seen such behaviour over and again. Even today we hear in the news about similar occasions nearly daily.  We might have even encountered it personally. What is our reaction? Do we get angry when we hear that someone is breaking the law, whatever the law might be? Do we call for β€˜justice’? Or are we like Lot, willing to consider morals before law, even at huge peril to ourselves and our family?

People like Lot, make our world a better and safer place for everyone. But are we righteous enough to follow his example?

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5 months ago

[…] is the desert, in which, as we discussed, hospitality is absolute, holy, and sacred. Betraying the angels is betraying the most fundamental […]