A Study of Sloth in the Life of Lot

070115blog In daily Mass this week (the 13th week of the year) we have been reading through Genesis. Tuesday’s reading highlights a significant spiritual problem: sloth, one of the seven deadly sins. Sloth is a sorrow, sadness, or aversion to the good things God offers. Rather than being joyful and zealous to obtain these gifts, the slothful person sees them as too much trouble to obtain and is averse to the changes such gifts might introduce into his life. This is clearly the case with Lot, who resists the attempts of God to rescue him and his family from the sinful city of Sodom, which is about to be destroyed. Let’s examine his struggle in several steps.

I. Roots – Lot’s personal troubles were many, but for our purposes his problems began when he “pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Gen 13:12). Abraham and Lot had grown very rich (almost never a good thing in the spiritual life) and realized that their flocks were so large that one part of the land could not sustain them both. Thus they agreed to live in different sectors. Abraham left the choice of areas to Lot, who (selfishly?) chose the better part for himself. The area where Sodom was is now a deep desert, but at that time the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt (Gen 13:10). And thus it was that Lot took his family and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

II. Risks – But Sodom was a wicked city, filled with false worship, greed, insensitivity to the poor, and the approval and practice of homosexuality. I will not be writing on that in detail in this post, as I have already done so in previous ones.

But here is the risk that Lot takes: he turns his face toward Sodom and willingly exposes his family to the grave moral threats there. And it does indeed affect them. Ultimately, his wife cannot bear to leave, looks back, and is lost. His daughters escape, but later engage in the grave sin of incest. Lot, too, will find it hard to flee Sodom, finding God’s offer to save him to be too much trouble. He’d rather stay, whatever the risk.

If you’re going to swim in muddy water, you’re going to get muddy. And that mud gets in your ears and in your soul. This is what Lot risks and what results when he pitches his tent toward Sodom.

Many of us, too, think little about the risks that television, the internet, music, and culture pose to us and our children. Too easily we risk our eternal salvation and that of our children by pitching our tent toward Sodom through easy commerce with a world that is poisonous to our faith. Even if some things are troublesome, many of us make little effort draw back and limit, even in little ways, the influences that are contrary to our faith.

III. Resource – Lot has only one resource in his favor: Abraham is praying for his ne’er-do-well nephew. He asks God’s destroying angel to spare Lot and his family (Gen 19). God agrees to this and acts to save Lot in spite of himself. Really, it’s the only thing that saves Lot.

It is true that Lot was just, in the sense that he did not approve of the sin around him. But neither did he act to really protect himself or his family from it. Something about Sodom appealed to him. Perhaps he thought he could make money there (or perhaps the trains ran on time). Whatever the benefits, Lot weighed them more heavily than the risks.

And so, too, for many today, who leave the TV on no matter the risk because it entertains or has some other perceived benefit that outweighs the obvious risks. Or those for whom it’s just too much trouble to monitor the websites their children visit or the music they listen to.

It really is only Abraham’s prayers that save Lot, who would live with sinners, from dying along with them. Thus, don’t forget the power of prayer for some of the “ne’er-do-wells” you may know. God may act to save them before the Day of Judgment simply because you prayed for them.

IV. Root Sin – But here comes the heart of the story: sloth. The angel warns, “Flee!” But Lot hesitates. Fleeing is hard work; it means leaving things behind that you like. Perhaps Lot thinks, “Maybe the warnings of destruction are overblown; maybe it won’t really be so bad.” Here is what the story says:

As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “On your way! Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of Sodom.” When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD’s mercy, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city. As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told: “Flee for your life! Don’t look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away!” “Oh, no, my lord!” Lot replied, “You have already thought enough of your servant to do me the great kindness of intervening to save my life. But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me, and so I shall die.  Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. It’s only a small place. Let me flee there–it’s a small place, is it not?– that my life may be saved.” “Well, then,” he replied, “I will also grant you the favor you now ask. I will not overthrow the town you speak of.  Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” That is why the town is called Zoar (Gen 19:15-21).

Wow, this is sloth with a capital “S”! So lazy and settled in with sin has Lot become, that he’d rather accept death than expend the effort to flee. Not only that, he can’t even manage to rouse himself in order to save his family. It’s all just too much trouble. Sloth is sorrow, sadness, or aversion.

Thanks to Abraham’s prayers, the angels literally drag Lot and his family out of the city and repeat the warning: “Flee!” God who made you without you, will not save you without you. So Lot must cooperate. But still, Lot sees it as all just too much trouble. In effect, he says, “Man, those hills look far away. And they’re not nearly as nice as this valley. It’s going to take a lot of effort to get there. Do I really have to go that far?”

And here is another aspect of sloth: compromising with evil despite knowing the danger. Even if it occurs to many that some things in their lives need to change, they try to minimize those changes. The Lord tells us that we cannot serve two masters, that we cannot serve both the world and Him. In other words, we must decisively choose God over the demands of this world whenever there is a conflict. But many, realizing that this may introduce uncomfortable situations or have financial impacts, begin to negotiate with their conscience, saying, “I’m basically serving God … well, at least mostly. Maybe it’s enough if I do a few holy things and serve God for the most part. And then I can still serve the world and enjoy its fruits, too. Maybe I’ll serve God 80% and the world 20%. Hmm … well, maybe that’s a little too ambitious. After all I have a career and I don’t want to risk that promotion. How about if I serve God 60% and the world 40%? Is that enough?”

Thank God for His mercy! (And thank Abraham for his prayers.) We are a real mess. As the text shows, God will take the little he can get from Lot, at least for now, in order to save him. But God shouldn’t have to take this from us. Only grace and mercy can spare us from ourselves.

V. Results – But note this: grace and mercy need to have their effect. We cannot go on in sloth forever. We have to allow God to heal this deep drive of sin in us or we will be destroyed. Lot is saved for now, but great tragedy is still in store for him. His wife will turn back in longing for Sodom and be lost. His daughters cannot get Sodom out of them and will later turn to incest (Gen 19:30ff). And from this incest will be born the ancestors of the enemies who will later afflict Israel: the Moabites and the Ammonites.

And what of us today? What role have we played in pitching our tents toward Sodom? What happens to us and to our children and grandchildren when all we do is express shock at the condition of the world but expend little real effort to protect ourselves from it or actively change it? What happens to us when we learn to live off the fruits of our Sodom, and make easy compromises with the world in terms of greed, insensitivity to the poor, and sexual confusion? What happens when God’s plan to rescue us through the gifts of chaste living, generosity, and more simple living, is rejected as too much trouble or as requiring us to give up too many things that we like? Many think to themselves, “I know my favorite television show has bad scenes, but I like the story line and I want to find out what happens at the end of the season. I know I should be clearer and firmer with my children, but that leads to conflict and I hate conflict, and besides they’ll complain if they can’t have a smart phone. And it’s so much trouble trying to monitor their Internet activity.  And … and … and …”

What happens when we do this, when we slothfully reject God’s offer of a better, less-compromised way? Well, we don’t have look far; we know what happens. We and the people we love get lost, wounded, corrupted, confused, and even die, both physically and spiritually.

The virtues opposed to sloth are zeal and joy. Zeal for God’s truth and the beauty of holiness, and a joyful pursuit of the life God offers us are gifts to be sought. Sloth is very pernicious and has cumulative effects. We haven’t done well, collectively speaking. It’s time to turn more zealously to God, to appreciate the truth of what He has always taught.  It’s time to gratefully, joyfully study His ways, and live them and share them with others.

Here, then, is a study of sloth in the life of Lot, a lesson more necessary and urgent today than ever before.

Interesting too for our times, the one day we should rest, we don’t. Here’s an old song from the Moody Blues that recalls Sunday rest:

51 Replies to “A Study of Sloth in the Life of Lot”

  1. Wow, Msgr., I never thought of Lot as slothful, or in depth about his actions. I thought he was saved because he abhorred the evil of Sodom. I never noticed that he deliberately settled there, and how much that is like how we compromise with worldly things we like but we suspect are not good for us, so we think we can do them “a little.”
    I also never thought of the meaning of why he was reluctant to get out, fast and far, and decisively cut himself off from the town. I had not thought it indicated ambivalence in his love of God. And I always viewed the story of incest by his daughters as a separate incident, not as connected to his own actions.
    Thank you for these valuable insights. I will reread those passages and reflect on them in light of what you said. It is a lesson worth repeating.

    1. Yes, but your memory of Lot is not inaccurate either. The case of Lot is made complex by 2 Peter 2:7 that refers to him as a righteous man that God rescued from Sodom. But when as you see, to actually go and read the texts about Lot, “righteous” may be technically true, (he did not agree with the practices of Sodom) but there are so many other troubles that “righteous” does not capture. The actual Lot seems to have been later lionized at bit. The actual stories about him in Genesis show him to be troublesome nephew to Abram and that he, thought not practicing the abominations of Sodom willingly exposed himself and his family to it and was quite lazy about being told to flee. So his image is cleaned up a lot in 2 Peter.

      Scripture does this elsewhere where for example in Hebrews Jepthe who killed his only daughter is praised, Gideon who rescued Israel but then turned to idolatry, etc.

      I guess I am glad that God has a “bad memory” in that he seems to put our sins behind him and remember them no more in some circumstances!

  2. “Now Lot went up out of Zoar and mlived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters.”

    I wonder why he was afraid to live there. He asked to live there. He annoyed the Almighty into letting him live there. Very strange.

    1. The people in Zoar probably knew him to be from Sodom? I can imagine them to say, “Boy, yur not from around here are ya? Git! Git! Get out!”

  3. Monseñor Pope, thank you for your profound insights in the matters of our faith. I heard great things about you from another great preacher, a Colombian priest, Nelson Medina,who said, among other things, you had the gift of the word in expounding the deep meanings of our faith.

    I’m always eager to read the next post of yours.

    Thanks again, and God bless you always.

    Felipe Castillo.

  4. The one you missed is that Lot’s future sons-in-law were warned to get out of Sodom, they scoffed at the warning and stayed behind to be consumed with the city.

    1. Yes, lots of the Fall of the House of Usher here. (E A. Poe)

  5. Sloth. Well said Monsignor. The examples i see all around me and in me are staggering. I have a family memeber who took her family visiting another city. She was excited to tell us about the ‘Pride Parade’ she attended. She never even considered taking her family to Holy Mass. “Hey we were on vacation!” Is that sloth?

    1. Pride indeed! Pride is a capital sin. Isn’t it interesting the words people use.

  6. Thank you for pointing out that God hears and considers the prayers of a “Righteous man” and according to God’s Will He does something in Mercy to answer those prayers. And there is a time God says “be still” and a time God says “run for the hills!”, it is in our listening and knowing the voice of the Shepherd, that we know His voice and then obey! I am always dismayed when children act badly and the full force of the blame is put on the parents with nothing, nothing being said about the horrible evil sinful corrupt environment that is all around us (everywhere!) in our society (in every town!), in schools (and being taught!), in media, wherever and whenever these children step out the door or what is insidiously brought into the home through computer, music, t.v. and the like. Where is the blame for these things, there is all too many times silence! And so too then these children grow (many times in spite of their parent’s Good direction) in deception to reject God and happily and willingly deceive their own children into some things even worse! Yes, there is an army of the evil one being trained right now in the “boot camp” of the world with all sorts of temptations and evil to reject God and to hate what is Good and we are quickly seeing the results. God help us!! (and God will help us Who has chosen us out of the world!)

    God does not always ask us to physically come out of our town/environment (and in these days one has to ask, where do we go!?) but to continue on as His Ambassadors wherever we are, even unto death:
    John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

  7. An outstanding interpretation! A question for later discussion might be, What did Abraham know that led him to give Lot the first pick?

    Allow me to supplement the list relating to Risks and the Root Sin that I see daily as a psychologist, because i think that sloth is one of the most potent and intractible vices of our time. It shows up everywhere, and it subverts evangelization and spiritual motivation. Ironically, i find it even in clergy who are very generous with their time/energy with the poor and needy, but who have no “taste” for spiritual beauty or spiritual exercises. The distaste for spiritual goods can start in childhood and can become very deep rooted especially if it is joined up with a sexual problem. There are some simple (but not easy) ways to offset the onset of sloth in families.

    Because of the susceptibility of kids to bad influences, I encourage parents to consider making moves (to safer neigbhorhoods) or move schools, and jobs to counter the toxic effects that reside in so many places.

    Of course, electronic media are everywhere. As Msgr observes, all electronic media pose huge spiritual risks; I think that electronic media collectively are an open sewer–spritually and psychologically, where vanity and sexual problems are rampant. Without very careful supervision it is impossible for kids to avoid the toxins that reside therein, be it tv, facebook, youtube, twitter, txt messaging, etc.. However, completely removing these devices might not be effective defenses over the life of the child because once the child moves away from home he doesn’t have a habit of managing their use. I have seen any number of kids who got hooked on internet porn when they were 8, 9, 10 years old–this led to chronic masturbation, sex addiction, and severe frustration. The problem started because of poor vigilance by the parent. Good parenting requires high vigilance, but it also requires some exposure to media with good content, with clear warnings about the risks attached to their use. Some content can be used for instruction on noticing vanity in oneself, and the destructive effects of vanity in others.

    On the problem of the Root Sin: Here are a few thoughts about career and neighborhood and school.

    Career: This is a really tough one for good fathers who are ambitious and have a powerful desire to provide for their family. We grow economic security in green pastures of the big cities. Good jobs usually involve living in or around large cities and lots of time by fathers spent away from the family–this problem is compounded when both parents work. Catholic fathers (and mothers) will now need to chuck the notion of career building as a core focus of their energies. As the society becomes more toxic, everything in their marriage/family must revolve around nurturing spiritual and emotional needs over material needs. This will mean moving to spiritually (and emotionally) safer places for schooling and christian community. This will also involve potentially large financial sacrifices. For example, I knew a wonderful pilot back in the 1970s (when there was money to be made in the big airlines) who gave up the quest for captain, but had the senior position in the “third seat” which netted him a much smaller salary, but give him the opportunity to have the best trip bids in his airline. These short commuter turn-around trips provided him with a lot of time at home supporting his wife raising his several boys. This is also my reasoning for encouraging mothers, especially now, to stay at home with their children. For Catholic parents with children in the home, the main focus of evangelization is with their own children.

    Schooling: There are many fine teachers in the public and parochial schools, who are doing their best to instruct their students in virtue, but their influence is declining. Parents can no longer assume that schools provide authentic spiritual supports for their kids. School quality should be carefully investigated for its spiritual focus–this includes especially scrutinizing even parochial schools. Due diligance is essential. Be especially aware of the attitude and lifestyle of Catholic teachers since it is one of the main ways that teachers influence their students spiritually. Meet with the principal and teachers. Meet the students, and try to meet with some parents, at school social events. Don’t give too much weight in your decision to the marketing blurbs by the school. Get to know the people personally. Pray. Be ready to move to get to a good school.

    Friends: Perhaps the most challenging aspect of parenting today is the problem of friendship, what I call “friend control.” Kids must have good friends, especially in the local community, but in most cities, because of the toxins within the media and within the surrounding families, friend control is the most difficult factor to establish. Many kids are spiritually slothful (imitating their parents) and this sloth is contagious for one’s own kids. As noted above, pick a good school since this will go a long way in providing friend control. If you homeschool, be sure to get the kids into community activities with other like-minded families.

    This is a rather long post, that hopefully someone will find helpful.

    1. These are all good things to help parents but as I am sure you know, parents are now not facing an uphill battle but Mt. Everest against the social toxins poisoning our children (and adults I might add). It was not long ago that all the social norms were to train up a child in the way he should go with solid moral and ethical support from employers for families, from schools and neighborhoods. Parents were raising children in an environment of moral/ethical consensus that was understood and followed by most. This WAS true despite those who argue otherwise and would like to change history. Although not perfect (and I am sure some examples of imperfection can be found!), this was a nurturing society were children were protected and treasured and the innocence of childhood was priceless. Now we have just the opposite and we are seeing it manifested with the corruption and destruction of a society. This is a Spiritual battle waged against us were Satan wants to be the father of our children not in the Love and Care that God gives us, but as an adversary to bite at, to devour, to destroy our children and us. God help us!

      1. There is likely a needed transition underway wherein Catholic who want to raise children are going to have to do so in a home that has no television, limited internet and homeschool their children or join a homeschool co-op. Catholic Schools are an option in some places, but sadly many of them largely imitate the public schools and only screen out the very worst of the government schools. Call it the Catholic Ghetto if you like but whatever it is called, it seems increasingly the only option to raising our children without losing them. Even if we are in the world, its going to have to be more obvious that we are not of the world. I wonder too if the Mormons have some things to teach us. I don’t know what their home life is like and I’m not even sure how they stack up statistically in escaping the grip of this world. But it’s worth a look at how and what they do at the household level.

  8. I think the best evidence against this interpretation of Lot’s character, along with the high praise given to Lot by St. Peter, is the hospitality Lot shows toward the strangers who came to him, strangers he did not know to be angels, hospitality very much comparable to the hospitality that Abraham showed to strangers, who also turned out to be angels:

    Gen. 19:1-3: “1 It was evening when the two angels reached Sodom, and Lot was sitting at the town gate. He rose up when he saw them, and went to meet them, bowing down his face to the earth. 2 Pray, sirs, he said, turn in to my house and spend the night there; wash your feet now, and go on your journey to-morrow. And when they said, No, we will stay here in the open square, 3 he would take no denial, they must needs lodge with him. So they went to his house, and he baked unleavened bread for them, which they ate.”

    It should be noted that Lot prepares the bread for the strangers himself, unlike Abraham, who had Sarah prepare the bread for the strangers. Lot did find the kind of wife for himself that Abraham was able to find. It is true that Lot doesn’t have one of his servants prepare a calf for the strangers as Abraham did. The text gives the impression that Lot had been reduced to poverty in Sodom, having neither a calf to offer the strangers nor a servant to prepare a calf for the strangers.

    It is possible that Lot foreshadowed the widows mite in his giving bread to the strangers. The bread may have been that of his need and not his surplus.

    One can understand a slothful man ordering his servants to prepare bread for strangers, but a man getting up and baking bread himself for strangers just doesn’t look like the actions of a slothful man.

    I agree that Lot wasn’t perfect. That earlier in Genesis he let himself and his family be captured and that Abraham had to rescue him is evidence of that. It is possible that Abraham knew the trouble in store for Lot by turning toward the pleasant looking land and what would that say about Abraham?

    Of the golden calf incident it is written, Exo. 32:25 : “25 Moses saw, too, that the people went all unarmed; Aaron had let them strip, in their shameless debauchery, so that they were defenceless against attack.[1]”

    That Lot doesn’t find a good wife, is turned so easily to the good-looking land, that he let himself and his family be captured, and even that he isn’t able to prevent his daughters from having sexual relations with him indicate that Lot’s moral failings had more to do with concupiscence than sloth, which St Peter hints toward. Maybe he had a foolish sense of daring also.

    It is strange that Lot left the house to speak to his daughter’s suitors, but is terrified to leave at the angels instructions, angels who have already demonstrated their power to him.

    I’m not a 100% certain about what I’ve just written. Just my thoughts.

    What about Lot’s hesitancy to flee? Someone else tell me.

    1. I overstated what the bible says in one place (at least): the bible doesn’t say that Lot was terrified at the angels’ instructions, just the he ‘hung back’.

      1. Yeah I think your interpretation is generally overstated and requires too many speculative references to texts that are not directly related to the story. The plain meaning of this text is that Lot, while not happy with Sodom is also enamored of it and has a hard time leaving it for something better. He’d rather die there frankly than be saved by God.

        1. Monsignor, it saddens me to see St. Lot so well-meaningly misrepresented! 2 St. Peter 2:5 calls St. Noah “the preacher of justice” (Douay-Rheims) before juxtaposing St. Lot with him (7-8), and there seems as much justification in the “actual stories about him in Genesis” to see that description implicitly applying to him in Sodom as there is in those about St. Noah for its application to him.

          A missionary will ‘willingly expose himself and his family’ to the abominations (of various sorts) of those among whom he lives to witness to them. I see no clear textual evidence that this is not as likely the sense of the stories in Genesis as one interpreting his being there as a mark against him.

          Was he “was quite lazy about being told to flee”? He was quite active in doing what the angelic ‘men’ said in 19:12-14. I understand that the Hebrew verbs at the end of verse 13 can be translated ‘has given us the freedom to destroy’. I am no Hebrew scholar and do not know enough about the verb in verse 16, or for that matter exactly which of the sense of ‘dissimulare’ St. Jerome had in mind when he translated “Dissimulante illo”.

          But it does not seem its “plain meaning” requires us to think that St. Lot was being slothful or suffering from being “enamored of” Sodom insofar as he does have “a hard time leaving it for something better”. Does it exclude, for example being downcast, almost paralyzed in sorrow, at the refusals of the men espoused but not yet married to his daughters, or his wondering if he could plead as St. Abram does in 18:16-32?

          “The case of Lot is made complex” in Genesis in wonderful ways. You write, “It really is only Abraham’s prayers that save Lot” with, I assume, 19:29 in mind. Yet, within this delivering “Lot out of the destruction”, the prayers of St. Lot for Zoar save that whole little city without any further reference to the number of righteous inhabitants beyond the four (then still) righteous members of St. Lot’s family (18-23).

          You write with excellent precision, “His daughters escape, but later engage in the grave sin of incest.” St. Lot does not, as verse 33 and 35 make emphatically clear. His failure here was to allow them to make him drunk – twice! (Contrast St. Noah in 9:21, who seem more actively to have made himself drunk – leaving himself exposed (in the judgement of many scholars) to incestuous same-sex abuse by Ham.)

          It is worth asking how the earth was originally populated by the children of Adam and Eve if not by engaging in incest. There are scholars who argue that the daughters of St. Lot wrongly assumed, when the elder said “there is no man left on the earth, to come in unto us after the manner of the whole earth” (31), that not only the cities of the plain but the whole rest of the inhabitants of the earth had been, or soon would be, destroyed, and that it was their duty to repopulate it.

          St. Ruth, from whom Our Lord is descended (Ruth 4:27-22) as one of “the women of Moab” (1:4) may well herself be descended from St. Lot as a consequence.

          1. Why did lot pitch his tent toward Sodom? What do you think this means? Calling him a missionary to Sodom seems fanciful. I generally do think that Lot was a nuisance to Abram and that he selfishly took the best of the Land for himself etc. I think his pitching of his tent toward Sodom is not said with glee or even neutrality. His offering of his daughters to the homosexual rapists is a dark passage. And while it may indicate the severity of his disgust with homosexual acts (a good thing) yet his solution is also a great evil, suggesting they defile his daughters! Are you kidding? So I cannot read anything about Lot that says he is good fellow in the source texts. This makes the attestation in 2 Peter of Lot as righteous puzzling, but no more so than the attestation in Hebrews of Gideon and Jepthe as such. St. Lot? Hmm… Surely God could save Lot like you and me, but portraying him as a saint here is problematic. I am aware that the Orthodox call Solomon a Saint too, never mind his 1000 wives and that his actions led to a divided Israel. I prefer the more Western Tradition of only rarely using the term St. of many of these Patriarchs. The Biblical record of them is honest. I do not say they were not saved or are not saints in heaven now, but they, like us, have some pretty miserable episodes that show they needed saving too.

            By the way, just by analogy, consider the story of Simon Peter an honest reading of the life of Peter, is that he screwed up a lot . He was rash, made bold claims, denied he knew the Lord, fled, and even after the resurrection, he went back to commercial fishing, and later seemed jealous that John wouldn’t have to die like he would Surelyy, Pentecost improved him greatly, but even then while he taught rightly, which as Pope he must, Paul had to rebuke him for not living the teaching well in one instance . None of this is to say that St. Peter is not a great saint, and that the Lord brought him to a great sanctity, whereby he courageously endured even the martyrs death at the end of his life . For the Scriptures present these great heroes and very human terms . With rare exceptions our biblical heroes Are not perfect from their mothers womb. through an often tortured path, God draws them to holiness In presenting their struggle honestly the Bible, and I would add my own presentation, seeks to provide hope for the rest of us . So I mean no disrespect to lot, but neither do I think it respectful to clean up his story What God later did for him, it’s between him and God and so too for for many of our biblical heroes.

          2. “It is worth asking how the earth was originally populated by the children of Adam and Eve if not by engaging in incest.”

            Eve came forth from Adam, because of him, she exists, children came forth from Adam and Eve, because of them, the family exists, because the family exists, the extended family of Aunts, Uncles, Cousins exists, now that you have the relationships developed, you have society and the progression of society. Progressions are not sinful, regressions, recreations of the society which has fully bloomed into the family tree is sinful.

          3. “A missionary will ‘willingly expose himself and his family’ to the abominations (of various sorts) of those among whom he lives to witness to them.”

            According to our Scriptures: Lot chose to pitch his tents towards Sodom to avoid conflict with his uncle and he eventually lived in Sodom among the Sodomites.

            It is in the Qur’an where Lot was sent as a witness to Sodom.


            It is my belief that Lot was a generous, hospitable man with a weakness for wealth. For Sodomites, there was no line between right and wrong. Living in ease among them, he lost his passion to do good (sloth) and but for the love of God would have perished.

        2. As to my interpretation, after I posted it and left for work, I regretted ascribing concupiscence to Lot, as though he gave in to it, as for example, Solomon clearly did with his 1,000 wife/concubines. St. Peter says that Lot was afflicted by the sins that Lot saw, not that he gave into them. Lot, up in heaven, I apologize to you for writing about you like that. In a similar, Monsignor, you, to my mind, are unfair in describing Lot as a ‘ne’er-do-well’. He wasn’t a ne’er-do-well in a material sense because he acquired large herds by honest work, and there is nothing in the bible to say that he was a ne’er-do-well, as, for example, Ishmael was, with his hand against every man. The bible says that there were quarrels between Abraham’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds, but it doesn’t say that there were quarrels between Abraham and Lot.

          There are five aspects to Lot’s interaction with the angels and Lot gets four out of five of them correct: he shows hospitality to the angels, he courageously goes out to find the suitors of his daughters, he doesn’t look back when he flees, as the angels instruct (that he doesn’t look back, to my mind, show that he wasn’t enamored of Sodom as you say he was), and he goes to the little town that he and the angels agree upon, eventually going to the hills, as the angels initially request.

          So, your ascribing sloth to Lot hinges on one small part of his interaction with the angels,–that he hung back. Lot certainly doesn’t show sloth in the other parts of his interaction with the angels and that is reason for not ascribing it to him now. So, you can toss the question back to me: then why did Lot hang back? Maybe, he wanted to ask the angels, “Will you save the city for the sake of one righteous man?”–but, for some reason, he couldn’t bring himself to ask that, as neither could Abraham, when Abraham haggled with God over such matters.

          1. Why did lot pitch his tent toward Sodom? What do you think this means? Also, why do you think that ascribing sloth to Lot based “on one small part of his interaction” means that I ascribe this to his whole life, character or demeanor? At least that seems the implication of your statement. All of us have concupiscence and all of us have a tendency to all the deadly sins, some more than others. But I am not sure sloth was a common problem for Lot or not.

            That said, I generally do think that Lot was a nuisance to Abram and that he selfishly took the best of the Land for himself etc. I think his pitching of his tent toward Sodom is not said with glee or even neutrality. His offering of his daughters is a dark passage. And while it may indicate the severity of his disgust with homosexual acts (a good thing) his solution is also a great evil, suggesting they defile his daughters! Are you kidding? So I cannot read anything about Lot that says he is good fellow in the source texts. This makes the attestation in 2 Peter of Lot as righteous puzzling, but no more so than the attestation in Hebrews of Gideon and Jepthe as such.

  9. This lesson is so great. It has opened the doors to so many situations that I recall showing how one can hide “under the veil.” Ironically the song: Hotel California seems to refer to Sodom and how Lot and his family could not leave the city completely: “. . . relax says the mad man, we are programmed to receive. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

    I thank God for His mercy, and giving us His Son for our salvation.

  10. The comment box appears to shut down replies after a certain point. This is my reply

    You were ascribing something to Lot’s entire life when you described him as ne’er-do-well, whether it was sloth or something else.

    David sinned grievously when he had relations with Bathsheba and arranged the murder of Uriah the Hittite, and he repented of those sins. Solomon sinned grievously with his 1,000 wife/concubines, his child sacrifice, and his other sins, and we don’t know if he repented.

    Those are clear, objective facts.

    “Turning toward Sodom” is not the same as arranging a murder or a thousand other sins. We don’t what it means and my point is that it is an odd game assigning sin to something in the bible that isn’t clearly sin. It is like when Judah decides to have Tamara burned to death when he finds out that she is pregnant, until he then finds out that he, Judah himself, is the father of the child. Objectively, it isn’t a sin to take the best pasture land when someone offers it to you, though this is certainly a cautionary tale about the best-looking pasture land

    You are most correct that Lot sinned grievously by offering his daughter to the Sodomites, calling to mind the outrage at Gibeah hundreds of years later and the woman caught in adultery in the time of Jesus. Having realized his sin, he may have held back in that he saw that he deserved to die as much as the men of Sodom. Offering his daughters is the only clearly wicked deed of Lot of which I am aware and I regret having inferred others.

    That is a good point about Gideon and Jepthe, though what to make of it, entirely, I don’t know.

    1. see my replies elsewhere. I agree with what you say here largely. But please avoid reading too much into expressions. It’s just a flourish. But Lot did screw up a lot The Internet is tone deaf. But my precise is made in another comment which I won’t retype here except to say that almost all the patriarchs had serious problems. Just like you, oh … and me too! 🙂

      1. Monsignor,

        Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful answer above. I write of ‘St. Lot’ thanks first to a chapter in Jean (later, Cardinal) Daniélou’s book, Holy Pagans of the Old Testament (the English translation of which by Felix Faber was published in 1957) in which he refers to his Feast in the Roman Martyrology. He also refers to an article by Sylvester Saller & Bellarmino Bagatti, “The Sanctity and Cult of Lot”, now available online via a link here:


        I do not know if there are many early commentaries on the relevant stories in Genesis. (Daniélou notes references in Wisdom (10:6), 1 Clement (11:1), and St. Irenaeus (4, 31, 1-3), for example). But Flavius Josephus’s book from around AD 93/94, The Antiquities of the Jews [AJ], offers the most detailed early comments I know. I will use the Whiston translation, here:


        He seems to read a change very much for the worse taking place in Sodom and the other cities from the time Lot came there during the 27 or so years from the beginning of Genesis 14 to the beginning of Genesis 18 (AJ I, 8 and 11). Writing of Genesis 14, he says, Abram “was at once afraid for Lot his kinsman, and pitied the Sodomites, his friends and neighbors” (AJ I, 10). He describes Lot as “a very generous and hospitable man, and one that had learned to imitate the goodness of Abraham” (AJ I, 11).

        I agree with you that “His offering of his daughters to the homosexual rapists is a dark passage.” It is interesting to see how Josephus understands it. He seems to see Lot as desperately attempting to make the Sodomites ashamed and shock them into better behavior by saying “if their inclinations could not be governed, he would expose his daughters to their lust, instead of these strangers” (AJ I, 11). Was it a serious offer?

        Aren’t the contrasts between Genesis 19 and Judges 19 important? Interestingly, Josephus sticks to the (Hebrew) Biblical details in treating Lot while his recounting of Judges 19 is quite different from the Hebrew and Vulgate: I do not know the Septuagint version.

        I did look up the first verb in Genesis 19:16, in the Septuagint, however. It is a form of the same verb – ‘tarasso’ – that is found (in other forms) in the last clause of St. John 11:33 (where Our Lord “troubled himself”) and the first clause of 12:27(where Our Lord says, “Now is my soul troubled”). But, here again, I am not enough of a Greek reader to say anything about its range of meaning.

        I heartily agree with your saying “Surely God could save Lot like you and me” and with the fact that we all need that!

        With no disrespect to you as a thoughtful, prayerful reader and welcome teacher, I am not sure that I can read much about Lot that unambiguously says he is not a ‘good fellow’ (as sinners relying on God for their salvation go) in the source texts. I suspect that a lot of well-intended but mistaken assumptions (after the time of St. Peter and perhaps several centuries later) may at some point have ‘dirtied up’ a lot of our readings of his story. I am respectfully – with the care of a decidedly amateur archaeologist dusting off an artefact – trying to see as much as I can of what his story may be saying.

        1. David, you have obviously done a lot more research on this than I have. My thoughts are nothing more and nothing less than my thoughts. I think Lot offered his daughters because he knew, or reasonably guessed, that the men of Sodom who went out that night had no interest in his daughters. Thus it was a way to confuse and make sport of the men of Sodom, while buying time.

          So, it is reasonable to say that Lot was a righteous man. This brings me back to my second claim as to why Lot hung back: he wanted to ask the angels, “Will you save the city for the sake of one righteous man?” This claim is supported by the fact that, as you, David, point out in an earlier comment, God did preserve Zoar for the sake of one righteous man, Lot.

          One of the morals I draw from the story is that righteousness is meant for either community or solitude. That Lot ultimately fled Zoar shows that Abraham was correct in not asking God to preserve Sodom for the sake of one righteous man, as a righteous man, without righteous compatriots, will ultimately flee an evil place, whether it is destined to be destroyed or not.

          1. Thank you for your thoughts, which help me to try to think further – as Monsignor Pope’s post and further comments and the comments of others have also been doing! Your suggestion about confusing and making sport and so buying time by flying in the face of their intentions is not one I had thought of but one which impresses me.

            I have wondered whether, when we learn of his betrothed future sons-in-law in verse 14 after being prompted by the angels in verse 12, we are supposed, when we again hear or read verse 4 with its emphasis on “both young and old, all”, to think he saw his sons-in-law somewhere in the crowd and was implicitly appealing to them (and any others who knew about the betrothal) to object, defend their fiancées, and in that way start to get some of them thinking seriously about the gravity of what was going on.

            (In Judges 19, terribly, while the Benjaminites of Gabaa call for the man (v. 22) they are content to take the woman variously called his wife or concubine and abuse her to death, while the man, unlike Lot, is not only willing to, but actually does, turn her over to them (vv. 25-28), after his host has offered them both his daughter and her (v. 24)!)

            I wonder whether the angels, somewhat like St. Jonah in Nineveh, are in fact coming to give the Sodomites a last chance to repent. And if the presence of St. Lot and his family should be seen in the context of prudential considerations. That is, it would not have been wrong to have sent his family to safety or left sooner himself, yet it was not wrong to stay, doing any good they could, until the crisis came.

            I just searched for Zoar (or ‘Segor’) in the old Catholic Encyclopedia, and found this in Charles Souvay’s “Pentapolis” article: “Segor, the only city that survived the ruin, was known throughout Biblical times (Isaiah 15:5; Jeremiah 48:4) and in the early Christian centuries [Joseph., “Ant.”, I, xi, 4; “Bellum jud.”, IV, viii, 4; Ptolemy, V, xvii, 5; Euseb., “Onomast.”, 231, 261; Madaba Mosaic Map; medieval Arabic geographers (cf. Le Strange, “Palestine under the Moslems”, p. 292); crusaders (Guillaume de Tyr, xxii, 30); Segor, then called Zoora, was an episcopal see at the time of the Council of Chalcedon, 451]; it was situated south-east of the Dead Sea, at a distance of 580 stadia (almost 66 miles) from the north shore of the same, and to all appearances should be looked for near the mouth of the Wady Qerahy.”

            So, St. Lot’s intercessory prayer seems to have had wonderfully lasting effects – though, again, he may have been prudent to leave when he did.

            I’ll hope to make more related comments below in response to sursum cor, soon.

  11. Wow! Reading this article makes me realize I have a lot of “splaining” and repenting to do the next time I go to confession. I am going to print this out and discuss this with my confessor, all of my sloth in not instructing my adult children in the Faith in a systematic way, turning a blind eye to their living with the opposite sex before being “married” in civil courts (one is going through 2nd divorce, another through divorce, one just “married” a year ago.) We never attended the weddings but did the receptions later on because we were told that it was “charitable” not to condemn them but to come and give their support. None of these children have darkened the door of a church for years or decades. Three grandchildren not baptized and not likely to be-we are forbidden to mention God to them in any way. I pray every day for their salvation and have Masses offered. Thank you for this marvelous article.

  12. Excellent article Monsignor. The message revealed makes me realize that no matter how hard we try to live a solid, Christian life, nothing brings home the thought more than being able to pray with conviction, and believe that God really does have mercy makes all the difference in the world. For instance, just think what our Catholic world would be like today if David had not written The Psalms, while his country was in so much turmoil.

    I’ll bet some of out lives wouldn’t be the same today, if it wasn’t for Psalm 34. God Bless, Father. Have a joyous 4th.!

  13. Debbie S,

    I agree! But with Genesis 6-9, for example, the situation was ‘set back’ again, though not as far back as starting with only sisters and brothers. St. Lot’s daughters may have wrongly, rashly, carelessly, have thought the situation was once more (being) ‘set back’ – which does not mean they were not sinfully wrong, in acting on that assumption!

    1. The women both had boys, if they were concern society lives and dies with them, they would of had a few more wine bottles. The situation resolved itself, they acted imprudently and probably paid a societal price.

      1. Yes! – thanks for pointing that out. I wonder if the absence of more detail means they discovered fairly quickly after the births of little Moab and Ammon that there would be women for them to marry when they came of age, that the world’s population had not been, and did not look like soon being, destroyed (to continue assuming that was their misguided worry)?

        The first concordance I checked has various ‘Moab’ references in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers (which I have not yet looked up), but the first ‘Ammon’-related one it lists is in Deuteronomy 2. And those Deuteronomy 2 references are the first ones I have a clear memory of: “And the Lord said to me: Fight not against the Moabites, neither go to battle against them: for I will not give thee any of their land, because I have given Ar to the children of Lot in possession” (verse 9), “And when thou comest nigh the frontiers of the children of Ammon, take heed thou fight not against them, nor once move to battle: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon, because I have given it to the children of Lot for a possession” (19). Sadly, the family respect was not mutual!

        Richard Connell mentions Tamara and Judah above. If we can compare Genesis 38, perhaps the daughters of Lot did not have to pay too heavy a societal price, even if no-one concluded “She is juster than I” in their cases. But there must have been shocks to endure all round when the apparent ‘necessity’ first had to be explained, and then proved unnecessary.

  14. sursum cor,

    I noticed that in the Quran, too! I wonder if it attests to a very long-standing Israelite/Jewish-Christian tradition which (so far as I know) does not survive in writing (but may have still been known in the 600s when the Church of St. Lot seems to have been built)?

    I think it is consistent with 2 St. Peter that St. Lot’s “passion to do good” may have ended up largely consisted in praying for his neighbors (and watching out for strangers to warn and, as far as possible, protect), though I would assume he was also quietly trying to bring his future sons-in-law to right living and right worship.

    1. David,

      Thank you for your response to my post.

      You say:

      “I wonder if it (the Qur’an) attests to a very long-standing Israelite/Jewish-Christian tradition..”

      I find the Qur’an an unreliable resource, so I think not.

      You say:

      “Lot’s “passion to do good” may have ended up largely consisted in praying for his neighbors (and watching out for strangers to warn and, as far as possible, protect), though I would assume he was also quietly trying to bring his future sons-in-law to right living and right worship.”

      I do understand your viewpoint on Lot and his residency in Sodom but I do not agree.

      My view:

      In an inappropriate effort to protect his guests from his Sodomite neighbors, he offers them other vile sexual acts with his virgin daughters.

      Why did he prefer to help strangers while abandoning his chaste daughters to what would be horrific experiences ??

      How could this abandonment of his daughters help bring their future husbands to right living ??

      The Sodomite neighbors threatened to do worse to him. Why did he not offer himself to them in an effort to protect all ??

      An afterthought:

      Did Lot’s willingness to give his daughters to his Sodomite neighbors for their sexual pleasure open the door to the incest in which he was an unwilling partner later ??

      I agree with the Msgr. that the sin of sloth with a capital “S” had entered Lot’s life at this time. Many of us have committed sins so grievous, we feel we can never be saved and (of course) its not so.

      For me, Lot’s life is a testament to God’s infinite love and His willingness to answer Abraham’s faithful prayers.

      Enfield Hymn Sessions – O THE DEEP DEEP LOVE OF JESUS


      1. And thank you for this reply in turn!

        I understand the Qur’an includes things concerning people written of in the Bible which things are not themselves in the Bible but are known from other early sources. So, I wonder if that might be so here, without any other surviving source to compare. Of course, it is a speculative extrapolation since there is no other record to compare. How reliable such other sources are as transmitters of traditions is itself a question in every case.

        By way of comparison, Monsignor Pope in his reading of Genesis generally thinks “that Lot was a nuisance to Abram”. The Genesis Apocryphon (one of the first seven Dead Sea Scrolls found) shows Lot in Egypt dutifully and effectively representing his uncle there (XX, 21-26) in a way not mentioned in chapter 12 of Genesis. I can imagine this transmits a tradition (whether a true one or not), but I can also imagine the author, knowing from 13:1 Lot was with Abram coming back out of Egypt, thought he must have been doing something there, that it must have been something helpful, and then wrote it as if it was history written by Abram himself!

        I have written something above in reply to Richard Connell about why Lot may have spoken as he did with respect to his daughters, which is relevant here.

        I assume he knew he had a strong responsibility for guests under his roof, which may have been the stronger insofar as he realized it was angels who were so threatened.

        “Why did he not offer himself to them in an effort to protect all?” is a good question.

        By way of comparison, in the section of Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews covering the history of Judges 19, the old host “produced his own daughter to them; and told them that it was a smaller breach of the law to satisfy their lust upon her, than to abuse his guests, supposing that he himself should by this means prevent any injury to be done to those guests” (AJ V. 2). One of the major differences from Judges 19 in his account is that the townsmen were after the guest’s wife and “proceeded to take her away by force” rather than that the guest “brought out his concubine to them, and abandoned her to their wickedness” (19:25).

        One could also imagine the daughters volunteering to sacrifice themselves, or, indeed, that they had previously discussed such eventualities within the family (as people today discuss the possibilities of being taken hostage by terrorists). We may perhaps compare discussions as to how willing a (potential) victim Isaac was, and how much Abraham may have explained to him as he prepared him as sacrificial victim.

        Maybe offering himself, was Lot’s next line of action. Indeed, he “went out to them, and shut the door after him”, putting himself in the front line as most immediately exposed to danger. If he was indeed seriously offering them (as host and guest prove to do in Judges 19), he may have thought himself more likely to be able to try to defend his guests and their dignity by force than his wife and daughters would be.

        I think I have seen something like your afterthought suggested by someone else in some form. It could be that they were so duty-minded that they would have accepted either sort of ‘self-sacrifice’ if they were (whether rightly or wrongly) convinced it was appropriate.

        In characterizing sloth, Monsignor Pope speaks of an “aversion to the good things God offers”. Wisdom 10:7 characterizes what happens to Lot’s wife as a result pf her being “an incredulous soul.” Is there a sort of pattern of insufficient trust in God and what He is doing? On the part of Lot’s wife, in Lot’s fear of staying in Zoar, in his daughters’ rashness in concluding they have to start repopulating the earth? (St. Irenaeus, however, says (4, 31, 2), “they are to be held excusable, since they supposed that they only, along with their father, were left for the preservation of the human race”.) Interestingly, Wisdom 10:5 speaks of Abraham being kept “strong against the compassion for his son.” Were Lot and his wife and their daughters all in varying degrees in different circumstances unsettled by a combination of compassion and insufficient faith?

        1. David,

          You are well-read and make a good argument for Lot’s righteousness.

          I, too, believe Lot was a righteous man. It must have tormented him to live where evil was celebrated, where there was no adherence to ideals and children were robbed of their innocence.

          But when the angels came, they told Lot the outcry to the LORD was great against the people of Sodom and they were sent to destroy the entire city. He must gather those close to him and flee. But Lot did not rejoice that his prayers had been heard. And when he was told to hurry, he hesitated to obey them. The angels had to grab Lot and his family members by their hands and lead them out of the city.

          I cannot help but see God’s love and faithfulness come into play to ensure the rescue of Lot from his own poor choices and in answer to his uncle’s prayers for him.

          Its my belief that Lot loved God despite his slothful hesitancy, but God’s love for Lot was the saving love. So, we must agree to disagree, although I truly admire your efforts in argument and did smile to read your last sentence:

          “… all in varying degrees in different circumstances unsettled by a combination of compassion and insufficient faith?”

          If you might only add ‘sin’ into your combination, we could find agreement. Sin can be unsettling, too, although we live in times when its not considered polite to speak its name.

          I’ll end with a last look at Lot’s hesitancy. What makes a righteous man pitch his tent towards a known evil and, although he still knows better, live among the evil-doers? When told the evil city will be destroyed, what attraction makes him hesitate to leave and causes his wife to look back?

          I’ve already mentioned wealth and ease. Those are powerful attractions for anyone. But maybe there is more . .

          “Is there beauty in Sodom? Believe me, that for the immense mass of mankind beauty is found in Sodom. Did you know that secret? The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.”

          – Fyodor Dostoevsky

          And as to the sin of sloth that I feel produced Lot’s hesitancy:

          “By the river’s dark, I wandered on
          I lived my life in Babylon

          And I did forget my holy song
          And I had no strength in Babylon”

          – Leonard Cohen

          The story of Lot’s life is so pertinent to the challenges we, as believers, face in our lives daily. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and listening to mine.

          Au Revoir.

          1. sursum cor,

            I will agree to disagree, and thank you for this response – and Monsignor Pope for such generosity towards long comments!

            I will respond, respecting your stewardship of your time, and not thinking I have ‘the last word’ in terms of ‘content’, if you add no further of your thoughtful and instructive comments.

            “What makes a righteous man pitch his tent towards a known evil”? I suppose anywhere Abram and Lot went, when “Abram went out as the Lord had commanded him, and Lot went with him” (12:4) would be to more or less of a known evil or a predictably idolatrous evil.

            Within that context, I wonder if 13:13 isn’t looking ahead, given “before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha” in verse 10, to the time some 27 years later, and if, despite the faithful presence of Lot and his family, things had not rapidly gotten much worse during that period. (In ch. 14, Abram helps the king and people of Sodom and helps Lot return there: would he have done that, 27 years later? If so, in what terms? And, by way of comparison, as horrible as our world was in 1988, it seems genuinely more horrible in many respects today.)

            What if Lot had chosen the other way in chapter 13? How would Abram have coped with “all the country about the Jordan, which was watered throughout”? I can’t tell if there is an implication that there were better and worse ways to do that, whether it would have been possible to keep a safer distance from the cities of the plain.

            “When told the evil city will be destroyed, what attraction makes him hesitate to leave and causes his wife to look back?” Misguided compassion? Sorrow for the sinners (apparently grosser sinners than yourself) whom you had failed to reach, or even thought you had reached,and who treated the relayed call “Arise: get you out of this place, because the Lord will destroy this city” merely as if “it were in jest” (19:14)? With Lot and his family in mind, Abram prayed for all the inhabitants to be spared, if ten were found righteous.

            I heartily agree – whichever way we think the likeliest to interpret many important details – “The story of Lot’s life is so pertinent to the challenges we, as believers, face in our lives daily.”

            And I am grateful for Monsignor Pope’s handling of sloth (however it related to Lot).

  15. Another understanding of Lot’s holding back, more akin to Monsignor Pope’s understanding, is that Lot was lacking in faith. He didn’t have the faith to heed the angels instructions to flee the city. Lot could thus be seen as spiritually blind and this is manifested physically in that he needed to be led out of the city by hand, as a blind man would need to have been led. Once out of the city, when Lot only wanted to go on to the smaller city corresponds to the man that Jesus caused to see who at first saw people as walking trees and when Lot finally goes on to the hills corresponds to the same man that Jesus healed once he had fully regained his sight.

    One pleasing thing about this understanding is that it corresponds with the great theme of this part of the bible, Abraham, the man of faith. Another, pleasing thing about this understanding is that it doesn’t paint Lot as a saint from the get go, which is how one could read some of my earlier comments.

    This understanding is supported biblically in that whereas Abraham several times builds altars and many times prays, Lot never builds an altar and is never seen praying, which would explain why God doesn’t remember Lot, but God saves Lot when God remembers Abraham.

    1. I did not see this, before I just tried to say something about faith in another way!

      Even if we see “Lot as a saint from the get go” we might recall what Monsignor Pope wrote above about St. Peter by way of comparison: strength of faith, but not unwavering, nor quite lost after wavering.

      To fine-tune your comment a bit: doesn’t God remember Lot in attending to him as a righteous man in Sodom, about which Abram asks? And the angel does say (in some translations) “Behold also in this, I have heard thy prayers”.

      1. Thanks. I take by “Behold also in this, I have heard thy prayers” that is the part where the angels agree to let Lot flee to Zoar. Yes, but Lot is already out of Sodom and he is walking on his own a little bit, i.e. has some faith.

        The bible says, Gen. 19: 29 “So it was that when he overthrew the cities in that plain God remembered Abraham, and rescued Lot from the ruins of his chosen dwelling-place.” As Monsignor Pope pointed in his post, it was because Abraham prayed for Lot that Lot was saved. Lot may not have prayed for himself at all.

        Another biblical fact that supports this understanding of why Lot hung back is that the first way that Abraham (at that time Abram) is asked to demonstrate his faith is that God tells him to get up and go live somewhere else, Gen. 12:1 “Meanwhile, the Lord said to Abram, Leave thy country behind thee, thy kinsfolk, and thy father’s home, and come away into a land I will shew thee.” That is comparable to Lot being told to make haste and flee from Sodom for the hill country. Lot, however, already had a compelling reason to flee Sodom, even without divine instruction, whereas, as far as we know, Abram had good reason to want to stay with his kinsfolk, in that they were his kinsfolk; nonetheless, Lot had to be led by the hand, whereas Abram was able to get up and walk on his own, which shows why Abraham, and not Lot, is the man of faith.

        1. Thanks. There is so much about which we are left, at most, respectfully to conjecture. Thus, after 12:1-3 addressed to Abram, we read, “So Abram went out as the Lord had commanded him, and Lot went with him” (4). Lot was not so specifically called, but he went with him, followed his example, heeded the call himself in some way. Why, exactly? We are not told.

          (Later, we see Abraham’s “elder servant” pray to God and his great-nephew, Laban, address him as “thou blessed of the Lord”, with Laban and Bethuel later answering him, “The word hath proceeded from the Lord, we cannot speak any other thing to thee but his pleasure”(24:12-14, 26-27, 31, 50). Though nothing of the sort is named with respect to Lot, should we think it less likely that “the God of Abraham” is his God, too, to Whom he prays?)

          When the angel tells Lot “bring them out” (19:13), he goes at once and relays the earnest call, explains, and tries: “Arise: get you out of this place, because the Lord will destroy this city” (14). Then, the next morning that mysterious ‘lingering’, and suffering himself to be brought (16). There seems some fluctuation in all this, but, as you say, he is showing faith. And, soon, speaking with abundant gratitude (19). As Wisdom (10:5) puts it, “She [that is, Wisdom] delivered the just man who fled from the wicked that were perishing”.

          1. Yes, I most especially agree with what you say about the conjecture part. As far as I can tell, Lot went with Abraham, but ultimately, Lot was not with Abraham when Abraham received the covenant of circumcision and Lot was not part of the covenant.

            Also, I agree that it is notable that Lot shows concerns for suitors and then himself hangs back.

            St. Paul describes faith as a kind of death and caves were where the dead were buried in those times, which is where Lot ended up.

            To me, the final end of Lot says that one can have faith and end up in a cave, witlessly manipulated by one’s daughters, or that one can have faith and end up knowingly as the father of many, many faithful, as Abraham was. It is comparable to how Jesus says that two will be in a field and one will be taken and one will not be taken.

          2. It is probably worth underlining that “final end” here refers to the last narrative reference in the Bible (as references written later, such as those in Wisdom 19:16, the Gospels, and 2 St. Peter all refer to earlier parts of his history).

            Beyond the Bible are the monasteries and Churches(and a possible Church) which in various ways proclaim that being “in a cave, witlessly manipulated by one’s daughters” is not the end of the life of St. Lot.

            The article by Saller and Bagatti which I linked earlier can be updated by the Wikipedia articles on the Georgian-built and now active Greek Orthodox “Monastery of the Cross” in Jerusalem, on “Khirbet al-Mukhayyat”, on the “Sanctuary of Agios Lot” excavated not so very long ago, about which more can be read at:


            with photos in the Wikimedia Commons “Category:Cave and Monastery of Saint Lot in ‘Deir ‘Ain Abata in Jordan”, and on “Bani Na’im” where the reputed tomb of Lot is: now a mosque but which Saller and Baggatti note “may have been preceded by a Byzantine church in which a cenotaph may possibly have preserved the memory of Lot, not far from the tomb of Abraham at Hebron.”

            For people better at quickly reading old-fashioned German and also Latin than I am, the book full of Patristic and later references and quotations which Saller and Bagatti note, Hermann Zschokke’s Die Biblischen Frauen des Alten Testamentes (1882) with its chapter on “Lot’s Wife and Daughters” (pp. 73-88), is in the Internet Archive:


          3. Yes to “It is probably worth underlining that “final end” here refers to the last narrative reference in the Bible (as references written later, such as those in Wisdom 19:16, the Gospels, and 2 St. Peter all refer to earlier parts of his history).” And now “in a cave, witlessly manipulated by one’s daughters” seems somewhat severe, though I meant it to indicate that the Catholic Church doesn’t preach a health and wealth Gospel, as some Protestants/Evangelicals do. Thank you though links, though I don’t have time to read through them, or I tell myself that. Also, that is a great quote from Wisdom, which you, in modesty must have assumed that the reader knew directly referred to Lot, Wisdom 10:6. I had to look it up.

  16. Many TVs and cable boxes have parental controls. The tv can block a show by it’s rating and require a number password to view the inappropriate show. My cable box blocks episodes with sexual situations, etc. But sometimes things do get through, like if the people who made the show don’t say why it’s rated what it’s rated (e.g. TV14 instead of TV14 DSLV).

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