The Sin of Lot’s Wife
Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire, from the LORD out of the heavens. And He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:24-26 MKJV)
We refer to the cities of the Dead Sea Plain as the Pentapolis (“Five Cities”), dominated by the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The former has passed into the English language as a symbol of depraved sexual behavior — “sodomy”. What isn’t obvious to us is how that behavior was actually a religious rite in that area. It was common among the cities of the entire region of Palestine at that time. We find records previous to 2000 BC, up through the Conquest. Occasionally it reared its ugly head as idolatry during the time Ancient Israel occupied the area.
In the mythology of that time and place, a high degree of civilization and urban living was always flavored with hedonism and debauchery. It’s not as if nomads weren’t morally questionable, too, but for those cultures which possessed a high thread of high morality, it was harder to institutionalize sin if there were no institutions. In a city like Sodom, as we see from the narrative, depravity was mandatory. Out in the wilderness, you at least have the freedom to be decent if you wish.
From time immemorial, morality under God’s Laws has always carried that element of volition. Unless you were literally chained to the nasty city life, it was better to starve in the wilderness than surrender to evil. In the case of Lot’s wife, the chains were in her soul. It was all she had ever known. Her marriage to Lot was conditional in her mind. As long as she could stay in her homeland, it was fine. When her marriage demanded she leave the nest, she would rather die. We rightly shame Lot for not doing a better job of separating himself from that atmosphere. His wife had no sense of otherworldliness, no sense that there was something more valuable.
Most people have no trouble making the parallels between the Pentapolis, as the story is told, and the US today. Unfortunately, we are silly enough to make it a mere question of homosexuality. It’s one of the primary sins of our nation and culture to oversimplify things that way. It’s bad enough our culture makes so much of expertise while the undercurrent just an inch below the surface violently opposes actual knowledge and wisdom. The politics of sexual orientation is not even a reliable symptom of cultural decline, but is merely entertainment, a distraction to prevent anyone noticing that powerful rip current is carrying us onto the jagged rocks. Yes, God says consistently throughout the Bible He regards homosexuality as sin, but that applies to just about any sexual behavior outside of a solemn marriage vow. We have a far bigger problem with adultery, for example, than we do with homosexuality.
But it wasn’t really about sex at all with Lot’s wife. The entire Hebrew culture rested on the understanding what we can see and discuss is all mere symbolism and parable for things far more critical. This entire realm of existence is one big lie, and until we make that effort to reach out for the Otherworld, we cannot leave behind the filth of this one. All the sins of this narrative are wrapped up in a refusal to regard the God who had already done so much to reveal Himself and His ways. In a culture so fully loaded with mysticism there was no excuse for not having a way to understand that revelation.
Now, here we stand in a culture devoid of any meaningful mysticism, a shallow caricature at best. We have a gut reaction to despise the intellectual space built into us for considering things outside the five senses and our pitiful excuse for logic. This is what will turn America into a pillar of salt, along with all of Western Civilization itself.
No one is more aware of how silly it appears for me to claim I am a prophet of Jehovah in these times. Of all people, as I write these words, I sense the resistance they will meet. I am fully cognizant of how much it paints me with a clown face and a big target on my chest. I don’t belong to this age by any means, despite having been born here. I’m not content to simply hide out in a cave near the Pentapolis and let come what may. I’ve already climbed out onto the heights of the wilderness and pitched my tent. I’d rather fail knowingly in my search for righteousness than wallow in the success of easy sin lying below. I’m not turning back like Lot’s wife because there is nothing in this realm of existence holding me.
Care to join me?