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We are told that Lot was greatly tormented by the perversions of Sodom. What could possibly have been so irresistible for Lot to have remained in that depraved city? Earlier in Genesis we read of Lot's initial attraction to the cities of that area:

  • Genesis 13:10: "Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere— this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah— like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar."

This is understandable, and would be a compelling reason to relocate to that area for financial gain. Almost immediately, however, we read:

  • Genesis 13:13: "Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD."

Would Lot not have serious reservations living in such an area after soon witnessing the ungodliness of the people? In Peter's Second Letter we read of Lot's distress:

  • 2 Peter 2:8: "[For] by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among [the Sodomites], felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds."

Who would continue to live in a city where their "righteous soul was tormented day after day?" Did Lot have little other choice but to stay? Further, it seems that by continuing to live there, he was jeopardizing everything, and would essentially lose everything he had — including his wife. What could have been the motivating factor for Lot to linger in such a dreadful place? Are there other, related passages that help us understand Lot's poor decision to remain?

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    Great question but the only answer is that in a struggle between Lot's conscience and his love of the world, the latter prevailed, possibly with the assistance of his wife.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 22:46
  • Good point. Perhaps that explains why God had little mercy on her disobedience (Gen. 19:26)?
    – Xeno
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 22:49
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    Lot was in a very dangerous situation indeed. So were his wife and daughters. Hence the reason for God's judgment on that appalling situation. Many people, in many parts of the world today are trapped in terrible situations. Some flee and die in the fleeing. We see these terrible things happening every day in the world. Your question surprises me. And so do the constant, unwarranted and unscriptural criticisms of Lot. Scripture states 'righteous Lot'. 2 Peter 2:7.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 23:37
  • @NigelJ I have not intentionally disparaged Lot at all. As I wrote to another: "He left Ur with Abram and Sarai (Gen. 12:4). Lot was like a son to Abram. Naturally, Lot was under no compulsion to leave Sodom, but if we were "tormented day after day by the lawless deeds of those around us" (2 Pet. 2:8), would we not feel inclined to relocate? Lot could always return to Abraham." I don't understand why you feel I'm being critical of Lot. All I'm pointing out is his apparent blindness while living in a land that was not only depraved but dangerous (remember, he was kidnapped in Gen. 14).
    – Xeno
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 23:56
  • @Xeno . . . and scripture calls him . . . 'righteous'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 0:03

7 Answers 7

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Lot's children and possibly grandchildren were there in Sodom. To leave them there would be to abandon those nearest and dearest to him. The story records what happened when he did leave.

And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: ...And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law. (Genesis 19:12,14)

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    There were no grand children. Lot's two daughters 'had not known men' at the time they were offered to the assailants. This gives some indication of just what was going on in the city and just how dangerous the situation was.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 23:34
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    @NigelJ You didn't read the Bible quotation that is part of my answer if you assume, incorrectly, that Lot had only those two daughters.
    – Polyhat
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 1:01
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First - you need to put this into context. Abraham had been called out away from the nation he was born under, the gods his people served. And it was he that had been called

GENESIS 12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.

Abraham was told to leave his ‘kindred’ - môleḏeṯ - which specifically includes relations. Lot was Abraham’s brothers son. He wasn’t supposed to take him!

Nevertheless Lot was ‘covered’ under Gods promise to Abraham - as outlined in Genesis 12: 1-3. And God saw Lot as righteous.

But how would Lot ‘know’ what was ‘right’? What was his ‘source’ of guidance? Knowledge? God was ‘dealing’ with Abraham, but Lot and his Uncle had separated, gone their own ways. There where no ‘commandments, no ‘words’ from God! Just this inner perception that made him uncomfortable. But he was under no compulsion to ‘listen’ to this, it was his choice to ‘live’ with it. He was not violating any expectation.

So we have no basis for ‘judging’ Lot. None. Many try to! That issue over Lot being declared ‘righteous’ has perplexed and confounded many theologians. We can (should!) not use our ‘standards’ to analyse Lots behaviour. Although many love to apologetically ‘’’’ discuss ‘’’’ Lot, we should just let the Bible tell us what is … and that is that he was seen as righteous.

2 PETER 2:7 and if he rescued righteous Lot,

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    I'm making no judgments of Lot. He left Ur with Abram, Sarai, and all their possessions (Gen. 12:4). Clearly, Lot was like a son to Abram. I don't ever recall reading that Lot "wasn't supposed to be taken" by Abram. Naturally, Lot was under no compulsion to leave Sodom, but if you were "tormented day after day by the lawless deeds of those around you" (2 Pet. 2:8), would you not feel a bit inclined to relocate? Lot could always return to Abraham. Remember, too, that Lot was kidnapped while living in these depraved areas. How much would any of us put up with under such circumstances?
    – Xeno
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 23:25
  • @dave lot knew what evil was... he begged the men of sodom not to do "wicked" things ... he knew ... yet his own earthly desires, comfort, and wealth kept him there, I think we should learn Lot, and at least study his motivation and his choices. God put his story in the Bible for us to learn from, why would you just say oh lets not judge him... I would not want to visit San Fransisco muchless live there, even if the weather is amazing and the pay is better. which it is.
    – jcb1123
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 2:23
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Since the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah bothered Lot so much, why didn't he move away before God destroyed the cities? 2 Peter 2:

5 if he [God] did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;

Noah was a preacher of righteousness among ungodly people.

6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard).

If it bothered Lot so much, why didn't he just move away?

Lot might have seen himself as setting a good example for the men of Sodom and Gomorrah. He knew what they were doing was wrong, Genesis 19:

6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly".

God placed Lot there to set a good example so that they had no excuse. Like Noah, Lot was a righteous witness for God's law among lawless and ungodly people.

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Let's recall why Abraham and Lot Separate. Genesis 13:5-7a

5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.

6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together.

7a And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. (NIV)

When one has a lot of possession, it's not easy to frequently move around. He might realized that other cities in the surrounding, like Gomorrah, was nothing better for him to move. But Lot was aware of his situation in Sodom. Consider why would he sitting in the gateway of the City? Genesis 19:1 read;

1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.

2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” (NIV)

He was trying to save people from harm. He should be living near the gate. There may have two reasons he stayed as he was called righteous;

  1. He was willing to give up all his possession (even his daughters?) to save people entering Sodom.
  2. He did have thought to leave but didn't want going back to Abraham, for that was the reason they separated. He didn't want to put burden on Abraham.
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He saw no good alternative

Let's look at the reasons that Genesis actually gives for Lot living there.

Recall that he separated from Abraham because their flocks were immense and unable to cohabitate without a significant distance between them. Sodom had superb land.

Genesis 13:10 ESV And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)

So Lot would have faced significant economic loss moving to anywhere from there.

Furthermore, it's not like the other Canaanites were particularly righteous. He could have left Sodom to go where? To Chedolaemer or his kingdom? Insane. To Gomorrah? Pointless. To Abraham?

That was probably the right thing, but given their history, not an obvious thing.

The closest thing to a high king the region had, Chedolaemer, having been defeated by his kinsman probably didn't make leaving without a plan wise.

Faced with a huge economic loss and very poor alternatives, a man may well stay somewhere he shouldn't. The answers here pointing at his wife are not silly either.

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Lot’s lot
Was Lot a righteous man in God’s eyes? There is no written evidence for this between Genesis 12 and Genesis 19. Only a reference in 2 Peter alludes to that but not convincingly.

Was God using Lot to show righteousness in a land of evil? There is no evidence of this. Lot found a way to live alongside the sinfulness of the land. God was ready to destroy the entire sinful land. His 20 years in Sodom did not dent the status quo. Clearly, Lot was a man comfortable with sin around him. And doesn't it depict the world we are living in now? Maybe it was possible that he led a different lifestyle that set him apart. See below;

“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. (‭‭Genesis‬ ‭19‬:‭9‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Strangely though, Lot offers his virgin daughters as a distraction to the marauding crowd. Another clear indicator of a man who had not learned to rely on God but on his wit. It took quick action by the angels to save him from himself.

Was Lot a greedy man for choosing the choicest land towards the east? Not at all, it was a free offer that many of us could have taken.

Abraham could as well have ended up in Sodom, but he had his values set and God's wisdom and temperament guiding him. In Genesis 14, he declines an offer for quick wealth from the King of Sodom. God had affirmed His relationship with Abraham and guidance to Abraham through this promise. see below;

The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” ‭‭(Genesis‬ ‭13‬:‭14‬-‭17‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

It is interesting that Abraham did not plead directly for his nephew’s salvation at the impending destruction of Sodom. Genesis 18:23-32

Conclusion: Only Abraham’s favor before God could have saved Lot.

So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived. ‭‭(Genesis‬ ‭19‬:‭29‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Lot was comfortable being in Sodom and had even planned to wed his daughters there. He hesitated to leave and had to be dragged out. He concocted a “city of refuge” in Zoar since he did not want to go too far away. Lot was just being Lot a man whose main aim was to have the best of both worlds.

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These comments are interesting. At some point Lot lost everything. Even if Lot didn't have the motivation to return to Abraham, his daughters should have. It's a tragedy

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    – agarza
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 12:45
  • @ Michele-Commenting on commenting doesn't further the discussion on this important question. You described the situation of Lot, addressed in this question, but there was no Answer given! Keep studying the Bible; it's great for the soul!
    – ray grant
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 20:42
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