angels, daughters, domestic violence, Election 2016, Genesis 19, Lot, misogyny, racism, rape, rape culture, sexism, sexual abuse, sexual assault, Sodom, sodom and gomorrah, xenophobia
I wrote this only a few days after the election. This is how I felt – not only at the time – but continue to feel as I process what happened in our country. This is how I feel every time I hear of another hate crime committed.
I am a woman of privilege. While I have some awareness of my racial, citizenship, and sexual orientation privilege, I am also still waking up to my privilege. The results of the election came as a shock, and part of this shock is due to my privilege-related naiveté.
This was written with much respect to all people who have been assaulted in any shape or form, not making light of assault, and also knowing that a piece of us felt violated on Election Day because the results affirmed the complacency with abuse. Abuse has happened in many forms, and the Bible reflects that abuse as well. Please be aware that this could be a TRIGGER WARNING for many people.
“Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man: let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please.” (Genesis 19:8)
I imagine most people feel disgust after reading this text and are shocked to know this is actually in our sacred Scripture. Angels, in the form of two strangers, visit Lot in Sodom. When the community heard about the visitors, they bang on Lot’s door and order him to send them outside so that they can know them intimately – – or, basically, rape the two men.
Lot refuses to accept their demands. Instead, he offers them another option. Here are my two virgin daughters. Know the two of them intimately instead of our visitors.
Unfortunately, Lot’s daughters would not be enjoying the intimacy that comes when two people mutually give themselves to one another. This would be a violent gang rape of two young women. Based on the fury of this crowd, there is even a possibility the rape would have led to the death of one or both of the young women as we see in the similar story of Judges 19.
What appears in Genesis 19 does not seem like a story about Lot’s hospitality or creative problem solving. By offering his daughters, Lot still affirms the violent actions of a group of men. He does not give a second thought to sacrifice his daughters in the attempts to placate the Sodom community and to protect the rights of the privileged.
Up until a week ago, whenever I read this text, I could not fully imagine what the two daughters must feel. How could someone who says they love you be fine with throwing you away with such haste? How could the one to whom you looked for protection be willing to throw you to the wolves knowing that you would be violently attacked?
And then the election of 2016 happened. Just like Lot’s problem-solving proposal, it felt like many Americans have offered up the lives of people of color, the bodies of women, the equality of LGBT people, the religious freedom of Muslims, the well-being of immigrants, and the dignity of people who are disabled. In the process of trying to solve foreign and domestic issues, our neighbors chose to overlook love of neighbor and turn their heads so that racism, sexism, xenophobia and bigotry could grow stronger.
While some believe that the election results will eventually lead to positive results in our country, within the first week we saw the number of hate crimes grow. Pictures of hateful words spray painted alongside of buildings and videos of students chanting slurs continue to become the new normal in 2016 America.
Couldn’t Lot have offered a more humane solution? Couldn’t we, as Americans and Christians be more compassionate and considerable in the way we solve our problems?
Some of our neighbors wonder why we still “can’t get over” the election results and its aftermath. Like Lot offering to throw his children to strangers in order to solve a problem, many people across our country feel like their neighbors were willing to toss them aside in an effort to build a country that could be to their satisfaction once again.
Knowing that many of us have been treated like Lot’s daughters has left us aching, worrying, and wondering what will happen next.
It feels like we must live under a new normal. We must live with the normality of women being physically assaulted. We must live with a renewed interest in a type of “law and order” which will elevate the mass incarceration of our brothers and sisters of color. We must know that families will be torn apart based on who was born in this country and who was born elsewhere. We must know that Muslims fear for their lives as the country waits to see if a registry is forced upon them. We must know that marriages of our gay, lesbian, and bisexual sisters and brothers are in jeopardy.
We may be Lot’s daughters in twenty-first century America, but we refuse to be thrown to the men of Sodom without a struggle.
Lot’s daughters found agency… and all who have been marginalized will find their power.
Photo credit: Heinrich Aldegrever (1502-1561), Lot impedisce la violenza contro gli angeli, (1555).
Robin LaBolt said:
You are brave and courageous in speaking this truth. I am proud to know you and call you my friend.