Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Lot’s little eyes

THE PROBLEM WITH slippery slopes is that they usually come with a nice view, which is why so many people tend to ignore the “keep back” warning signs. They think that, unlike everyone else, they can tread carefully enough and then—whoops—there’s another at the bottom of the cliff.

I remember a pastor recalling how, when he was tidying up some trash outside his house one day, he spotted some shiny literature in the pile. On closer inspection he saw it was a flier for a local strip club—and over the next few months his unchecked curiosity drew him into a full-blown sexual scandal.

This is not just a contemporary danger. One Bible example that readily comes to mind is King David. There he was, walking around on his rooftop, when he spotted Bathsheba bathing. What followed was the stuff of an Inside Edition expose: adultery, pregnancy, and an arranged murder of the cheated-on husband.

Thing is, David shouldn’t have been up there in the first place. Second Samuel 11:1 notes this happened during the spring, “at the time when kings go off to war.” However, David decided to send his army out with Joab instead, and stay home. Maybe he thought, in the words of the familiar jingle, that he “deserved a break today.”

However, some observe that David’s missteps started long before. He had already taken several wives, in violation of God’s command. After all, Deuteronomy 17:17 instructed Israel’s future king, “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.”

Then there is Lot’s case. We all know he ended up escaping the destruction of Sodom by the skin of his teeth, but how had he wound up there in the first place? Step by careless step.

Lot was traveling with his uncle Abram when they decided that the land could not support both their flocks. To avoid bad blood, Abram suggested they split up, and let Lot choose first.

In Genesis 13:10-11 we read, “Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered . . . So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east.” Was this wisdom or greed? Whichever, he “lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom,” where “the people . . . were wicked and were sinning greatly” (v. 13).

Just a few chapters later, when God sent angels to check out the wrongdoing in Sodom, where was Lot now living? Not near Sodom anymore, but smack dab in the city itself. Did he decide that it was too inconvenient to keep traveling to and from town? Or did he convince himself that he was going there to do good?

After all, he did try to protect the visiting angels from Sodom’s predators by inviting them into his home. (Though note that to protect his guests he offered the predators his daughters for their gratification—a troubling reminder that it’s possible to sacrifice our family to “do the right thing.”).

The best way to avoid a fall is to not go climbing where we shouldn’t. As the old kids’ song goes, “Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.”

Photo by Stefans02 on Foter.com/CC BY

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