“Then the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth. “Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. On the following day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.” Gen. 19:31-35
In our modern time, it is in our nature to be appalled by such things as incest, however the scriptures do not condemn or applaud the fact that Lot’s daughters sleep with him. Instead the text remains neutral, merely offering an explanation as to why it happened, and attempting to absolve all of guilt.
First we must consider that in their culture at that time, continuing the family line was very important, much more so than today. This explains, at least in part, why Lot’s daughters would even consider such a plot.
Second, surely all involved were familiar with the story of Noah and how from just a few persons the earth’s population had to be replenished. So great and sudden was this destruction that Lot’s daughters did not know the extent of it and expected the worst. Verse 31 informs us that Lot’s daughters thought Lot may have been the only male left alive, and as such the only path through which procreation could occur. We see in verse 14 that their husbands did not believe destruction was coming and thus they were left behind and destroyed.
Third, they enticed Lot to drink and become drunk. This at the very least tells us that Lot would not have willingly taken part in their plan while sober. Scripture seems to do its best to preserve Lot’s innocence. Though we do observe that the scenario happens twice – two nights in a row his daughters get him drunk and one of them sleeps with him. This seems to leave a moral gray area, as if Lot had any suspicion of the previous night’s happenings, he would have likely avoided drinking wine the next eve. Also note that Lot likely understood the destruction was not global (v. 13), so Lot would know he was not the only male left, though his daughters did not know this.
A popular teaching in Christian circles is that Lot was “backslidden” in his faith and thus his morals were compromised. I find this curious because the scriptures do not teach this; in fact, despite what potential evidence is in the Hebrew scriptures to this effect, 2 Peter in the New Testament specifically refers to Lot as being righteous, and even distressed about the wickedness around him while in Sodom. Though even if someone is called “righteous”, it does not mean they have never sinned, but I am not sure the lesson here is about Lot being backslidden.
Perhaps the lesson to be gleaned is to be careful with your words. It Lot’s case, he offered his own daughters to the town mob. Whether he was jesting or not, we do not know, however we do know that Lot himself ended up sleeping with his own daughters.