In Genesis 19 the men of Sodom come pounding at the door of Lot’s home, demanding that he give them the men he took in from the city square (cp. Genesis 19:1-5). Lot came out to them and told them the men had come under his roof and hospitality dictated that it would be very dishonorable for him to do as they demanded. He even went to the extreme of telling them: “I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do you to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof” (Genesis 19:8). What are we to make of Lot’s offer?
Clearly the New Testament tells us that Lot was a righteous man, for when Peter speaks of the coming judgment he uses Lot as an example of how the Lord is able to preserve the righteous while he punishes the wicked:
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them by a catastrophe, making them an example unto those that later should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy behavior of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: (2 Peter 2:6-9 KJ2000)
The Greek used for just Lot in verse-7 and righteous man in verse-8 is the same word (G1342) and means, according to Thayer, righteous, law-abiding, innocent, guiltless, approved (of God). The problem is: how could God approve or consider it a righteous matter for Lot to offer his daughters to be repeatedly raped by the wicked crowd outside his home? Yet, we know that God considered Lot to be a righteous man, because God saved him and those in his house for the sake of Abraham’s prayer for the righteous (cp. Genesis 18:23-33). While it is true that Lot made some bad decisions and didn’t separate himself from the worldly customs of Sodom, he was righteous, and Peter tells us he was “vexed with their filthy behavior” day after day. In other words, Lot was worn out every day trying to live peacefully with them. He felt oppressed. He should have left, but he didn’t, perhaps because he had two or three daughters already married to Sodomite men and he didn’t wish to break ties with them.
Nevertheless, we still have Lot’s remark which seems to say he valued his reputation as a hospitable person over his duty toward his family, especially his two daughters. What can be said about this? Josephus, the Jewish historian, makes a remark about the incident this way: “…if their inclinations could not be governed, he would expose his daughters to their lust, instead of these strangers—neither thus were they made ashamed” [Antiquities of the Jews; book 1, chapter 11, paragraph 3]. Josephus’ remark seems to imply that the Sodomites should have been ashamed at Lot’s offer, but it had no effect upon them. Did they take Lot’s offer seriously? The text seems to tell us they passed over Lot’s offer of his daughters, and accused him of making himself a judge of their affairs (Genesis 19:9).
I believe we should consider Lot’s offer of his daughters as a shocking statement meant not to be taken literally, but to bring his hearers to consider their deeds and make them ashamed. We use similar expressions today. For example, if we wish to tell someone his product is overpriced or that he seeks to take unjust advantage of the customer, we might ask him: “What do you want, an arm and a leg? The saying is not intended to be taken literally but to cause those listening that an unjust matter is exposed. In Lot’s culture, women were veiled. Men in that culture would have considered it a terrible and immodest matter for their own women to appear in public unveiled. Lot’s remark, I think, should be understood according to this cultural custom. It was outrageous and intended to cause the men of Sodom to be ashamed of what they intended to do.