“But he hesitated” (Genesis 19:16).
When Lot was told to flee Sodom with his family, there was something holding him back, causing a temporary immobilization. It was such a simple command, but he complicated it because of all the factors that he inserted into the equation. Was he hesitating because he had made friends in Sodom? Was he going to miss his house and his possessions? Was his faith wavering? Perhaps Lot just needed a few moments to process what was about to happen, and decide if he was going to take God’s threat of destruction seriously. I would suggest that we have all faced similar moments of indecision!
Truths that are clear and simple to God become tangled messes when our culture adds its two cents on the subject. In the Bible there are two genders (Genesis 1:27), but the world suggests that gender is on a spectrum. God has stated that He “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16), but we invent all kinds of excuses for breaking the marriage bond. Scripture says that judgment awaits us after we die (Hebrews 9:27), but speculation about the afterlife fills the imagination.
Sadly, many of history’s most despicable crimes are rationalized because of a refusal to judge. F. Lagard Smith, an author and professor of Law, noted that many of his law students refuse to accept the concept of absolute truth. One example, in particular, that struck him was when his students were unwilling to acknowledge that the Holocaust was inherently evil, even when pressed. One Jewish student noted, “Oh, sure, I’m personally offended by the thought of any wholesale slaughter of the Jews, and I sure wouldn’t want it happening to me or my family, but [hang on, here comes the all-important punch line] I simply can’t impose my morality on anyone else” (The Cultural Church, Smith, p. 75-76) The author goes on to conclude that “for our generation, tolerance has become the highest virtue.” In response to a similar cultural mindset, Elijah the prophet asked his contemporaries a question that still resonates:
“How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).
In contrast to our natural hesitancy, the Bible gives us definite lines on many subjects, and helps us see that there is a distinct difference between right and wrong, good and evil. There are not many compromises in the time of decision. For example, one was either on the Ark with Noah or not. There was no middle ground between being saved and drowned (2 Peter 2:5). Similarly, Psalm 1 makes a distinction between the righeous and the wicked, stating that one delights in God’s law and produces fruit, while the other whithers away and perishes.