I was giving consideration to writing about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, but ReligiousTolerance.org has an article, well worth reading, which covers the points I wanted to raise. So I will confine myself to the unhappy lot of Lot's wife.
According to Genesis 19:17, two angels warned Lot and his family not to look back:
And when they had brought them forth, they said, "Flee for your life, do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley; flee to the hills lest you be consumed."
And, of course, Lot's poor wife looked back, as told in Genesis 19:26
And Lot's wife behind him looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
What is this all about?
Standard Christian teaching is that the woman was punished for disobeying God's command not to look back.
But go back to what the angels said in Genesis 19:17. Does that really come across as a inviolate command from God? Or rather, does it appear to be a strong warning from the angels to get out of harm's way as quickly as possible? I suggest the latter.
Let us consider the actions of Lot's wife. Do you think she deliberately and intentionally disobeyed what she supposedly knew to be an order from God? Or did she simply act human, and in a reflexive action, looked back fearing what was behind.
Consider, we have four cities destroyed because the sins of the populace were considered very grave.(Genesis 18:20). Consider we have Lot's wife destroyed simply for acting human - essentially she is punished as if a reflex is a very grave sin. And on the other hand, consider that because Lot is supposedly a righteous man, he is saved by God. This is the very same Lot who offered his two virgin daughters up to the mob to be raped and who subsequently committed incest with both of them and impregnated both of them. Righteous and worthy of being saved? While his all-too-human wife dies for simply looking back.
Is the killer of Lot's wife a just God? Is the killer of Lot's wife a merciful God? Or is the killer of Lot's wife merely the image of a cruel and capricious tyrant?
- Does anyone believe the story he was gotten drunk by his daughters and did not know he was doing it? Could he have performed if he was that drunk? Even today, the standard lying excuse of fathers who despoil their daughters is Lot's: "She seduced me."
- Interestingly, the names of the wife and two daughters, for all that they take a prominent role in the tale, are not considered worth mentioning. After all - what were wives and daughters, just property to be used or disposed of. Just like a house... or an ass... (which not so subtly links Lot's wife's sin of acting human to the 10th Commandment, which also makes acting human a sin)