Is God destitute of mercy in punishing the whole city of Sodom and Gomorrah?
Those sentences which are colored in orange are from Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati book Satyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth) and those which are colored in black are Jerry Thomas’s response.
"Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground." (19:24, 25.)C. Now look at this Biblical God! He is so destitute of mercy that he did not take any pity even on the children and the like. Were they all so wicked that He overthrew cities and buried them all underneath. Such a thing is opposed to justice, mercy and reason. Why should not they, whose God is guilty of such things, do likewise?
Answer: Let us examine the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah and the process of its punishment to see if God of the Bible is destitute of mercy.
We read about their actions in Genesis 19.
Gen 19:4- 9 now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both OLD and YOUNG, ALL the people from EVERY quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them [carnally]." So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, "Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof." And they said, "Stand back!" Then they said, "This one came in to stay [here], and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them." So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door.
From this passage, we can see that the wickedness is done not by a few but by ALL. It includes both OLD and YOUNG, the ones who are able to move around at this time. And they were going to be involved in this wickedness despite pleading from a righteous man.
This leaves us with only young babies. In the order of the nature, it goes without saying that lives of young babies in this world are strongly connected to their parents. Blessings and miseries of parents will fall on the children too.
So the judgment does not appear to be either unreasonable or unjust.
Now, let us look at the mercies of God.
God through Abraham had rescued Sodom and Gomorrah before. In the same incident, King of Sodom had the opportunity to hear the witness from Prophet Abraham and King and priest Melchizedek. In other words, God’s love was demonstrated clearly to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Genesis 14: 10-24 – Now the Valley of Siddim [was full of] asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; [some] fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains. Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, Abram's brother's son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre [fn] the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they [were] allies with Abram. Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained [servants] who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which [is] north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that [is], the King's Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who [were] with him. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he [was] the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all. Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I [will take] nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that [is] yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich' except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion."
Further, God was ready to exempt them from punishment if just 10 people were there who were righteous.
Genesis 18:22- 33 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. And Abraham came near and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked. Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare [it] for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" So the LORD said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes." Then Abraham answered and said, "Indeed now, I who [am but] dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for [lack of] five?" So He said, "If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy [it]." And he spoke to Him yet again and said, "Suppose there should be forty found there?" So He said, "I will not do [it] for the sake of forty." Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?" So He said, "I will not do [it] if I find thirty there." And he said, "Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?" So He said, "I will not destroy [it] for the sake of twenty." Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy [it] for the sake of ten." So the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.
Further, God was merciful to rescue the FAMILY of a righteou
s man though the family itself was not righteous. And God mercifully made them provisions to escape and delayed the punishment until their escape.
Genesis 19:12 – Then the men said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city–take [them] out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it." So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, "Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!" But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking. When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he [fn] said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed." Then Lot said to them, "Please, no, my lords! Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die See now, this city [is] near [enough] to flee to, and it [is] a little one; please let me escape there ([is] it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. And he said to him, "See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
So the facts that we have are:
(a) God had showed His mercy and goodness to them in rescuing them from bondage through His servant Abraham.
(b) God had given them His witness through His servants Abraham and Melchizedek.
(c) God had warned them through His servant Lot against their wickedness.
(d) God was ready to exempt them from punishment if only ten people were there as righteous.
(e) However, both the OLD and YOUNG, and ALL the city joined in wickedness despite clear message against it.
(f) God rescued the family of only one righteous man in the city.
Who can call such a God as destitute of mercy? Probably, Maharishi does not want a Holy God who punishes the wicked for some other reasons.